A Thirst For Knowledge, A Thirst For Porn

A group of guys are sitting at a table arguing about who won the 1984 World Series MVP. If the year was 1994 then the argument would go on until somebody got home and looked up in their copy of Sports Almanac. Today the argument will last only as long as it takes for someone to grab their iPhone and consult the mighty Google machine.

Willie Hernandez.

Argument over.

You want to know something, then you Google it. It’s your God-given right to have this information and it is at your finger tips. We are an information-saturated culture. I’d almost argue that many of us are addicted to information. We can’t let questions go unanswered anymore. Willie Hernandez must be known.

Knowledge is a good thing. There is nothing innately wrong with someone settling an argument by Googling the 1984 World Series MVP. In fact it can be quite helpful.

The problem is when we believe knowledge is a right. And it becomes a big problem when that foolish belief collides with our sex-crazed culture.

Many young men are introduced to pornography out of curiosity. They simply want to know what those forbidden parts look like. And then that curiosity gets more pointed. They want to know what certain celebrities look like naked. It never satisfies.

It’s not only young men that have been caught in this snare. It’s trapped many good and seemingly faithful men. They don’t begin on a quest to view porn for sexual pleasure. It’s a quest to view forbidden images for the sake of knowledge. But those images aren’t just innocent facts like who won the 1984 World Series MVP. They are flaming darts meant to cause you to wind up like a gutted deer hanging from a tree.

Brothers, don’t believe the lie the enemy is whispering in your ear. You aren’t doing research. You aren’t merely on a quest for knowledge. You are on a prideful jaunt into the land of the forbidden. You think that it is your right to see what ought not be seen by your eyes. It is not. This information is not yours to hold. This is sin.

Your thirst for knowledge wasn’t meant to be satisfied. Your thirst for knowledge was meant to be spent on the eternal–ever filling but never complete. You can’t just Google the answer. There is no “argument over” when it comes to beholding the infinitely beautiful God. It is in the Person of Christ that you and I ought to direct our gaze and our desire to know and behold and worship.

Don’t waste such a beautiful gift on inferior joys than come to a climax. Spend this gift—this thirst—on the bottomless joy of God in Christ.

Comments

  1. doug sayers says

    Thanks Mike and SBC Voices. Like all sin problems, the porn problem will not be curtailed by ignoring it or making light of it. We have not preached effectively against sin unless we name the particular sins of the particular audience/congregation to whom we preach.

    We are a sex crazed culture because we have sex crazed natures but thank God the grace to resist is available.

  2. Jeff Johnson says

    Good word, Mike. I had not seen any articles addressing pornography from this perspective.

    This reminds me of Solomon’s conclusion in Ecc. 1:8 — “the eye is not satisfied with seeing.” Solomon, literally the wisest man who ever lived, went on a search for knowledge that led him to test his heart with all kinds of pleasure. This pleasure quest included the acquisition of “many concubines, the delight of the children of man.” Solomon had in actual reality the kind of harem that pornography only provides in virtual reality. None of them proved to be satisfactory. A parade of beautiful women fit for a king was a “striving after the wind.” Lust always wants to see more.

    Women are beautiful because God made them to be beautiful, just as He made trees, oceans, and rivers to be beautiful. They are made in His image. (That’s why I think sexual immorality is such a powerful form of idolatry: its object of worship is a person created in the image of God.) The purpose of these women’s beauty is to bring God glory. In His grace He shares some of that beauty, but only within the covenant of marriage. The privilege of seeing the beauty comes with a serious responsibility. It is a great form of pride and arrogance to take that privilege upon ourselves whenever and with whomever we see fit — even if the women are willing to show us. In a real sense, their beauty is not theirs to give on their own terms. We pay them no honor by being voyeurs.

    I wish posts like yours would generate more discussion here, Mike. Maybe this one will. We need to talk about this stuff.

    • says

      Thanks, Jeff.

      While I agree that things like this need to be discussed more, I’m also not sure what that discussion should look like. Most discussion on blogs is driven by disagreement. I don’t envision someone take a pro-porn position.

      Our only hope is if someone would say something like, “More Calvinists are addicted to porn than non-Calvinists”. Then we’d have some discussion.

      • Jeff Johnson says

        “Our only hope is if someone would say something like, ‘More Calvinists are addicted to porn than non-Calvinists’. Then we’d have some discussion.”

        Ha! True enough. Or which seminary produces the most porn users. Of course, there are plenty of pornography-related topics that could produce spirited debate, such as when porn disqualifies a person from a current ministry, how much to confess to a spouse, etc.

        Maybe what I’m thinking of would be more fitted to a message board (Are those still around?) or a Facebook group. I joined the 30 Days of Purity group on Facebook back when Tim Challies was running those devotionals on his blog. It got so big, and some of the posts were a little out there, that I feared it would turn into a free-for-all. I stopped checking it. I just think that there ought to be some kind of online outlet for these discussions, especially for pastors and church staff. If somebody has found a good one, please share. We should all have a couple of flesh-and-blood friends we can talk to (and I do), but it’s tough to get authentic discussions about this stuff among church folk.

        • says

          Yeah, that guy was terrible.

          All jokes aside, we tried keeping that group heavily moderated but at the end of the day it was so huge and the people so diverse that it became difficult. It’s still running but it’s even more heavily moderated than before. Our hope was always that the 31 Days of Purity would be something that would spread through local churches. That is where the battle will be one–not on message boards.

          This particular sin (like so many others) is one that grows in darkness and anonymity. A Facebook group is easy for a person to hide in and also to project the image a person wants people to see. That is much harder to do face to face.

          At the same time you are also correct that it is difficult to get authentic discussion about this stuff among church folk. What we’ve tried to do is get smaller groups of men together and encourage them to go through the 31 days. And then once they do it find another guy and go through it with them.

          • Jeff Johnson says

            I definitely see what you are saying. It’s easier to hide online than it is face-to-face. I do think, however, that people have more of an incentive to hide in their face-to-face interactions. More is at stake with people you actually know. Online discussions at least give people a place to start. In an Internet forum, people have more freedom to voice questions, think out loud, and test ideas without worrying what their friends or church members are going to think. I agree that friendship and accountability should go beyond that to having real people who stand up to you and stand with you during trials and temptations.

          • says

            I think the key phrase here is, “a great place to start”. We wrestled with whether or not to even have a Facebook group. But settled on having one as a place for some guys to perhaps open up about their struggles for the very first time. But ultimately this is something that needs to happen at a local church level.

      • Dave Miller says

        I’m tweeting that. Mike Leake says “More Calvinists are addicted to porn than non-Calvinists.”

  3. Andy says

    Other than outright controversy…discussion can also be sparked if there is a question or problem that might have several different answers…

    SO…for those who need something to debate about:

    1. What is the best thing we can do to help the men in our church say no to pornography? What is the best way to preach about it? What is other, non-preaching efforts must be made?

    2. If you have put effort into this in your church, what have you seen be effective? ….What have you seen that is not effective?

    • says

      Andy, super questions.

      1. I just flat out preach about it as points of applications. I try to call it out and encourage men to flee. We’ve also done a men’s retreat (hope to do more) and we address the topic there. We’ve encouraged men in our church to go through our 31 Days of Purity (http://www.mikeleake.net/2014/04/free-31-days-of-purity-ebook-available.html) in smaller discipleship groups.

      2. Personal relationships. Accountability relationships that are grounded in the gospel and not just our battle for purity. These we’ve seen work well.

    • says

      1) Have mentioned it several times whenever I’m in a passage dealing with marriage, sex, and purity… in fact doing a series on the Sermon on the Mount right now and this Sunday is Matthew 5:27-32… talking about it, like the other Mike said, as a point of application in the idea that we must war against temptation and sinful pleasures (i.e. if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off)… going to emphasize that as convenient as they can be, we don’t NEED smart phones, fast internet, etc… we DO need righteousness, purity, holiness, and Christ.

      Also in the sermon going to have a “conversation” with parents to not think their children are immune because they’re young (I have a nephew I caught looking at porn through my computer when he was 11. I had a talk with him, he then had a talk with his dad–it headed off what could have become a lifetime disaster–so, yeah, I’ve kept up with him at times since then; but still 11–that’s pre-puberty for the vast majority of boys).

      Etc.

      2) And I have found this easier with the high schoolers and college guys than older guys–but just flat out ask them: What’s your thought life like? How are you with purity? Are you looking at porn?

      One guy was 18 at the time I asked him. First he told me, “Nope, everything’s great.” I change the subject, barely get a word out, then: “Well, I’m doing alright.” I say, “Okay, so…” He hangs his head, “I have a real problem.” Closely followed by, “This is weird talking to my pastor.” I told him, “Why? That’s why I’m here–your spiritual growth and health. You shouldn’t fell like there’s anything that you can’t talk about to your pastor.” He’s had his ups and downs since then, but it also helped get him on a different track.

      And that’s just it–everyone seems afraid to touch the issue, so some of us just have to step us and say, “Forget that–let’s talk.”

    • says

      We need to find a way to speak more openly about this devastating topic. I find that people are more okay saying, “I have a drinking problem” or “I have a drug problem” than they are saying “I have a porn problem.” Sexual addiction tends to bring a certain level of judgment that we don’t always levy onto other addictive sins. You tell me which one of the following addicts is going to be looked at the harshest when he confesses:
      (a) “I drink myself to sleep every night.”
      (b) “I smoke weed every day.”
      (c) “I can’t control my gambling…I’m in massive debt because of it.”
      (d) “I can’t control looking at porn on the web and I masturbate compulsively.”
      It seems to me we have some sympathy for guy A, B and C, but look at guy D and think, “What a pervert!”
      I find the same thing even in a setting such as Celebrate Recovery. Everybody cheers for the alcoholic that has been sober for 30 days, but we are not even sure how to talk about the sex addict that has avoided porn for 30 days.
      So for “non-preaching” efforts we have got to create a safe environment where this issue can be discussed. I think we’ve succeeded in doing this with all kinds of addictions but failed miserably in this area of porn / sex addiction. In fact, we must go beyond simply preaching about it. What would you do if your pastor stepped into the pulpit this Sunday and said, “In the past, I have struggled greatly with pornography. It almost destroyed my marriage.” We need more men in ministry leadership to own up and say those things instead of preaching down to men in the pews.
      I don’t have to republish all the statistics here – men in ministry are hammered by porn addiction too. It has to move beyond being a taboo subject, and then we can really address it.

      Randy

  4. says

    Good observation, Mike.

    The pursuit of knowledge to satisfy sinful lust will result in the clouding of the knowledge of Christ. Conversely, the pursuit of the knowledge of Christ will lead to a clouding of the knowledge of sinful lust. Both pursuits cannot happen at the same time. You must kill one to follow the other.

  5. Jess says

    Mike, I wasn’t going to return to Voices until the fall season, but I saw your post and just had to comment. When I see Voices I just have to sneak a peek.

    Personally, I think Voices is an addiction. If I had never started commenting on Voices I wouldn’t have had this addiction. I have searched my heart and come to the conclusion that it’s Dave Miller’s fault.

    I am old school, I think people do what they want to do. Let’s not blame God or the devil. Then, I wonder what is left, those crazy nasty computers, that’s right it has to be the computers.

    My friends, I have never been on one of those smut sites, and I don’t plan to be. If I ever did, I’m sure it would probably be Dave Miller’s fault.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I do just what I want to do. The thing about it is, when I got saved my want too’s changed. That is why I have never been on a porn site. That is why I have always been faithful to my wife.

    Jess you know there are good preachers, and good Christian men and women that are addicted to porn. Look what David did. I can’t help what David did, I just have to make sure that I don’t do it.

    I’m sorry that my heart doesn’t break for you if you are addicted to porn. No one is twisting your arm and forcing you to watch it. You need to get right with God and everything will fall in place. Come out from amongst the world and be a separate people. Don’t blame Dave Miller!

    • says

      Jess,

      I don’t know that your unbreaking heart reflects the heart of our Savior. When he looked at those who were addicted, stuck in sin, blinded to his beauty, etc. he wept for them.

      And your “not sorry” heart that you apologized for has me wondering if it’s as simple as you say in your last paragraph. If you “get right with God and everything will fall into place” and yet you have a cold heart towards those stuck in pornography, how am I supposed to counsel you? Is this because you aren’t right with the Lord? How come things haven’t just fallen into place for you on this? Or is it possible that just as someone that really loves Jesus can be lured into porn so also you can be lured into a sinfully calloused view towards those harassed by sin?

    • Jeff Johnson says

      Jess,

      I don’t think Mike or any of the commenters to this post have blamed pornography on God, the devil, or computers. In fact, the point of Mike’s post was to call individuals to personal accountability — to say that we don’t have the right to know what other women look like without their clothes. Their beauty isn’t ours to take, and the true beauty and knowledge we are searching for is found only in Christ. No excuses there.

      As we are sanctified in Christ, our desires do change. Sometimes, God miraculously changes desires at the moment of salvation. But with all of us, there is a war going on between the Spirit and the flesh. Not all battle with lust in the same way, but we all battle with lusts of the flesh every day.

  6. Jess says

    Mike, let’s get to the root of the problem, a good psychologist will always get to the root of the problem. Most psychologist will only stop at the mind and not venture any deeper because anything else would go against most of their belief’s. I’ve yet to hear a psychologist say you have a spiritual problem.

    Mike, I think we have to look only at the scriptures to find the answers. I’m a firm believer that all the answers are in the Bible. I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t call sin “just an addiction.” I wish everyone would read Paul’s writings.

    Porn is not a psychological problem, neither is sex addiction, neither is lying, or hatred. Why don’t we just place all sin in the psychological category and Jesus wouldn’t need to have died on the cross.

    The way I interrupt scripture in the NT is the Bible teaches us not to commit sin, (don’t practice sinning), You will find this in 1 John. If any man practices sinning he is of the devil (willful sinning). He that practices righteousness is righteous (those that are following God).

    I think the Bible should answer any questions we may have, and it does.
    Mike, I have tried to stand in the way of folks doing what they want to do, and it didn’t work out.

    • Dale Pugh says

      I’m really tempted to pick up on the “interrupting” of scripture, but I shall refrain……..

    • says

      I’m not really sure who your comments are directed to. They have my name on them, but I can’t for the life of me connect them to the discussion. Seems to me like you are just riding a hobby horse.

      I don’t believe at any place I’ve said that porn is a psychological problem. I believe that it is a sin problem. Now I do believe that we are whole people and sin effects our whole being–so I believe that sin creates psychological problems. But I don’t remember saying any of that in the article or in the comments.

      Nor do I remember saying that all sin should be placed in a psychological category. Or that the Bible doesn’t answer questions that we have. So, as much as I’d like to respond and have a discussion I fear that I’m not the one you are having a discussion with.

  7. Andy says

    1. On the heart breaking for those ensnared in sin: Matthew 9:36 –
    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

    2. On true Christians who sin: Read 1 Corinthians 3. Paul describes them as fleshly, full of jealousy and strife, saved as only though fire…but also calls them as: in Christ…God’s building….God’s temple…those who would be saved. True Christians can be trapped in sin, due to their own sinful choices.

  8. Dave Miller says

    As always, I think there is a balance here. No, we ought not excuse those who engage in pornography or act like it is no big deal. On the other hand, we must recognize that the pull to sin is not something that goes away when we come to Christ.

    Paul articulated this well in Romans 7:

    For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:14–20

    We sometimes do what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we know we should.

    Thankfully, in Romans 8 it assures us that through Christ “there is now no condemnation.” Sinners find grace.

    So, we both fight the sin and we demonstrate grace to one another when the fight is not successful.

    • Dean Stewart says

      Was it D.L. Moody who said that he would rather live in Romans Chapter 8 than the Garden of Eden because Romans Chapter 8 begins with no condemnation and it ends with no separation?

      • says

        Dean,
        What awaits us is so much better than the Garden of Eden! It already has begun with no condemnation and we are promised no separation.

  9. doug sayers says

    Here’s a couple to ponder:

    1) Should a porn habit have any bearing on our assurance?

    2) Does a porn habit constitute grounds for divorce?

    • says

      Those are great questions.

      1) I believe a porn habit will naturally have a bearing on our assurance. In fact almost every time I’ve counseled guys that have succumbed to porn I”m also counseling them on assurance. The two go hand in hand.

      2) Before I speak to this one I’d like to hear what others have to say. I’m honestly not sure what I think on this one.

    • Tarheel says

      Doug,

      To your #1 …. You mean assurance of salvation as a feeling? If that is what you mean then I would say certainly. Any ongoing sin activity could contribute to that.

      #2. Hmmm…This one is similar to the question I asked in the other thread about the unbiblical divorce leading to the unbiblical remarriage being ongoing sin…and like it, I am not sure there is a black and white answer to it – wish as we might that there were.

      I am thinking it could be, but does it fall neatly into the allowances for divorce that Christ and Paul gave in every situation? Not sure.

      • says

        I was going to articulate my 2 cents worth, however Parsonsmike very well stated what I was thinking. I could do not better so i will just say “Amen”

    • Jeff Johnson says

      1) We Christians all live somewhere in the space between saying we have no sin (1 John 1:8) and making a practice of sinning (1 John 2:8). We fall short and know we’re not perfect, but we’re not content to wallow in sin, either. If a person camps out at either extreme (claiming perfection or simply not caring), there is serious reason for self-examination. Just like any sin, pornography can have a bearing on how we view our salvation. It cannot cause a genuine believer to lose his or her salvation. In the life of a believer, there will be a battle against sin. We will have setbacks and moments of defeat — if not in this arena, in others. But there is a difference between having a setback and being content to sit back in sin.

      2) In most cases, I would not say that pornography alone is grounds for divorce. If it is, wouldn’t lust even without pornography be grounds for divorce as well? One can commit adultery in the heart without any magazines or Internet access.

  10. says

    No one is born again completely healed of the damages done to them by their own sin and the sins of those around them and before them. Some people are healed more than others and some people have more faith than others.
    Sin is a Law problem for those under the Law, but for those not under the Law, it is a sickness of the mind that is still in need of renewing. Romans 12 tells us:

    Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

    We need to be transformed by renewing our minds. This renewing is not a one time flip of the switch, but a life long walk. In this walk we learn that God’s ways are superior to the old ways we learned when we were mere men. Yes, oh yes, we know in our heads that God’s ways are best. But our minds still have all those informational pathways of cognitive thinking stuck in who we were. We need to relearn how to think intuitively.

    So our flesh, the old mind/man, is opposed to our spirit, the new mind/man, who is created after Jesus, and there is a struggle and a battle in our will. So whatever sin one is seeking to overcome, in this thread we are speaking of pornography, remember that you are whole and complete without the sin and you are debased and brought low by doing the sin. And know that God saved you knowing you would sin, but also knowing that your sin should not reign over you. Ask yourself why you are doing this sin, in this case, why do you need to look at pornography? What is it doing for you? Why are you ashamed of your sin? [you don't look at it in church service, do you?] And ask these questions as part of your prayers with God, to whom everything is naked and open, and seek His mercy and grace to throw off the sins that so easily entangles us.

  11. Jess says

    parsonsmike, We do have the Holy Spirit within us to convict us what we are about to do or doing is wrong. I would not want a preacher nor teacher, or anyone that is addicted to porn around any children. One shouldn’t be a member of a Baptist church and do these things. Church discipline should be exercised.

    This whole thing is like the pit bull who attacked a child. The owner of the pit said people just don’t understand you like I do, you’re not a dangerous dog. There are some on here that are too liberal for me. We have to accept all the Scripture not just a verse here and there.

    God is a God of love, he is also a God of hate. God hates sin with passion.

    • says

      Jess,
      of course, who would want anyone addicted to sin around one’s children!
      of course the Holy Spirit is there to convict us!~
      of course baptist churches should not be a place where sinners are!

      Oh wait, do you mean sinners who practice sin constantly or sinners who stumble in sin ?

      One does not have to be addicted to porn to look at it.
      One does not have to obey the Spirit, even though we always should.
      Sinners, who stumble as opposed to those who do not struggle, are the Christians who make up Baptists churches and here on earth, they make up the Bride of Christ.

      If you are a pastor or deacon or elder, how do you discipline someone who comes to you claiming a porn addiction?

      And as to your pit bull analogy, I sympathize with you, but you still need to put it down.

      Liberals and Pharisees, oh my!

    • says

      Jess

      Just curious. Do you consider everyone who disagrees with you a liberal? Liberals on this blog?? My observation is, with the possibility of one or two exceptions (and I am not sure of even that) the people who comment here are narrow enough to sleep 7 in a bed. And this comes from a man who believes the bible is inerrant, infallible, divinely inspired, authoritative, and is to be taken literally.

      You do not negate a man’s argument by calling him names. Debate 101.

  12. volfan007 says

    Please forgive me for this…but, I have just got to interrupt this comment thread for a little humor relief….this video is beyond hilarious….OH MY GOODNESS!!! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    http://youtu.be/hTaucCKFo-Y

  13. Jess says

    Mike,

    I’m sorry, brother. I thought you had called porn an addiction, this is why I used the term pahchological. Again, I’m sorry.

    • says

      Nah. I don’t believe I called it an addiction. Although, I do believe that people can be addicted to pornography. That doesn’t mean that it’s merely psychological but as I said earlier, sin effects the entire person. When a guy looks at porn there are things that happen in his brain. Have you ever tried driving close to a ditch and making a new pathway? It’s really difficult because you keep going back into that ditch. Porn creates ditches in your brain. Sometimes the Lord in His grace fills those in at the time of conversion. Sometimes He doesn’t.

      When we are counseling people we need to cause the Word to bear on the mind–so that we are filling in those ditches and creating new patterns of thought. And when I say that I’m not talking pyschobabble. I’m saying that we need to have our minds renewed by God’s Word.

      • Jeff Johnson says

        I agree with what you wrote here, Mike. Just because something is a clinical addiction does not mean it is not sinful, nor does it mean the person cannot be held accountable for his actions. An alcoholic has an addiction, but that does not justify or excuse his drunkenness, which is still sinful. I believe that genuine Christians can become addicted — to alcohol, drugs, pornography, and other things — through their own sin. Under the Holy Spirit’s conviction, they will not be content to stay there.

  14. Jess says

    All I’m saying is that pornography is “NOT”, an addiction. There are some of you that are calling it an addiction, which I believe it is totally false.

    People do what they want to do, I know folks can be addicted to drugs, the body will go through severe withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get that particular drug.

    Pornography is a sin problem pure and simple because of a weakness one has. Jesus said that not everyone that calls on him is saved. I know we are going to sin, but if the conviction of the Holy Spirit cannot bring us back in line we probably need a good ole dose of salvation. If a Christian anywhere can watch porn and not be convicted by the Holy Spirit, my friend you just carry the name but you don’t belong to God. God corrects who belongs to him. If God don’t correct you then you do not belong to him.

    I think we need to teach the truth instead of making excuses for people. I’m speaking in general and not tossing it at anyone on Voices. On the other hand if the shoe fits.

    • says

      Jess,
      You seem to be operating under the false notion that addiction and sin are mutually exclusive. They are not. No sin is mitigated by its addictive quality.

      By the way, the answer is not trying to do better. The only answer is Christ.

        • says

          Trying to do better in Christ is like trying to build a good roof on your house with a level frame. Having Christ is like having a good foundation. You can’t build a good roof without a good foundation. That answer to building a good roof is to first lay a good foundation. If we only go around and tell people to build a good roof without showing them how to start with a good foundation, they’ll never end up with a good roof. And the goal isn’t just to have a good roof, it’s to have a secure home that glorifies the Master Architect.

    • says

      Jess,
      You still haven’t answered my question:

      You said,
      We do have the Holy Spirit within us to convict us what we are about to do or doing is wrong. I would not want a preacher nor teacher, or anyone that is addicted to porn around any children. One shouldn’t be a member of a Baptist church and do these things. Church discipline should be exercised. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/a-thirst-for-knowledge-a-thirst-for-porn/#comment-243040

      How do you discipline someone “addicted” to porn? [I am using your words]

      • Jess says

        parsonsmike,

        First, you cannot discipline someone that is addicted to porn, since there is no such thing as being addicted to porn.

        Second, if someone in my church comes to me with a habit of watching porn and wants counseled, by the time the counsel sessions are concluded there would be no more problems.

        Third, If someone comes to me wanting counseled with a porn problem that holds an office in the church, I would ask them to step down. They would step down immediately because it’s Christ’s reputation at stake. Everything a Christian does it’s Christ’s reputation on the line. We are his ambassadors here on earth.

        Today, there are those who preach and teach love and forgiveness 24 hours per day, and never mention anything about judgment, sanctification, and discipline.

        I think today some have the mentality of a bleeding heart liberal, and say those poor church members that are so deep in sin, I better give them some warm milk and cookies, they just can’t help but to walk in sin the way they do.

        Eph. Chapter 5 verses 1-13, will explain clearly what I’m talking about.
        These verses will stand up to all the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew one can throw at them.

        There is a dividing line between those who are lost and those who are saved. If you cannot stop willfully sinning because of the lack of correction by God’s Holy Spirit, you are lost my friend, and on your way to hell.

        In Eph. Chapter five verse 3, we are not to let these things be named among us that becometh Saints.

          • Jess says

            DL Payton,

            The second paragraph is the easiest part, when someone comes for help they are already halfway there. At this point they are wanting something they can fill in the blanks with. They are wanting their questions answered, plain and precise.

            It’s the one that doesn’t want to admit that he or she has a problem are the ones that can be more difficult because they can start hurting those around them.

        • says

          Jess,

          I am having a problem with your words.
          One moment you use the phrase “addicted to porn” [ "would not want a preacher nor teacher, or anyone that is addicted to porn around any children."], then you say there is no such thing.

          Then you say “church discipline should be exercised,” so i ask you how and you reply: “you cannot discipline someone that is addicted to porn.”

          Then you change addiction to ‘habit’.
          So I look up habit in the dictionary and it says:
          an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary:

          So it seems that you are just nit picking on words.
          There is obviously a difference but how do you know which is which, is it an addiction or an action followed that is almost involuntary? Are you a medical doctor/psychologist?

          Now to the passage of Scripture that stands up to Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew attackers.
          Why is this passage needed? Why write these things if God’s saved people didn’t have problems in these areas?
          Aren’t these things written so that when we stumble, our brothers have guidance to help them and us in correcting us?

          So you would counsel the fallen brother until there was no habit left. But without the warm milk and cookies?
          I imagine tender reeds would break in your sessions.

          One last question.
          Are you a man of your word if you contradict yourself blatantly or just someone who speaks without thinking?

          • Jess says

            parsonsmike,

            The last comment wasn’t intended for you in particular, sorry about sending it to you, my eyes and fingers get a little crossed up at times. I was also using the term addict sarcastically, since there is no such thing. It seems every where I look there are those who uses the term porn addiction as if it is a disease.

            Parsonsmike, brother, don’t get your bowels in an uproar. I’m legally blind I have an excuse. Lol

          • says

            Jess,
            Sorry to hear of your handicap.
            My bowels are just fine, thanks though.
            Discussing the truth doesn’t disconnect my words from my brain. Although I admit i have spoken without thinking more times than I wish. Writing gives one time to pause and consider, to re-read before hitting ‘submit’.

            When a person comes across hard and judgmental as i have perceived you to come across, sarcastic attitudes usually do not register on his listeners. But maybe you are simply a poor writer, we all have different gifts. Saying that you do not want those addicted to porn around children fails meeting any decent standard for understanding sarcasm. Maybe others ‘got’ it, but i sure didn’t even suspect.

            I suggest that when writing to leave sarcasm alone as it doesn’t do well unless one is a good writer, and even then it is not easy.
            Also it would only reinforce the bad vibes readers get of your personality, whatever in truth it might be.

            The purpose, sir, is to communicate in a godly way to uphold truth and glorify God. I suggest you think before you type and you keep your emotions in check, not obliterated, but under control.
            May God aid you as you continue to serve Him in all that He calls you to do,
            mike

    • says

      Sorry Jess but the body can indeed gain a physical addiction to pornography. Endorphans and other chemicals in the brain are released and the body becomes addicted to those chemicals. If it does not get them regularly, you begin to go through withdrawal. This is medical fact. Again, yes looking at pornography is sin. As one who is, and always will be, an addict to it, I know I always will have the physical propensity to “imbibe” in pornography. Most of the time, I am able to push those physical pains of addiction in other directions that do result in sin. Sometimes I fail. As I walk and grow in Christ, I get better and stronger. But to try and tell me “just stop” and then make claims that I should not be around children or stomethign like that. Frankly that makes you more of a problem, than a solution. As it was because of people like you, that caused me for the longest time, NOT to try and get help from within the church. I hid in my shame, caused greatly by people like you telling me I was not just a sinner, but something worse. Maybe if you tried to speak to people like me, who deal with these addictions, with love, not judgmental hate, you can actually help bring people out of this bondage.

      • Jess says

        SVM

        I see what you are saying, I agree to a point, but we just cannot leave the Scripture out of the equation. We can never go wrong with the Biblical approach.

        • Jess says

          SVM,

          I would also like to say that I admire you for recognizing a problem and doing something about it. There are too many that just will not attempt to do anything about any problem.

          This entire subject can cause all sorts of fireworks, and it all has to do with how each of us interrupt scripture. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we were all on the same page?

  15. Tarheel says

    Jim and Jeff,

    “By the way, the answer is not trying to do better. The only answer is Christ.”

    Jeff you said something similar above.

    I think these are not only important comments, but essential ones. Moralism is as false a gospel as Islam. Neither leads one to Christ – and therefore is not the gospel and salvation.

    If we could just stop it, and do better then the cross was in vain and was in fact, as some liberals like to tell us, cosmic child abuse.

    • says

      Tarheel

      Oh My! So very true. Moralism is sending people to hell in waves. How may times in an evangelistic interview have we heard people say something like “well I just try to do the best I can”. My heart truly aches when people ignore the fact or have never heard the fact that our righteousness is like filthy rags.

      Oh how we need preaching that emphasizes just how horrible sin is and our inability to be as God would have us be without Jesus and His righteousness.

      This is the heart of the problem with O’Steen and the prosperity gospel people. They are told “you are GOOD, claim your goodness”.

  16. Jess says

    I cannot believe what I’m seeing in some of these comments. I’m actually in the notion of giving my computer away.

  17. Jess says

    Mike Leake,

    Brother, I forgot to mention what a wonder post you have presented us with.

  18. Doug Sayers says

    Some good answers brethren. We have two daughters. Part of my interrogation, er, I mean, discussions with their wannabe suitors included both questions. I wanted to at least impress upon them the seriousness of a closet sin that is ruining lives and robbing ministries of power. I am nobody’s judge but we should be convicted and empowered to know that many unbelievers are able to avoid and/or stop a porn habit. If God’s common grace can enable an unbeliever to defeat the sin then how much more should the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer enable us to overcome?

    It is also helpful to recognize the gradation of particular sins. “Looking and lusting” is taken to a higher level when there is a deliberate/preventable and possibly impenitent “virtual” affair that includes actual physical gratification. That is tantamount to grounds for divorce as I see it. (And it is definitely ground for divorce as my wife and daughters see it!)

    God has set this life up so that we are at our happiest and most useful when we are most obedient. The grace that brings salvation and teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts is sufficient.

    Whatever it takes…

    Let us lay aside….

  19. says

    Doug

    I love the first line of the last full paragraph. That is truly the mark of a gracious and great God. We always talk about the “sacrifice” of following Jesus. When as you pointed out the opposite is true. We are most happy in life when we are obedient to God’s word. No! Not a sacrifice, a joy.

    I’ve heard men talk about “surrendering” to the ministry. I did not “surrender” I could not “volunteer” fast enough when I discerned God’s call. It has been 50 years of joy not sacrifice. Doing without or giving things up does not =sacrifice

  20. says

    D.L.,
    Sacrifice is still a proper word for giving up things. Jesus had it all but humbled Himself to be a servant so He could be our sacrifice. Yet He counted it all joy. What we sacrifice are the things of this world that are passing away as we both look ahead to the joy that awaits us and experience the joy along the journey.

    • says

      Parsonsmike

      Yes you are absolutely correct. I was using the word in a vernacular sense in which most folks see a sacrifice as giving up something desirable for something less or not desirable. My point is that in giving my life to Jesus I did not sacrifice anything in that I do not desire anything that I gave up. In fact I receive much more that I gave.

      Again, however you are absolutely correct in what you said.

    • says

      Parsonsmike

      The main point, however, that we both make is that a life spent in service to Jesus is life at its best. Praise God

      (Sorry, I done started preaching now) Even Tarheel would agree to that, right Tarheel? :-) :-)

  21. Jess says

    parsonsmike,

    Thank you sir for all your wonderful advice, I’ll try to keep it in mind.

  22. Darrel says

    The only one that attempts to resort to Scripture in this matter seems to be Jess (aka Whipping Boy). The rest just dance around it and allude to it as it suits their agenda. So let’s try a couple on for size and see if the shoe fits or not.

    Rom. 6:14 “For sin SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.” We speak much of grace and know so very little about it. To some it seems that the Christ they preach is so weak, inept, and powerless to deliver a saved soul from present sin that it is not the Christ of the NT, but another that allows for sins to continue (Gal.1:6-9). It has become fashionable to excuse sin rather than to mortify it. Brokenness before our Holy God has become something for the other guy to experience ["I done prayed my prayer and accepted Jesus into my heart, what else is there?"]. When was the last time any of you guys has taken up his own cross-DAILY-died to himself-DAILY-and humbled yourself before the God you say you love? All the while finding every excuse under the sun to minimize sin, excuse it, and wink at it. In case you need to be reminded JESUS CHRIST DELIVERS FROM SIN. Telling someone that porn is an addiction or a disease is not only counterproductive, but it is a lie, and a horrible disservice to the Lord whom you serve.

    Col. 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” According to most who have spoken here, porn will likely be an on going problem for those so “addicted” until they die, since the general effort here has been to excuse it rather than kill it. Would you seriously have people believe that deliverance from this sin may not be God’s will for them? [That is precisely how you come across]. Got news for all of you: CHRIST DELIVERS FROM SIN, now in this present life.

    1 Cor. 6:9-11 and Gal. 5:19-21 both testify that “fornicators” (this includes those who look at porn) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Practicing porn whether with the eyes or the eyes of the mind is an indication of one being lost. Will you accept a murderer into your church that has repented? Of course! Will he be welcome if he continues to do murder? How about a drunkard? Or a pedophile? Or a homosexual? Why does a porn viewer get a pass? Is it because every one does it and no one wants to talk about that part?

    1 John (all of it) What a glorious Book! John tells us over and over the differences in a believer from before salvation to after he is saved and nowhere is there found a list of excuses offered for the continuation of ANY sin in a believer. Deliverance, change, difference, cleansing, forgiveness, etc. etc. Our problem is that we love our sin, our self-made idols, as we find ourselves again and again in Romans 7. When was the last time any of you read Psa. 139:23&24? Or Psa. 19:12&13? Better yet, when was the last time you prayed those verses for yourself? Christ does not save us only to leave us in our sins, rather to deliver us from them, NOW.

    • says

      Friend, you’ve made a leap that I (and I believe others using the word addiction have not made). Nowhere am I saying that addiction=minimizing sin, winking at sin, or excusing sin. It seems to me that you are saying if a person is addicted then it means he cannot help doing what he is doing–that there is no moral culpability to the one that is addicted.

      I don’t for one second believe that. What I am saying when I say that someone is addicted to pornography is that his foolish choices have consequences. Things happen in our brains when we look at porn. And we can develop “a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)”. He is morally culpable every time he looks at pornography and that sin needs to be died to. He can’t say, “well I can’t help it, you see I started looking at porn and now I can’t stop”. That’s a slap in the face of the redemption that Christ gives us. If such a one takes such a position I’d question whether or not he knows the Lord.

      • Darrel says

        “It seems to me that you are saying if a person is addicted then it means he cannot help what he is doing…” Nowhere was there even a hint of me saying such a thing, if I had it would have contradicted the entire response I gave. I do indeed question the salvation of anyone claiming Christ but continuing in their sin of choice that they love so much. But if this is all that you gleaned from what I said then you missed the point entirely

          • Darrel says

            Because you are not addressing the real problem: sin, unrepentant sin. In essence you are telling that person that’s really ok, that God understands, and still loves you, you can’t help yourself, you were born that way, and blah, blah, blah. No where in such a message is the delivering power of the Blood of Jesus Christ to be found, Rather, you are subjecting that person to further despair, helplessness, and a very wrong view of the God that supposedly saved them. When a person is born again many changes take place (most without prayer, it’s part of being born again). One of these changes is the attitude toward sin, all sin, but especially their own. The sin that a person once loved is now repugnant to him, and he would rather die than return to it. THERE IS DELIVERANCE FROM PORNOGRAPHY, NOW and it is only found in Christ Jesus. Yet no one will speak to this and that is usually because they have no first hand experience of being delivered from any sin, aka, they are still lost.

          • says

            Earlier I said, “it sounds like you are saying ‘if a person is addicted then it means he cannot help what he is doing’. To which you said, “Nowhere was there a hint of me saying such a thing”.

            And now you say, “God understands…you can’t help yourself, you were born that way…”

            Darrel, if what you mean by addiction is what you just described and if someone would counsel a person that is engaging in pornography in a way that you described, I would join with you in saying that this is terrible counsel.

            Now what I’m saying is that there is a way in which we can speak of a person being addicted to pornography that doesn’t include the counsel that you (and I) would abhor. If I’ve got a young man in my office that has been viewing pornography for about eight years and my only counsel to him is “Stop It” then I don’t feel like I’m helping him quite as much as I ought to. I need to spend some time with him and help him reprogram his mind. Or as it says in Romans 12, “Be transformed by the renewal of his mind”. He’s made shipwreck of his mind. Pornography hijacks the brain. That needs to be fixed. (Sometimes the Lord in his grace fixes that at the moment of conversion–at other times the battle still wages and its a process). Here is where I also agree with you–if this young man is truly a believer then the power of sin has been broken, and his view towards sin has changed, he hates it and he is battling it. BUT he’s also perhaps immature in his walk with Christ.

            Take the original article as an example. It can be very helpful to a young man to know one of the snares that the devil will use. I’ve seen men tripped up in this particular area. Pointing out the trap can be very helpful in their battle.

    • Jeff Johnson says

      Darrel,

      Every Christian must avoid either of two extremes. We cannot claim to have reached sinless perfection, even as believers (1 John 1:8). Neither can we adopt a lifestyle of unrepentant sin (1 John 2:8). This means that while we are not perfect, we do battle daily against the sin that remains in our lives. We fight this battle by God’s grace, knowing that we are already free from the penalty of sin, are being set free now from the power of sin, and will one day in Heaven be free from the presence of sin.

      If someone engages in pornography use without conviction or repentance, being content to sin in this way, I would agree that there is reason to question that person’s salvation. I do not agree that any pornography use is evidence that a person is unsaved, just as Christians still have moments when they sinfully worry, gossip, become angry in an unrighteous manner, etc. As you pointed out, one can lust in the mind without using pornography. There are precious few Christians who can truthfully claim they have NEVER lusted after the moment of their salvation. Simply put, Christians are not free to sin, but neither are they sin-free.

      We are all engaged (if we are believers) in a daily battle with sin. Pornography may not be a key opponent in your life. For others, it is a giant they must face daily. Paul described his own battle with indwelling, remaining sin in Romans 7:14-25. He said there was a war being waged within him (verse 23). Nevertheless, he was not under condemnation (Romans 8:1). Several verses later, Paul calls upon Christians to put to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the body (8:13). Although they were saved, they still struggled with deeds of the body.

      Elsewhere, in Galatians, Paul told believers that if they walked by the Spirit, they would not gratify the desires of the flesh (5:16). They were evidently believers because they had the Holy Spirit. They also evidently had desires of the flesh remaining, or else Paul would have had no need to tell them how not to gratify those desires. He acknowledged that the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh were opposed to one another in a Christian’s life (5:17), and that sometimes these Christians fell short of doing the things they wanted to do. Similarly, in Colossians 3:5, Paul calls on believers to put to death what is earthly in them, including sexual immorality. They were Christians, but there remained earthly things in them (e.g., sexual immorality) that they were called to kill.

      The upshot of all this is that a true believer may be tempted by pornography. A true believer may succumb to the temptation and look, committing the sin of lust. (Or he may manage not to look and yet lust over something else he sees.) But thank God, he is not under condemnation based on his inability to be perfect! On the other hand, a true believer will not embrace pornography or any other sin without conviction or repentance. His life will be marked by a daily battle, and he will experience victories as his eternal joy in Christ becomes sweeter to him than the fleeting pleasures of sin.

      • Darrel says

        I tried to avoid coming across as a “sinless perfection” advocate, but I’ll try harder next time. The point of all that I’ve said here seems to be flying our of radar range, so I’ll try one more time (least I incur further comments like the one from Dale Pugh). Christ delivers from sin. Rather than stating that flat out when it comes to porn (or any kingdom disqualifying sin-murder, homosexuals, etc. 1Cor.6:9-11 again) that one will not be left practicing these sins as a child of God. Many resort to re-labeling techniques (addiction, etc.) thereby skirting the real issue of unrepentant sin. Rather than allowing one to play the “poor me, I just can’t help myself” card, would it not be more wise (and Biblical) to point to the One who delivers from the power of sin now? This “carnal Christian” garbage has been around for at least fifty years (probably started at Corinth) and has done well for the wicked one as a tool to deceive those who fall prey to it. Having given the Corinthians the benefit of the doubt as concerning their salvation, in the end (2 Cor. 13:5) Paul tells them to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith or not. A valid inquiry for those that love their sin more than the Christ who (was supposed to have) saved them.

        Preach, teach, counsel this tolerance for sin all you want, but know that you will do a great disservice to those that hear you. Would it not be much better to speak of the willingness, readiness, and ability of the Savior to deliver one from porn? Maybe not, because that would require gut-wrenching repentance, unfamiliar to most.

        • says

          Darrell,
          Christ indeed delivers from sin.
          First, he delivers us from the condemnation of sin.
          Second, He has given us power to be delivered from the temptation of sin.
          Third, He delivers us from our imperfections from sin altogether.

          Do you ever struggle with temptation?
          Yes?
          Do you ever stumble?
          Yes.
          Did you have to stumble?
          No.
          But hasn’t Christ DELIVERED you from sin?
          Yet you still sin.
          Now is it a new sin you have never done before or one you have done before?
          You do repeat the same sin, don’t you?
          But hasn’t Christ DELIVERED you from sin?

          Bottom line.
          It seems to me that you are a hypocrite.
          Maybe i am wrong, but you want to point the finger at others that by doing so deny your own sinfulness. Maybe their sin is different than yours but your sin is still SIN.

        • says

          Darrel,
          I think at the end of the day you and I probably agree about quite a bit. And that’s what stinks because you sound as if you alone are being biblically faithful and that others are just catering to psychology. Listen to what many of us are saying and you might find that you have some dear friends that could be partners in the gospel.

          Peace.

        • Dale Pugh says

          Darrell, I would venture to say, as have others, that we probably agree on more than is superficially apparent.

        • Adam Blosser says

          Who here is advocating tolerance of sin? The whole point of the post is to help people stop sinning.

          Strange.

          • says

            Truly, I believe Jess and Darrel are hearing something different than what we are saying when we use the word addiction. And that’s understandable. There are a good number of people that embrace labels and hide behind them instead of actually pursuing change in Christ. I think there is a very real danger that Jess and Darrel are addressing.

            Having said that I believe their words here are misplaced and they aren’t attempting to actually read what we are saying. If they were I’m pretty sure that they’d see that we are largely in agreement. Maybe I shouldn’t say that they aren’t attempting to read—perhaps I should say that they aren’t following the “love hopes all things”. Seems to me like they are starting from a posture of being against something instead of talking as if we are brothers in Christ. Seems like they’ve got an axe to grind (and perhaps rightfully so)–but sometimes people grind an ax on those that might just be on the same team.

        • says

          I just want to ask you one simple clear question. I, as an addict who occasionally stumbles to the temptation of porn, do you think I am saved? Because your words “that one will not be left practicing these sins as a child of God” leads me to believe you would say I am not saved. Please, don’t beat around the bush, tell me if you actually believe that. Please verbalize clearly if you think I am saved or not.

          • Adam G. in NC says

            SVM, are you winning and occasionally stumbling or are you stumbling and occasionally winning?

          • says

            Yes…

            Hows that for an answer? lol

            Seriously though I would put it in the former. I have found that my biggest hurdle dealing with heightened emotional/psycological states. Most times, when things are good, I have no problem keeping my mind focused on God and away from garbage. But as things happen that bring on depression, sorrow, negative thoughts, ect, that is when I find I have the hardest problem keeping my eyes on God, at least as it relates to my addiction to pornography.

            It is weird that like many Christians, when things are good, I pray less, when things are bad I pray more. That just so happens to result in me praying more when I am stumbling, and praying less when I am not. But I have long given up trying to figure my messed up mind out. I know I am nuts. A few fries short of a happy meal. More than one lost marble. And I am only 30.

            Like many Christians, I know what I need to work on is incorporating Christ into my daily life every day. As I do that more and more, the less and less those temptations have any strength. Of course as my dad is and always will be an alcoholic (sober thankfully for 17 years now), I am and always will be addicted to porn. Thankfully, by God’s power alone, where as when I first came to christ, you would not have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I “looked” a week, now you can count on one hand how many times I stumble a month (usually having fingers left over). I still have a very long way to go, but if the sign of God’s work in me is a noticeable change, I definitely have that.

          • Adam G. in NC says

            SVM, what you described sounds like a release from “practicing” the sin of pornographic lust.

  23. Dale Pugh says

    “Yet no one will speak to this and that is usually because they have no first hand experience of being delivered from any sin, aka, they are still lost.”

    And now to Dave’s post on marginalization……..

  24. Darrel says

    The definition of ‘addiction’ has morphed into meaning, among other things, that one that is ‘addicted’ is not responsible for his actions, but is held as an otherwise unwilling slave to his addiction. Psych 101 nonsense when the Scripture are applied. Unregenerate man is totally at odds with God on all fronts, dead in his sins, and without hope until God intervenes. A lost men will continue in his sins because he is lost, shall a Christian continue in the same sin he loved prior to salvation and call it “addiction.” Is he not to lay that (and all sin) down at the foot of the Cross? Indeed he is, otherwise he CANNOT be a disciple of Christ-Luke14:33. The forsaking of all that a man has is not just material possessions, but foremost his old life. We are to make no provision to fulfill the lusts of our flesh which is a great description of porn. Any advice to the contrary is not founded upon the Scriptures. If a man claims to be saved and is still in his sins (of the kingdom disqualifying variety shown in 1 Cor. 6 & Gal. 5) he is deceiving himself and says in essence that Christ is unable to provide deliverance from sin. Such a thing would be pure blasphemy.

    • says

      Darrell,
      Once you have been saved and born again, God does not count your sin against you. Does that mean we are free to sin? Of course not, for a born again person is only free when they walk in the Spirit.

      So here is the scoop:
      We shouldn’t sin.
      You shouldn’t sin. But you do.
      Are you Darrell supposed to lay down all sin at the foot of the cross?, and yet you still sin.

      Point your finger at yourself.

  25. says

    !st Corinthians 6:
    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    Whenever we sin, we are adulterers. For in sinning we choose other than God.
    Whenever we sin, we are idolaters. For in sinning we have made less of God and more of ourselves.
    Whenever we sin, we are thieves. For in sinning we have stolen from God the time he deserves for us to worship Him.
    Whenever we sin, we are covetous. For in sinning, we desired something other than God and what he has for us.

  26. Adam G. in NC says

    A word from Johnny Mac (also a good sermon, check it out).

    “The Christian does not, cannot habitually and persistently sin. He will sin sometimes. He will sin willfully. But he will not sin habitually, persistently and relentlessly. Few have been saved, born again, regenerated, made new, the whole direction of your life is now toward God. The direction of your life is toward holiness. Your mind is set on the Spirit, Romans 8:6. Your mind is set on things above, Colossians 3:2. You are disconnected from earthly things, Philippians 3:19. And so we can say although the believer sometimes sins, yet the ruling principle of his life is opposition to sin so that he hates the sin that he sees in his own life.”
    http://www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/62-25

    Yes, Christians do sin, but they struggle against it.
    Yes, Christians can fall back into the same sin (especially immature christians), but they grow in repentance and conformity to His image.
    However, someone who claims to be a Christian and does not show growth in Christ and the freedom from sin he provides…then their assurance has good reason to suffer.

    Christian Perfection (second blessing) is unbiblical, but so is the idea that a REGENERATE believer remains UNCHANGED in a habitual state of sin. (“unchanged” meaning “absence of observable victories”). Not sure if it would be called “Carnal Christianity” or “antinomianism”.

    There is a nuance to this.

    • says

      When I’m counseling teens that are struggling with assurance I often ask them about their struggle against sin. I don’t concern myself as much with new believers as to their victories and such. Instead I want to see if there is a battle and a changed posture towards sin. I believe that is what 1 John teaches. Now if I’m talking to them twenty years later and they haven’t changed but they claim to still be struggling against the same ol’ sin then I have to wonder if they are really doing battle. Truthfully, I think a lot of this is going on: http://www.mikeleake.net/2014/03/hiding-behind-poorly-drawn-battle-scars.html

      • Tarheel says

        “When I’m counseling teens that are struggling with assurance I often ask them about their struggle against sin. I don’t concern myself as much with new believers as to their victories and such. Instead I want to see if there is a battle and a changed posture towards sin. I believe that is what 1 John teaches.”

        Agreed.

        The posture towards sin is “the kicker” I think. People who a lackadaisical toward it and do not actively struggle with it – whether they be teens or adults – are likely not regenerate.

        • Adam G. in NC says

          Yup. Good stuff.
          God not only promises a changed heart, but he also promises growth in conformity to the image of the Son.
          PROMISES.

          You have no idea how much push-back I’ve gotten over this issue in the last few years.

  27. Jess says

    Darrel, My brother, you have tried. That’s all you can do. Liberalism is sweeping through the SBC like a wild fire. There are not many of us left who do not make excuses for sin. No one can show me one place in the scriptures where Jesus called his church just a bunch of sinners. I believe God has reserved unto himself a multitude that will hold true to the gospel. Maybe one day our paths will cross.

    • says

      Jess
      Yes, my brother, we have issues in the SBC. But to say that liberalism is sweeping through the convention like wildfire is a very judgmental and pharisaical attitude. Many Many Many SB pastors will stand in their pulpits this Sunday morning and proclaim a clear true gospel. Some are here commenting on this thread. For you to, with a wave of your hand, dismiss the SBC as liberal is quite honestly my brother irresponsible. It is not my wish to be mean or hard with my words, but I grow very concerned about these kind of assumption and assertion

  28. says

    There are some who respond on this thread who do not desire to actually engage in conversation but rather call names or put down others while ignoring what they are actually saying or the questions asked to them.

    To me these are men of the letter and not men of the Spirit. At least that is my impression of them from this limited engagement. i pray that the Lord will be merciful to them even as we all need His mercy and grace.

    • John Fariss says

      Mike I really appreciate the way you have handled yourself and the arguments you have put forth in this “debate.” I think it is incorrect to call me a “liberal,” but the rest of you guys. . . really? Just because a word (such as addiction) is not in the Bible makes it neither incorrect nor denies its sinfulness; nor does it mean that we preachers have somehow “softpedeled” it. And we all struggle with sin, some one sin, some another, but all of us, some sin. When I stand before the judgment seat, I will have a lot to answer for; but I won’t be alone in that. Anyway Mike: thanks!

      John

  29. Tarheel says

    Adam G,

    Johnny Mac, as usual, nails it!

    I also like what you said –

    “Yes, Christians do sin, but they struggle against it. Yes, Christians can fall back into the same sin (especially immature Christians), but they grow in repentance and conformity to His image. However, someone who claims to be a Christian and does not show growth in Christ and the freedom from sin he provides…then their assurance has good reason to suffer.”

    Amen. There are few A key words IMO, in the paragraph above.

    “struggle”. “Repentance”. “Conformity to the image of Christ”; “Growth”. These are all essential aspects of the defeat of sin in our lives.

    Let me share a basic outline of my approach when questions of “assurance” arise.

    The gospel of Christ is always the answer.

    ——– (I do not know how to do that blockquote thingie….LOL ———-

    If one is not, by the Holy Spirit, consumed with the holiness of God and His disgust and wrath toward sin one will not struggle in battle against his sin.

    If one is not struggling with his sin he will not repent of (turn away from) his sin.

    If one is not repenting of sin he is not conforming to the image of Christ.

    If one is not conforming to the image of Christ he is not growing and abiding in Christ.

    If one is not growing and abiding in Christ he is not connected to the Vine (Christ).

    If one is not connected to the Vine (Christ) he is not regenerate.

    Such a person needs the gospel – he needs to know that through Christ salvation is offered those who believe!

    ———On the Flip side——-

    If one is, by the Holy Spirit, consumed with the holiness of God and His disgust and wrath toward sin he will struggle in battle against his own sin.

    If one is struggling with his sin he will repent of (turn away from) his sin.

    If one is repenting of his sin he is therefore conforming to the image of Christ.

    If one is conforming to the image of Christ he is growing and abiding in Christ.

    If one is growing and abiding in Christ he is connected to the Vine (Christ).

    If one is connected to the Vine (Christ) he is regenerate.

    Such as person needs the gospel – He needs to know that in Christ he is “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1) until the finality of salvation in glorification.

    Believers will struggle, but the struggle, repentance, conformity, and growth; actually demonstrate connection with Christ and provides us with assurance.

    It is those who can and do sin without struggle and conviction and with reckless abandon that are showing themselves to be unbelievers, and therefore do not have assurance of being one.

    (in other words and very basically – do you care when you sin, is the desire of your life toward sin or toward holiness because He who called you is Holy? If desired toward sin, then you are not regenerate. If desired Holiness – you might be- or you could be a moralist in which you are also possibly unregenerate.)

    Like you said Adam G, there is nuance.

  30. Darrel says

    Jess,
    You hang in there and keep telling the truth, even when you get brow-beat for it. There is no end to the excuses that will be given for sin, right up to the time that each of us stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne and gives an account of the things we did in this life, every word will be judged, every thought and action. Which of you gentlemen here would like a video of only your thought life just for today played before all humanity? Never fear, God sees all, knows all judges all.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” What a horrible indictment, but so true of too many. And yet men are pleased with themselves and their deluded “relationship” with a god of their own making, who have a form of godliness, but DENY THE POWER THEREOF, FROM SUCH, TURN AWAY. What hope is offered here by those who try to skirt the issue, excuse the sin, make light of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and do not point anyone to the Christ of the NT? NONE. You offer no one the delivering power of the One who died and rose again to deliver us from the power of sin. You should be ashamed of yourself, but few will humble themselves, seek His face in repentance for preaching such a powerless god that you produce here.

    Marginalize away.

    • Tarheel says

      Wow. Just wow.

      Darrel,

      It seems you are arguing that you (and presumably Jess) will stnd before God somehow cleaner than others commenting in this thread? Do you mean to come across that way?

      I ask because I know first hand that forums such as these often lack the benefits of face to face communication….it’s so much easier to be misunderstood.

      • says

        Darrel,
        You are out of line. You aren’t being prophetic you are being mean-spirited and not listening to what other people are saying. You aren’t winning an argument either because you are arguing against imaginary liberals.

        If you would like to comment on the original post then do so. But I’m not going to allow you to continue slinging mud at brothers that have been nothing but patient with you.

        Here’s the deal. If you can accurately explain the position of the people you are differing with (and explain it in such a way that they will say, “yes, brother this is my position) then you can keep commenting on this post. Otherwise you are done, because you aren’t being productive and you are just stirring up strife. Feel free to call me a liberal and whatever choice words you have. But if you can’t accurately represent the position of someone that you are disagreeing with and if you don’t care to understand then you are done commenting on this particular post.

        • Dave Miller says

          This was a good step, Mike, but Darrel has had a consistent difficulty on multiple posts, so I moderated him.

          • Adam G. in NC says

            Thing is, I can’t say I disagree with him on the underlying theological issue he’s addressing (not latent liberalism). I disagree on how it’s being communicated. But, if he’s from West Virginny like Jess, then they speak a foreign language and I can see how that would happen. Oxygen is thin up there too.

          • says

            Adam,
            Being from West Virginia isn’t an excuse for their difficulties. Being plain spoken is no reason for their difficulties.
            They speak English in that state as well.
            These guys are probably as well educated as you [and much more than I am].

          • Adam G. in NC says

            Yep, you’re right, no excuses…which is ironically the point they were trying to make (haha).
            There are some folks I just won’t communicate much with on here. There is wisdom in the old saying, “Don’t feed the trolls”.

            FYI…they don’t speak English in WV. I got a cousin that lives up there and he just grunts now and then.

    • says

      Darrel

      Tarheel has made a valid observation. I understand you to say that when you stand before God you will be much cleaner that I because of my disagreement with you. This is a dangerous position to hold if that is what you are saying.

      Jesus had much more to say about the self righteous pharisees than about us sinners as you view me. It wreaks with arrogance. and that in and of itself is a sin.

      For me this life is about telling people about Jesus and leading them to trust Christ and Savior and Master. The self righteous attitude you display does more to cause lost people to reject the gospel than all us “liberals” in the SBC.

      Standing firm on God’s word is one thing, displaying arrogant self righteousness is another.

  31. Dale Pugh says

    Looks like there’s a new tag team on the mats. This should get interesting quickly.

  32. volfan007 says

    Darrel and Jess,

    We all struggle with some temptation. It’s just different for different people. Some people struggle with self righteous pride. Some people struggle with fear. Some people struggle with same sex attraction. Some people struggle with lust(porno). Some people struggle with alcohol/drugs. Some people struggle with lying. Some people struggle with a lack of kindness and gentleness that the Bible says that we should have. Some people struggle with a worldly, dog eat dog, “I’m gonna be better than you” attitude. And, others struggle with all kinds of temptations…..we ALL struggle with something, because we’re human beings living in an earthly body of flesh and blood. And, we will struggle with different temptations….and fail God, at times….too many times…..until the Lord comes back, and gives us our glorified, heavenly bodies.

    And yes, some Christians can backslide, and get addicted to things like lusting after women, or drunkenness, or drugs…..because, that’s how sin is …..it gets a hold on a person….you give sin a little crack in the door, and it’ll shove it’s way in, and take over the house. And, some people….even Believers….have allowed sin to move in….

    So, c’mon, fellas……nobody is excusing sinful behavior. Lusting after women, who are not your wife, is sinful. It’s wrong. And, as a Believer, we will want to live for God, and please Him with our lives. But, we will not be free from temptation, until the Lord comes back. And, a Christian….a real, true Christian….can backslide…..

    • says

      Tarheel
      AMEN! There is a real problem when men will not be honest concerning their thoughts.

      “All have sinned” is linear in action, i.e. has sinned, sinning now, sinning future. NO NOT a license to sin but a fact of Adamic nature. That is why “buy grace are you saved through faith” is linear in action, i.e. has been saved, am being saved, will be saved. Again, “shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid”. Paul is saying we cannot be accepting of sin and be comfortable in it, yet acknowledging that we are sinners. Tal Bonham (sp?) said ” the Christian cannot sin successfully. When we sin we will be convicted, but we do sin. And of course, “all have sinned”, also linear, have sinned, now sinning, will sin.

      I conclude I am a sinner. Porn ADDICTION is sin. However, in addiction one must deal with other aspects, not just forgiveness. Compulsive behavior is a reality in life and must be acknowledge and dealt with.

    • says

      My addiction and continued struggle with pornography is the key reason why I want to start and oversee some kind of ministry that help people in my position. I see the utter lack of such ministries, I see how I have/am treated within Christian life, and I want to change that so that other men (and women) in my position, or similar positions (addictions to drugs, alcohol, ect) have a ministry that is open to them and there for them. I have liked what I have seen with the Celebrate Recovery program, though I would have to study it a bit more to see if it would be right for my situation (current and future).

      But to have people say I should not be in any kind of ministry because of my addiction, or worse yet, to for some to insinuate that I may not even be a “child of God”, is just a bit much for me. Thank you David for what you just said here. More Christians need to read, understand, believe, and act on the truth of what you just said. If we/they are able to do that, maybe fewer of our brothers and sisters in Christ will fall to temptation when they know they have LOVING folks around them caring for them. Not judgmental people making them feel like unbelievers. Ive said it before, but when a poster can get folks like you and me to agree on things, they must really be something special! :D

  33. Dave Miller says

    Darrel, if you wish to converse, you are free to do it.

    Your rantings and insults are not acceptable and your comments are on moderation until such time as you demonstrate an ability to carry on a decent and productive conversation.

    So, an apology might be a good first step.

    I will now have to decide if your comments are posted or not. Unless your tone changes, they will not.

  34. says

    Adam,
    Well I just came from NC, but I heard no grunting.
    But both my dad and my mom-in-law came from WVA and were college educated well spoken people. So…

    • Adam G. in NC says

      Nevermind. I was just trying to keep it light-hearted. Sorry for the confusion.

      • says

        Adam,
        I get it now.
        Its just that when people are throwing around what seems like hateful words, to respond like you did seems like, well… inappropriate. But then that’s just me. I took no offense at your WVA joking, but neither did I want those who were in opposition to many others to have any excuse to feel marginalized by what might be considered bigoted or biased or hate speech, even if it wasn’t really meant to be any of those things.

  35. John Boy says

    FWIW, here’s a little testimony that goes along with Mike’s original post.

    Other than accidentally stumbling onto a dirty magazine in the woods when I was a kid, I never looked at pornography until I was in my 30’s. Looking back now, it boggles my mind to think that I had unfiltered, unmonitored Internet access for so long and honestly never even thought about searching for porn. That’s not to say that I never had a lustful thought, but pornography was not an issue for me for most of my adult life.

    Things changed when I started visiting a certain conservative news website. This is actually one very popular among Christian men. The website had an entertainment news section. This “news” often consisted of photos of female celebrities wearing swimsuits. That section soon became my favorite. The site also featured weekly promos from a men’s magazine showing a “girl of the week” wearing very little. From there, I started frequenting that magazine’s website, where I was inundated with “barely there” images.

    It occurred to me that I had never seen a naked woman other than my wife. I was curious and wanted to see more. I began buying some adult magazines until I realized it was much easier and cheaper to look online. I learned how to hide my browsing history, and soon what had started as curiosity had morphed into a full-blown addiction (or habit, if you prefer) that could have cost me my job and nearly wrecked my marriage.

    I wish I had stopped visiting that news site at the very beginning. I wish I hadn’t looked beyond the forbidden curtain. I’ve never used drugs or even been drunk, but I imagine my experience is in some ways similar (though in other ways different) than drug and alcohol abusers. Once you start down the road of pornography use, you find yourself in a rut that is hard to steer out of.

    For me now, it’s been about 8 years since I first looked at porn. Since then, it’s been a back and forth battle. Months will go by without any slip ups. Then I might have a period where I look several times a week, to be followed by several more porn-free weeks or months. If you had looked at my life before, you would have concluded that I was a model of sexual purity. If you looked at my life afterwards, some might have questioned my salvation. I am experiencing victories, and my assurance is built upon the cross of Christ. I know He is not through with me, and He will carry to completion what He has begun.

    I say all this to echo what Mike said at the beginning. Beware that your curiosity and thirst for knowledge does not lead you into sin. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Also, when you encounter someone in the throes of pornography, be careful about making judgments about the state of their heart. Yes, they must be called to repentance. Yes, they must be under conviction. No, we should not make excuses for them. But also understand that you are only seeing part of the picture. This may not be a permanent indication of their character. They may be going through a battle that is new to them or that may be almost finished. Speak the truth in love. Help bear their burdens. Understand that God’s work is ongoing in their life.

    • says

      John Boy,
      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s interesting that you mentioned this particular site–I’m assuming that it’s Fox News. I had written something on that in the past b/c I find it terrible that they have such things on their site. I don’t go there anymore for that very reason.

      I am glad to hear that you are experiencing victories. Keep pressing on. Keep repenting. Keep getting back up when you fall. Keep clinging to Christ. He is strong and He is able to totally obliterate this sin. And thanks be to God someday He will.

    • says

      John-Boy,
      After Peter denied the Lord three times, the Lord asked him three times if he loved Him. But before peter fell, the Lord prayed that though Peter would stumble, his faith would not fail, but that he would be stronger and a help for his brothers.
      Just keep saying YES to the Lord and NO to sin.

      in my prayers,
      mike