Dave Jenkins is Mike’s and my respected and much appreciated friend and brother-in-Christ. He encourages and equips fellow believers at Servants of Grace. In January he invited me to join his team of bloggers and it was and is a privilege to do be part of his team.
Pornography is an insidious cancer that is spread quickly throughout the world devastating men, women, children and destroying marriages, cities, nations and civilization. Pornography is a problem, I know all too well since I struggled with it throughout my teenagers years into my early twenties. Pornography is a problem that is crippling not only men but also women. Since I’ve struggled with pornography what I’m writing about is not just the theories of someone who hasn’t struggled, but rather as one who has struggled and continues to fight against this sin. The Gospel is good news for those who are struggling with sexual sin because it provides the power to put sin to death by the grace of God through the Spirit of God to the glory of God.
Overcoming Sexual Sin
The first way to put sexual sin to death is by understanding at the heart of sexual sin is idolatry. Idolatry is worshipping anything other than God. The best way to deal with idolatry is to understand what the Gospel is and what it demands. The Gospel demands our complete allegiance and devotion. The Gospel is not a call to embrace our sin but rather a call to embrace the sinless Savior who died for sinners. The Savior calls for His disciples to take up the Cross and follow Him in all of life. Finally, to overcome sexual sin men and women need to be accountable to other godly believers. It is important to qualify that last sentence by saying that a man should never be accountable to another woman and a woman should never be accountable to another man. A man should be accountable to another man, and a woman should be accountable to another woman.
The first step is the most important step, but the second step is equally important because often times a man or a woman may be serious about overcoming sexual sin, but end up falling back into sin because they don’t have the support of others. In order for men or women to live in the Light, they need others to walk alongside of them by living in community in the context of the local Church. Christians are called to walk alongside of each other and to bear each other’s burdens in community with each other. I also strongly encourage those who are dealing with sexual sin of any kind to discuss this issue with your Pastor, an elder or a deacon in your local church, and also to find a godly mature Christian counselor.
I understand that sexual sin is a difficult and sensitive issue, which is why I’m writing on it. Sexual sin in the Church is robbing the Church of many good men and women. Sexual sin grieves the Holy Spirit who gives men and women gifts to serve and strengthen the Church in its mission to make disciples. Sexual sin robs God of glory because Jesus is the Savior of sinners and He longs to save those who are broken by sin, and make them whole with His Gospel. Sexual sin hurts evangelism and missions because it robs the effectiveness of those who are called to such ministries. Sexual sin affects Pastors, ministry leaders, Bible College and seminary students many of whom struggle silently for years in sexual sin and never overcome sexual sin.
Sexual sin is not what God wants from His people. Sexual sin hurts the Church, and affects its mission of making disciples. God saves broken people and then uses them for His glory. Perhaps you have been broken by sexual sin. You may think today that the story of your life is sexual sin or some other kind of sin, but I writing today to tell you that this is exactly what the devil wants you to believe. Sexual sin is not your story; there is a greater story, the Gospel. Jesus truly saves sinners from all kinds of sin. Jesus redeems people from all kinds of sin, and delivers them by His grace, for His glory in order to spread the fame of His Gospel to the nations.
Three Ways to Fight Against Temptation
God provides three ways for us to endure temptation: prayer, trust and focusing on Jesus Christ. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38). If we do not pray, we can be sure a test will turn into temptation. Our first defense in a test or a trial is to pray, to turn to our heavenly Father and put the matter in His hands.
Second, we must trust. When we pray, we must pray, believing that the Lord will answer and help us. We must also trust that, whatever the origin of the trial, God has allowed it to come for our good. God has a purpose for everything that comes to His children, and when we are tested or tempted, we should gladly endure it in His power, for the sake of His glory and our spiritual growth.
Third, we should focus on our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:3-4, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Christ endured more than we could ever be called on to endure. He understands our trials and He is able to take us through them.
The Gospel is not a call to be comfortable or even to cuddle up to your favorite pet sin, but rather a call to abandon your sin, count the cost, put on the Lord Jesus, and take up your Cross and follow Him in all of life. Embracing sexual sin is not the Gospel and neither is abusing grace by living however you want to live. God is holy and calls His people to be holy (1st Peter 1:15-16). Holiness is not fun but God has supplied the means through His Spirit for you to hate your sin, to put it to death and to put on the Lord Jesus through His bloody death, burial, resurrection. Overcoming sexual sin is only possible because of Jesus who as our sinless, victorious, triumphant and exalted Savior overcame death, and the grave to serve now as our Intercessor, Mediator and High Priest.
The most deadly temptations come from our own feelings of unworthiness, or discouragement because of sin and the accusations of Satan. When we sin and the devil tells us, “How can you call yourself a Christian? Isn’t it true that you have no part of Christ? Why don’t you give up the façade?” Do you hear that voice? Do you feel the sting of that accusation? Then consider Jesus.
Let Jesus Christ be your banner, the source of all your confidence. Fix your thoughts on Jesus, contemplate the sufficiency of His work for you, and reflect upon the love that bore your sins. And when Satan levels his accusing finger at you saying you are the great sinner you then can say, “Yes I am a great sinner, but Jesus Christ is a greater Savior.”
Jesus is the great apostle sent by God to bring us salvation, and He will not fail. He is the great high priest who reconciles us to God, which means nothing shall separate us from God. He is the master architect and builder, constructing God’s house for His own glory and dwelling, and we His adopted sons and daughters are that house. He will not be thwarted; He will not be overcome. The house He builds on the rock of His gospel will not be dashed by any storm. All of this means that we can draw our courage, our confidence and our hope from Him. Therefore, we are safe to the praise of His name.
Whether you’re struggling today or you’re overcoming in your battle against sexual sin, I encourage you to be honest about your struggle with sexual sin. Don’t hide behind a facade of knowledge or pretension but come out into the Light of Jesus and discover the joy and the freedom that come from being who you really are by the grace of God. Don’t settle for the lie of pornography but rather hate sin, fight against sin, and put sin to death by delighting in Jesus. Only then will you find true joy and satisfaction in Jesus and be able to make much of Him for His glory.
Dave Jenkins is a Christian, husband to Sarah, freelance writer, avid golf, and the Director of Servants of Grace Ministries. More of his work can be read at http://servantsofgrace.org/