Once addiction sets in, the user has a whole new set of problems, because addiction damages the part of the brain that helps you think things through to make good choices— the brain’s limit setting system. For more than 10 years, studies have shown that drug addictions can cause the brain’s frontal lobes to start shrinking. While “frontal lobe” sounds really technical, basically it’s the part of the brain that controls logical problem solving and decision making. But recent studies have found that it’s not just drugs that cause that kind of damage—the same problems show up with other kinds of addictions, such as overeating, Internet addictions, and sexual compulsion.
“You don’t have to go overseas to have a mission field. You don’t even need to make new contacts to have people to pursue with the gospel. God has already set each of us among unbelievers that we can take steps to reach for him. These people are our natural mission field. God calls us to reach them just as certainly as he calls others to preach the gospel in Ecuador or Malawi. Looking for new contacts to evangelize is fine, but is that where we should start? Can we expect God to bless our efforts to contact new people when we aren’t doing anything to help those he has already given us? Evangelism falters when we don’t see our mission field, or when we don’t get busy and do something with it.” ~ Dr. Andrew Young
The above quote is taken from an Evangelism course notes that Andrew developed and delivered.
About Andrew Young
Paul Tripp, Tim Lane, and Brad Hambrick present: six unavoidable facts
- Someone in your life had a problem this week. That person may be you. Even if you are here for yourself, chances are you know or will know others who struggle in this area. Because we live in a fallen world and have a sin nature, we can be certain that we will battle with sin and suffering in our lives. Because we love people, we can be certain we will be called on to love and assist others in their battle with sin and suffering.
- We have everything we need in the Gospel to help that person (2 Peter 1:3). God has given us Himself, the Gospel, the Bible, and the church and promised they are effective for all things that pertain to life and godliness. Our task as Christians is to grow in our understanding of and ability to skillfully apply these resources to our struggles. These resources are the essence and source of “good advice,” and we hope to play a role in your efforts to apply and disseminate this “good advice.” We do not aim to present new material, but new ways of applying the timeless, eternal truths of the Gospel found in Scripture.
- That person will seek help from friends, family members, or pastors before seeking professionals. Counseling (broadly defined as seeking to offer hope and direction through relationship) happens all the time. We talk with friends over the phone, crying children in their rooms, spouses in the kitchen, fellow church members between services, and have endless conversations with ourselves. We listen to struggles, seek to understand, offer perspective, give advice, and follow up later. This is what the New Testament calls “one-anothering” and something we are all called to do.
- That person either got no help, bad help, or biblical, gospel-centered help. Not all counseling is good counseling. Not all advice that we receive from a Christian (even a Christian counselor) is Christian advice. Too often we are advised to look within for the answers to our problems or told that we are good enough, strong enough, or smart enough in ourselves to overcome. Hopefully you will see today how the Bible calls us to something (rather Someone) better, bigger, and more effective than these messages.
- If they did not get meaningful help, they will go elsewhere. When we do not receive good advice (pointing us to enduring life transformation), we keep looking. We need answers to our struggles. This means that as people find unfulfilling answers they will eventually (by God’s grace) come to a Christian for advice. When they eventually come to you, we hope you will be more prepared because of our time together today.
- Whatever help they received, they will use to help others! We become evangelists for the things that make life better (this is why the Gospel is simply called “Good News”). We quite naturally share the things that we find to be effective. Our prayer for you today is that you will find the material presented effective for your struggles and that you will be so comforted and encouraged by it that it will enable you to be a more passionate and effective ambassador of the Gospel in the midst of “normal” daily conversations.
- Bold faced text taken from Paul Tripp and Tim Lane How People Change.
- Non-bold-faced text taken from Brad Hambrick False Love.
Question nine of the New City Catechism asks: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?
First, that we know and trust God as the only true and living God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry and do not worship God improperly. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works.
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.
God leads men to see that the God revealed in Scripture, and manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus, is the God who made heaven and earth. Man fashions for himself a god after his own liking; he makes to himself if not out of wood or stone, yet out of what he calls his own consciousness, or his cultured thought, a deity to his taste, who will not be too severe with his iniquities or deal out strict justice to the impenitent. He rejects God as he is, and elaborates other gods, such as he thinks the Divine One ought to be…. The Holy Spirit, however, when he illuminates their minds, leads us to see that Jehovah is God, and beside him there is none else. He teaches his people to know that the God of heaven and earth is the God of the Bible, a God whose attributes are completely balanced, mercy attended by justice, love accompanied by holiness, grace arrayed in truth, and power linked with tenderness. He is not a God who winks at sin, much less is pleased with it…but a God who cannot look upon iniquity, and will by no means spare the guilty. This is the great quarrel of the present day between the philosopher and the Christian. The philosopher says, “Yes, a god if you will, but he must be of such a character as I now dogmatically set before you”; but the Christian replies, “Our business is not to invent a god, but to obey the one Lord who is revealed in the Scriptures of truth.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London’s New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.
From the sermon “Heart-Knowledge of God” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons Preached and Revised by C.H. Spurgeon During the Year 1874, Volume XX (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 674–675.
Thou commandest “that I should have none other gods in thy sight.” That is to say, as I should have thee for my Lord and God to look for all good things most assuredly at thy hands, and therefore I should put all my trust in thee, be thankful unto thee, love thee, fear thee, obey thee, and call upon thy holy name in all my needs; so should I give this faith, love, fear, obedience, thankfulness, and invocation or prayer, to none other…but only to thee…. All this to do, 0 Lord God, and that with most joyful heart, I have great cause; for what a thing is it, that thou, Jehovah, wouldest vouchsafe…to give thy Son for me, and to become my God!… But, alas! dear Father, what shall I say? As in times past horribly I have broken this thy law in trusting in thy creatures, calling upon them, loving, fearing, and obeying many things besides thee and rather than thee…. 0f thy goodness and great mercy, dear Father…forgive me as well mine idolatry done in times past, as that which of late time I have committed and do commit…[and grant] that I may have none other God in heart but thee, nor do service to any other but only to thee, and for thee…. 0 Lord…thou biddest me not to take thy name in vain, as by…cursing, praying without sense, also by jesting or foolish abusing, or negligent reading or hearing of thy holy word…; and in like manner by denying thy truth and word, or concealing it when occasion is offered to promote thy glory and confirm thy truth. By reason whereof I may well see that thou wouldest have me to use my tongue in humble confessing thee and thy word and truth…in praying heartily, and calling upon thy name; in reading and hearing thy word, and speaking thereof, with all reverence, diligence, and attention; in thanksgiving, and praising thee for thy great mercy…. But, gracious good Lord…I am a miserable transgressor of this thy most holy, good, and blessed commandment, as always I have been in times past…. Dear God, pardon my sins past and present, whereof this law doth accuse me; and grant, most gracious Father, that I may be endued with thy holy Spirit, to know and love thy holy name, word, and truth in Jesus Christ…to call upon thy name in all my need, to give thanks unto thee, praise thee, magnify thee, and to sanctify thy holy name, as a vessel of thy mercy, for ever and ever.
John Bradford (1510–1555). An English Protestant Reformer, Bradford studied at Cambridge University and was made royal chaplain to King Edward VI. When Catholic Mary Tudor came to the throne he was arrested along with Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer. Bradford had a great reputation as a preacher and a vast crowd came to his execution. He is most remembered for his statement, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” His works, some of which were written from prison, include letters, exhortations, eulogies, meditations, sermons, and essays.
From “Godly Meditations: A Meditation upon the Ten Commandments” in The Writings of John Bradford, edited by Aubrey Townsend (Cambridge: University Press, 1868), 150–157.
Often triggers and motive are treated as two distinct things, and there are differences. But those differences are more akin to two sides of the same coin than apples and oranges. In this post we’ll examine the things that trigger your sexual sin and the motives attached to those triggers.
As you identify the trigger-motive for your sexual sin, we also want you to begin to see how you are treating your sin like a friend, ally, refuge, etc. These insights are essential for repentance to make sense as a central part of change. Unless we see how our sin seeks to replace God in our life, then our need to be made right with God comes across as if God is unduly hung up about our sexuality.
Your struggle with sexual addiction doesn’t start with your behavior. It begins with what you want, what you live for. – David Powlison in Sexual Addiction (p. 6)
1. Boredom (Sin as My Joy)
When boredom is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin has become our joy. When there is a moment to be filled with something of our choosing, we pursue sin to fill the void rather than God or any of His legitimate pleasures. We begin to lose our appetite for godly pleasure like the child who eats sweets stops wanting healthy food. Even as they feel sluggish from the ups and downs of sugary “treats” they fail to connect this to their diet but go instead for another sugar high as the “obvious” solution.
Sex is not ultimate… Idols begin as good things to which we give too much importance, and few things slide over into idolatry with greater frequency or greater power than sex. We allow a good gift of God to supersede the God who gave it. Sex is good, even great, but it’s not ultimate. –Tim Challies in Sexual Detox (p. 61)
Read Nehemiah 8:9-12. God is a God of great joys and pleasure. Too often we view God as so serious that we believe “fun” must be in His opposite direction. When God called Israel to repentance through Nehemiah and Ezra, He asked them to express their repentance in celebration. If the motive of boredom leads you to sin, then allow this passage to challenge your view of God.
2. Loneliness (Sin as My Friend)
When loneliness is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our “friend.” Sexual sin is always relational whether the relationship is fictional or physical, so it fits loneliness well. It’s as if our sin (a person, a chat room, or a video) calls to us, “Tell me your troubles.” We gladly pull up a chair and unload. As we do, talking to a real person or one who is not part of our sin becomes too risky. We now fear being judged or known by anyone but our “friend.”
It’s a perfect world that I can create. Things always go exactly my way. People do exactly what I want. I’m always on top. Fantasy is a great ego-feeder. –Anonymous testimony in David Powlison’sPornography: Slaying the Dragon (p. 19)
Read Proverbs 27:6. During sexual sin we write this proverb backwards. We believe, “Faithful are the kisses of any enemy; profuse are the wounds of a friend.” When sin reverses the roles of friend and enemy, it traps us until we return the right labels to the people in our lives. If the motive of loneliness leads you to sexual sin, then prayerfully examine who or what you call “friend.”
3. Stress (Sin as My Comforter)
When stress is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our comforter. We run to it, her, or him. Sin or our adultery partner makes things better (at least as long as it, she, or he remains hidden and keeps us to themselves). Yet the comfort takes on an addictive quality. The stress from which we are relieved is multiplied by the stress it, she, or he creates. This keeps us in a cycle of stress and returning to a primary source of stress for relief.
We crave intimacy at a relational level. We feel lonely. But we also fear intimacy. We’re not sure we can attain it or be vulnerable enough to handle it. –Tim Chester in Closing the Window (p. 47)
Read John 14:25-31. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as “the Helper” or “the Comforter” (v. 26) and as the source of peace–distinct from the world’s peace which always returns us to fear (v. 27). If a source of comfort doesn’t allow you to be more real with more people, then it isn’t true comfort. It’s a drug that numbs you before it makes you sick. If the motive of stress leads you to sexual sin, then examine whether your “comfort” is real or a form of relational self-medication.
4. Frustration (Sin as My Peace)
When frustration is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our source of peace. Sin is treated as an “oasis.” When this happens we label sin as our “safe place” as compared to the parts of life that are upsetting. This makes sin our friend and anyone or anything that opposes or interferes with our sin our enemy.
Read Romans 16:17-20 and I Thessalonians 5:22-24: Notice each of the passages refer to knowing the God of peace as the alternative to falling into temptations based upon deceitful desires. Where you turn for peace when you are frustrated is the determining variable of your character. Once you declare something or someone as the source of your peace, you will be loyal to and obey it.
5. Fatigue (Sin as My Source of Life)
When fatigue is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our source of life. We turn to sin as our boost to get through the day. The thought of our sin keeps us going when we feel like giving up. The adrenaline of sexual satisfaction (physical or romantic) becomes a drug we use to artificially stimulate ourselves–one we begin to wonder whether we could live without.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18: This passage uses many words that can be synonyms for or create fatigue: afflicted (v. 8), perplexed (v. 8), persecuted (v. 9), struck down (v. 9), and wasting away (v. 16). Fatigue can make you feel alone, and sexual sin becomes your life giving companion. Paul says that it’s only Christ who can be the life in us that counters the fatiguing death around us (v. 10-12). To doubt this truth reveals that we are believing (or at least listening attentively to) lies.
6. Hurt (Sin as My Refuge)
When hurt is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our refuge. In our moments of sinful escape we feel protected from life and a growing allegiance develops towards our sin. In actuality, our sexual sin provides as much protection as a child pulling the covers over his/her head. But in our moment of hurt, we appreciate even the pseudo-refuge of sin compared to the perceived absence of any other refuge.
Read Psalm 31: This Psalm alternates between a cry for help and a song of confidence. In this, the Psalm reveals the realness with which Scripture speaks to life. Sexual sin is a pseudo-refuge on demand. Even when we can’t have the sin, we can fantasize about his/her presence. However, the real refuge of God is available through the same type of prayerful-meditative exercise as our fantasy, but it’s actually able to deliver us through the guidance of Scripture, the presence of His Spirit, and the involvement of His people.
7. Betrayal (Sin as My Revenge)
When betrayal is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our revenge. We know how powerful betrayal is (especially sexual betrayal), so we decide to use its power for our purposes to avenge those who have hurt us. Blinded by pain we try to use pain to conquer pain but only multiply pain. We continue this potentially infinite domino train that pummels us with alternating experiences of betrayal’s pain and betraying’s shame in spite of knowing how it perpetuates pain.
Read Romans 12:17-21: It’s so tempting to read this passage as God “holding you back” from sweet relief and satisfaction. But, in reality, it is God “holding you back” from turning another’s betrayal into self-destruction. God is not removing vengeance. God is simply saying He is the only one who can handle its power without being overcome by it. Sin can never conquer sin; any more than oil can remove a stain from your clothes. It is foolish to believe your sexual sin could do what only Christ’s death on the cross could do–bring justice to injustice.
8. Bitterness (Sin as My Justice)
When bitterness is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our justice. If sin as revenge is fast and hot, then sin as justice is slow and cold. No longer are we seeking to hurt another by our actions; now we are merely nursing our wound. If we tried to explain our sin in words, we would have to say we believed our sin had some healing power. But because that seems foolish, we are more prone to just excuse our sin by the sin done to us.
Read Hebrews 12:15-17: In this passage a “root of bitterness” is directly linked to sexual sin (v. 16). When bitterness distorts our perspective we will trade things of great value (our integrity and/or family unity) for things of little value (a sexual release or fantasy briefly brought to life) like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.
9. Opportunity (Sin as My Pleasure)
When opportunity is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our pleasure. Often sexual sin requires no more trigger than time alone with a computer, a free moment to text, or an available member of the opposite sex to “talk” (i.e., flirt or allow to carry my burdens). When this is the case, sexual sin has become our default recreation–our preferred hobby. The more our sexual sin seeps into the common parts of life the more pervasive the lifestyle and heart changes necessary to root it out.
The reality is that often we dislike the shame and consequences of sin, but we still like the sin itself… That’s because porn is pleasurable. Let’s be honest about that. If we pretend otherwise, we’ll never fight it successfully. People like watching porn—otherwise they wouldn’t watch. The Bible talks about the pleasures of sin. They’re temporary. They’re dangerous. They’re empty pleasures, compared with the glory of God. But they are pleasures, nonetheless. –Tim Chester in Closing the Window (p. 15)
Read Philippians 3:17-21: Paul is addressing those whose “god is their belly” (v. 19). These are people whose basic appetites, the mundane parts of their life, were at odds with God. Paul wept at the thought of people in this condition (v. 18). Chances are they had become so comfortable serving their appetites that it would seem odd that Paul was crying for them and “radical” to change. If mere opportunity has become a primary trigger for you sin, let this passage shock you awake!
10. Rejection (Sin as My Comfort)
When rejection is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our comfort. Our culture has made things done from a “fear of rejection” seem neutral–as if the defensive motive negated the badness of sin, or as if we become the victim of our own sin when we fear rejection. The problem with a fear of rejection is it makes us foolish. Only the fear of the Lord can make us wise (Prov. 1:7). When we react from a fear of rejection, we naturally seek the comfort of people rather than the comfort of God.
Once we understand that the primary goal of sexually addictive behavior is to avoid relational pain—essentially, to control life—we can begin to uncover the core problem (20)… Several tiers below the surface is a pervasive, integral force that demands the right to avoid pain and experience self-fulfillment. This self-centered energy is the very essence of what the Bible calls ‘sin.’ –Harry Schaumburg in False Intimacy (p. 24)
Read Proverbs 29:25: Scripture calls the “fear of rejection” the “fear of man.” It’s not innocent because it replaces God as the One for whose approval we live. It is the values, character, and preferences of the one we fear that influence our decisions, emotions, morality, and instinctive responses. If rejection is your primary motive for sexual sin, allow this passage to challenge the orientation of your life.
11. Failure (Sin as My Success)
When failure is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our success. In the fantasy world of sexual sin (porn, romance media, or adultery), you always win. You get the girl. You are the beauty who is rescued. No part of real life can compete with the early success rate of sin. Sin pays up front and costs in the back. Real success costs up front and pays in the back. In healthy marriages, sacrifice is a primary part of the joy. As you give into sexual sin as a form of success, it will drive you to desire the kinds of successes that destroy a family. Even if the adultery relationship is made permanent, it will then become “real” enough that it will no longer play by your preferred rules of success.
Read Matthew 21:28-32: Why would the second son say, “I go, sir” and not do the assigned task (v. 30)? One potential reason is the fear of failure. Doubtless he would then view his father as upset with him and feel closer to someone who only asked of him what he wanted to do (i.e., porn, romantic media, or adultery partner). Using sexual sin as cheap success results in harming real relationships, lying, defensiveness towards being “judged,” and retreating to unhealthy or fictitious relationships. Rather than grading others by how they make you feel, repent of your fear of failure.
12. Success (Sin as My Reward)
When success is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our reward. Has your sexual sin become what you do when you need a break or what you have “earned” after completing something difficult? Has your sexual sin become the carrot you dangle in front of yourself in order to maintain motivation? When sin becomes our reward we feel cheated by repentance. God and anyone who speaks on His behalf becomes a kill-joy.
Read Hebrews 11:23-28: Moses faced a choice between which reward he believed would be most satisfying: the treasure of Egypt or the privilege of being God’s servant (v. 26). Sexual sin gives us a similar reward choice: easy treasure or humble servant. Unless Christ is our hero and God our admired Father, then the choice seems like a no-brainer in the direction of destruction.
13. Entitlement (Sin as My Deserved)
When entitlement is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes what we deserve. When you are confronted with your sexual sin, do you think or say, “How else am I going to get what I need… deserve… earned?” Can you see how sexual sin has become your measure for a “good day” and whether someone is “for” or “against” you? Are you willing to allow anyone other than Christ who died for the sin you are trying to squeeze life out of to be the measure of “good” in your life?
Read Jeremiah 6:15 and 8:12: The people of God had lost their ability to blush at sin. Why? One possible explanation (that can explain our inability to blush even if it doesn’t apply to them), is they believed they deserved their sin. When this happens, we believe we know better than God. We believe the unique features of our life trump the timeless truths of God’s created order. Our confidence to debate robs us of the humility necessary to blush.
14. Desire to Please (Sin as My Affirmation)
When the desire to please is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our affirmation. It’s easy to please a porn star or an adultery partner. They have a vested interest in being pleased. The entire relationship is based upon commerce (“the customer is always right”) or convenience (“if I am not pleasing to you, you have somewhere else to return”) rather than commitment (“I choose you unconditionally and faithfully in good times and in bad”). Too often sexual sin becomes a place of escape when we don’t feel like we can make everyone/anyone happy.
Read Ephesians 4:25-32: Notice the type of relational interaction described in these verses is incompatible with an overly strong desire to please others. We cannot live the life God called us to (regardless of whether we are sinning sexually or not) if our driving desire is the affirmation of others. Our conversation must be gracious and good for building up (v. 29), but that assumes we are willing to speak into areas of weakness with those we love.
15. Time of Day (Sin as Pacifier)
When time of day is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our pacifier. Do you use your sexual sin to help you sleep, get the day started, serve as a pick-me-up, fight boredom, or kill dead time? What are the common times of day or week when you struggle with sexual sin? When has your sexual sin become routine?
Read I Timothy 4:7-10: When you use sin as a pacifier you are training yourself for ungodliness (contra. v. 7). Often, because these occurrences happen during down times or transitions of our day, we view these occurrences of sin as less bad. We view them more like a child who is still sucking his/her fingers rather than a child who is defying a parent’s direct instruction. If disciplining ourselves for godliness means anything, it must be relevant when we feel undisciplined.
16. Location (Sin as My Escape)
When location is our trigger for sexual sin, then sin becomes our escape. The fantasy nature of all sexual sin makes it a perfect escape from an unpleasant location. We can “be there” and “not be there” at the same time. We get credit for attendance (or at least avoid the discredit of absence) without having to attend. We can mentally be with our lover while enduring the boring meeting, stressful kids, uninteresting spouse, lonely apartment, or other unpleasant setting.
Read Psalm 32: Notice the Psalm begins talking about an unpleasant place or time (v. 1-5). But rather than escaping, David ran to God (v. 7) and found the joy you are seeking through escape into sexual sin (v. 10-11). When we escape through sexual fantasy, we use our fantasy as a substitute God. We are, in effect, praying to and meditating on our sin during a time of hardship seeking deliverance.
17. Negative Self-Thoughts (Sin as My Silencer)
When negative self-thoughts are our trigger for sin, then sin becomes our silencer. In sexual fantasy (porn, romance media, or adultery partner), we are always desired and see ourselves through the eyes of the one desiring us. We give ourselves to them not just physically but also imaginatively. Because we know the relationship is short-lived we are willing to do this. If the relationship were permanent the power of silencing-effect would be diluted over the expanse of time and contradicted by our growing number of failures in his/her presence.
Read Psalm 103: Sin (or even a healthy human relationship) will never do what only God can do. The ultimate “Peace, be still” to our negative self-thoughts is Christ’s death on the cross–affirming we were as bad as we thought, but replacing our deficiency with His righteousness. Sexual sin provides fantasy righteousness. It provides the kind of covering mocked in the classic children’s book The Emperor’s New Clothes.
18. Public (Sin as My Carnival)
When public is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our carnival. We walk through life like a kid at an amusement park; gawking at every person we see like a new ride or romantic adventure, making a clownish sexual innuendo out of every comment, or treating everything present as if it existed to entertain us and stimulate us sexually. Our private thoughts of fantasy become fueled by a hyper-sexualized interpretation of our surroundings.
The act of looking at porn is itself part of the succor it purports to offer. I can search for women who are available to me. I can choose between them like some sovereign being. It offers a sense of control. –Tim Chester in Closing the Window (p. 50)
Read Romans 1:24-25: Can you hear in the description of sex as my carnival what it means to have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (v. 25)”? God will give us over to this kind of lustful heart (v. 24). This is why a radical amputation of sin is a necessary and wise response to prevent sexual sin from becoming our carnival (Matt 5:27-30).
19. Weakness (Sin as My Power)
When weakness is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin becomes our power. The stimulation (both the physical and chemical changes associated with arousal) of sexual sin gives a façade of strength. Having another person delight in you also provides a veneer of significance. As with most of these motives/triggers, sex becomes a means to an end. Sex is no longer an expression of love but an attempt to gain something. That is always a recipe for dysfunctional, unsatisfying sex.
My pastor has preached that the primary issue in adultery is that you want someone else to worship you and serve you, to be at your beck and call. That resonated with me. I could see that theme in my fantasies. –Anonymous testimony in David Powlison’s Pornography: Slaying the Dragon (p. 15)
Read 2 Corinthians 11:30: Are you willing to boast (verbally put on public display) your weakness as a way to make Christ more known and live in more authentic relationships? That is the only freedom that will allow you to enduringly enjoy what you are seeking in sexual sin. If that sounds backwards to you, read what Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:20-25) and ask yourself if your “wisdom” is getting you closer or farther from where you want to be.
Identifying Your Triggers
List and rank the top five motives/triggers for your sexual sin.
Porn is always about a symptom of deeper issues. It’s about lust, but it’s also about anger, intimacy, control, fear, escape, and so on. Many of these problems will show up in other areas of a person’s life. –Tim Chester in Closing the Window (p. 109)
For some people the motive for their sexual sin will be very self-evident. Maybe you could quickly pick out the motive-triggers that deceive you into believing sin is “worth it” or will “work out” this time. For others, it requires reflection in the moment of temptation to discern what is luring them. If this is you, here’s ajournaling tool from the False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar that is designed to help you understand your motives.
When we understand the motive for our sin, it allows us to hear the empty promises sin makes so we can turn to our loving Heavenly Father who is willing and able to fulfill those promises. I hope this post has helped you see the emptiness of sin so that you are prepared to embrace the fullness of God in the gospel.
Question eight of the New City Catechism asks: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below—you shall not bow down to them or worship them. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.
Bible on: What does the law of God require?
Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7
You shall have no other gods before me.
Commentary on: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?
Thou shalt not have another God than me:
Thou shalt not to an Image bow thy Knee.
Thou shalt not take the Name of God in vain:
See that the Sabbath thou do not profain.
Honour thy Father and thy Mother too:
In Act or Thought see thou no Murder do.
From Fornication keep thy body clean:
Thou shalt not steal, though thou be very mean.
Bear no false Witness, keep thee without Spot:
What is thy Neighbours see thou Covet not.
The danger doth not lie in the breaking of one or two of these ten [commandments] only, but it doth lie even in the transgression of any one of them. As you know, if a king should give forth ten particular commands, to be obeyed by his subjects upon pain of death; now, if any man doth transgress against any one of these ten, he doth commit treason, as if he had broke them all, and lieth liable to have the sentence of the law as certainly passed on him, as if he had broken every particular of them…. These things are clear as touching the law of God, as it is a covenant of works: If a man do fulfil nine of the commandments, and yet breaketh but one, that being broken will as surely destroy him, and shut him out from the joys of heaven, as if he had actually transgressed against them all…. Though thou shouldst fulfil this covenant or law, even all of it, for a long time, ten, twenty, forty, fifty, or threescore years; yet if thou do chance to slip, and break one of them but once before thou die, thou art also gone and lost by that covenant…. For, my friends, you must understand, that…as they that are under the covenant of grace shall surely be saved by it, so, even so, they that are under the covenants of works and the law, they shall surely be damned by it, if continuing therein…. Again, you must consider that this law doth not only condemn words and actions…but it hath authority to condemn the most secret thoughts of the heart, being evil; so that if thou do not speak any word that is evil, as swearing, lying, jesting, dissembling, or any other word that tendeth to, or savoureth of sin, yet if there should chance to pass but one vain thought through thy heart, but one in all thy lifetime, the law taketh hold of it, accuseth, and also will condemn thee for it…. And so likewise of all the rest of the commands, if there be any thought that is evil do but pass thorough thy heart, whether it be against God, or against man in the least measure, though possibly not discerned of thee, or by thee, yet the law takes hold of thee therefore, and doth by its authority, both cast, condemn, and execute thee for thy so doing.
John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.
The poem is “Upon the Ten Commandments” in A Book for Boys and Girls, or, Country Rhymes for Children (London: Elliot Stock, 1890), 1. The quote is from “The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded” in The Works of that Eminent Servant of Christ Mr. John Bunyan, Volume 3 (Edinburgh: Sands, Murray & Cochran, 1769), 245–247.
0 my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them…. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen.
Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.
From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 51.
According to Jehovah’s Witness’ theology, God is a single person, not a Trinity, who does not know all things and is not everywhere. He first created Michael the Archangel through whom He created all “other things,” including the universe, the earth, Adam and Eve, etc. This creative work took God 42,000 years. At one point, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society taught that God ruled the universe from somewhere in the Pleiades star system. They have since modified this to say that the “Pleiades can no longer be considered the center of the universe and it would be unwise for us to try to fix God’s throne as being at a particular spot in the universe.”1 Such changes and even contradictions in teaching are frequent in the Watchtower organization; and when a doctrine changes, they tell their followers that the light of truth is getting brighter.
After Adam sinned, the paradise which God had created for them was ruined. So, God instituted a system of redemption which was revealed in the Bible and would ultimately lead to the crucifixion of Jesus the messiah. But, in the meantime, God needed to have a visible, theocratic organization on earth to accurately represent Him. Throughout history, this true organization had a remnant of faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.); but it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Charles Taze Russell formally began what is now known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society which is run out of Brooklyn, New York. This organization claims to be the only true channel of God’s truth on earth today and that it alone can properly interpret God’s word since it is the angel directed prophet of God on earth.
When it came time for the savior to be born, Michael the Archangel became a human in the form of Jesus. Jesus grew and kept all the laws of God and never sinned. Finally, when Jesus died, it was not on a cross but on a torture stake where he bore the sins of mankind–but this did not include Adam’s sins. Jesus rose from the dead as a spirit, not physically (his body was dissolved and taken by God); and during his visitations to people on earth, he manifested a temporary physical body for them to see and touch. Thus began the true Christian church of Jehovah’s followers.
Throughout history there have been faithful Jehovah’s witnesses who have managed to keep The Truth in spite of the “demonic” doctrine of Trinitarianism that has permeated the Christian church in “Christendom.” Christendom is filled with pastors who are antichrists in churches run by Satan and who support the earthly governments which are all of the devil. In other words, all of Christianity is false; and only the Jehovah’s Witness “theocratic” organization led by several men in Brooklyn, New York, is true.
Charles Taze Russell
In the late 1800’s, a young man of 18 years by the name of Charles Taze Russell organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1879 he sought to popularize his ideas on doctrine so he co-published The Herald of the Morning magazine with its founder, N. H. Barbour; and by 1884 Russell controlled the publication and renamed it The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom and founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society (now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society). Russell served as the teacher and guide for the organization which taught that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914 and is now reigning in heaven. When Jesus finally returns physically to earth, which will happen at the time of the Battle of Armageddon, He will set up his earthly 1000-year kingdom.
During this 1000-year period, people will be resurrected and have a second chance to receive eternal salvation by following the principles of Jehovah’s Organization on earth known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. After the millennium, those who reject God and His organization will be annihilated; that is, they will cease to exist.
The rest of the Jehovah’s Witness who have faithfully followed God’s organization on earth will be saved from eternal annihilation and reside forever on Paradise earth. Heaven, however, is a place for a special group of 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses–the only ones who are “born again” and who alone are allowed to take communion in their annual communion service. These are the ones who have “immortal life”; all other Witnesses have “everlasting life.” Those with immortal life do not have resurrected bodies. They have “spirit bodies.” Those on Paradise Earth have everlasting life and consists of a resurrected body that must be maintained through eating, rest, etc.
Five Meetings a Week
When you study with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you agree to attend five meetings a week where you are taught from Watchtower literature. You cannot be baptized until you have studied their material for at least six months and have answered numerous questions before a panel of elders. Men are not supposed to have long hair or wear beards, and women are to dress in modest apparel. They refuse to vote, salute the flag, sing the “Star Spangled Banner,” celebrate birthdays or Christmas, won’t take blood transfusions; and they can’t join the armed forces. A schedule of door-to-door canvassing is required where you distribute the Watchtower literature, acquire donations, and forward all monies to the headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
If you ever leave the Jehovah’s Witness organization, you are considered an apostate and are to be shunned.
Mormonism teaches that God used to be a man on another world, and that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of his god on his home world. He brought his wife to this world, a woman he had married on the other world. She is essentially a goddess.
In his present god-state, he rules our world. He has a body of flesh and bones. Since god and his wife are both exalted persons, they each possess physical bodies. In their exalted states as deities, they produce spirit children that grow and mature in the spiritual realm. The first spirit born was Jesus. Afterwards, Lucifer was born along with the rest of us. So, Mormonism teaches that we all pre-existed in the spirit realm–having been produced from the union of god and his goddess wife. Therefore, we all existed in spirit form before coming down and entering the bodies of human babies that are being born on earth. During this ‘compression’ into the infant state, the memories of our pre-existence is ‘veiled.’
According to Mormonism, this god’s name is Elohim
God the father, who is called Elohim, was concerned for the future salvation of the people on earth. In the heavenly realm, the Father had a plan for the salvation of the world. Jesus endorsed the Father’s plan. Lucifer did not. Lucifer became jealous and rebelled. In his rebellion, he convinced a large portion of the spirits existing in heaven to side with him and oppose god. God, being more powerful then they, cursed these rebellious spirits to become demons. They can never be born in human bodies.
The remaining spirits sided with God. Since they chose the better way, when it comes time for them to live on earth, they have the privilege of being born in races and locations that are relative to their condition and choice made in the spirit realm.1
The Plan of Salvation
In the Mormon plan of salvation there needed to be a savior: Jesus. But Jesus was a spirit in heaven. For him to be born on earth, Brigham Young, the second prophet of the Mormon church, said that instead of letting any other man do it, God the Father did it with Mary. He said that the birth of our savior was as natural as the birth of our parents. Essentially, what this means is that Brigham Young taught that god the father came down and had relations with Mary, his spirit daughter, to produce the body of Jesus. Though many Mormons will not entertain such incestuous thoughts about God and Mary, this is what Brigham Young taught; and as far as we know, this has not been denied by the Mormon church.
Nevertheless, Jesus was born, got married, and had children.2 He died on the cross and paid for sins–but not on the cross only. According to Mormonism, the atonement of Christ was not only on the cross. It began in the Garden of Gethsemane before he went to the cross.
BYOG (Be Your Own God)
In Mormonism, men and women have the potential of becoming gods. President Lorenzo Snow said, “As god once was, man is. As God is, man may become.” In order to reach this exalted state of godhood, a person must first become a good Mormon, pay a full ten percent tithe to the Mormon church, follow various laws and ordinances of the church, and be found worthy. At this point, they receive a temple recommend, whereupon the Mormon is allowed to enter the sacred temples in order to go through a set of secret rituals: baptism for the dead, celestial marriage, and various oaths of secrecy and commitment. Additionally, four secret handshakes are taught so the believing Mormon, upon entering the third level of Mormon heaven, can shake hands with god in a certain pattern. This celestial ritual is for the purpose of permitting entrance into the highest level of heaven.3 For those who achieve this highest of heavens, exaltation to godhood awaits them. Then he or she will be permitted to have his or her own planet and be the god of his own world, and the Mormon system will be expanded to other planets.
Please see Mormon Beliefs, are they Christian? for further documentation of Mormon beliefs.
Question seven of the New City Catechism asks: What does the law of God require?
Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves.What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.
Bible on: What does the law of God require?
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Commentary on: What does the law of God require?
Loving the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the first great branch of Christian righteousness. You shall delight yourself in the Lord your God; seeking and finding all happiness in Him. You shall hear and fulfill His word, “My son, give me your heart.” And having given Him your inmost soul to reign there without a rival, you may well cry out in the fulness of your heart, “I will love You, O my Lord, my strength. The Lord IS my strong rock; my Savior, my God, in whom l trust.” The second commandment, the second great branch of Christian righteousness, is closely and inseparably connected with the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love—embrace with the most tender goodwill, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil and bringing every possible good. Your neighbor—not only your friends, kinfolk, or acquaintances; not only the virtuous ones who regard you, who extend or return your kindness, but every person, not excluding those you have never seen or know by name; not excluding those you know to be evil and unthankful, those who despitefully use you. Even those you shall love as yourself with the same invariable thirst after their happiness. Use the same unwearied care to screen them from whatever might grieve or hurt either their soul or body. This is love.
John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.
From “The Two Great Commandments” in Renew My Heart: Classic Insights by John Wesley (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2011).
Juan Sanchez: What does the law of God require?
Prayer on: What does the law of God require?
We thank you Heavenly Father that you have not left us to grope in the darkness without any light to show us the way. We thank you that your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And we thank you that you have given us in the Holy Spirit an indwelling comforter and strengthener who writes your law in our hearts enabling us to love and to obey it. Grant us in increasing measure the fulness of the Spirit that we may live a life that is pleasing in your holy sight. For the glory of your great name. Amen.
John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.
From the end of the sermon “The Call to Fulfil the Law” on Matthew 5:17–20, recorded 15th October 1989, available from www.allsouls.org
Tension In A Christian’s Soul
“There are two opposing stories, each one being told in the life of every Christian. The clash of the two stories is the narrow road, creating tension in a Christian’s soul that uncovers our core desire to tell the story of Jesus.”
Dr. Larry Crabb, A Different Kind of Happiness, Page 69
Questions for Reflection:
• As you think about what it means to be a follower of Christ, do you live with an awareness that an ongoing battle within your own heart will remain until heaven?
• How does the opportunity to tell the story of Jesus with your life impact your perspective regarding that battle?