HOW DID YOU GET OUT OF PORN AND MASTURBATION?
Hi Ernest, your blog articles have helped me a lot. Please don't stop writing. Often we criticize men of God when they fail and keep mum when they do well. I think it is a disservice to the Body of Christ. I'm learning to appreciate the people God is using to build me. But that's not why I am writing. I have a personal question, drawn from one of your confessions, and I know you won’t mind answering it. This is the question: How did you get out of porn and masturbation? I know you’ve written a whole book on this (Lust and the City), but, can you give me a crash course?
Hi there. Thanks for the kind words. A crash course? Haha! Okay, here goes, but ensure you also grab a copy of Lust and the City at Keswick Bookshop and get more content. I was stuck in the rut of porn and masturbation for a long time. I was born again, serving in Church and even leading Bible studies but I was living a double life. I know there are born again Christians out there who want to get out of the same rut but are too afraid to talk to someone about it. How did I get out? I think a more important question is “How did I get in?” You cannot fight an enemy you do not understand. And part of understanding the addiction of porn and masturbation is knowing its anatomy. Plain and blatantly, porn and masturbation is a lust problem. The reason I was struggling is because I was lustful. You must realise this: that an unbeliever who is lustful is in that state, primarily, because they are not redeemed. A believer who is lustful is in that state because they are not renewed. Being redeemed is to b converted to Christ. Being renewed is to be conformed to Christ. I was redeemed but my mind was not renewed by truth. And so I was deceived.
Before porn and masturbation was an issue, my major tussle with the Holy Spirit was my movies and series in my laptop. They had sex scenes and half naked women but I saw no need to be so strict about them because after all, I was doing pretty well with my spiritual disciplines. Today, it looks like this: Watching Scandal but reading my Bible. Following Game of Thrones but praying every day. Going to catch Deadpool but leading a Bible Study. Indulging in Empire but remembering to fast. Making out with my girlfriend but condemning homosexuality. I didn’t get why other Christians were so uptight on these issues. I was doing both and I was okay. The important thing is balance, right? I told myself that I wasn’t like those weak Christians who watched one episode and struggled. I was strong, I said to myself. Little did I know that the smooth tentacles of deception were sucking me into sin.
1st Corinthians 10:12 says “Be careful if you think you are standing lest you fall.”
I thought I was standing not realising that my arrogant pride was fuelling the deception. The queer thing about being deceived is that you never feel deceived; but that’s part of the deception process. Deception aligns with sin which often resonates with our hedonistic emotions; so you may feel in love with your girlfriend but that feeling does not stop fornication from being a sin. In the same way, one may feel hungry but that does not make stealing food justified. Beloved, you know you are deceived when you find yourself asking how close to sin’s border you can get instead of asking how close to righteousness you can get. When you find yourself justifying the sinful yet you still insist that you are walking with God, be warned. And as I delved deeper into my sin, my entertainment grew more lewd, my boundaries with other girls grew more blurry, my relationship with my godly girlfriend grew more tense.
C.S. Lewis once said that sin is the suspicion that God is not good. Lewis is right. This is how sin thrives. Eve was deceived because for a brief moment she was made to believe that God was not good; that He was hindering her from the best. And in our deception, God's ways seem repulsive, outdated, impractical and burdensome and so we violently and passionately go against what he commanded. Beloved, each time we fail to heed God's commands it is because we had already accepted in our minds that God's plan is not good or God himself is not good. And if that deception is rife, Beloved, we have bigger problems than the consequences of sexual sin. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 13:5 that is it possible in that rifeness of thought that we are not born again in the first place. In that verse we are asked to test ourselves and see if we are genuinely in the faith. And that is the ultimate deception, Beloved; to think of oneself regenerate while still being dead in one’s sins and transgressions. To stand before Christ on Judgement Day with a beaming proud face only to be told, “I never knew you.”(Mathew 7:21-23). Beloved, are you deceived? Or in simpler terms, are you fighting God’s word?
My slow fade towards pornography began. I got addicted to masturbation and my walk with God suffered. My mind was filled with filthy thoughts and I saw every woman as an object to satisfy my lust. One was never enough. I was severely tempted to sleep with some of them but the grace of God held me back always. I kept saying that this was the last time I would fall into sin but i found myself back at it. I tried to stop and I couldn’t. The struggle raged for months. I was trapped. The worst part of it was that I was in a relationship; the guilt was consuming me like cancer! I kept saying I was in control but deep down I knew I was the puppet. I kept quiet about my struggle and it felt like my bones within me wasted away. I did not want people to think “Ernest, the great guy from Church who quotes scripture was a hypocrite!” When a follower of Christ struggles with sexual sin, there is a depressing feeling of hopelessness that follows. In my struggle, I never imagined that the day of victory would come. I would cry every time and say to God that I'm sorry and that this was the last time but I would fall back, chronically. It is unfortunate that when it comes to sexual sin our lives are often reactive than proactive. Truth is the antidote against deception and it helps us make proactive choices. But when truth is rejected, the disease takes a toll and we realise we are in a disaster only when the consequences set in. My consequences did set it. It was at this point of disaster that I saw that God was good and my heart was evil. It was at this point when I not only understood with my mind but also with my heart that the plans he has for me are good. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
Masturbation and porn were not joy-givers; they were joy killers despite their momentary pleasure. They left me empty, unspiritual and useless in the faith. Since I realized I had been deceived I began to read the truth of God’s word. God's word had a character similar to me. She was a woman but she possibly had a sexual conundrum as well. He name was not given. The writer only identifies her as “the woman at the well.” In John chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. The woman has had five husbands and the man she is living with is not even her husband. She has been in and out relationships and she has no soul satisfaction. She offers Jesus literal water from the well. Jesus does a counter offer; he proposes to give her living water that will quench the thirst for her soul. Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14. Like the woman at the well, all our souls are craving for that living water. That living water is a relationship with God. It gives us acceptance, identity, security and purpose. Beloved, the most fulfilment comes from the fount of living water. Lust is a craving for sin and for deliverance to take place you must smell the living water and have a craving for freedom and righteousness. It hit me hard that the core reason I was struggling was because I had a misplaced joy. God was not my delight. He was my Saviour but he was not my delight. Watching a TV series seemed to thrill me more than meditating on a few Psalms. Catching the latest movie thrilled me more than sharing the Gospel. I had lost my first love. If I could retrace my delight, I could get my deliverance. All other earthly delights demanded me to serve them but God was the only delight who served me by dying in my place on Calvary. I fell in love with my Creator again and I took the first step in delighting in him; I obeyed his word in Proverbs 28:13 that says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (NIV). I confessed my sin to God and to a group of believers.
Delight in God: Confess to God
When we don’t confess our sins to God, our souls decay. We ought to stop blaming the person who sent us the porn link. We ought to stop blaming all who we think are guilty and take up responsibility for our sin. Psalm 32:3-5 says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”(NIV)
Delight in God: Confess to people
Next, confess to people. But people ask, “Must I confess to someone? Can’t I just confess to God?” I know sexual sin is shameful, Beloved. But it is also darkness and it needs to be exposed to light for it to be defeated. Beloved, this particular sin needs to be confessed to God's people because it thrives in secrecy and lack of accountability. We must confess to fellow believers and overcome the fear of judgement because that is the place where the Lord has placed our healing. See what James 5:16 says “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (NIV). I found healing and restoration in the Body of Christ. I was too guilty to pray; the prayers of the brethren restored me. Too many of us are hell-bent on the bad stories and ignore the countless good stories of confession. God is not changing his mind about James 5:16, Beloved. Confess and you will find healing. True believers with God’s love abound in the Body of Christ.
Confessing your struggle is like flicking the switch in a dark room. The darkness not only scatters but you also see how messed up the room really is. In silence, you can deceive yourself that the problem is not that big, especially when the world makes fun of pornography and jokes about lewd matters. When you expose your darkness, God has a way of showing you how dangerous the path you're treading on is. This is necessary because a believer who remains quiet in their sinful addiction can be taken over by it until they have no control. It takes a step of humility to admit that you are failing. It’s not the overwhelming addiction that keeps us tied down; it is our pride to admit the problem. If we don’t confess, the clutches of lustful addictions, especially pornography and masturbation can weigh down the follower of Christ to the point of depression. Once we confess, the Lord will awaken our desire for our spiritual disciplines. You enjoy doing them because you relate with God as opposed to ticking them for having done them religiously.
Delight in God: Gouge out your eye
Jesus said in Mark 9:47 that if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Divorce the source of lust. It has many facets- ending a relationship, changing your friends, deactivating social media accounts, etc. What is the eye that causes you to sin? Jesus says to gouge it out. For me, my sinful eye was popular TV series. When I was delivered, I have never returned because no matter how innocent those TV series seemed, there were always laced with subtle sexual scenes that fanned the flames of lust. Here is where the real test of following Christ comes in, Beloved- counting the cost. And it asks us this: Is Christ so great a delight that we can do away with our entertainment? Is Christ so great a delight that we can do away with our boyfriend? Is Christ so great a delight that we can do away with our Instagram? Or is our entertainment, boyfriend, girlfriend, social media that draws us to sin greater a delight than the one who bore our sins? Don’t be fooled by your disciplines, like I was. Many Christians are practising their disciplines but are not getting delivered from these lustful entanglements. Why? Because despite reading the word, praying and fellowshipping with other believers, they are also keeping bad company and watching lustful media that is not “necessarily pornographic” politically-correctly speaking. God’s rule in eternity is a Kingdom, not a democracy; political-correctness for many believers today is simply sin dipped in chocolate. The core is still sin. People say “Ernest, you’re being too extreme; it’s never that serious.” And I ask them, “How extreme and serious was Jesus Christ when he bled on a Roman cross for me?” He died for me; I shall live for Him.
I pray that helped, Beloved. Though much more can still be said on this. On another note: you are welcome to come for our relationship event, BOY MEETS GIRL VOLUME 4 this Sunday the 10th of April, 2016.