Student Culture, Trends & Issues

Whatever It Takes: Helping Your Students and Yourself Gain Freedom From Lust and Porn

Like many college freshman I was addicted to lust. This addiction started for me at a very young age. It crippled my spiritual life and caused more pain than I like to think about. It was a spiritual cancer eating away at every part of my life. Having this secret area of my life caused me to constantly feel guilty, insecure and fearful of what others would think about me if they found out who I really was.  I was trapped.

I am so grateful that God led me through a process towards freedom from this enslaving addiction. My hope is that by sharing my story others will find hope and practical ideas to help themselves and those they mentor.

1. Be Honest

The first step of freedom for me was just being honest. I remember staying up late one night at my parents house listening to one of my favorite Christian punk bands. God used the lyrics of a song to speak to me. Who would think any good could come from Christian punk!  🙂

I can’t do it on my own.
I need your help.
I’m tired of wasting all this time.
Help me live my life.
I can’t do it all alone.
Please stay by my side.

The words “I can’t do it on my own” struck me about my need to get help. Late that night I confessed for first time my shameful habits to my father. I was really scared because, let’s be honest, who wants to confess that kind of stuff to their Dad? To my shock he wasn’t surprised or disappointed in me at all. Instead he gave me grace and hope. I asked him to start keeping me accountable in this area. James 5:16 says Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” That night was the first time I confessed this struggle to anyone.  It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. After being honest with my Dad I was free to be honest with my twin brother and some of my other close friends. This step helped me more than any other.

If you are struggling in this area you need to find someone who you can be completely honest with. (Even if you are not currently struggling you may want to have someone check up on you regularly anyway.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).

People will not be shocked if you are honest about your struggles. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  I am yet to meet someone who never struggles in this area. So why does everyone act as if it is not a problem.

One person I am deeply impacted by is George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization.  He shocked many with his honest confession at Intervarsity’s large Urbana Conference. Here’s how he describes this experience.

“I have tried to be affirming for those who seek from me an accountability relationship. As creatures bent to sinning, we cannot master our sins alone. We need others who accept our sinfulness, but who will keep us from surrendering to it. My special “mentoring” ministry began with my own public confession. I was invited to speak to the Urbana missions conference in 1967. My message was not about missions. It was about sexual sin. That was the first time I gave my testimony in a large setting. Some were upset that I spoke so bluntly, but I told those young people that they, like me, needed to repent of sexual immorality. Some 4,000 stood up at the invitation, many weeping with repentance. I have spoken at Urbana three times since then, and every time, I am inundated with people who need someone who will hear their struggle without condemning them, and point them again to Christ.”  I would highly recommend this article by George Verwer called “A Wretch Like Me” http://www.georgeverwer.com/ip.php?tp=wretch

Our honesty helps us gain freedom and encourages others to ask for help. I would challenge everyone reading this to have someone you can have regular honest accountability with.

2. Develop Biblical Convictions

The next thing that really helped me was to start developing biblical convictions on lust. The most important start in developing biblical convictions in my life was reading the excellent book “Not Even a Hint” by Joshua Harris http://www.amazon.com/Not-Even-Hint-Guarding-Against/dp/1590521471. The title was taken from Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” The teaching and Bible verses in this book confirmed to me that lust was something I need to seriously turn from. It emphasized that we can’t change ourselves but only Jesus can change us by the power of the cross. I began memorizing the verses mentioned in this book and almost every verse I could find in the Bible on the topic of purity. I would quote these verses (sometimes even out load) when faced with temptations.  This habit helped me tremendously. This is one reason I am such a big advocate for scripture memory. Think about this. How often are you tempted when you have an open Bible? In Mark 4 Jesus was tempted three times by Satan.  Each time he answered with “It is written…” If Jesus needed to use scripture to fight temptation we would be wise to use it also. I would encourage you to study and memorize verses on sexual purity to build your biblical convictions. For a list of verses to study and memorize on lust click here. http://www.openbible.info/topics/lust

3. Take Drastic Measures

The last step for me was to take drastic measures to get free. I couldn’t gain true freedom until I was willing to do whatever it took to overcome lust. I am very challenged by Matt 5:27-29 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”  It  looks like Jesus is saying that we need to do whatever it takes to pursue holiness.

I told my Dad that each time I gave into temptation I would give our Church $100! Guess how many times I gave in? Twice! I paid my $200 and then went a very long time until I struggled with it again. That is what it took for me to motivate myself to overcome my addiction. I think about it kind of like a drug addict deciding to go into rehab. They are taking drastic measures to get free.

People sometimes say things like this are “of the flesh.” They can be, but I believe this is how God lead me to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13).  Often it takes a violent, ruthless attitude towards sin in order to overcome temptation.  In order to gain freedom you must be violently determined. “The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” Matthew 11:12.  When you have a spirit-led “whatever it takes” attitude towards sin I believe God will lead you to overcome your addictions.  This attitude often expresses itself in the form of practical steps.

Practical steps can help in huge ways. Your heart and mind will often follow your practical obedient actions. What drastic measures do you need to take to be free from lust? Getting accountability? Signing up for accountability software such as covenant eyes http://www.covenanteyes.com/ or xxxChurch http://www.x3watch.com?  Maybe it is doing something else really radical? What will it take for you get free? Do it!

What other resources have helped you (or others) to overcome the damaging effects of lust? I am curious to learn more about the resources that you have found helpful on this vital area.

[ RETURN TO THE SEX & THE SOUL HOMEPAGE ]

 

  • MJ

    love it! love it! (Not porn and lust, but these ROCK SOLID tips on overcoming.) Freedom is TRULY POSSIBLE, but it comes with a cost. However, I’ve found the cost of freedom far outweighed the cost I began to see porn taking on my life. By God’s grace (and the very exact recommendations you make here) I’ve been porn free from 2001. If you’re reading this, please know folks like Paul and I will pray for you, but you’ve GOT to tell someone you know who will speak LIFE into you, you need to plant the word of LIFE into your heart and you need to make the eye-gouging decisions necessary to find LIFE!

    • Paul Worcester

      Thanks MJ! Super encouraging to hear your heart on this. Do you have a blog or twitter? I want to check it out.

    • Paul Worcester

      Thanks MJ! Super encouraging to hear your heart on this. Do you have a blog or twitter? I want to check it out.

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