If there are any lingering doubts in your mind about whether or not the modern American church has gone far afield from the fundamentals and principles of the Word of God, then let this bit of news push you firmly over the edge of conviction. I found out last night from a friend I was having dinner with that a local megachurch here in San Diego, The Rock, is hosting a debate this evening between a well-known porn star and one of the pastors. Presumably, they will be arguing about the perceived merits and dangers of pornography in our culture.
The question that I couldn’t get out of my mind was “why?” For what purpose would the church put on such a sensational event? After much thought, I could only come to the conclusion that the church desires the shock value and the resultant interest it will garner among the community. In other words, the masses will come. The shame of it all is that in spite of any appearance and claim to the contrary, this event will not serve to liberate anyone seeking to free themselves from the chains of pornography addiction. Oh, I suppose it’s possible that the true gospel could actually be preached, and the overcoming life that is dead to sin could actually be taught; but the possibility is slim. After all, they rarely teach the complete gospel at other times, so why would it begin with this event? How I would love to be wrong.
With my mind swimming in the madness of this enterprise by The Rock, I became upset at the thought of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will surely go to this event in the hopes that it will somehow provide them the tools they need to get free from porn, to loose the shackles of its bondage from their lives. Again, I just don’t see this happening there, though I plan to look into the event; and if gospel truth is spoken, I will be thrilled to issue a retraction.
In the meantime, as one who suffered mightily at the hands of the enemy in the areas of lust and addiction to pornography for many years, I wish to offer the simple solution for freedom from these bonds. For those with ears to hear, let them hear!
- Abide in Jesus – This is the most important and the most foundational thing. The human heart will set its affections on something or someone. If we’re going to go about casting idols out of our hearts, as we should, then we had better be prepared to replace them with a stronger devotion to something new. You can’t just make yourself love someone, including God. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In practical terms, what this means is that in order to cultivate your love for Christ, you need to focus on Him, meditate on Him, contemplate the wonders of His condescension to come to this place. You need to gaze upon the cross, knowing that you are the one who should have been executed there. You need to picture yourself present when Jesus made Himself a slave and washed everyone’s feet. However you get there, you must meditate on the beauty of the Savior and His immeasurable love for sinners like you. As you begin to recognize your own wretchedness and inadequacy and the depths from which He pulled you, your love for Him will grow.
- Believe the Word of God – how many verses do we read right over and never mind what great truths lay there before us? This was the case with me for so many years before the Holy Spirit finally parked me on some very important verses (Romans 6-8, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9-10, among others). To sum these up, if you’ve been regenerated, you are dead to sin. Your old self is gone. But if you never believe what the Word is saying, then you will never see God’s power manifest itself in this way in your life.
- Fear the Lord – Proverbs 16:6 says that “by the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil.” You are going to stand before God all by yourself one day, and you will answer for everything you have done in your body (2 Corinthians 5:10). American “Christianity” has gone grossly out of balance toward cheap grace. This is not biblical grace. God has called His people to live holy, overcoming lives, in reverent fear (Hebrews 12:28). Lest there be any doubt about God’s holiness and attitude toward sin, take a look at how He treated His one and only beloved Son, on Whom He placed and judged the sins of us all (Isaiah 53:6). God recently said to me, “You must not take my holiness lightly, because I do not take your sin lightly.” If that sentence doesn’t make you sober, then you should earnestly pray for a softening of your heart.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
Heb 10:27 but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Heb 10:28 He who despised Moses’ Law died without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses.
Heb 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Heb 10:30 For we know Him who has said, “Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, says the Lord.” And again, “The Lord shall judge His people.”
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
- Cut off your hand and gouge out your eye – in other words, anything at all in your life that is a snare and a stumbling block, that provides you an avenue to lust, must go. You must be ruthless, and you must not allow yourself to justify keeping anything. If you can’t even get past this step, then you may as well quit right here. We’re talking television, movies, magazines, the Internet, driving down certain streets, going to the beach, going to the mall, etc. You know where you have trouble. If you don’t, you can ask the Lord, and He’ll be glad to point it out. But as with any step you take with the Lord, count the cost first. If you aren’t willing to lay everything on the altar, then it would be better if you never even went there.
Jesus said that the one who has been forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). I think that’s one of the main problems today: most people don’t understand that they are the chief of sinners. They think they’re not so bad and that others around them are worse than (or at least no better than) they are. Many actually subconsciously think they can pay back the debt God has forgiven them (Matthew 18:26), which means they have no love or mercy at all. It’s essential to lay down these silly comparisons and recognize that the only standard is Jesus Himself. Compare yourself to Him, and then you should be getting into the right mindset: hopelessness that puts you in the right place to cry out for mercy.
Once we understand these things, we need to stay there. That’s the whole meaning of “abide,” which Jesus (and the apostle John) spent a whole lot of time talking about (John 14 and 15 & 1 John, especially). In Greek, “meno” means to abide, live, remain, stay, and dwell. So when we’re talking about abiding in Christ (John 15:4) and abiding in His love (John 15:9), we are talking about a continual state of living and remaining in that state or place. We’re not supposed to leave it or depart from it. Naturally, we do from time to time; but the moment we realize we have strayed, we are to run back to Jesus. Some may call this “mind games.” It might be better called “spirit games,” since God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). No matter what you may want to call it, this is how we commune with our God, through the Holy Spirit which He has given as a deposit to the people whom He has regenerated (2 Corinthians 1:22). This is abiding in Christ: dwelling on Him and His love and staying there.
As with any promise of God, no half-hearted effort will bring about results. If you aren’t willing to pay the price that Jesus named to become a disciple of His, then please do not expect to receive the benefits of discipleship! Only those who have counted the cost and who carry their cross daily (Luke 9:23) can enter into the joy of their Master, both now and in the life to come.
For any who wish to be free from sin (whatever that sin may be), I pray that you would soberly contemplate the steps I have shared; that you may count the cost of following Christ and consider it a price well worth paying in order to obtain an incalculable treasure – God Himself (Genesis 15:1, Matthew 13:46); and that you may faithfully walk His path all your days, so that He may bring you safely into His heavenly kingdom. I also pray that you would have eyes to see the great mockery that the circus of church is today and that you would flee from it as from the pit of hell, because that is where the circus leads.