Applying the Hope of the Gospel to Porn Users

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The Bible does not describe us merely as wayward, broken, or needing a moral boost but as those who are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). Dead men and women do not just need recovery: they need resurrection.

For the follower of Christ, the ultimate goal is not merely “quitting pornography,” but is something far richer and more comprehensive. If merely modifying behavior was the most important thing, there are any number of psychological tips and tricks one can use. But for the Christian, as it should be for all people, the goal is not merely recovering from pornography, but being remade by God Himself into the image of the perfect Man, Jesus Christ.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Just as sure as pornography stirs up lustful cravings in us, the Holy Spirit is a source of new, holy cravings. Galatians 5 says we who have the Holy Spirit have the “desires of the Spirit” (5:17). God promises that when we “keep in step with the Spirit,” the lusts of the flesh that lead to sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality will not have their way in us (5:16,25). We can become new men and women from the inside out.

In Galatians, Paul writes, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal. 5:5). Keeping in step with the Spirit and having hope are intimately connected: the Spirit kindles in us a fresh hope for the things God has promised. Our great hope is that one day Christ will judge the world and make all things right again (Acts 17:31). He will destroy sin and death forever. He will recreate the world anew, and we will be just like Him (1 Cor. 15:51-55).

God also promises that we will see foretastes of this “hope of righteousness” in the present age. Paul writes that as citizens of the kingdom of God, our lives should be filled with “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Though we are no longer under sin’s tyrannical power, sin is still present in our lives: our body “is dead because of sin” (Rom. 8:10). Porn, for many, will always carry some appeal. But we are promised God’s Spirit will “give life to your mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in you” (8:11), and by His grace, we can present the members of our bodies to God “as instruments of righteousness” (6:13).

This is our astounding hope: that fallen, porn-loving sinners like us will become like the holy Son of God.

For Paul, faith in this gospel hope does not merely mean we agree that these grand promises are real but that we give ourselves whollyto them: we center our lives on them. Far from being a passive thing, faith is active. It engages the mind and the heart. As the author of Hebrews says, faith is the assurance and essence of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1): it is the delightful conviction that the things we hope for are real.

Walking in the Spirit means we stir up this hope in us, or as Paul says, we “eagerly wait” for it (Gal. 5:5). We all suffer from the distractions of the world and sin. It is for this reason the apostle Peter similarly urges us: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13, italics added).

Practically speaking, this means just as we have fed our minds on pornography, we should now feed our minds on God’s hope-filled promises. Just as we have spent hours engrossed in sexual media, we should spend hours filling our imaginations with God’s vision for our lives and our eternity. We must, as Paul says, set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5), on the glories of our inheritance as God’s children (8:17).

When it comes to saying no to lust and pornography, there are tailor-made promises in the Scriptures that hold out to us blessings of having a sexually pure mind and body.

  • If you are sexually pure, you will be living in the will of God for your life (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  • If you fill your mind with that which is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, then God’s peaceful presence will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
  • If you are not enslaved to your lusts, you will be freer to serve others in love (Galatians 5:13).
  • If you are sexually pure, your life will be fruitful, and that fruit will be full of goodness and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9).
  • If you are sexually pure, your mind will no longer be foggy, your heart will be teachable, and you will be filled with the very life of God (Ephesians 4:17-19).
  • If you are sexually pure, your heart will not be enslaved to the worship of sex, which means you can wholeheartedly devote yourself to the true and living God (1 Kings 11:4).
  • If you are sexually pure, you will be more prepared to be a great lover and to enjoy sexual intimacy with your spouse or future spouse (Proverbs 5:18-19).
  • If you are sexually pure, you will keep your marriage bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).
  • If you are sexually pure, you will no longer waste time but instead make the most of it (Ephesians 5:16).
  • If you are sexually pure, you will be an honorable person (1 Thessalonians 4:4).
  • If you are a sexually pure person, you will not be enslaved to your passions (1 Corinthians 6:12).

This is God’s vision for your life: aligned with His will; surrounded by His peaceful presence; mastering your desires, not being a slave to them; full of goodness; full of life; full of honor; full of worship; tender-hearted and clear-minded; making the most of your days. When pornography assaults your senses or when those lustful flashbacks fill your mind, let this vision, and the promises attached to them, be the fuel you use to reject the world’s temptations.

This “hope of righteousness” is not just for this life. This hope is ultimately about what we will become. The apostle John reminds us that though we are God’s adopted children right now, “what we will be has not yet appeared.” We know when we see Christ face to face at his return, we will be totally transformed, becoming just like him (1 John 3:2). John follows this glorious promise with a practical application for the here and now: “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:3, italics added). Knowing we are destined for an eternity of breathtaking purity and holiness, we purify ourselves now because we want to have a taste of that future purity. When temptations come knocking, we say to ourselves and to the temptation, “No! This is not who I am. I am destined to be like Christ, the Son of God, and nothing can be more satisfying than that.”

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luke-gilkerson-set-free-summit-speakerLuke Gilkerson served as the Educational Resource Manager at Covenant Eyes for nearly 8 years, where he wrote several e-books and thousands of blog posts. He and his wife Tricia blog about pornography and other health and parenting issues at Intoxicated On Life. This post was excerpted from his chapter in the book Your Brain on Porn. At the Set Free Summit, he spoke on accountability in the church.

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FREE RESOURCES
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Download Josh McDowell’s pornography presentation and research from the Set Free Summit here.

Downloads include:

  1. A Call to Arms (Presentation)
  2. A Call to Arms (Notes)
  3. Facts & Stats About Pornography (Vol 1)
  4. Facts & Stats About Pornography (Vol 2)
  5. What Josh is saying…about internet pornography
  6. What others are saying…about internet pornography
  7. Recommended Resources to Help with Overcoming Pornography

COVENANT-EYESOriginal blog post can be found at Covenant Eyes, a Josh McDowell Ministry partner. Learn more at SetFreeSummit.org.

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