Defeat Lust & Pornography man walking with bible
Defeat Lust & Pornography 5 minute read

3 Gospel Principles for Battling Porn Addiction

Last Updated: February 29, 2024

I can vividly remember the fear that gripped my life a decade ago when I was battling porn addiction. I remember the long nights binging on porn on my computer, tucking myself away in remote corners of a public library to download hardcore videos, driving to porn shops to buy DVDs, calling phone-sex hotlines—my life felt out of control.

I did all of this while professing to be a believer in Christ and while working as a minister of the gospel. The double life was as hypocritical as it was frightening.

Since those days, I’ve spoken to hundreds of individual Christians who have told me similar stories. And the question I’ve asked myself over and over again is this: How is it that so many believers in Christ can be gripped by a sin so powerfully?

Going Deeper into the Gospel

It is fair question to ask these people, “Do you believe you are really Christians? If you are so strongly gripped by sin, perhaps this is evidence that you are still a slave to sin. Perhaps you aren’t really born again.”

I say this is a fair question because all Christians—gripped by porn or not—are called to test the authenticity of their faith. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 13:5). Peter echoes, “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (2 Peter 1:10).

But regardless of whether you are a pretend-Christian or an authentically saved person battling porn addiction, the way out is the same. For both, the way to overcome the power of sin is through faith in the gospel.

The gospel of Christ is not merely a message we initially believe to be saved from the guilt of sin; it is a message we embrace in order to be saved from the grip of sin.

The Gospel of Costly Grace

Below is a video conversation of three noteworthy church leaders today: D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper. Here they talk candidly about how the gospel sets someone free from the grip of pornography (the relevant portion begins at the 6:40 mark).

John Piper’s question is the core of the conversation: How does the biblical gospel help someone ensnared in lust?

They talk about the message of “costly grace”: costly because it cost the Son of God His life, and grace because God’s favor is so freely given to unworthy sinners. They talk about three ways this gospel of costly grace brings about lasting change.

1. The gospel reveals the wrath of God against lust.

John Piper points out Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:27-30. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). God detests lust so much, we deserve hellfire for engaging in it.

Christ paid paid an enormous price for our lust, and this should change the way we see our sin: it exposes pornography as something repugnant, something from which we should want to flee.

We can see the ugliness of pornography in many ways. We can see it in the way it pollutes our minds, robs our affections, and exploits others. But looking at the cross, all the ugliness of sin is exposed.

The point is this: the more deeply we internalize the message of the cross, the more we will see the repulsiveness of our sin for what it is. The more we meditate on what Jesus endured on the cross—the curse of God—the more we will loathe our sin. The more we think about the mysterious rift between God the Father and God the Son experienced at the cross—”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”—the more we will sink under the thought of our sin.

It is then that we we can echo what one theologian wrote, “When we behold the disfigurement of the Son of God, when we find ourselves appalled by His marred appearance, we need to reckon afresh that it is upon ourselves we gaze, for He stood in our place.”

2. The gospel reveals the love of God for sexually broken people.

In the video, Tim Keller rightly says many people rush to the false intimacy of pornography because they hate themselves; they are consoling themselves on a parody of real love. In the fantasy world of porn, men and women are looking for refuge, relationship, and reward.

However, the more the porn-enslaved person embraces the gospel, the more they realize that the very things they are sinfully seeking in pornography are actually found in God. Porn makes false promises that offer to satisfy the soul, but only God delivers true satisfaction. In the face of Christ we meet a God who loves sinners, who welcomes the filthy prodigal sons and daughters home, who promises eternal life with Him.

This is experienced, again, in the gospel of costly grace. The more we meditate on the cross of Christ, we will see God’s ruthless pursuit of reckless sinners—and the more we can be satisfied in that love.

3. The gospel places us into a new community.

D.A. Carson mentions how essential brother-to-brother accountability can be when it comes to pornography.

It is important to note that accountability is not a second-best or a crutch for those who are “really screwed up.” Accountability is not a last resort; is is a lifestyle. Accountability is not an add-on. When God redeemed us, He did not just draw us to Himself; he drew us into a community of faith.

What is accountability? It includes, of course, a regular willingness to confess your sins to another believer (James 5:16), but it is more than this. It is also a willingness to receive gospel-centered encouragement. It is the regular practice of stirring up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25), encouraging each other so sin doesn’t deceive us (Hebrews 3:13), edifying each other (Romans 14:19), and bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

In the video, D.A. Carson recommends those who struggle with porn get Covenant Eyes on all their computers and devices. This is an ideal way to start the process of accountability in our lives around the issue of pornography. Covenant Eyes monitors everywhere you go online, rates every website for adult content, and sends an Internet Accountability Report to the people you choose.

If you need help starting an accountability relationship, after you sign up for Covenant Eyes you can take advantage of all our free resources for you and your Accountability Partner.

  1. Anita

    Really needed this article. This addiction contradicts heavily with my Christian beliefs. Please pray for me.

    • Ygal Thasi

      Be of good courage Anita. Do not give up the fight! I hope accountability partnerships can work for women too.

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