Life + Culture

Victory over Porn Is Closer Than You Think

Victory over Porn Is Closer Than You Think

I regularly find myself across the table from twentysomethings wrestling with lust and porn addiction.

These aren’t unbelievers, or even new believers. These are people in my church who have sat long under good, gospel-soaked teaching, who believe Jesus alone satisfies, who hate their sin and love their God — and still they struggle with sexual temptation daily. I see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice. They are desperate to know one thing:

Is victory even possible?

Is actual, extended freedom from besetting sin really attainable, or am I bound to this sin until death, like a leech on my soul? It might seem like a silly question to those who aren’t in the throes of addiction, but having been a porn addict for a decade, it was a question I desperately asked for years.

If you find yourself in this seemingly hopeless cycle, there is good news for you: victory, real and lasting victory, is possible.

Cast Away Sin

One powerful scene from the 2000 film Cast Away has been a helpful picture for the fight. Tom Hanks’s character Chuck has crash landed on a remote island.

In the early days of his tenure, he attempts to sail off it by fabricating a makeshift raft. As he pushes off the coast, he quickly notices the growing size of the waves. The first comes at him and he crests it, but only barely. Wave number two is on the heels of the first and much bigger. Somehow he keeps his raft from capsizing. But no sooner has he bested that wave when the third and biggest crashes over him, pulling him under to the stony coral beneath.

Wounded and exhausted, Chuck doesn’t leave that island for another four years, when with a stronger boat, he crests the short series of massive waves and lands in calmer, open ocean. He hadn’t been able to see that just over that last big wave were smoother waters. He could have left the island years earlier if only he had pushed ahead and not given up.

Peek into Freedom

Fighting sin feels like this, doesn’t it? When we’re in the midst of temptation, all we can see is the next big wave looming in front of us. Surrounded and hopeless, we give in and face defeat, never knowing that just over the water ridge is the calmer sea of victory in Christ. If we only had eyes to see over, what freedom would we experience in the midst of temptation? What fresh strength and resolve would we feel, with God’s help?

But so many of us can’t see over the ridge.

Here’s where God’s word offers an unfathomable gift to the tempted and addicted: a peek over into the calm ocean beyond our hour of temptation. Consider with me a handful of precious texts that serve to reassure us that God truly gives us the victory (Romans 7:24–25). May they serve you as they have me to walk in lasting freedom from this sin struggle.

1. God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Resist [the devil], firm in your faith. . . . And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:9–10)

By God’s grace, this was my experience in college fighting against lust. When I began seriously resisting, my first big battle against my desires felt like it would kill me. But God sustained me through it. In fact, he gave me such incredible joy afterward that when the next temptation came a few days later, I felt a new power to overcome I had never experienced in my whole Christian life.

I suspect this might be something like what Peter is trying to capture in this verse. Restoring. Confirming. Strengthening. Establishing. This is what the calm ocean of victory in Christ feels like. Resist that extra hour you didn’t think you had in you, lean hard on grace, and watch God make good on this promise to you.

2. Nothing is too hard for him.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:26–27)

Is it hard for God to produce a lasting purity in you? Well, God has a question for you: “Just how strong do you think I am?”

Is anything too hard for the one who spoke the Milky Way into existence and drew up the Himalayas by the word of his mouth? He is the one “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). It is no challenge for him to carry you through the darkest night of temptation, even when it seems victory is impossible.

3. He can satisfy your strongest desires.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

I may not understand every dynamic at work in my victory over pornography, but I know this: meeting Jesus daily between the pages of his word in those college years — sometimes two to three hours at a time — gave me the satisfaction I needed to win the wars for my appetites. Nothing on your screen or in that fantasy could possibly come close to the feast God lays out for you in Christ.

On the other side of your hour of temptation is someone who actually knows what your soul truly craves and can deliver it in spades, with baskets left over.

4. He will finish what he started in you.

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Your perseverance is ensured by his preservation. As Jude writes, God “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). If you are in Christ, rejoice! The end of your broken story is written, and it ends with you blameless and upright before God.

There is light at the end of the tunnel of temptation. There is hope in the midst of each new trial. Are you living like victory over besetting sin is impossible? Your God is too small, friend. Take courage from another castaway, crest each new wave with your Savior, watch as the waters calm, and sail on smoother seas of triumph in Christ.

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