Your Struggle With Porn Comes From a Distracted Life

Friday, July 18, 2014

Your Struggle With Porn Comes From a Distracted Life

For some strange reason that I cannot explain, other than the grace and plan of God, I have never struggled with a porn habit.  I have looked at it a handful of times over the course of my life.  I have seen about a half dozen videos in my entire life.  While other habits have seemingly dominated my life at various times, I'm thankful that this was not one of them.  

Unfortunately, my introduction to it was a magazine I found in the crawl space of deacon's house.  Our youth group was helping he and his wife move.  I remember spotting it, grabbing it, stuffing it in my shirt, and then running off later to show my friends.  I still have several of the images in that mag etched in my mind.  Years later, when my parents got cable, I found that a porn channel would bleed through the static for seconds at a time, and I slowly pieced together my first porn flick in college.  And I was in Bible college. Unfortunately, that's more normal than it should be.


Over the years as I intersected with porn in various outlets there was the normal pattern of overwhelming guilt, obsessive human efforts at penitence, and ostentacious displays of religion to try and defeat it.  Paul says all of that sort of thing is...  Well.  This is a Christian blog and I probably shouldn't say that word here.  The Greek word is skubalon.  But the English word is often offensive to our ears.

In my 25 years of pastoral ministry in various contexts and churches, I've counseled countless guys who've come to me with this problem in their lives.  The Bible contains enough information and truth to help anyone out of this mess.  And there are enough Christian books out there written to help men with this desperate problem.  But in reality, these things don't really work that way, do they?  If they did, my garage partially filled with 4,000 volumes of Biblical studies, theology, and scriptural truth would have corrected the other habits I've been in bondage to in the past.  Here's a truth you can take to the bank.

Information NEVER leads to transformation.
ONLY revelation leads to transformation.

Here's something else you can take to the bank.  In 25 years of helping men to get free from this problem, every single man or boy I've helped has been in bondage to a distracted mind.  And their distracted mind has led to a distracted life.  Their distracted life has laid the foundation on which their porn addiction was built.  
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A distracted life is based on a distracted mind that has become so undisciplined and unfocused that every little thing that seems interesting is taken on board.  It's like a mental shopping spree with a credit card that has no limits, but that you still have to pay back.  If you're a Christian struggling with porn, it's like a mental (or financial) shopping spree in Christian bookstores, churches, podcasts, small groups, and accountability groups.  You make the mistake of thinking that just because books and sermons and friends are about God, embracing all of it into your life will help you overcome your porn addiction.  

It doesn't work that way.  That's like saying that because I can't walk around naked but have to wear clothes, I'll just go shopping and buy all the clothes that peek my interest.  I just end up adding another addiction to my current one, all the while lying to myself by telling myself that my new addiction is a replacement of the old one.  It's not a replacement.  It's an addition. And I will end up paying for it, usually in the form of stress, anxiety, discouragement, depression, etc.

Here's the way out, fellas:  Live an undistracted life.  How simple, right?  Lest you get angry with me for presenting a simple solution to what feels like a complex problem in your life, let me explain.  

Let's Start With Encouragement and Facts

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-r2oiIWz2tjE/UhLKOtG7_DI/AAAAAAAAATw/U-kHpJbC0DE/s1600/god-at-work.jpgA distracted mind and life for the Christian are usually filled with a bunch of good things that are about God, the Bible, church, fellowship, etc.  If you're struggling with porn, then anything that even remotely tastes like God is something you want to eat, hoping it will kill the craving for ungodly sex.  So first and foremost, I want to praise God for those taste buds in your life.  And I want YOU to praise God for that.  Let's start our fight with encouragement and blessing from God for what's true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).  

We can't start fighting porn from a place of lack and emptiness and discouragement.  We have to start fighting from a place of factual victory, that is, victory that is already present in your life.  And the fact that you hate what you do and want to please God and be rid of this thing is evident of the Spirit of God inside of you.  Otherwise, if He were not there, then you would not care a thing in the world about what you are doing and you'd enjoy as much of it as you could and then die and go to hell.  So first and foremost, great job.  "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him" (Phil. 2:13). Now it's time to get busy working "hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear" (Phil. 2:12).

Begin Walking in the Spirit

http://www.baalink.org/sites/default/files/media/ckeditor/listening_ear.jpgThe opposite of distracted is disciplined. Only discipline will help you repent from a distracted mind and life. The course of your life up to this point has been listening to too much and listening to yourself.  Satan and his demons love to overload your mind and life with good things.  They know that if they can overwhelm you with good things then they can keep you from concentrating with laser-focus resolve on the best things.  Everything God tells Christians to do - whether in the Bible, or in pastors messages, etc. - are good things to do.  But only the specific things God wants you to do right now are the best things for you.
 
The best things for you are the the things the Holy Spirit wants to tell you right now.  This means you have to start learning how to listen to him.  But don't worry.  Jesus made a blanket statement about his family members.  They are his sheep and they know his voice (John 10:27).  If you're a follower of Jesus you can hear him.  Never doubt that.  Ever.  If you are in his family you have already been hearing Jesus' voice.  Whether or not you knew that is a different matter altogether.  But make no mistake that you have been hearing him.  Now you just need to know what that sounds like, and how to distinguish his voice from the voices of distractions and demons, which usually go together.

Listening to Jesus is being led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14).  They are the same thing.  The Bible teaches us that Jesus himself was led by the Spirit (Matt. 4:1).  That means he put himself in a place to hear the Holy Spirit and allowed the Holy Spirit to tell him what to do.  When Jesus talked about not doing or saying anything unless the Father told him, that's what walking in the Spirit looks like (John 5:19).  You are led by the Spirit and are walking in the Spirit when you are listening to him and doing the things he's told you to do, saying the things he's told you to say, going where he's told you go, etc.  If you do anything else, you're getting distracted.  

Jesus never let himself get distracted from what the Father was telling him to do.  He never let himself get distracted from where the Spirit was leading him.  There were so many other things Jesus could have done, so many more people he could have healed, so many more things he could have taught and places he could have gone.  But one thing is clear in reading the gospels: he never let himself get distracted from his mission, and his mission was whatever the Father was telling him to do in that moment.

The best things for you right now in this moment are specific things God wants to talk to you about personally.  He knows you like no one else, and he knows what buttons to push, what wounds need healing, where you need encouragement, and when you need reproving.  So the most important thing for you at this juncture in your life is to do two things, when it comes to walking in the Spirit.  First, put yourself in a position to listen to the Holy Spirit, to hear the voice of Jesus.  Second, listen to the Spirit and focus your energies, resources, time, money, and friendships there.  There are two ways you can focus yourself there.

Interact with God Through the Bible

Begin reading, memorizing, meditating, and studying the Scriptures relating to the thing(s) God is talking to you about.  The Bible is the safest place to begin to hear the voice of God.  It is an entire book filled with stories, teachings, and truth about the things God has already said.  God will never say anything else to anyone else that is contradictory to what he's already said to other people in the Bible.  Take that to the bank, too.  

http://slbarr.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Old-Man-Reading-Bible.jpgWhen you think you hear God talking to you about something, study and read and meditate on the parts of the Bible that relate to that thing you think you hear God saying to you.  If you need help on how to do that, go ask someone who seems to know their way around the Bible.  Find a leader who seems to know how to find out things in the Bible and understand the Bible better.

As you are reading and studying and meditating on those parts of the Bible, the Holy Spirit will start talking to you even more.  He will take the things he's already said to other people in the past - the stuff recorded in the Bible - and he'll start making it make sense to you.  He'll connect the dots in your mind.  You'll start hearing him say things to you, through the parts of the Bible you're reading, that confirm or elaborate on the other things you think you've been hearing him say.

Also, as you begin to interact with God through the Bible, you will be building a filter in your mind.  That filter will begin to affect the way you think about things and process stuff.  This is where revelation comes in.  Learning the Bible doesn't help you change and get free of porn.  Walking the Spirit, letting him lead you and talk to you, and interacting with him in the Bible will put you in a place where revelation happens.  God will supernaturally reveal stuff to you that you cannot learn from other people or by yourself.  That's what revelation is.  

Connect to and Relate with Disciple-Makers

Jesus wants disciples, not converts.  He said clearly in Matthew 28:18-20 that disciples are those who obey the things He said.  Disciple-makers are those who lead other people to Jesus and then teach and lead them obey Jesus.  Living an undistracted, disciplined life happens when you connect with disciple-makers and then submit yourself to be led by them.  

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Nobody has ever led himself or herself into being an obedient follower of Jesus.  No one.  So don't let people tell you otherwise.  If that were possible then Jesus would not have given a mission to his disciples to make other disciples.  He would have simply told them to tell Christians that they should disciple themselves. But the story of the gospels is that Jesus led a group of twelve men to learn how to follow God and obey.  A person cannot lead themselves to obey God.  To be sure, they have a heart for obeying God.  But Christians have to be taught how to obey God.  The bottom line in your struggle with porn is that you need to be discipled.  So stop trying to do that to yourself or by yourself.

How can you find a disciple-maker?  They are usually leading in some capacity in a local church.  You know a disciple-maker is a leader and vice-versa, when you see two important things.  First, they are obeying Jesus.  You can't make disciples unless you are one.  Pretty simple, right?  Second, they are leading other people to Jesus and teaching them to obey Him.  If someone says they are a leader but they are not obedient to Jesus and no one is following them, then they are just taking a disobedient walk.  They are not really leaders.  

A wise disciple-maker will start with the things God is talking to you about.  They realize that each believer can hear the voice of Jesus spiritually and mentally (John 10:27).  Jesus taught a lot of stuff, didn't he?  So where do you start in learning to obey Jesus?  You start with listening to the Holy Spirit.  It's his job to talk to you about what Jesus said (John 14:26-27).  A wise disciple-maker konws this and is concerned ultimately with you learning to hear from God correctly and then you learning how to do what God says. 

As you hear from the Holy Spirit you should share everything you are learning with your disciple-maker.  Don't process stuff by yourself.  That's what made you distracted in the first place.  You are trying to lead yourself.  All that has produced in you before is you being the sole decision-maker about how to lead yourself, what you should do and read, etc.  That hasn't work for you so far, has it?  So don't do that anymore.  Process what you believe God is saying with your disciple-maker(s) and let them lead you in it.  Trust them.  If they have a proven track record of obeying Jesus and leading others then there's no reason to doubt or distrust that they can help you.

Conclusion: Persevere in These Things No Matter What
 
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If you pursue this simple course of life, things will become difficult.  You can take that to the bank, too.  You are a human being, living in a physical world which intersects at every point with an invisible world.  That world is filled with demonic powers who hate your guts and want you to stay in bondage to porn and live a totally distracted, unproductive, and ineffective life.  

You Will Fall.  But You Will Rise Up Again.

Demons are real and they will turn up the heat in everyway imaginable to get you to veer off course.  Don't fall for it.  You will fall for it at times.  You're human.  Expect to screw up.  God still loves you and never stops pouring out grace on you.  So just know that going forward.  But at the same time resolve not to fall, no matter what may come.  Proverbs 24:16 promises that even though a man who is pursuing righteousness falls seven times, he will continue to rise up again and again.  If you're a follower of Jesus, that promise is for you.

Distractions Will Pester You.  But They Can't Rule You.

Continue putting yourself in a place to hear from the Holy Spirit.  Continue to seek revelation from him.  Keep on standing in a place to get more wisdom and knowledge from him.  Don't stop seeking and listening to Jesus Christ.  Distractions will continue to pester you, but don't let them rule you.

Stay Focused on Listening to God and Processing What You Hear.

Keep writing down what you are hearing from him.  Keep going back to the Scriptures to make sure you are hearing him accurately.  Continue building that filter in your mind.  Distractions will continue to come your way via other good books, messages, podcasts, and testimonies.  But don't point your attention there.  Keep it on God's Word, centered around the thing he's talking to you about.

Stay Close to Your Disciple-Maker...at All Times.

Maintain a trusting relationship with your disciple-maker(s).  Keep processing everything you think you're hearing from God, and everything you're learning from the Bible with those who are leading you.  Allow yourself be led in the direction they are taking you.  You will be distracted by an enemy who will poke all sorts distrusting, doubting, and divisive thoughts in your mind.  But put them to death, rebuke them in the name of Jesus Christ, and stay on course. 

Embrace the Fact That Revelation and Growth are Progressive.

Walking in the Spirit, interacting with God in the Bible, and staying connected to disciple-makers puts you in a place to constantly receive revelation from God.  Revelation will eventually lead you to change and get healed and free of porn.  It won't happen overnight, or even in a week, or month, or even a year!  It happens gradually.  It's a process.  This is about something that happens in you progressively.  

So don't get impatient with this and try to run ahead of God, because you know what will happen then?  You'll get distracted all over again!  Stay focused on this pathway and you will change.  The righteousness, joy, peace, love, self-control, and all the things about Jesus and his kingdom that your heart truly craves will slowly but surely become real for you.  Believe it.   

As you persevere what you'll find is that a disciplined mind and life, that is led by the Spirit with disciple-makers, will progressively starve your craving for ungodly sex.  Starve it enough and it will wither.  If it withers long enough it will eventually die.  As you starve it, and as it progressively withers, your soul will simultaneously and with equal progression, come alive more and more.  With every "no" to a distraction, with every "no" to a temptation to look at porn or to lust, you are saying "yes" with equal force to something else.  

If you aim that "yes" to a distraction, you are simply creating another addiction that will ultimately kill your soul.  But if you aim your "yes" to discipleship, you will starve and eventually kill lust and porn and find yourself reveling in the life of peace, joy, and righteousness that you long for right now.  Be led by the Spirit and start becoming a disciple.  Do it today.  Turn off your computer and start right now!



About the Author: Rob is a follower of Jesus at Jubilee Church.  From there he pursues Jesus' mission at Revive Consignment as the Business & Operations Development Director, as well as at Jubilee Church of Atlanta, in Woodstock, GA. From there he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 20 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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