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Dealing With Porn and Lust (Part 2)

Nov 20 2020

  1. Read part 1
  2. Read part 2
  3. Read part 3
  4. Read part 4

I believe in shotgun style repentance, which is to say most people do best to use a scatter shot approach to dealing with sin. And frequently God delivers us from sin through a number of different means all working together, pushing and pulling us into sanctification. And for those who have experienced this grace, we look back and it’s never easy to explain how or why we repented of any of our sins. There may be points where specific decisions were made and promises kept, but the cumulative effect of grace is always thankful hearts, overflowing with gratitude, recognizing the miraculous nature of deliverance.

One side of dealing with the sin of lust is amputation — extreme violence to the limbs and organs facilitating sin. And so on the one hand, sin should be dealt with head on, no holds barred: confession, restitution, moving away, quitting your job, getting rid of your computer, cancelling the internet, cable, phone, etc., whatever it takes.

But repentance is always at least two acts in one: putting off and putting on. And I’ll be covering this in more detail in a future post, but the point I want to make here is that both must be done. We must always put off sin and put on Christ. The principle here is found in Ephesians 4:17-32. Paul says to put off the old man and put on the new man. In fact, as Paul gives examples of what he means, it becomes clear that putting on the new man, putting on Christ is one of the central ways we put off sin and put off the old man. In other words, when you grab hold of Jesus, whatever was in your hand before comes loose. You can’t hold that sin and hold Christ at the same time. You can’t speak the truth and lie at the same time. You can’t steal and give to those in need at the same time. You can’t be bitter and angry and forgiving and kind all at the same time. Jesus and sin just don’t mix.

But this means that one of the things sinners must learn to do is pay no attention to their sin. One of the Devil’s strategies is to distract God’s people with their ugly hearts. But we must not let our sins distract us. And particularly repulsive sins like porn are not only disgusting but also humiliating. No man delights in the thought of confessing the lust in his heart; because we are descended from Adam, because we have rejected the grace of God, because we have loved the darkness, there is a lot of darkness in our hearts.

But deliverance from sin does not come from looking at our sin; it comes from looking to Christ. Deliverance from our disgusting infatuation with darkness doesn’t come from squinting at the darkness. In the darkness, you can’t see anything. In the darkness, everything is black, everything is dark. You can only see if you look to the light. And it’s the same deal with every sin, but perhaps more pointedly when the sin seems particularly embarrassing.

Masturbating while watching porn is gross and vile and guys who struggle with patterns of this feel guilty, ashamed, humiliated, and disgusting. And the Devil wants you to wallow in that shame. But Jesus wants you to get out of it. He bled and died for our all our disgusting sin, and it’s only pride and unbelief that refuses to look to Him.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that in addition to cutting of your hand and plucking out your eye, you need to love Christ, love His people, and get busy living like a Christian. Now if you’re in leadership in a church, depending on the severity of the problem you may need to step down or take a sabbatical, but that doesn’t stop you from living like a follower of Jesus. There may be real and lasting consequences to sin, but that doesn’t stop anyone from loving Jesus, loving His people, and loving the lost and the lonely. Part of the slavery of sin is making sinners feel dirty and defiled such that they pull back, they stop fellowshipping with believers, they stop volunteering to serve, they refuse to share their faith with unbelievers. But that’s like refusing medicine because you’re sick.

You think you’re unworthy; you’re a hypocrite; you’re a liar. But that’s only true if you don’t hate your sin, if you’re not fighting your sin. Well, you say, I wasn’t fighting sin last night when that page popped up on my computer. Yeah, well what are you doing right now? What are you going to do today? Instead of surfing around aimlessly on the web at 2 in the morning, why don’t you start going to bed at a reasonable hour and planning to fellowship with some godly friends? Why don’t you find a homeless shelter to volunteer at? Why don’t you go to a Bible study? Spend time in prayer, memorize Scripture, invite your neighbors over for dinner, go do something constructive, something pleasing to God.

The point is that we always need to repent of sin, but repentance means putting off sin and frequently you cannot put off sin unless you are busy putting on Christ. You cannot let go of sin, unless you are grabbing hold of Jesus.

So don’t let your lust distract you. Jesus died to put that sin to death. Amputate the sin and look to Christ. Get rid of your laptop and start going to a Bible study. Drop your cable and start volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center. Cancel the data plan on your phone and call up one of the deacons and see if you can help with anything.

And don’t say you’re such a lousy stinking sinner. Of course you are, that’s why you need Jesus. And when you recognize the depth of your need, when you see how badly you need the grace of Jesus, what better time to try to convince your unbelieving neighbors of their need for a Savior? That’s not hypocrisy; that’s honest, heartfelt love for the gospel.

Original post here.