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How to Lose Your Desire for Porn and Lust

Last Updated: November 13, 2019

Noah Filipiak

Noah Filipiak is a pastor and the author of Beyond the Battle: A Man's Guide to his Identity in Christ in an Oversexualized World (Zondervan)He also hosts The Flip Side Podcast. If you desire to be free from lust, porn, and fantasy, you can join Noah and his team in an online small group at Beyond the Battle, or get the leader guide to run your own group.

For many struggling with porn, their #1 goal is to stop looking at it. This is why we install Covenant Eyes on our computers and have accountability partners ask us if we’ve stumbled this week (all good and needed things). But is it really freedom if you’ve stopped looking at porn, yet desire it continually?

This is where a lot of Christians find themselves. It may have been years since the last time they have indulged in pornography, but there is a simmering discontent within their marriage or singleness. The aroma of porn still smells as tantalizing as it always did, even if they aren’t directly indulging. Their ability to stop looking has come about by controlling the symptoms, but the inner desire rages on.

Working in tandem with this desire is the byproduct of years of porn consumption: lust. When porn is no longer accessible, the men and women you run into every day become the fixations of fantasy. Your eyes involuntarily dart to chests and legs instead of eyes and you see people as sets of body parts to savor and consume, rather than as dignified souls worth much more than their bodies alone. These lustful glances and fantasies are so involuntary that they can hardly even be called habits, as habits feel breakable. Deeper than habits, they seem auto-programmed into our hardwiring to the point where it seems like nothing can ever change them and that there’s no way out. Again, this can hardly be called freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, it is inconceivably better to be done looking at porn and to be struggling with lust, than to still be looking at porn. I think everyone in this middle-point of struggle will attest to that. But I also think they will attest they don’t truly feel free, and have doubts that they ever will.

True Freedom from the Desire for Porn?

I do not presume to be the Answer Man on this subject, nor do I think that one blog post can do much fixing at all. But I do know there is a path of true freedom from the desire for pornography. That you can actually get to the point where you no longer want it or desire it. That is where I live now, and I’ve walked a path to get me here. (I still use Covenant Eyes, by the way, and always will!)  I’d like to share some characteristics of this path and invite you to begin walking on it as well.

It’s the same path that is leading me to the point where I will no longer desire lust. There is a subtle distinction that is so key here. I can tell myself, “Don’t look,” and can force my eyes away (which is much better than looking), but this is different than the freedom of not wanting to look in the first place. The distinction takes place at the automatic-process, hard-wiring level, where your automatic response to the opportunity to lust over another person becomes, “Why would I want to do that?”

This is processed in the same way you (hopefully) would process the idea of stealing someone’s wallet. You don’t have to tie your hands behind your back as your only way to resist the theft. You don’t steal the wallet because you don’t want to. You know what it would do to that person and to your own heart.

How to Lose Your Desire for Pornography

Cast your entitlement before a Holy God.

“God, you gave me a raw deal,” said the single person who feels like God owes them a spouse and is holding out on them.

“God, you gave me a raw deal,” said the married person who feels God owes them a better spouse and is holding out on them.

Entitlement often fuels our thirst for sexual sin. We aren’t getting our “needs” met by doing things God’s way, so we feel we have no choice but to look elsewhere.

This is where I was three years into my marriage and wanting a divorce. The solution was unexpected–God showed me his holiness and what it was I really deserved: eternity separated from him. This concept makes some feel uncomfortable, depending on your theological background, but what a sobering truth it is! God basically said to me, “Don’t ever ask me for what you deserve. Trust me, you don’t want that!”

The good news is, He didn’t end the conversation there.

We don’t deserve God’s mercy, but he lavishes it on us.

The key reason to understand I deserve God’s wrath is so I can then experience the wealth of the riches of what he has given me instead: his mercy.

This is the foundation for this life of true freedom. Despite the circumstances of our singleness or marriage, we can be overwhelmed with gratitude for the riches of God’s mercy toward us. A grateful person is a free person!

The contents of God’s mercy bring us what we’ve been looking for from pornography.

Realizing the quantity of God’s mercy is only half the battle. Ask yourself what it is you are desiring at the deepest level with lust or porn. The deepest level of this desire is not for body parts or physical sensation, it is for affirmation. We want to feel valued, embraced, comforted, and accepted and we believe this other person will make us feel this way.

If your stomach is empty, you’ll always desire the junk food.

I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, but it wasn’t until recent years that I discovered how to find my validation, affirmation, and acceptance from Jesus and my identity in him—a wealth of riches I’d been sitting on for so long but not applying to the deep places of my soul.

When you’re stuffed on the good stuff, the junk food loses its power over you. In fact, it becomes downright repulsive.

The rewiring begins.

With our soul’s insatiable thirst for value quenched, God can now begin the rewiring process on us. As whole people, we can learn how to see other men and women as whole people. We can begin to understand God’s “one flesh” design for sex and deconstruct the lies we believed that people are only body parts and sex is nothing more than selfish consumption—lies many married people have bought into as well. We begin to see men and women as the sons and daughters of God that they are.  Men and women whom we lose the desire to turn into objects and consume for our selfish pleasure.

When I see someone’s wallet, I don’t have to tie my hands behind my back to ensure I don’t steal it. I don’t want to steal it because I know what it will do to that person, and what it will do to my own heart. I can feel the same way about porn and lust, which is true freedom.

I hope this blog post gives you a taste of the true freedom you can experience. And I know you can experience it too because it’s not found in a blog post or an author, but in the unlimited power of the gospel. We sometimes just need a little guidance in how to untap it!

  • Comments on: How to Lose Your Desire for Porn and Lust
    1. Cletus on

      Thank you for this article, Noah!
      This has been the exact burden of my heart for over 5 years of struggling to conquer my lust and pornography addiction. I have had this image in my mind that the lust in my heart and mind is like a raging river, and for periods of time I have been able to put up “dams”, but what I’ve really wanted is for that river to dry up!
      I have realized that if the desire for lust and porn is still in my heart, I will inevitably believe the lies and choose the path of destruction, no matter what safeguards I have put in place.
      The thing that I have struggled with the most is to understand how the Gospel transforms my heart. I struggle to grasp the weight and impact of God’s mercy and love, and to trust in his goodness. I often believe that he doesn’t want me to be free. Since I have no power to overcome my sin on my own, and I repeatedly return to my sin, then I have come to reason that God must not be changing my heart. How do I get to the place where real change happens?

      Reply
      • Bruce Boyd on

        I get it Cletus. My son, who really struggled, finally came to a point where Jesus encountered his heart in a powerful way. He told me one day, “Dad, I found that the biggest deterrent for me has been the realization that the love of Jesus is so much better than porn – it’s not even a comparison. I’ve tasted His love now, and nothing else will suffice.”

        I think it really boils down to Rom 12:1-2. If we allow our hearts and minds to be conformed to this world, we’ll never see things change. Allow our minds to be renewed, and the transformation begins to occur.

        That passage makes it clear, it’s not just a transformed heart, it’s a transformed MIND, too. And the only way to get a transformed mind is to fill it with Truth (aka the Word), not the things of this world (aka, porn, sensuality, lust, desire for possessions, position, honor, fame, etc.).

        How to do it? What I’ve found transformative for me was to declare war on this by ingesting large portions of Scripture on a daily basis. I was challenged to read 10 chapters of the NT/day, which allows you to get thru entire NT in a month. Then do that every month for a year. The goal being, to allow God’s Word to simply wash over your mind/heart. Trust me…reading thru the NT 12 times in a year will start doing miraculous things to both. Your goal is not study and meditation, just loving reading God’s love letter and drowning your soul in His river of passion for you!

        I realize that’s a crazy challenge, especially if your life is busy. For me it meant things had to change. It meant becoming a morning person which was hard for a night-owl. I had to get to bed, and then had to start setting the alarm for 5AM. It was going to require at least an hour of time, more like 90 minutes. But I’m here to tell you, that 60-90 minutes became sacred and something I cherished, guarded and looked forward to! It was Jesus opening His arms to me and saying, “come, let me love on you!”

        Try it. And if it’s not 10 chapters, do 5. Then you get thru NT 6 times in a year. Then next year do it with the OT! You’ll get thru 2-1/2 times in a year at 10 chapters/day. Next year do 5 in OT and 5 in NT. Change translations. Look for themes…a good one is the emotions of God. See how much he loves you!

        Hope this encourages and challenges you like it did me!

      • Joshua Pell on

        Cletus, I was exposed to porn at 9 & grew up in a Bible-saturated culture, yet I’ve come to realize I actually believed God to be a withholding, shaming, & disconnected from me & my own struggles to free myself. I’m now 39, through the shameless help of men who love regardless of any action/inaction, God debunked the lie I believed (& porn & list reinforces: no one will take care of my needs, so I must take whatever means possible to satisfy my desires). Yet, the unconditional and lavish love of God is always there – His mercies are always new every day – when we verbalize our sin to Him He forgives immediately without any ultimatums. The enemy of God, Satan, Deceiver, wants us to continue believing our own shame-filled scripts, yet those are not God’s words of love, forgiveness, & freedom. God promises to supply all of our needs according to His riches. I challenge you to sit quietly before God, ask Him to help you begin identifying your internal lies compared to His words of truth & certainty. He will lead you away from lies & into His life-giving truth. It’s a choice-at-a-time that we make, so Hold Fast to what is true & jettison anything that wafts of a schemer’s lie.

        To your question: Being still with God & allowing His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, freedom, joy, etc. to wash over you & believing He is renewing/strengthening you to live as a life-giver of His bounty…this daily practice of child-like trusting Him, through debunking the imbedded lies I had believed/acted out for so many years, is building new rituals and experiences I know are clean and right regardless of any external affirmation. If God is pleased, my entire being is increasingly more confident & steady! God is at work…stay with Him, you will never be disappointed!
        ~Joshua Pell
        2 Corinthians 2.14

      • Gary on

        Cletus your thoughts that God does not want you to experience true freedom from lust and porn is a lie from the enemy. God does want to free you from lost and porn and He wants to see you transformed by the renewing of your mind. The transformation takes place when you realize that God and His Son Christ Jesus are better than anything the world can give you and that includes lust and porn. I felt the same way you do eight months ago, in fact, I was walking down the dark path, turning into a Sith Lord by not believing in anything I read in Scripture. But then the Holy Spirit directed me back to a men’s ministry for the digital age, Soulcon, where I and thousands of other men have answered the call to enlist in God’s special forces, go through six weeks of bootcamp, at home, training what it means to die to self by putting down the fork that feeds our flesh, porn and lust, and picking up our Crosses and following Christ. Eight months ago, today, actually since Feburary only has 28 days not 29, so it was June 29th that I said never again to porn and lust. I do not have those desires cause I am on fire for Christ and I have a passion to see other men find freedom from porn and lust, through the blood of Christ. Soulcon has a Youversion 7-day devotional and a YouTube channel check them out.

      • Marty Springer on

        I struggle with the exact same question. Is this just a burden we must endure for the rest of our lives and only find true freedom when the body of flesh is gone? I used to think that as I get older it would be easier but, now in my late 60’s, it’s not. I long for the end of the fight and complete freedom from even the hint of lust. But in spite of that desire, the struggle helps me understand just how much I need HIS grace. Not just once in a while, but every moment of every day. It has helped me have compassion and patience with others who love God but struggle to follow him faithfully. I would never suggest that God does not want us to find freedom, but rest assured He has not abandoned you in the midst of the struggle. There is purpose in the struggle itself. If this were not true, He would remove it.

      • Michael Nair on

        Brother..I hear you. I don’t have the answer and I have dammed the walls of my lust as well only for it to burst in a flood every now and then. I’d like it to dry up too.

        God is good and Christ died for you and for me. I’ll be praying for all of us that His mercy and the transforming power of the gospel will set us free and when we are we will be free indeed in Christ. We love much because we have been forgiven much. Keep pressing in to Christ Jesus however you can.

        Love in Christ and By His Grace,
        Michael

      • Brent on

        Cletus, I wasn’t sure if the author responded to you so I wanted to respond. The Gospel is so much more than I think we can understand. We have to understand that when we grit our teeth and try to fight it, we actually agitate the sin inside of us and stir it up. The more we grit and bear the more it wants to be unleashed. But why are we resisting so much? Is it so that we can finally get clean? The Gospel says that the moment you put your faith in the work of Christ, your life was set free. At the end of our lives, we will face judgement to God (revelation 21) and he will open up the book which has everything we have ever done written down. And some will point out to God why God owes them riches and splendor and how they were a good person. God will quickly undo any of that garbage on that day by showing them everything they ever did. But for those who trust in Christ, their names are written in the Book of Life. The book of life is adoption paper works my friend. When you trusted in a Christ you weren’t just giving intellectual assent to his existence, you were saying “God look at his life, not mine! That’s my justification in the court room! Declare me innocent because of that man!” He took our court room judgement, he took our sentencing to prisons of hell. And we become righteous. That means that God looks at you, Cletus, as if you had never done anything wrong. As if you had never masturbated or watched pornography a day in your life. He clothed you in an identity, he calls you My Son. He adopted you, so that you may share in the inheritance like His Son deserved to. The day you were adopted, your dead spirit was born. You were birthed by God’s Spirit. This is what Jesus means by “born again” (John 3). Your spirit was regenerated, and God have you a heart of flesh by taking away your heart of stone (Ezekiel). And this story, is our power as Christians. We do, live, fight, and think through the lens of what Christ did that day. You now have royal blood, and you share in the full blessing of the King. That means when your enemies mock you, insult you, or curse you, you don’t need to do an eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth. Not because they don’t deserve justice, but because you have the approval of the King. You have the affirmation and love of the King why bother with the peasants? They can’t touch you. And when you are tempted, you can stop and say “God looks at me as if I never gave in to this temptation. This fight isn’t about getting clean… rather why would I go back? I don’t want to be a poor slave anymore, The King is building a room for me in his mansion (John 14:3). We understand how to recite the Gospel but rarely do we understand it’s implications and why Jesus’ work actually saves us and how it’s power works. Fight temptation by preaching to yourself the Gospel and recalling how he called you from slavery in Egypt. Jesus is the second and better Moses who leads us out of Egypt without waivering faith and total holiness. God bless you, Cletus.

    2. Roy Pierce on

      I say yes even though it did not start out that way. I requested Covenant Eyes for accountability purposes but then became aware of how good Covenant Eyes was keeping the lurid stuff off my smartphone. Now that the temptation for porno is completely gone I still have Covenant Eyes aboard because of the fine job they do. I just don’t want that stuff around.

      Reply
    3. Tom Carter on

      Hi Noah
      Thanks for your insight on this. I am almost 17 months free from viewing porn. I don’t have a deep craving any longer for porn, but still struggle with lust. I’m in a Pure Desire group and I’m not alone. I’m going to take you up on this challenge. I will use the “wallet theft” analogy to help me remember. Again thank you for caring.

      Also, I’ve noticed a lot more attention being given to the whole pornography issue and sexual sin lately, in christian and secular circles. I hope we can continue to shed light on the sin and expose it so all can continue to heal.
      God Bless

      Reply
    4. Richard on

      Oh man, this is truly a Godsend, exactly what I needed, when I needed it. Thank-you.

      Reply

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