Question:

I have a very embarrassing problem and question, and I need help. I was born again several years ago and there is absolute evidence in my life of that. When I was born again, God set me free of hate anger and lust (sexual, pornography, masturbation, etc). Pornography has crept back into my life, and so masturbation as well. I know when I am being tempted, then the excited feeling comes over me and I barely try to stand against it and more times than not I end up giving into it, looking at pornography and masturbating secretly of course. It is a shameful secret I have. I am married for many years to the love of my life, my best friend, but I still give into this trash. I hate to admit it, but I enjoy it; yet I know, even to the depths of my soul, that I am sinning against God, and totally disrespecting my wife as well, but I still end up doing it.

I know what Christ has done for me personally, and as a human, but I still do it. You should hear the thoughts I have to allow myself to do it, while I am being tempted. I know it's Satan, but because ejaculation and the excited feeling I get from secretly looking I allow my stupid self to think it's my own thoughts and "God will forgive me." I know I am playing a stupid game with my faith, I love Jesus and he knows my heart, but it's like I am addicted to the high of the excitement and the ejaculation. Then, of course, every time right after a mountain of guilt eats me alive and I can't sleep through the night. Then thoughts, like "How can you pray to Jesus for forgiveness for something you just did knowing it was hurtful and a sin against Jesus?" so I don't. That thought seems true. Then the sad thing is I know this is a tactic of Satan, but I don't know how to stop it. The temptation and urges are very strong. Jesus destroyed the stronghold of sexual lust years ago, but it seems I have allowed a new one again. What can I do to stop this cycle, to stop knowingly and willingly sin against Jesus? I need help please.

My other question is: Am I losing my salvation by constantly doing this sin?  Am I sinning myself unto death? Please help and be brutally honest!


Answer:

All sin that is not dealt with will lead to death. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). Rather wring your hands at the fact that you have gotten yourself caught up in sin, let's focus on strategy for dealing with the temptation.

I think one of the problems you ran into began with a mistaken notion of what salvation really is. (See: Are You a Born Again Christian?) You leave me with the impression that you thought God was removing temptation from you life. That is never stated in the Bible; rather, we are told that temptation is always going to be a problem. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8-9). The goal is not to sin. The life we live is a war against sin. But we realize that we will never be free from temptation and sin while here on earth. Being saved means sin no longer rules our lives, but the problem of sin is still here because Satan is still roaming this world. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). What this means is that you have the ability to overcome this temptation, but only if you choose to do so. However, it is because you thought sin would no longer be a problem that you let your guard down. That is why the verse before contains this warning: "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

The first step then is to understand the sin you are dealing with. I want you to read A Look at Pornography to learn why pornography is wrong and the understand how you are being manipulated to seek out pornography. Make sure you look up and read all the verses because that is where the real learning comes from.

Pornography, like most sins, is a self-feeding sin. Men use it to get themselves sexually aroused and ejaculate. It brings momentary pleasure, but for many men the greater effect is a release from sexual tension that lasts for a day or longer. But pornography speeds up the system that produces semen, so the sexual tension returns more quickly.

Along with this, the process of orgasm causes men to fixate on what is seen as the cause of the orgasm. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to compulsive behavior and that is often when problems with addictive habits are established -- not just pornography, but also drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc. Those compulsions are carried with many into adult life. Even when you conquer the habit, the ruts are still there in your mind and it is extremely easy fall back into old habits. With pornography, the habit is so fixed that some men can't believe they can ejaculate without the use of pornography, which is really sad.

The key it the concept of self-control. "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, ..." (II Peter 1:5-6). Who is going to be in control of your life, Jesus or some sick-minded people who want to make money off your arousals?

Understanding that your sexual desire rises as your seminal vesicles fill, on simple step is to talk to your wife about increasing the frequency which you two have sex. This will cut your desire which is being used against you.

The next step is to make it harder for yourself to look at pornography. If it is the computer that is the problem, move it to a public area of the house where anyone can see the screen over your shoulder. Install an Internet filter. Yes, I know you can remove it, but the point is that this causes you to go through extra steps to get to the pornography -- steps that give you a chance to think about what you are doing. I've had guy leave the blocks off because they bypass them, but I tell them to put them back even if they slip because it is the extra steps which serve a purpose.

Finally, resolve each day that today you are not going to look at pornography. Pray to God for strength. At the end of each day, thank God for helping you through that day and know you did better today than you have done in the past.

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).