Category Archives: Christian essays

Satan Doesn’t Make Us Do It

Logic says if God Almighty can’t make us do stuff what makes us think the devil can?  Yet don’t be deceived.  Satan exists.  If you believe Jesus is God’s Son you mustn’t dismiss His teaching that the devil’s a genuine entity.  Still, the porn addict doesn’t get to blame their sin on Old Scratch.  The Word emphasizes our flesh is the main culprit.  Actually, my disgusting habit sprang from a coalition of both.  My frisky libido is a vulnerable target for Satan to focus his attacks on.  Realize he doesn’t wear a red suit with a pointed tail and therefore a cinch to spot.  He’s cleverer than that.  Scripture tells us he’s an angel who, like us, is restricted by time and space.  He’s nevertheless a spiritual being free of physical limitations.  Plus he’s not alone.  He commands a formidable army of demons who worship him.  Paul wrote, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens (Ephesians 6:12).  As a Christian I trust Paul because there are days when evil seems to rule civilization, causing horrible atrocities that defy rational explanation.  If the devil can instigate mass murders then luring me into viewing porn is small potatoes.


It perplexes many believers that God gave Satan the same free will He gave us.  Truth is, we can both choose to sin.  God allows it.  However, the consequences of sin are as predictable as basic math.  Sin comes with a steep price.  If I do what I know is sinful I’m aligning myself with the devil whether I want to admit it or not.  The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8).  If I hanker for porn I’m foolishly making myself easy pickings for demons that have nothing better to do than tempt me into indulging in self-gratification.  Merrill Unger wrote, “Although the human race fell in Adam and became a prey to Satan and demons, the forces of darkness have always been severely restricted.  They can enslave and oppress fallen man only to the degree he willingly violates the eternal moral law of God and exposes himself to evil.”  In the depths of my addiction I became, albeit unwittingly, my own worst enemy.  As Merlin Carothers commented, “It’s never safe to step into Satan’s territory.”  I stepped in it all the time.


Those who don’t believe in angels or demons because they can’t see them are being unreasonably selective.  Physicists now claim the immense universe surrounding our planet is 80% filled with an invisible substance they call dark matter.  They don’t know what it is, what it looks like, how it behaves or where it came from but they’re 100% sure it’s as real as your elbow.  It has to be there.  Thus we can’t rule out the existence of spiritual personalities solely because they dwell in a dimension humans aren’t privy to.  Bible-reading Christians know this is true.  Paul wrote, “…I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).  Steve Gallagher opined, “Make no mistake, demons will do anything they can to get the believer to fall in order to draw him away from the Lord.  They’re brilliant strategists who’ve probably been following the man since he was born.  They’re knowledgeable of his weaknesses and know exactly how to entice him into their snares.”


I spent decades wallowing in the bottomless cesspool of pornography.  When I finally stepped out of denial and earnestly sought to defeat my addiction I had to come to grips with the fact porn had built a virtual stronghold in my psyche and it’d have to be assailed relentlesslyFor though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare and not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ(2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  The question arises: “Why’s the success rate for Christ-centered ministries like Celebrate Recovery no better than that of secular programs?”  I think it’s because God doesn’t intend to cure His children of only their most destructive affliction, He intends to remove everything that doesn’t look/act like Jesus.  And that thorough scouring process requires more effort, dedication and determination than most addicts are willing to commit to.


What I’m trying to convey is that any addiction, porn in particular, needs to be considered both a physical and spiritual illness.  As the initial passage cited confirms, the battle to combat the sinful desires of the flesh is fought primarily in the spiritual heart and mind of the believer.  And the more powerless a Christian admits to being in that war, the stronger God will prove Himself to be for them.  Paul openly complained about his infamous thorn-in-the-side weakness explicitly but also acknowledged it made him more dependent on his Heavenly Father who informed him, “…My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesswhich prompted Paul to write, Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).  As a confident man, it was embarrassing to confess my inability to conquer porn addiction on my own.  I had to humble my ego; else my bloated pride would’ve shut God out.  I had to don “God’s armor”, not just to protect myself from demonic assaults, but from my own sinful nature.



The Narrow Path

One of the many things Jesus taught was following Him isn’t easy.  On the contrary, He spoke repeatedly about how hard it is.  For instance: Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).  That’s not what Christian porn addicts care to hear.  He’s saying we have to constantly battle an incredibly strong, resilient and deeply-rooted urge to take the low road.  I’m not implying sexual sin is worse than any other.  We all have our own cross to bear.  But our increasingly-permissive culture makes the broad, spacious way extremely inviting for the porn addict to travel.  Regrettably, it was my “If it feels good, do it” generation of the 60s/70s that widened the gate to the destruction freeway more than any other that came before.  We promoted a pleasure-obsessed mindset Erwin Lutzer described thusly: “For those who believe in free love, sex is primarily a physical experience.  When you’re hungry you eat, when you’re tired you sleep, and when you’re turned on, you have sex.  Such reasoning may sound right, but it’s off the target by a mile.”  Consequently we now have billions of people going wherever their panting libido leads and all too often it guides them into the sordid world of pornography.  Once there it’s hard to get out.


Humankind has always been visually oriented – males in particular.  Not surprisingly many of the ancient drawings and illustrations depict sex acts.  The invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century was a boon to education but it also opened up a whole new method of spreading lurid images and raunchy literature into the mainstream.  But when television burst onto the scene 500 years later the weakened levies broke and the media declared illicit sex an antiquated taboo.  Advertisers knew all along sex sells and now they could force that potent lure into every living room via the “boob tube.”  Before we realized it the “anything goes” attitude acted out in TV sitcoms and dramas drastically lowered moral standards.  Yet that was just the beginning.  When VCRs came into vogue in the 1980s porn addicts could now buy or rent X-rated movies to view in the privacy of their home.  Then the internet arrived.  For addicts like me it meant no longer having to drive to a seedy “adult” establishment (and risk my shameful habit being discovered) in order to get my fix.  Satan’s long-term plan to poison humanity with smut has reached full fruition.  The porn plague seems unstoppable and it’s infecting the entire globe.  That’s where our soul-staining predicament stands right now.


The flesh corrupts.  That’s why Christians are called to be in this fleshy world but to never be of it because this isn’t where we belong.  Secularists label that a ridiculous notion.  Encapsulating the unbeliever’s attitude, A.W. Tozer commented that “Men think of the world, not as a battleground but as a playground.  We’re not here to fight, we’re here to frolic.  We’re not in a foreign land, we’re at home.  We’re not getting ready to live, we’re already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.”  On the surface that sounds great but born-again Christians are commanded to deny themselves and live to please our Savior only.  Paul taught, “…For you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light – for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-9).  It’s blatantly obvious many modern-day churches and their leaders have succumbed to the dangerous attraction of their teachings being considered non-controversial.  Rarely do I hear sermons exhorting believers to earnestly-but-graciously exist outside the herd mentality.  That’s why the lifestyle of an average American Christian is too often indistinguishable from that of an agnostic.  The deceitful “I’m not hurting anybody” refrain is why porn addiction flourishes among those who claim they obey God’s Laws faithfully.  It’s as if self-gratification somehow got demoted to being a harmless indiscretion, not a sin.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.


God knew the day would come when the word “obscene” would be passé and Christians would have to be reminded of His still-relevant warnings such as, “Be sober and alert.  Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering (1 Peter 5:8-9).  Steve Gallagher wrote, “The Christian struggling with sexual sin must acquire a new attitude about what Christian living is all about.  Our purpose in life is not to greedily fulfill every desire; we’re not to be gluttons for pleasure but rather soldiers willing to suffer hardship for the sake of Christ.  Rather than being immersed in the sensuous living of the world, we should be separated from it.”  Can a non-Christian porn addict overcome their compulsive behavior?  Yes, some have done that.  But without the power the indwelling Holy Spirit supplies, it’s tons more difficult because the path leading to complete freedom is, indeed, extremely narrow.  Paul’s oft-quoted verse of encouragement is one Celebrate Recovery highlights frequently because it’s helped so many find healing through surrendering their affliction to Christ.  He wrote, You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth (Ephesians 4:22-24).


Flesh Wounds

The porn addict engages in war daily because pornography is so accepted and accessible nowadays. I pray that despicable industry will come under intense attack soon.  Recently one of the major TV news outlets actually dared to address this fallen world’s smut problem, labeling the porn plague as a detrimental societal influence the “Me, too” movement should be aggressively railing against.  “Ya think?” I exclaimed.  I find it ironic that while viewing child porn is a felony (justly so), pre-teens having unrestricted access to graphic sex acts on their smartphone is waved off as no big deal.  We must demand our courts return to upholding the obscenity laws on the books because what we’re dealing with is what God’s Word calls “the flesh”, a term for mankind’s sinful nature in general.  The flesh has inflicted massive wounds on civilization from the get-go.  You don’t have to read far in your Bible to see it, either.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth (Genesis 6:12).  It brought on God’s watery reboot yet the rebellious flesh came back strong as ever.  It’s why we needed and now have a Savior.  His name is Jesus Christ.


God’s made it clear sex is therapeutic and beautiful as long as it’s between a married male and female.  He made it pleasurable for good reason.  If it wasn’t it’s a sure bet our species would’ve gone extinct eons ago because men are reticent to do anything that lacks something in it for them.  (Just sayin’…)  Thus God installed sex as a necessary motivational force alongside hunger, thirst and the survival instinct.  However, an overstimulated, unregulated sex drive leads to sex addiction.  Steve Gallagher wrote, “In addition to the incessant cries and ruthless demands of his [the addict’s] flesh for more, he has the world constantly telling him he can have more any time, any place, and with whomever he desires.”  For the porn addict it’s akin to an alcoholic’s residence being surrounded by liquor stores.  The battle to abstain from the urges of the flesh is a fierce one.  But it can be won if you let the Holy Spirit fight it with you.


One Bible dictionary defines flesh as “…the natural man, including the un-renewed will and mind, moving in the world of self and sense only.”  The flesh sees no need for spirituality.  Paul explained it succinctly: For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).  In other words, flesh and Spirit are in constant conflict.  For most of my life I let my gratification-seeking flesh run the show, reducing God to being a spectator in the bleachers.  My mind, the mysterious interface between my physiological brain and my spiritual soul, was powerless to control my libido.  I fantasized about sex all the time.  My unbridled lust ruled the roost.  Charles Hodge called flesh “the inward principle of evil which possesses our nature, and lies back of the will, beyond the reach of our power…”  Truth is the flesh will destroy us unless we call upon Jesus for help.


Once we surrender to Christ and repent of our sins the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in our heart.  The flesh doesn’t take kindly to this invasion and things heat up quickly.  Paul wrote, For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want (Galatians 5:17).  This is where our free will comes into play because the choices we make moment to moment determine which side will dominate.  Paul put it this way: “…A person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8).  He also taught us how to resist: “…Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires (Romans 13:14).  The indwelling Holy Spirit can reprogram your mind from its default setting of wanting to view porn to having the option of refraining from indulging in that demeaning, immature activity.  It doesn’t mean you won’t, but you no longer have to.  I had to learn to “just say no” to temptation.  After decades of ogling porn it wasn’t simple, though.  As Paul instructed, I had to practice steering my thoughts out of the gutter.  “…Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.  And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, practice these things.  And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).


Remember, wars are inherently vicious.  And the ongoing war waged between your flesh and your Spirit won’t end this side of heaven.  In Celebrate Recovery we emphasize the adage of taking it “one day at a time” because a victory today doesn’t guarantee one tomorrow.  The enemy’s relentless, always trying to convince you to quit.  Jay Adams wrote, “…Too many Christians give up.  They want the change too soon.  What they really want is change without the daily struggle.”  I wish I could promise you your recovery will be a cinch but I’m just not that big a liar.  Suit up.


How Bad Do You Want It?

Questionable grammar aside, the title of this old Don Henley song hits the bullseye when it comes to addiction recovery in general.  Saying you’re ready to repent of a particular sin and doing it can be two different animals altogether.  For the Christian addict, following what God’s Holy Word instructs us to do to de-idolize our “sin of choice” enables us to free ourselves from slavery to it.  But are we willing to adhere to the discipline and self-denial required to overcome our obsession?  Will we “walk the walk” or simply “talk the talk” as we continue to sharpen our hiding skills?  Don’t buy the lie that insists merely reading your Bible daily, tithing faithfully and attending Celebrate Recovery meetings will, in and of themselves, make your cravings for sinful things/behaviors disappear like magic.  It takes maintaining persistent determination to become righteous for as long as it takes, even if the process involves years or even decades of struggle.  What you must ask yourself is this: How bad do you want to change?  Bad enough to endure scorn, ridicule and/or ostracization by friends and family members?  Sorry, but half-hearted attempts to let the Holy Spirit transform your heart and mind won’t work.  It takes everything you’ve got.  You have to go “all in.”  And that means surrendering it all to God Almighty.


Frank Worthen wrote, “When we reach the point where we realize our own efforts are getting us nowhere, we accept the conclusion we can’t change ourselves.  The next question to ask is, ‘Do we really want our lives to be different?’  God usually does very little in our lives until we get honest with him.  He knows if we’re asking Him for deliverance when we really don’t want it.  If change isn’t happening… we may need to admit we really don’t want it.  Lasting freedom from sin comes when our motives are pure: when we don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit.  Our desire for a full, rich relationship with the Lord is the motivation which clears the way for real change.”  Look, you can blame God all you want for not instantly taking away your destructive urges but it won’t alter the hard truth that you brought your addiction upon yourself via the dubious choices you made.  The good news is that, despite the mess your sinful nature got you into, God will change you if you want change more than staying the way you are.  How can you know with absolute certainty He’ll keep His end of the deal?  The Bible is full of His promises and God doesn’t lie.  Ever.  “…If my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14). “…Take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.  Commit your future to the LORD!  Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf (Psalm 37:4-5). Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).


Wait!  There’s more!  Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I say, rejoice!  Let everyone see your gentleness.  The Lord is near!  Do not be anxious about anything.  Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.  And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).  In other words, if you do something about your affection for sin then the omnipotent God of the universe will reciprocate in kind by giving you the strength to start hating it.  In my case I was forced to admit my lifelong secret addiction to pornography had stained my heart to the point where I’d turned into a horrible person no one cared to associate with.  The night my wife confronted me with the shameful, undeniable evidence I sank to my knees and pleaded with God to heal me of my disgusting habit.  I finally wanted change bad enough to give Him complete control of my life.  At last I was ready to accept His terms for rehabilitation.  Steve Gallagher wrote, “God guarantees freedom to His children, but it’s their responsibility to meet the conditions.”


Understand your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you to remain in the clutches of sin.  He will answer your prayer to break loose from the bonds of addiction.  His Word tells us repeatedly of His boundless mercy and unconditional love.  It’s right there in black and white.  Freedom can be yours!  Check it out yourself: “…Whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24).  Our Heavenly Father came through for His children ages ago and He hasn’t changed a bit since.  And what’s true of God is true of His Son, our beloved Savior: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8).  It was He who taught us, For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:8-11).  Have you had enough of your stinkin’ addiction to surrender it – all of it – to your higher power, Jesus Christ, whose power knows no limits?  I used to tell myself I could stop patronizing the porn merchants at any time.  But that was bull dookie.  I couldn’t.  It took doing it God’s way in order to quit.  One day at a time.




The Wide Turn

When a Christian porn addict finally steps from denial and repents of their sins it’s natural they’ll expect God to heal them pronto.  After all, He’s God.  He can do anything.  But rarely does He take away out-of-control habits overnight.  Those of us who spent decades filling up our hearts and minds with obscene images find out in a jiffy replacing them with wholesome, worthwhile thoughts will take longer than we want.  Porn addiction is akin to a huge aircraft carrier in that it takes even the most modern of them at least 4.5 miles to turn around.  Therefore steadfast patience is essential to recovery.  We have to trust God knows what He’s doing.  Paul wrote, Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).  In other words, we may feel we’re barely making headway through a long, dark tunnel but there’s a beckoning light at the end of it that keeps us moving forward.


Looking back over the 9 years I’ve spent overcoming my addiction I can see a “quick fix” wouldn’t have been in my best interest.  Ogling porn and pleasuring myself were but symptoms stemming from my core problem – self-reliance.  Until I learned I was utterly powerless to combat my sinful nature on my own and that my only hope was to rely totally on my Heavenly Father for strength I was merely slapping Band-Aids on the gaping hole in my heart.  The first principle in Celebrate Recovery is: “Realize I’m not God.  I admit I’m powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.”  I had to get that sobering truth through my thick skull before any healing could take place.  See, there’s no substitute for God’s power.  David cried, Give us help against the enemy, for any help men might offer is futile.  By God’s power we will conquer; he will trample down our enemies (Psalm 60:11-12).  When I began my recovery all I wanted was to be set free from the chains of my addiction.  God intended to do a lot more than that, though.  He wanted to transform everything about me and that makeover was going to be painful at times.  Steve Gallagher wrote, “Deliverance from sexual addiction involves personal loss.  A true overcomer must part with certain relationships, places and things that were intimately associated with his sinful lifestyle.  This is extremely difficult and often traumatic to the sex addict who’s looked to his sin for comfort, pleasure, and as an escape from the real world.”  Subconsciously I’d made porn my idol and dethroning it was going to take time and effort.  God knew how hard it would be.  I didn’t.


I’m not a fighter.  Never have been.  I don’t even like to argue.  I always figure out a way to steer around any pothole I encounter.  But I realized I was going to have to figuratively “climb into the ring” with my porn addiction every day and I was going to need God in my corner.  “…We do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  Take every thought captive…  Holy smokes.  That’s a big order.  I took that to mean my battle was really against me and the love I had for my sin-of-choice.  I had to start hating it or I’d never stand a chance of defeating it.  And, because I’d been feeding the wretched “old man” Wheaties for decades, he wasn’t about to take a dive anytime soon.  I had to develop an unflagging determination to win and a willingness to do whatever it took, however long it’d take.  As a leader in CR, I’ve seen hundreds throw in the towel when they saw what they were up against in their muscled sinful nature.  It can be intimidating and many give up.


But I can testify there’s hope for even the worst of addicts.  No mountain’s too tall when God’s your Sherpa guide.  He’s created ministries like Celebrate Recovery and Overcomers Outreach that provide workable steps and principles to follow and, most importantly, a group of Christians who’ll walk beside you as you heal – one day at a time.  If you stick with the program and trust God before long you’ll see tangible progress being made.  Like any challenging climb you’ll stumble sometimes but when you’ve got the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit right there to yank you back on your feet quitting doesn’t make sense.  I’m also blessed with a sponsor and several accountability partners who constantly encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the going gets rough.  Without them I’m not sure where I’d be right now.  At one point I realized I’d gone an entire day without thinking about porn and I knew I was beginning to make the wide turnabout towards freedom.  All these years later I’m happy to report I’m no longer a slave to porn.  The mountain was scaled.  It was a slow and sometimes daunting climb but the view from the summit is well worth the struggle.  God will never let you down if you sincerely desire to leave addiction behind.  The Bible confirms it, proclaiming “…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  Focus on where you’re going and not where you’ve been.  You’ll get there.







A Matter of Pride

Webster’s defines pride as “an exaggerated opinion of oneself.”  I can’t think of a single instance when, in that sense, pride is beneficial.  And if you’re a disciple of Christ, pride must be executed.  Jesus said, If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).  Yet nothing’s harder for a porn addict than denying himself.  Why?  Larry Crabb wrote, “The lethal blow is dealt not to our humanity, but to its corruption.  Because our soul is so thoroughly stained with self-reliance, the death of pride feels like the death of our self.”  Exactly.  Next Jesus added, For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it(Luke 9:24).  Our pride takes those words as a personal threat and it’ll do everything possible to protect itself.  I previously wrote about some of the excuses porn addicts use to justify their atrocious, destructive habit.  Fact is, pride’s the only one that’s legitimate because it’s the root of the problem.  So when they learn becoming a born-again Christian entails killing it, pride will fight tooth and nail to survive.  Thus pride becomes the #1 enemy of the “new creation” the Holy Spirit initiates and begins to nurture in the believer.  And that battle for supremacy can get downright brutal.


Pride isn’t just one thing.  It’s an overbearing, micromanaging multitasker poking its self-promoting nose into every aspect of a person’s life (especially the porn addict’s), convincing them they won’t find fulfillment if it’s not in charge.  What it hides is that it’s a cancer.  Solomon wrote, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).  Since the word haughty is passé nowadays it behooves us to recall its true meaning – thinking we’re better than someone else.  No wonder it’s rarely used!  This world teems with haughty people who won’t admit they are!  God has a major problem with haughtiness.  He said, “I will destroy anyone who slanders his neighbor in secret.  I will not tolerate anyone who has a cocky demeanor and an arrogant attitude (Psalm 101:5).  Due to that ominous warning pride’s extremely self-protective.  Other entities, God in particular, make it feel vulnerable so it erects walls and barriers accordingly.  The Bible states, God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  Pride despises humility because a humble mien is the strongest weapon an addict (of any kind) can wield to break free of their debilitating obsession.  Therefore pride’ll try to convince the mind humility’s a sign of weakness that’ll only lead to opportunistic folks taking advantage of them.  It’ll also tell the porn addict they have every right to proudly view whatever they darn well please.


When pride is seated on the throne the addict becomes unapproachable.  Attempts to confront, correct or advise them regarding the error of their ways are summarily ignored.  Even a Christian addict will accuse those who dare suggest they’re in deep denial about their affliction of being judgmental and cite Matthew 7:3 about their having a beam of wood sticking out of their eye.  In essence, pride cultivates in the individual a “know-it-all” mindset that’s nearly impossible to reason with.  That was me.  Nobody could tell me nothin’.  I had all the answers.  Or so my pride assured me.  Paul wrote, If someone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become foolish so that he can become wise.  For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).  Until I hit a brick wall in my addiction I never entertained for a moment the thought there was a lot I didn’t know and had to learn.  You see, I was too busy conning folks, masquerading as a wholesome “good guy” who had no sinful vices.  As far as I was concerned my downloads didn’t stink.  Therefore I didn’t need a fun-spoiling God.  I was doing His job just fine, thank you very much.  I deemed His moral laws outdated so I felt empowered to make up and live by my own.  Indulging in porn?  Shoot, as long as I kept it private it was okay in my book.  Ironically, even though I was the world’s worst backslider my puffed-up pride had fostered in me an unsubstantiated “holier-than-thou” mentality that, in retrospect, I now find shameful.  How blind I was!  I’d gotten baptized when I was 9 so I figured, since my “ticket to heaven” was permanently punched, that symbolic act gave me carte blanche to tell others what horrible sinners they were.  All these negative traits were products of my unrestrained pride.  That’s why Jesus taught it must be defeated; else it’ll rule and ruin us.


My egotistic “old self” addicted to porn had to die so the humble “new self” could take over.  Andrew Murray wrote, “This is the true self-denial to which our Savior calls us – the acknowledgement that self has nothing good in it except as an empty vessel which God must fill.  It’s simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.”  Humbling oneself before your Heavenly Father doesn’t mean you’ll now develop self-loathing or low self-esteem issues.  The silent inner peace that grows from willfully obeying Christ’s teachings and joyfully serving your fellow man is a blessing. Surety of purpose fosters the healthy spiritual love for yourself Jesus insisted is essential to holiness.  He taught, Let him who is the greatest among you become the servant (Luke 22:26).  Yes, that’s extremely difficult.  Embracing a servant’s outlook goes against everything this fallen world advocates so Christians have to fight not only their stubborn pride but the secular “anything goes” mentality surrounding them.  But here’s the truth: The addict who loves others as himself will see their desire for pornography fade – along with their pride.




Excuses, Excuses

A blogger I respect posted an alarming statistic: In 2010 there were 900 certified sex addiction therapists in the U.S.  In 2017 that number was 2,500.  Talk about a growth industry!  Thus it’s logical to connect society’s unconscionable apathy towards pornography to why so many are seeking help for their obsession with it.  Obviously, more people are viewing sex addiction as a serious malady and are willing to let professionals assist them in discovering what’s causing their compulsive behavior.  While Celebrate Recovery’s in-depth step study course does that too (and most participants benefit greatly from it), exhuming and examining tragic or abusive incidents in one’s past doesn’t always translate into positive results in the present.  The danger is that, sans skilled spiritual guidance, the addict will simply add those traumatic events to their list of excuses.  The Bible teaches Christians struggling with any recurring sin should focus on the here and now, not on memories from the past.  Fact is there’s absolutely no Scriptural support for assigning full blame to folks who mistreated or betrayed us earlier in life for any addiction.  Rather, it insists our sinful nature is the real culprit that must be confronted and dealt with.  Check out King David.  When he was called on the carpet by Nathan over the atrocious sins he’d committed to have Bathsheba he didn’t claim it was due to being underappreciated by his horde of wives and concubines.  Nope.  He accepted all the blame, humbled himself before the Lord and repented.  Porn addicts must do the same.


But playing the “not-my-fault card” is very tempting because everyone does it to a certain extent.  And, according to Freudian psychology, parents are the top blame-getters.  God begs to differ: The person who sins is the one who will die.  A son will not suffer for his father’s iniquity, and a father will not suffer for his son’s iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness, and the wicked person according to his wickedness (Ezekiel 18:20).  God’s not saying horrible things don’t happen that end up causing us problems down the line.  They do.  However, we’re encouraged to courageously move forward, Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead…” (Philippians 3:13).  The Holy Spirit will enable us – if we let Him.  The past will always be there.  We can’t change it.  But by taking responsibility for how we let it affect us today we can free ourselves from the joy-stealing burden it’ll impose on us.


Another easy target presented as the excuse for an individual’s porn addiction is the spouse.  I confess.  I used it myself.  (How two-faced I was!  I’d been an avid porn enthusiast all during my bachelor days, too.)  Rationalizing my wife wasn’t as fascinated with sex as I was and then blaming her for my premeditated, calculated decision to immerse myself in the sordid world of porn was a display of my darkening, extremely self-centered heart.  The truth of the matter is I indulged because I wanted to.  If my love and respect for my wife had been genuine I wouldn’t have.  A conscientious Christian husband must first examine himself to see if there’s something he’s doing that’s keeping his wife at a distance and then do something about it.  I also should’ve never bought into the widespread-but-erroneous belief that my wife’s primary responsibility in our marriage was to “see to my needs” while, at the same time, I was routinely neglecting hers.  Alas, most porn addicts are convinced it’s all about them 24/7.


God’s yet another handy scapegoat.  Some addicts direct their anger over their bad habit at their Creator (whatever they opine Him/Her/It to be), either for “making them this way” or for not instantly eradicating their strong craving for porn toute suite on demand.  But blaming God is so lame.  He didn’t coerce you or anyone else on earth to sin.  Truth is He’s gone above and beyond to make salvation and freedom from addiction available to everybody.  Just as it falls upon each individual to take full responsibility for what they choose to fill their days up with, they must also decide whether or not to accept God’s gracious gift of eternal life via believing in His only begotten Son and what He did on our behalf.  We must own up to the fact that porn addiction is not only a sin against God but that only He has the power that’ll enable us to overcome our out-of-control fleshly desires and to follow His instructions for becoming a healthy, mature adult.


Perhaps the most frequent excuse given is one that psychiatrists, therapists and even Christian counselors have granted way too much credibility – emotional defects.  The trouble with this diagnosis is that it often leads to years or even decades of an addict zeroing in on their naturally-fluctuating feelings and still not making noticeable headway towards overcoming their ugly habit.  Introspection alone won’t cure what ails us.  Steve Gallagher wrote, “It needs to be stated that for 2,000 years God’s been successfully and powerfully transforming hopeless sinners into bright, joyful saints without the aid of psychology.”  Emotional defects are but symptoms of the bottom line condition we all share – our wicked hearts love to sin.  The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?(Jeremiah 17:9).  Me?  I paraded out all the excuses I could amass but the unavoidable truth was this: The affection my heart had developed for porn had become unmanageable.  I was at fault for following sin where it took me.  My addiction brought a lot more than all-too-brief moments of endorphin-fueled pleasure into my existence.  It brought guilt, a contrary disposition and mounting dissatisfaction with everything.  Ironically it wasn’t emotional defects causing my addiction.  Just the opposite was the case.  What I needed was a safe place where I could go and be me.  I found it at Celebrate Recovery.  You can, too.