Walking Out of Darkness

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Walking Out of Darkness

This past Sunday I preached on a relationship destroyer, pornography. You can listen to the sermon here. In the past few days I’ve heard of many confessions and conversations that have happened since then. I thank God for your boldness to confess and for your compassion to listen. For those who have “waited for tomorrow” I want you to know that the grace of Jesus still extends to you - it’s not too late. Below are some follow up thoughts and next steps for you to consider… 

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 

An old theologian Robert McCheyne once said, “For every look at self—take ten looks at Christ!” The Christian life is more than just not sinning; that is another form of bondage (see: Pharisees). The Christian life is a life enjoying Christ and worshiping Him in all that you do. It’s a life where daily we pick up our cross and deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24). That’s the life that Christ modeled (Phil. 2:6-8) and the life that the apostles walked and taught. For to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). It’s a life of faith, hope and love; the greatest of these being love (1 Cor. 13:13). It’s a life of prayer, work, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, failure, and confession. The goal for the Christian is to live a life of honesty, acceptance and love. A life where we have healthy relationships with ourselves, with others, with the world, and (most importantly) with God. That is why we fight for purity. Not to do better for Christ, but because Christ has better for us.

That said, imagine an alcoholic walks into a counselor’s office for help. It would be foolish for the counselor to only respond by telling them they need to love Jesus more. Why? Because first and foremost they need to get rid of the bottle. The attraction and appeal is far too strong. The addiction is far too real. So in the same way, for many (if not most) of us, having temptation in our hands, on our desks, in our pockets, and in our bedrooms twenty-four hours a day makes the attraction and appeal of sin far too strong and far too available. So what is the solution? God tells us in His word that we all need to “flee temptation.” Jesus has strong words about this in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:29). Because if we don’t, we are sure to face a situation where the pull will be too strong. We all have feelings of rejection, insecurity, loneliness, boredom, sadness, regret, and our minds (and the powers of darkness) will remind us of the momentary comfort, acceptance, escape and excitement that can be found in just a few clicks. That routine is normal. You are not alone in falling victim to it (1 Cor. 13:10). But the sin also comes with a way out, provided to us by God. And the first step, after confession to God and confession to others, is to get rid of your access. That is your way out.

There are filters for your computer you can purchase: Covenant Eyes and X3 Watch. And take my word for it: the free ones aren’t very good. They just don’t do the job (trust me). And for those of you that might say, "That’s too much money!” Let me say that for the cost of a nice meal you can protect yourself from the sin that brings death. I encourage you to get that software. And then do the same thing next year, and the next, and the next. Also, consider taking internet off of your phone. There is an easy way to do it. iPhone users: settings -> General -> Restrictions. And have a friend create a 4-digit password that you don’t know, and block your Safari. But don’t end it there. Get rid of iPhone apps which give you access to the internet, and have that same friend (or spouse) block your app store. Anyone with a lonely and addicted mind will remember in that weak moment that the app store provides different downloadable browsers. Another option is to limit what apps are available for you in the app store (through the parental controls you can create restrictions, i.e. no 17+ apps).

Imagine with me someone who carries around a 40 pound anchor in a backpack on their back. All day they feel the weight of that anchor. They just wish someone could take the backpack off of them. That anchor is your access. Unfortunately, when we get told to take the anchor off, we start saying things like, “well, I need the anchor for this. I like my anchor! Can’t we just take half of it away?” Of all the things I’ve experienced, seen and read, the answer is, no. Take the entire backpack off. Throw it into a deep lake. Don’t put it in storage, where you can find it. Throw it in a place you won’t ever find it again.

But what we all need to understand is that the problem isn’t the pornography, the problem is our hearts. Once we take away access, we will find more. Taking the backpack off won’t change your heart. Only God can change your heart. So as you pull out the weeds in your life (like taking away the access) you need to be letting Jesus work on the root: your heart. But we must remember that things will not just change overnight. In fact, psychologists say it takes roughly 5 years of sobriety for an addiction to lose it’s power. Depending on the years of usage and the form of pornography which you are addicted to, it may be more or less.

And while your friend has your passwords and gets your filter reports, that friend can support you, pray for you, remind you of the gospel, and you can do the same for him or her.

This is the first step. I encourage you to take it.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Caleb

P.S. I’ve been asked what program I recommend for anyone who is struggling. The course is called Setting Captives Free. It’s a FREE, gospel-centered, 60-day course towards purity. It is saturated with scripture and you’ll have questions to answer every day. I highly recommend it. You can sign up HERE. And for those of you who want to do that and want to do it with other people in our church you can email me (caleb@ethostulsa.org) and I can connect you all!