5 minute read

Finding the Willpower to Defeat Porn: Part 3

Last Updated: November 3, 2021

Noah Filipiak
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.

You are tired of the battle. You are tired of fighting against temptation and losing. For every step forward you take, you take two steps back.

You assess your options at this point. You can give up and binge on your addiction. You know this will only make matters worse, but it can feel like the only option at times. Or you can keep battling as you have been. You can keep fighting, bringing a knife to a gunfight, getting killed again and again. It just doesn’t feel like you can keep that up much longer.

We talked in part 1 about the need to bolster your band of brothers or sisters who are holding you up in this battle. You can’t do this alone. We talked in part 2 about how we need more than behavior management and willpower from this band of brothers and sisters. We need to find that desire beneath our desire to act out, that deep desire for acceptance and have that desire met by Jesus. The aroma of his Thanksgiving feast smells delicious and he has saved a seat at the table for you.

There’s a lot that goes into these first two steps:

Regular accountability meetings, being reminded of Jesus’ love for you, and being asked hard questions about lies you’re believing.

Spending daily time with Jesus, reflecting on his love for you.

Reading through books, like Beyond the Battle, that fill you with the truths you need to combat the lies you are prone to believe.

Using Covenant Eyes on all your online devices.

Here’s some jarring news: You will try all of these things, and they won’t work. Not a great sales pitch, right? The reason these things won’t work is that we have an expectation that there is a silver bullet out there. That if we do this one magic thing, all of our decades of addictive patterns will simply evaporate.

The saying, “Work smarter, not harder,” is true. You might be trying things that aren’t the right things. But once you find the right things, as I’ve outlined earlier, they still aren’t going to work right away. If you’ve tried everything and it’s not working, do you know what you need to do?

Continue trying everything.

And continue.

And continue.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, it’s a lifetime, not a marathon.

Not Just Behavior Change

The reason you have to continue trying everything is because you are not just trying to change a behavior, you are trying to reshape your soul. Or more accurately, you are allowing God to reshape your soul. And soul-shaping takes time. Lots of time.

I love the smoothness of a perfect skipping stone. I love thinking about what this stone used to look like before it was transformed by the flow of the river’s water. It’s amazing to me how the force of water, over a long period of time, can reshape and smooth out something as hard and fixed as a rock. A polygon-like rock doesn’t jump into a river for five minutes and jump back out smooth, flat, and ready for skipping. A rock has to be in a river for countless numbers of years, the moving water rolling over it, smoothing and shaping it down at such microscopic levels you’d never see it happening. Yet pick up a rock from any stream or river and you see the undeniable change this process makes. The only thing the rock has to do is stay in the river.

It’s not that different for us. Our first job is to find the right river, the Jesus River. But taking a 5-minute dip into the river is not going to undo what decades of addictive formation have done to our hearts and minds. Reading one book or listening to one sermon (or reading a 3-part blog series!) is not going to fix you. The best thing these tools can do is get you into the right river and help you stay in that river.

And help you stay in that river.

And help you stay in that river.

I use Covenant Eyes. I have close friends I have long talks with about my sexual temptations and fantasies and how I am or am not experiencing Jesus’ love for me. I have a group of mentors that I sent gut-level transparent emails to about what I’m being tempted by and how they can pray for me. I have a friend I try to text every day. I participate in a weekly Beyond the Battle alumni accountability group online (www.beyondthebattle.net if you want to join me). I do the daily devotions in the back of the Beyond the Battle book, spending daily time reflecting on Jesus’ acceptance and love for me.

Ebbs and Flows in the Journey

I’ve experienced ebbs and flows in my journey toward freedom, but to be totally honest with you, I am experiencing incredible soul-level transformation right now. I am beginning to enter new territory of losing my desire to lust and loving my wife as the whole person she is. I am not fully there and the ebbs and flows continue, but I am beginning to enter that land. I am beginning to experience soul, heart, and mind change that is not of my willpower, but is happening in the deepest wirings of my desires. To what silver bullet would I credit this growth? There isn’t any such thing. The credit goes to all of the things I listed above, and God’s patience in continually and slowly shaping my soul as I keep myself submerged in his waters.

My process is going to continue for the rest of my life, and yours will too, if you let it. To let it you have to continue trying everything. Continue reading books. Continue listening to podcasts and sermons. Continue using Covenant Eyes. Continue reading the Covenant Eyes blog. Continue in your accountability group. Continue in your small group. Continue to be vulnerable and transparent with trusted brothers and sisters.

Celebrate Wins and Growth

As you continue on this journey, celebrate your wins and your growth. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up when we stumble and fall, throwing out all of the good. Yes, we want to get to the point where we no longer desire pornography. Yes, we want to get to the point where we no longer desire lust and we see all men and women as the full, sacred human souls that they are. Yes, we want to stop acting out. Yes, yes, yes. But if you aren’t there yet, is there anything you can still celebrate? Can you look back and see progress? Are you looking at less porn than you used to? When you do stumble and fall, do you tell someone right away and strategize ways to be stronger together next time? The transformation is going to come in stages and often will take years to come to maturity. Celebrate the ways you are more mature now than you were six months ago. And if you’re worse off today than you’ve ever been, make this your “Day 1.” Make this the day you jump into the Jesus River and keep yourself there. Embrace the shotgun approach. Throw everything you have into the battle and don’t stop, no matter how bleak it gets.

Let the river wash over you and again and again and again.

Get your band of brothers and sisters to help keep you in the river. To help continue reminding you of the truths we’ve discussed in this blog series.

To help keep you at Jesus’ Thanksgiving feast.

If your faith is in Jesus, God cannot love you any more or less than he does right now.

If trying everything isn’t working, continue trying everything! His grace is sufficient for you. His power is made perfect in weakness.

  • Comments on: Finding the Willpower to Defeat Porn: Part 3
    1. Daniel on

      I no longer believe God cares about me. I feel like I am too far gone in my sin. I am at the point where I no longer want to fight.

      Reply
      • Keith Rose on

        Daniel!

        Thanks for your comment, my heart breaks for you, brother. God cares about you and you are never too far gone in your sin to find freedom. We hear stories all the time of people who are “too far gone” to get free—and they do! You’re not alone. Check out Nate Larkin’s powerful story, or Greg’s story about the best and worst day of his life. We’ve also got a post that boils down the process of quitting porn into 6 Essential Steps.

        Don’t quit! If you need other resources, let us know how we can help.

        Blessings,

        Keith

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *