1 Corinthians 9:24-25

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;

27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Self-control or discipline is something that is essential in breaking free of the hold of sexual immorality.  While God will help you tremendously, you still have to put forth your own effort or else the change will never take place.  I talked about this before in my preparation post with my morning routine, which unfortunately I have fallen away from.  Having fallen away from that routine of study and physical discipline, my discipline in the realm of sexual purity started to slip as well.  It wasn’t until I picked back up the routine of study and exercise that I started to bring myself back under control.  When we discipline ourselves in some areas of our lives, other ares of our life begin to follow suit, this is called synergy.  We have to discipline ourselves if we ever want to win the battle for our sexual purity, because one thing that both good soldiers and runners have in common, discipline.

Now for the all important question, how do we discipline ourselves?  Well there are many areas of your life you can start in, for me its bible study and exercise.  Every morning, I try to do some kind of reading in the Bible, either by continuing my read through the new testament or in a devotional book.  Then for exercising, every other day when I get back from work, before I do anything else I go out and run around my neighborhood.  As I become more disciplined in this I will start adding in other areas of my life, like watching what I eat and making sure my blog stays updated.  If I can start being disciplined in these areas of my life, discipline in my sexual life will start coming about as well.  So keep trying, and always remember that there is no fall that God can’t pick up back up from.

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I realize it has been a long time since I have posted, it has been an eventful couple weeks and I hope to get back into things today so expect to see a post soon.

Proverbs 16:2

2All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.

I just watched Fireproof last night and a couple things about the movie resonated with me.  The first being that when the main character Caleb started doing something called “The Love Dare” to try and save his marriage, he merely went through the motions and never really paid attention to the intentions that should be behind the actions.  He doesn’t realize this until later when his father point blankly tells him “I bet your doing just enough to get by.”  So that is the question I pose to myself and to you all, are you doing just enough to get by?  Are you wanting to change out of your love for God, or just your reputation?

Like the verse in Proverbs, God looks at the motives of what we are trying to do or what we are asking for.  Do we have the right things motivating us, things like love and compassion, all on the foundation of his biblical truths?  We have to look at ourselves and see why we are trying to end our sexual immorality.  We need to have the right motivations so that God can help us, because if we really don’t want to change, change isn’t going to happen.  If you want to stop just because people are talking about your, then you will just eventually find a way to do it in secret, you have to want to change and improve yourself in order for it to happen.

This was actually one of the sticking points of my struggle in the beginning.  I had come to the realization that what I was doing wasn’t right, but it was still stuck in my head that I wasn’t doing any harm and that it was just a minor sin.  However, I have realized two things as time went on that changed my perspective and have helped to push me forward in my recovery.  The first being that there are no small sins, and the second was that I may not be hurting other people, but I was hurting myself.  When you are constantly looking at pornography, specifically hentai, you find that your sense of beauty and how women should look get skewed tremendously.  When you are constantly looking at the perfection of beauty (at least you think its perfection), you lose sight of the beauty in all the people around you.  Which can lead to problems with finding a girlfriend/wife, and with the wife can lead to some problems in bed.  Then there is that fact that after a while you will start to compare yourself to the people in the scenarios you are watching.  Needless to say, it’s deadly to your perceptions and your self-confidence.  The other is that there is no small sin, any and every sin has the same consequence, death.  So if you are still living in sin when you pass away, you may have some eternal repercussions because of it.

Of course, there is one motive that can set the tone for the entire journey, and that’s the motive of why you even began this journey.  My motive was that I wanted to get right with God, he gave me so much and loved me so much, I should at least respond with whatever amount of love I can muster.  So what motivates you on this journey?

Isaiah 41:10

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Fear, it’s a very powerful thing.  There are two kinds of fear, one is a beneficial fear, like a how a child fears the punishment of his father, then there is the bad kind of fear, the fear that keeps us from doing what God wants us to do.  This second kind of fear occurs when two things are lacking, experience and trust.  If you have experienced the outcome of a given action, you aren’t going to be very afraid of that action because you know the result without having to trust anyone or anything else.  The same goes with trust, if you trust someone’s experience of an action enough, you will also not fear that action because you have been given a trustworthy account of the results.  But in the absence of either of these, fear can cause you to stumble quite often.

So the first aspect to deal with is experience, which unfortunately isn’t something that can be easily changed and can only be obtained with time.  As for the second half, that is where today’s verse comes into play.  Since experience only deals with what you have seen and done, we have to trust a lot of people to overcome our fears.  It’s the same when it comes to sexual purity as well, if we fear the unknown, and have no one to trust, we will often succumb to that fear.  However, we have the gift of being able to trust in God.  With trusting God, we can know that we will be taken care of, he won’t ever overburden us, and he knows exactly what we need when we need it.  The only tough part is that you have to trust him completely, 100%, in order to overcome the fear of the unknown.

Personally, I have two fears that drag me to pornography, the fear that I am going to be alone, and the fear that if I find someone, I won’t be good enough for her.  These two fears together often cause some depression and drive me back to pornography to feel that momentary pleasure.  But, this is not how it is supposed to be.  I need to trust God 100% on this because he knows what is best for me.  People often say that I have the qualities of a father and I have a desire to raise a family, so I don’t think God has me in the ‘being single’ column for the rest of my life.  As for the fear I won’t be good enough, that is unfounded as well because God will only burden you with the things that you can handle.  So when I find someone, I know that I will be ready because God allowed me to find her at that time.  So if we can just trust God to take care of us like he said he will, things would be a lot easier.  So conquer that fear by trusting God.

Genesis 2:18-22

18Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

19Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.

20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

Proverbs 27:17

17Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Going it alone, sounds cool doesn’t it?  To be the Lone Ranger, out on your own with only the stars (or God) as your guide.  But there is just one problem with that, God didn’t design us to be alone.  Just like the Lone Ranger had his Tonto, everyone needs someone who they can depend on to help them in times of need.  This is also true when it comes to trying to free yourself from sexual immorality.  Even in secular methods for beating addiction, accountability is a key part of creating that self-control and discipline to win the fight against temptation.

So practically, what does bringing a second person into this struggle do for you?  Well, it gives you someone you can confide in, someone you can tell your troubles to and get encouragement from.  It gives you someone you can call in times of temptation, and someone to celebrate with in times of victory.  In short, having that second person can help you tremendously in trying to attain that goal of breaking free.  It’s similar to in combat, having a person to watch you back will greatly increase your chances for victory.  Now, so far I have been talking about having a physical second person in this struggle, but there is one other person that should not be left out, Jesus.

Having that second person to help you is great, but in order to gain true freedom in the end, you are going to need Jesus in your corner as well.  Jesus is strong when we are weak, Jesus is always listening, Jesus is always ready to help when we cry out his name.  While the second person here on Earth will help you deal with the physical temptations and things outside or you, Jesus will be working on the inside, making permanent changes that will spur you to victory.

For me personally, I have a group of four men that I meet with weekly that I can confide in and tell my troubles to.  It helps me to have feedback from them and to hear their different opinions and views on my troubles and how to overcome them.  I also have my roommate to confide in and to call in times of temptation to help me through those troubled times.  But the thing that is most important, we all pray.  If we are having problems, we pray about it, we pray to prepare ourselves for the day and pray over each other when we are apart.  That prayer and our fellowship is what will help us to find true freedom, it’s just a matter of time.

Summary:

At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry is a thorough and penetrating examination of sexual addiction. It draws back the curtain and exposes the inner workings of sexual sin in the heart, which the author understands, having lived in the bondage of it himself for over twelve years. He is not presenting theories or opinions, but the biblical answers that have worked in his own life and in the lives of hundreds of men he has personally discipled since 1986.

At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry does not contain the worn out explanations, humanistic solutions, or superficial answers that have been prevalent during the last decade. Sexual addiction is a spiritual problem that requires solutions with spiritual depth. What is presented in this book is firmly rooted in Scripture and always points the man to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to his problem.

My impressions:

This was a great book, and one that I intend to read again.  This book pulls no punches and drives to the heart of the issue of sexual immorality, the fact that we think we need to go to something or someone else to get something that we think God can’t provide.  He challenges you to look at all areas of your life and see where the influences are coming from; TV, movies, the culture at large.  He shows us good role models to look towards in the Bible, and offers his own insights and experiences to help bring everything to a more personal level.  This book does not shy away from any of the issues and isn’t afraid to call an addition to pornography what it is, sexual idolatry.  In the end, this book opened my eyes and pointed me in the right direction to start finding my way out of my addiction.

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

A lot of Christians have heard these verses, put on the full armor of God to stand firm against the devil, but why do we need to put on God’s armor?  It’s all because we need to prepare ourselves, we have to get ourselves ready for the day to come so that we don’t stumble.  When it comes to soldiers preparing themselves for battle, they do a couple things.  First they armor themselves to make sure they are protected from enemy fire, than they arm themselves so that they can fight back against the enemy, and lastly they “get their head in the game,” or prepare themselves mentally for the battle ahead.  These steps of preparation are all outlined in Ephesians 6:10-18, putting on the armor, taking up the sword, and getting your mind right so that you can stand in the spiritual battle to come.  Because, believe me, fighting against sexual temptation is a grueling battle, and one that will last for a long time.

Now, since the bible tells us to prepare for the battle, what actions does that translate to in real life?  Well it’s all about what you do to start the day, doing it at night is too late and sometimes it’s hard to find time after the day has started, so in my opinion, get it all done in the morning.  Sure there are the things that everyone does regardless of what they believe, things such as getting cleaned up for work and eating breakfast, but there is more to be done.  For me, it starts with prayer.  As time has gone on I have collected a good number of names in my head to pray for each day, friends, family, and co-workers; so to start the day I pray over all of them as well as myself.  In addition to those prayers for myself and others, I ask questions, because when you pray, you are talking to God, so why not ask Him a couple things.  After praying, I do a quick 30 minute workout, this is to help get in shape but also to help discipline myself physically, so that I can carry that discipline over to the mental and spiritual aspects of my life.  Next I get ready for work and get breakfast, then, as the last thing I do before I walk out the door, I read my bible.  Reading God’s word can have a profound effect on your day, and for me, I have found that the days I don’t read the Bible are often the days when I stumble.  Plus, like I talked about in my last post, reading and studying the Bible is just something you should do on a daily basis.

So there it is; the whole of my morning routine.  While I am still struggling to get free, these preparation steps I take in the morning help to get me started right.  Because most soldiers can tell you, if you show up to battle without your weapon or without any armor, you are taking a big risk, and if you let the enemy catch you off guard, you’re in trouble.  So be like a boy scout, be prepared.