Defeat Lust & Pornography Peter Daniel James
Defeat Lust & Pornography 5 minute read

Don’t Just Quit Porn, Quit Lust

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

Jesus set the bar impossibly high. That is, it is impossible without His Spirit living in you. We all know that He said even looking at a woman with lust is committing adultery (Matthew 5:38). We also know that adulterers cannot inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:5).

But all of us lust. We are all doomed. I look at the high call of Scripture and the promise that we will be able to obey by His grace. I look at the high standard and then I look at my own life, and I am far from living up to it, even at my best.

The Gospel offers hope for true and total freedom, but my life looks hopelessly overrun by enslaving sin. How do we reach the life of freedom that is promised us over and over in God’s Word?

Here are two things to remember and four things to do:

Remember: Self-control is a fruit and as such grows seasonally and gradually

Did you know that some trees/bushes take several years of growth before you see a single fruit? There are also other trees that grow fruit the first year. God made a wide variety of fruit bearing trees and they all grow at different rates and seasons. Some produce vastly different amounts of fruit each season, while others are consistent each year.

Yet when he created all these different sorts of trees he stood back and said they are ALL good. The same applies to his children. We all bear fruit, but some take years. Some are fairly consistent for a time while others are extremely seasonal. But the off-season times don’t mean he has given up on us.

Many times we have off-seasons as reminders of what he saved us from. Other times it is merely to increase our hunger for him. I’m sure there are other reasons as well. Ask him (through prayer and his word).

Remember: The difference between your legal status and experiential status before God.

Passages like Galatians 5 and Romans 6 say that your sinful desires have been crucified. This sounds like it should mean that you don’t have them anymore, but that is not what Paul is getting at. In Romans 8 he says there is no more condemnation because your sinful desires were crucified. But he also commands, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies” (Romans 6:12). What does all this mean?

On the cross, your sinful desires were judged guilty and given the death sentence. However, until your current body dies, those desires are still present. But here is the message of hope: Those desires you still have can no longer condemn you! Legally you are sinless and free from the condemnation of sin.

Experientially, however, those desires are still there and it is still possible to let them rule you. As an illustration, imagine that you are transferred to another department at work and you have a new boss. But also imagine that your old boss is powerful and manipulative and makes (empty) promises. So while he is no longer your boss, he still tries to tell you what to do. You can either let him or not, but the fact remains that he has no right to rule over you.

The same is with sin. You can let it rule you but it has absolutely no right to do so. You have to stop believing its empty promises and start clinging to God’s true and better promises: eternal life in depth and length.

Measure your growth by increased love and holistic self-control, not by abstinence from porn

While keeping track of how often you fall into pornography or masturbation is helpful, it is not the best way to measure growth. By all means keep track so that you can look for patterns and take steps to guard yourself.  But as far as looking for a measurement of your growth, look somewhere else.

To see if you are growing you have to look across multiple seasons of your life. You are a fruit bearing tree. If you are in the middle of winter you can’t measure the harvest.

When you look at multiple seasons, look for an increase in at least two things (though all of the fruit of the Spirit should be in view): love and holistic self-control.

As for love: Have you noticed that you are more concerned about the well-being of others? Are your thoughts more and more occupied with pleasing God as Father and not as slave master?

As for holistic self-control: Are you not only redirecting your hands and eyes but also your thoughts and desires?

Seek repentance from all lust, not just pornography

Use accountability software. But don’t just wait for it to rat you out. Be humble enough to ask for help when you feel your heart wandering to lust even in the slightest. The slightest bit of lust is worthy of eternal punishment, but take heart: Christ paid it already. The more you confess, the more you see how much was his love on the cross all along.  If you don’t confess then you are essentially saying his love wasn’t enough to cover the “big” sins and the “small” ones.

Seek repentance from all idolatry, not just lust

Lust is a lake fed by many streams. There are many many idolatries in your heart, not just the idolatry of sexual pleasure and companionship. God desires that you be free from all enslaving sins. Not just lust.

Replace a lust for women with a love for women and God, not hatred or anger

When you see a woman who is clearly showing off her body, don’t prevent yourself from lusting by thinking of how ugly she is on the inside. That is not replacing lust with love but more hate. Instead, I recommend praying something like this: “God, please show her your true and better identity, beauty, and love. Please show me as well.”

If you remember and do these things, the high standard of the Gospel will give you hope and motivate you to keep going.

So, given this new way of measuring growth, how have you been doing in your fight against lust?

. . . .

Peter Daniel James ran a blog called “From Lust to Love.” He has struggled with lust for as long as he can remember, but specifically started looking at porn from the age of 12. He is blessed to be a husband and father in Simi Valley, California. He has seen remarkable growth of love and self-control in his heart since he began taking deep breaths of the Gospel around the summer of 2011.

  1. Williams

    I am really suffering from porn and masturbating … But I still have hope that I can quit it in the Mighty name of Jesus Christ through you..!
    I need help please.

    • Chris McKenna

      Hi, breaking free is almost never easy and requires a but-level desire to do whatever it takes. That’s a commitment from the 12-step programs you hear about. Here’s a blog post with actions from those who do break free. I wish you the best.

      Chris

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