recovery in Christ when life is broken

I Can't Stop Looking at Porn

“Ugh. I can’t believe I just watched that. Okay, that was the last time…for real this time, I’ll stop looking at porn tomorrow. What would my family and friends think if they knew I always do this? I’m a fraud Christian.”

These were just some of the thoughts that would run through my head nearly every time I looked at pornography. I viewed porn for the first time when I was nine years old and was not able to stop looking at it for the next sixteen years. The adrenaline rush of doing something wrong intoxicated me. Every perversion in the world was at my fingertips. Proverbs 26:11 says “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that returns to his folly.” No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop looking at porn and masturbating.

This Brought Death

My addiction to porn harmed my well-being. I stopped enjoying things that used to bring me joy because all I could think about was watching porn. No matter what I was doing, if I saw a pretty girl, all I wanted to do was find her look-alike on a porn website and fantasize about having sex with her. I wasn't in control of porn, porn controlled me. Finally, a few years into my adult life I realized my problem with porn wasn’t something that I was going to outgrow. My addiction had followed me into adulthood, and it wasn’t planning on going away. I had to search for freedom.

How I Found Freedom In Christ

  • I admitted my problem. For years I was in denial that I was addicted to porn. I thought that addiction was something that only happened to alcoholics or drug addicts. Surely I could never be classified as an “addict.” Many people who use porn on a continual basis refuse to admit that they are addicted. If you are unable to stop, you are addicted. Admitting addiction is necessary. (Romans 7:18)
  • I believed that God could heal me. For sixteen years I tried by my own strength to be free from porn. While depending on my own strength, an occasional few porn-free months was the best that I could do. I needed to believe the truth that God has the ability and desire to free me, and trust His power to change me. (Psalm 103:2-5)
  • I confessed my addiction to a friend and asked him to hold me accountable. It is a daily battle not to look at porn, and because of that, I needed to commit to 24-hour sobriety. Until I was able to find freedom, my friend texted me every night to ask if I had looked at porn that day. (James 5:16)
  • I repented by removing access to porn and relying on God daily. Though I knew what I was doing was wrong, the only action I was taking was to feel bad for myself (which led me to look at more porn). I needed to repent by turning from sin to God, not just feel bad every time I did it again (2 Timothy 2:22, Romans 2:15). In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says that no measure is too extreme to prevent yourself from sinning. I realized I needed to cut off access to porn. I installed monitoring software on my computer, sold my smart TV, activated parental controls on games, deleted apps from my iPhone, and removed non-monitored web browsers from my phone. I didn't leave easy loopholes for myself (Romans 13:14). Then, every morning I would turn to God by reading my Bible and praying. This practice helped redirect my thoughts to God, reminding myself daily that true life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, not my sexual desires. I would ask God daily for strength to not look at porn and memorize scripture to help me fight temptation (John 10:10, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Today, I can joyfully say that I am free from an addiction to pornography. I was not free from my addiction overnight, just like I did not become addicted overnight. The process took time and was not easy. Sometimes, I am tempted to go back to my old ways, but now that my addiction is gone, I see the danger more clearly. I used to be a slave to pornography. I now walk in the freedom offered by Jesus Christ. Will you join me?  

-Calvin S.

 

For more information, check out the Pornography topic in the Struggles section of our website.

Why I Can’t Forgive Myself

 

“I knew better. How could I have acted so foolishly? I can’t believe that I would stoop so low. I’m better than that. I don’t deserve to go on. I’m not worth forgiving. I’m worthless.”

Have you ever said one of these things to yourself? I have. Maybe you say some of these things to yourself every day, suffocating from guilt and shame because of a sin or mistake. Or maybe you spend your days obsessing about how to overcome the past, desperately searching for a way to somehow “forgive yourself.”

“Forgiving yourself” is common terminology used to describe self-release of personal guilt and shame. You don’t have to go far in recovery circles to hear someone say, “I know that God forgives me, and the person I’ve hurt forgave me, but I just can’t forgive myself.” Many books have been written on the subject. Even medical websites carry articles about the importance of self-forgiveness. The problem is that self-forgiveness is not a concept rooted in biblical truth.

If you think about it, no one in society has the authority to forgive themselves for something that they have done wrong. Teenagers can’t “un-ground” themselves. Prisoners can’t declare themselves forgiven and walk out of prison. People in a debt crisis can’t forgive themselves the remainder of what they owe. In all instances, we need a higher authority to pardon us or to declare that the debt from the sin is “paid in full.” Come to think of it, if we could forgive ourselves, we wouldn’t need Jesus.

But some of this confusion is semantics. When a Christian says, “I cannot forgive myself,” it usually means he is mistakenly holding on to guilt and shame for sins already paid for by Christ. He is struggling to truly accept Christ’s ransom for his soul as the lens through which he views himself.

God didn’t excuse sin, Jesus paid the debt of sin for us. Christ paid the debt of sin in full with his own blood, being nailed to a cross, so that he could offer forgiveness as a gift. Those who receive the gift are declared sons and daughters by God, forgiven, clean, righteous.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

 

A continual struggle with guilt and Shame is often rooted in one of these reasons:
  • Pride. Pride whispers, “I cannot believe I would stoop so low. I am above that sin.” Pride struggles to accept God’s charity; it wants to earn back God’s grace (an undeserved gift). A prideful person wants to think well of (or lift up) his or her sinful human nature.
  • Idolatry. God’s word is not authoritative for the person. He or she believes another claim more than God’s declaration of forgiveness (Satan’s lies, the accusations of someone they offended, a parent's voice, or his or her own thoughts and feelings).
  • Low self-worth or misplaced identity. When thoughts such as “I do not deserve forgiveness” or “I am not worthy of forgiveness” lead someone to feel guilt or shame instead of gratitude to Christ, he or she is seeking value and identity apart from Jesus. God claimed our lives as valuable to him through Jesus’ blood. There is no greater cost that the Father could offer than the life of the Son to purchase your soul. Christ’s ransom (not our own self-worth or merit) defines your true value and identity.
  • The person may not yet be saved from sin. He or she has not truly believed and received Christ’s sacrifice as the only payment that satisfies the total cost of sin. If someone has not accepted Christ’s sacrifice as the payment for his or her sin, God may be convicting that person of his or her guilt so that the person may turn to Christ and be saved from hell.

 

The truth is that we are all great sinners by nature, unable to overcome sin. We are capable of great evil. It is because of God’s great love for us that He offers forgiveness as a gift. God reclaims those who accept Christ’s undeserved, unearned gift and calls them forgiven, righteous children.

If you have accepted Christ, but continue to struggle with guilt and shame, pray first. Thank God for His complete forgiveness of all of your sin. Thank Him for seeing you as valuable enough to ransom your soul through the Son. Thank Him for naming you as clean, forgiven, righteous, and a son or daughter of God. Confess any pride. Confess if you have allowed something other Christ’s sacrifice to define your worth. Ask God to renew your heart and mind so that you see yourself through the lens of His word. Then, memorize scripture that claims who you are in Christ; your feelings will often follow your mind as you remind yourself of these truths. 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Psalm 103:12 are two great verses to write on your heart.

“Forgiving yourself” will never free you from guilt and shame. You receive freedom from guilt and shame when you accept Christ as Savior, trust that God’s claims upon your soul and identity are true, and allow His claims to define your life.

 

- Nate G.

recovery in Christ when life is broken.