by Mike Genung
The following are 15 principles for discovering and maintaining freedom from sexual addiction from a Christian perspective.
1. We must face the truth that there’s nothing good inside of us, and we desperately need God (Isaiah 64:6). Modern man likes his theology positive and encouraging; “God doesn’t make bad people; you’re a good person at heart” they say. From God’s perspective that which is inside of us is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Our losing battle with lust teaches us that fighting sin with our flesh is insane. The more desperate we are for God, the better, for it is the desperate who are more apt to lean on, seek, and obey Him.
2. Justification, compromise and deceit have become a way of life, and must be abandoned. The choice to give in to sexual sin is not our spouse’s fault; stressful times do not entitle us to “a little porn.” If we’re serious about freedom, we can no longer play games with lust; we have to choose between God and lust, and follow hard after the one we want (Matthew 6:24).
3. Lust feeds on isolation. The only way to break this stronghold is to confess our sins to others on a regular basis. (James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13).
4. We must learn to rely on God’s strength. Those who know the seering pain of their brokenness and are desperate for God will refuse to rely on their flesh to overcome lust (Philippians 3:3). They move from relying on self to trusting in and obeying God, which is where healing comes from.
5. God’s standard for sexual purity begins in the mind (Matthew 5:28). When a lust-thought first enters the mind it is not sin; dancing with those thoughts and playing with sexual fantasy is. Compromise with lust-thoughts leads to external acts of sexual immorality; we must learn to quench each temptation when it sparks. If we’re honest we must confess we cannot clean up our mind—which brings us back to a place of being desperate for God to do what we cannot.
6. We don’t fight the mental battles with lust-thoughts by wrestling with them or trying to shut them off, but by turning to the Lord, praying, allowing Him to fight the battle, and, if necessary, asking others to pray for us. We focus on God, not on fighting lust.
7. We must cut off anything within our control that causes us to stumble (Matthew 5:29-30). Compromise spells defeat; many men continue to live in bondage because they refuse to adopt a take-no-prisoners approach here.
8. Lust inflates a man’s pride to epic proportions; he’s self-absorbed to the hilt. Pride also blinds him to the extent of his oversized ego and how he’s hurting others. Throughout the recovery process, he must crucify his pride by putting others first; serving must become his new way of life. His strives to learn humility and incorporate it into his character (James 4:6).
9. Those who are married and have committed sexual sin have betrayed, lied to, and abused their spouse. Since the man and wife are one flesh, the sexual addict must make his spouse’s healing as much a priority as his own. The process begins by rebuilding trust, which can only happen if he stops all lying and hiding. He must then take the actions that will prove to his wife that she is his biggest priority, second only to God (Ephesians 5:25).
10. True freedom from sexual addiction comes from the heart; white knuckling to control the externals doesn’t work for long. The core beliefs of the heart must be examined and exposed to the light of the truth, and any wounds needs to be healed. Stuffing or denial of emotions keeps a man in bondage (Proverbs 4:23)
11. Bitterness is poison that saturates the heart with evil, making it more prone to lust or other sins. All grudges against others must be dealt with by providing complete forgiveness, whether the offending party asks for it or not (Mark 11:25).
12. One lie can drive a man to despair, anger, or apathy, which intensifies the pull to sexual sin. “I can’t be loved as I am, I’m worthless, I can’t get it right or please others, Lust is the best love I can hope for” are examples. Then there are the lies from the other side: “I deserve a little porn to celebrate today… my wife won’t have sex with me, so it’s okay if I take matters into my own hands.” God knows the depths of our heart, and can reveal that which we need to face in order to be free.
13. “If you seek Me with all of your heart you will find Me” Jeremiah 29:13. We must launch out into the grand adventure of seeking God alone, with the same intensity as we’ve gone after other things. It is when we find Him and are filled with His peace, joy, and love that lust will cease to be attractive to us. If grace doesn’t go from the head to the heart, we remain empty.
14. When God sets us free from sexual addiction, we must keep our guard up. Many have fallen after allowing their pride to convince them of the lie that they’re too strong to fall again (1 Peter 5:8).
15. We must continue to grow in the grace of God with humility, obedience, seeking Him, staying out of isolation, and serving others (2 Peter 3:18).