AN ENEMY THAT MUST BE CONQUERED
Pornography as a mechanism and multiplier of lust is an enemy that every Christian must conquer because the adulterous heart has no place in the Kingdom of God. This is a battle you cannot afford to lose. And this is an enemy that you must conquer. There can be no peace treaties made in your fight against adultery!
My goal in this exposition is to convict your heart of Christ’s command to repent through the word of God, to exhort you to victory in the faith of Christ, and to rebuke the demonic lies that wage war against your soul so that you can walk free in the truth of Christ.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY: “ADULTERY”, NOT LUST
You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not understand. And when many Christians talk about fighting pornography, they talk about fighting lust. But lust is not our enemy, adultery is; “lust” is one of the mechanisms through which adultery is exercised.
When Jesus addresses this subject in his Sermon on the Mount, he warns his listeners that “lust” and “divorce” (for more on divorce, please see the link) multiply adultery in the land:
Matthew 5:27–28 (NIV) — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus challenges their conception of adultery by showing them that adultery is a “state of the heart”, not just an action in bed.
Adultery is an unfaithful heart; to desire someone to whom you are not covenantally committed is unfaithful to the One to whom you belong. “Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17), therefore, “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God; you are not your own. You were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). To desire the body (temple) of another person that God has not caused you to become “one” with is unfaithful to the One by whose blood you were bought from Sin and Death.
THE TWO MECHANISMS OF LUST-PRODUCED ADULTERY
Jesus identified two means through which adultery is exercised by lust:
Matthew 5:29-30 (NIV) If your right eye causes you to stumble, 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. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
The first means is through “the eye”. In this lesson, “the eye” is a symbolic figure in Jesus’ teaching that illustrates the unfaithful heart that views other people with improper sexual desire. We know that “an eye” is not the source of our sin in this illustration; Jesus identified the heart as the source of adultery, saying, “it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21-22, NIV). It is with this in mind that Peter warns those who “have eyes full of adultery that never stop looking for sin” (2nd Peter 2:14).
The eye ultimately represents viewing pornography, scoping out girls/guys at the mall, and those activities that treat others as sexual objects to be viewed for your own pleasure.
The second means is through “the right hand”. In this lesson, “the right hand” is a symbolic figure in Jesus’ teaching that illustrates the unfaithful heart as it is exercised through masturbation. Again, we know your right hand is not the source of adultery, but the heart is; Jesus is targeting how the adulterous heart is exercised through the act of masturbation.
The right hand ultimately represents any physical gratification of sexual desire (lust) through means of masturbation, groping, and those physical activities that satisfy the sexual desires (lusts) of an adulterous heart.
YOUR ETERNAL LIFE IS ON THE LINE
The final imperative of Jesus’ teaching that we must give attention to are the consequences of an unfaithful heart.
Jesus says that the terrible pain of denying these lusts is far better than being thrown into hell – the judgment and condemnation of God.
False prophets and false teachers have stood in our pulpits and placated this sin – themselves likely being slaves to adultery – and promised freedom to those who are also slaves to sin. The most common way this freedom is promised is through the grace of God, suggesting that “God understands”, and telling the sheep they are leading to the slaughter that they will have peace even though they traverse a condemned path.
The language Jesus uses in this teaching does not present “kingdom suggestions”, but “kingdom imperatives”. These are commandments that Christ demands of his disciples.
To ensure the full weight of these teachings are preserved against the demonic doctrines of false teachers and false prophets who try to sooth the outcry of our consciences, Jesus not only warned of hellfire-condemnation when teaching about adultery, but also concluded his sermon appropriately:
Matthew 7:21–27 (NIV) — “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
These commandments must convince your heart that it is necessary for you to repent of your adulterous heart. Let these commandments dwell fully in your heart and lead you in repentance.
KNOW YOUR WEAPONS
A soldier must know and understand their weapons. Afterall, what good is a sniper who doesn’t know how to account for wind-variables? Likewise, an athlete must know and understand their weapons. Afterall, what good is a tennis player who doesn’t know how to control the angle of his or her racquet?
Once someone’s heart is convinced that repentance is necessary, they must prepare to fight because the enemy will come and attack.
1 Peter 5:8–9 (NIV) — Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
THE WORD OF GOD
The word of God is one of our greatest weapons against adultery because it penetrates our heart with Holy Spirit conviction.
Ephesians 6:17 (NIV) — Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Hebrews 4:12–13 (NIV) — For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
No longer sheath the word of God by hiding from its penetrating points; unsheathe the word of God by letting his word pierce your heart with Holy Spirit conviction. And do not sheath the word of God by hearing its commandments and turning away from them; unsheathe the word of God by listening to its commandments and obeying what you hear with Holy Spirit conviction and faith.
PRAYER AND FASTING
The heart that has been pierced through with Holy Spirit conviction needs Holy Spirit intercession!
Romans 8:26–27 (NIV) — In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
1 John 1:9- 2:2 (NIV) — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
In our weakest moments – both during the hour of our temptation and in the shame of our failures – we need the helper to intercede on our behalf; the Spirit of Christ, who is our Heavenly Advocate, intercedes on our behalf when we fail and succumb to temptation.
We must learn to be in constant prayer, with both thanksgiving and confession. Prayer is your direct link to your heavenly Father, who will abundantly pardon and forgive according to the riches of his grace that has been lavished upon us in Christ, knowing that “the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, are intended to lead us to repentance” (Rom. 2:4).
Likewise, the earnest sincerity of the believer’s heart should be exercised by fasting as he or she forsakes the world to seek God:
Isaiah 58:6–9 (NIV) — “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Matthew 6:17–18 (NIV) — But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
There are innumerable spiritual weapons given to Christians in Christ by which we can wage war against the powers and principalities that seek our souls; Christians must learn to use the weapons of their “salvation”, or “righteousness”, of “truth”, of “the gospel”, of “fellowship”, of “spiritual growth”, of “holiness”, and all the “promises of God” by which we receive his divine, and we must learn to use these weapons to fight the good fight and run the race with perseverance unto the end.
Time prohibits me from expanding on these weapons here, but I encourage every Christian to pursue these weapons and learn how to use them in the spiritual war that we are all in.
In addition to these spiritual weapons, the believer who is struggling against pornography needs to learn how to fight against the physical triggers of their physical addiction.
Pornography is not limited to a spiritual battle, and this is why those who spiritualize their fight often fail. Pornography can also become an addiction that physiologically shapes the anatomy of your brain. Studies show that pornography addiction physiologically alters the anatomy of your brain in much the same way as heroine or other addictive drugs. The part of your brain that allows you to say “no” – the frontal cortex – begins to show signs of severe erosion. In plain terms, your brain slowly loses its ability to “say no” when “triggers” are activated. The good news is that God designed the brain to be able to “change” and “heal”; time and consistency in changing your behaviors are all that you need to correct the addictive changes that have taken physiological root in your brain.
You must learn how to cut off those triggers to allow your brain time to heal while you change your behavior.
One resource that I recommend to both recovering porn-addicts and parents alike is the Clean Router: https://cleanrouter.com/
This router has built in parental controls that can block access to certain websites at the wifi-level, making it impossible for children to circumvent and giving those who are committed to recovery the space they need to learn how to deny themselves and “cut out their eye” – i.e. cut off the source of their visual lust-produced adultery.
Another resource that I recommend to those who are committed to recovery is the Victory app: http://thevictoryapp.com/
This app helps you track your progress and identify your habits and trends so that you can understand your triggers and weaknesses. You cannot defeat an enemy when you do not understand its access into your life; this app helps you form a clear picture of where your physical triggers are gaining access into your life.
Neither the “router” nor the “app” can win your fight against your adulterous heart for you. These tools are designed to help you fight the physical side of your addiction. Only Christ can give you a new heart through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, which requires that you deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow him daily.