5 minute read

Finding the Willpower to Defeat Porn: Part 2

Last Updated: August 17, 2021

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.

A friend told me recently that his recovery journey feels like riding a unicycle near the edge of a cliff, with the pressure of the world and the flesh always coming at him like a strong wind trying to blow him over the edge. He went on to say that what he needs is more voices pushing him away from the cliff to counteract these lies that are so easily believed. Voices of freedom and reminders of truth.

I think a lot of us on our recovery journeys from porn or sex addiction can relate. In part 1 of this series, I talked about how it is essential that you aren’t trying to find freedom on your own. That you have a band of brothers or sisters holding you up. These are the people and the voices sending you the messages of truth and freedom that push you further away from the cliff’s edge, combatting the lies of the world and the flesh that are trying to shove you over.

While having that band of brothers or sisters is absolutely essential, the messages they are reminding us of are equally essential. Those who have battled porn and sex addiction for a long time know that behavior management symptom-based accountability only lasts so long, even with the best intentions. We need to not only be told to stop a negative behavior; we need to be told what to replace it with. We need to be pointed toward the desire beneath our desire to act out sexually and how to get that desire met in the God-intended way (and I’m not talking about marriage).

Jesus’ Promise

Jesus makes an incredibly bold claim in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If we are honest, many of us would admit that these verses don’t always feel true, particularly when it comes to fighting against sexual addictions. We have come to Jesus, but we don’t feel the rest he is offering here.

I want to tell you something that is true about the good news of Jesus: If your faith is in Jesus, God cannot love you any more or less than he does right now. You could look at porn right after you read this article and God’s love-meter for you would not drop one inch. Here’s a tough one to swallow, but let’s really put this to the test: you could cheat on your spouse right after reading this article and God’s love-meter for you would not drop one inch. (There will be earthly consequences to your sins, but this is very different from God’s love-meter for you dropping.)

How can I make these scandalous claims about God’s love for you? Because he tells us this in the Bible:

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22).

Colossians 1:22 shows us that when God looks at us, he sees holiness, no blemishes, and freedom from all accusation. How can this be? The answer is right in the text: because he has reconciled us by Christ’s physical body through death. When Jesus died on the cross, his physical body took all of our guilt and shame upon himself and now when God looks at us, he doesn’t see us and our sins, he sees Jesus and his perfection.

Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If I were a math teacher, I’d now ask you on a quiz: How much condemnation is there for those who look at porn but who are in Christ Jesus? And the answer would be: None!

This doesn’t mean God is soft on sin. He hates sin and sin deserves his wrath. But Jesus! God’s wrath for our sin went onto Jesus and now when he sees us, he sees Jesus’ holiness. Wow!

God’s law requires perfection. It has a righteous requirement to it. Romans 8:4 tells us that this righteous requirement was fully met in us when God sent Jesus to be a sin offering and so condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). Double wow!

Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

Your acceptance is not in yourself, but in your Lord; you are just as accepted by God today, with all your sinfulness, as you will be when you stand before His throne, free from all corruption. So I urge you, take hold of this precious thought—perfection in Christ! For you are “complete in him.” With your Savior’s garment on, you are as holy as the Holy One.

This is the beautiful news that Christians believe and it’s why Jesus’ burden is light. We don’t have to carry our sins; he has carried them for us. But how does this help the person battling porn or sexual sin? And does part of you wonder if it might even make things worse? Won’t we just dive deeper into our sins if we know God will still see us as holy?

Grace vs. Shame

Our ongoing choice to sin still breaks the fabric of God’s design and is why there are still earthly consequences to our sins. The intense pain of broken hearts, promises, and relationships are scattered across the world of porn and sex addiction. And while these are motivating factors in getting us to want to be rid of our sins, using shame as a motivator won’t get us very far.

If it did, we wouldn’t still be battling our porn or sexual sin habits! Shaming ourselves or allowing others to shame us for our sins doesn’t address what we are really looking for beneath our desire for sexual sin: acceptance. Another way of saying acceptance would be: loving acceptance where we are valued for who we are. This is what we are looking for from pornography or from that next sexual hit. We experience it in a faux form, which only deepens our unmet craving for it.

But grace gives us what we’re really looking for. Grace is Jesus accepting us! It gives us a pipeline into our Heavenly Father’s unending love for us. We understand and experience that we are his valuable children, worth dying on the cross for and worth spending eternity with. We have to hang on to this. God says we are worth it. God loves us. God gives us a love that porn or sex (even within marriage!) will never satisfy. A human can never give us what only Jesus can give us in the gospel.

These are the messages we need to hear over and over again. This is what our band or brothers or sisters need to keep telling us over and over again, pushing us further and further away from the edge of that cliff. That cliff with the magnetic lie that we need porn or sex to tell us we are lovable and valuable.

The Feast

Knowing that we are already fully loved by our Heavenly Father isn’t motivation to continue in our sin. It is the Thanksgiving feast we have been craving. It’s the Thanksgiving feast we think we will find when dive into yet another dumpster in the back alley.

Our freedom doesn’t come from beating ourselves up for being hungry, it comes from dining at our Father’s table over and over and over again. And having that band of brothers or sisters dining with us, helping to keep us seated at the table with no more need to go toward the edge of the cliff. If and when we do stray away, the Thanksgiving table is still right where we left it! Our Father still loves us just as much. His yoke is still easy and his burden is still light.

Can you smell the aroma of the table?

Your seat is waiting for you.