Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free (Part 4)

Chapter 3 – Freed by the Grace of God

For those who have fallen into sin, particularly sins of a sexually immoral nature, the guilt is seemingly endless.  In fact, any Christian who has struggled with a besetting sin can empathize with any or all of the following statements:

  • I feel like crap about myself. I don’t feel worthy to serve God.  And I don’t believe I can break the habit.
  • I wrestle with what it means to repent and believe.  All I ever do is repent.  Am I really sorry for my sin if I continually do it?
  • Is it possible for God to continually forgive me?  I’m not sure?
  • How can I get rid of the guilt?
The aforementioned statements/questions and more plague the conscience of individual’s who struggle with pornography.  In addition, Chester says that the desire to stop looking at porn stems from three reasons:
  • To prove ourselves to God – so He will bless or save us.
  • To prove ourselves to other people – so people like us or approve of us.
  • To prove ourselves to ourselves – so we feel good about ourselves.
 The problem with these self-justifying statements is that they are all impossible.  No one can justify (i.e. prove themselves worthy) apart from the person and work of Christ.  Those statements put a person at the center, where only Christ is to prominently stand (68). Often the very One we are to run to for forgiveness, strength, and power to live holy is the One to whom we run from.  A principle (or key ingredient as Chester calls it) in living porn free is “the assurance of grace.”  The assurance of grace means that individuals have an assurance, a confidence, a certainty that they are loved by God and right with God through faith in the work of Jesus. Why is this important?  Because apart from the sanctifying work of the Spirit in a person’s life change is not possible; they need the divine aid and assistance of God.
Chester says, “the main reason we don’t change is our proud self-righteousness and our proud self-reliance.  Porn and pride go hand in hand. It’s an odd dynamic, because porn brings so much shame.  But we’ve seen that porn also puts me at the center, creating a world in which I’m worshiped.  So despite the shame it brings, it strongly reinforces our pride.  In our proud self-righteousness we excuse sin or minimize it or hide it.  ‘I occasionally slip up,’ we tell ourselves, ‘but it’s not a big problem.’  It’s tough for me at the moment – that’s why I do it.  Or we recognize the problem, but we don’t want anyone else to find out.  We don’t want other people to see us as someone with a porn problem (74).
Further, these “slip ups” and the guilt that ensues will hinder us from desiring service or prevent us all together from engaging with God’s people.  Serving or pursuing Christ “will be characterized by joyless duty and complaint because you’re not finding joy in Christ but looking for it elsewhere.  Your ability to proclaim the goodness of God will be compromised because you don’t find him good enough for you.  You’ll find it hard to view Christian women as sisters because you’re used to viewing women as objects. You’ll find it hard to confront Christian brothers for fear they might challenge you in return (75).
Why change?  If changing won’t earn approval than why change?  We change so that we more and more faithfully, accurately, and obediently live out our identity in Christ (76).  This is referred to gospel indicatives and gospel imperatives. Who you are in Christ (indicatives) is always the root by which we lived out the moral commands of Scripture (imperatives).  To get it out-of-order is works-righteousness and tantamount to believing in a different gospel. I don’t “do” in order to “be.”  I am in Christ therefore I do what Christ calls me to do.
Paul addresses this dynamic in 1 Corinthians 6, to which Chester extracts five truths.
  • You are free to be free. Paul says God has set you free (1 Cor 6:12) to be free and not to be mastered by anything.  To be mastered by sin is “like a captive, released after years in solitary confinement, saying, ‘I’m going to use my freedom to live in a dirty prison cell'” (78).
  • You are clean to be clean.  God has washed us (1 Cor 6:11) so we can be clean.  Elsewhere Paul calls believers to not offer up the instruments of their body is instruments of unrighteousness but instead as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:13)
  • You are united to be united.  God has united us with Christ in his resurrection so we can enjoy union with Christ (79).  As a result we’re not to join ourselves with anything that seeks to bring a division between our union with Christ.
  • You are holy to be holy. Paul tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:18-19) and that we are therefore called to flee from sexual immorality.  Chester has an unbelievable explanation of this which I will quote in its entirety:

The temple was the sign of GOd’s holy presence among his people, a beautiful and glorious symbol, but also awesome and terrible.  Only the priests could enter the holy place, and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, the place of where the ark of the covenant was located, and then only a year through a blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:1-10).  The temple and its sacrifices were a pointer to Jesus (Hebrews 9:11-28).  He is God with us, and through his blood we come into God’s presence.  All that the temple represented is now a reality in your life.  God’s glorious, holy, awesome, terrifying presence is in you, through the Holy Spirit.  So sleeping with a prostitute or using porn is an act of defilement, like committing an act of defilement in the holy of holies.  I hardly dare write it, but this is the force of Paul’s argument:  it’s like having sex with a prostitute on the ark of the covenant.  Such an act is unthinkable (81).

  • You are valued to be valuable.  We’re not valued by God because we’re inherently valuable.  It’s the other way around.  We’re valuable because we are valued by God, and the value he places on us is the precious blood of Jesus (81)

Lastly, Chester breaks down the following statement: “to enjoy the freedom from porn and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus” (80).  He says first it means growing is holiness is about joy.  Second, change is about living in the freedom that Christ purchased for us.  Third, change is about knowing and serving God and fourth, change is enjoying the new identity we have been given in Jesus.

Christ came to give us freedom so that we are not to continue in the slavery to our sinful natures.  Prayerfully and in the power of the Holy Spirit I pray this is true of your life.

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