Porn Addiction; Here is your Cure

Today I will be discussing an article from Christian Headlines titled:

Does the Law Already Ban Porn? – Robert George’s Letter to William Barr

Written by John Stonestreet and Shane Morris | Tuesday, January 28, 2020 | The article can be found here.

I won’t be discussing too much about this article. There are a few quotes I thought worth mentioning. However, as I read this article I was reminded of a few things that I think would be beneficial to my readers and the church at large.

Writers like Catholic Matt Walsh at the Daily Wire made the case that porn is no longer an issue of private morality, if it ever was. Today, porn is a public health crisis. Mountains of evidence reveal not only its addictive power but also its devastating consequences for women and children. Walsh argued that free market solutions have been exhausted, and so banning pornography and prosecuting those who distribute it is the only way to contain this scourge on our families and our society. Others argued for at least increased governmental regulation.

Does the Law Already Ban Porn? – Robert George’s Letter to William Barr

There is a crisis that the church doesn’t seem to talk about, and those that do only seem to make the matters worse. The crisis is that pornography is available for free, in the privacy of your own home, where you can secretly break the 6th Commandment, and it’s extremely addictive.

Many Christian’s battle with sexual addiction, sexual immorality, and an addiction to pornography. Some churches seem to even have sermon series based on it, yet all they offer is advice on how to stay away from it and if it already has you then try harder to stop looking at it. Talk with a pastor about it privately and results may vary. Depending on the pastor you might get some tips for how to overcome it, perhaps try software that blocks the sites, have someone hold you accountable, get ride of your computer or internet, etc. Our good Confessional Lutheran pastors offer confession and holy absolution which is extremely helpful yet depending on the pastor you might not fully understand how this truly helps and you will be right back at it working yourself by the law and failing again.

the idea that pornography falls under free speech protections is also ridiculous. It’s a stretch to consider the selling of digital flesh as a political or artistic endeavor worthy of protection, but the dissemination of the depraved abuse of real live human beings, which is what so much porn is today? No way… bondage to pornography isn’t an expression of freedom, especially when victims are children. Porn is predatory. Because it is unregulated, it assaults citizens not looking for it. Even worse, kids are being targeted at shockingly early ages. Studies say the average age of first exposure is eleven. For many, it’s as young as five.

Does the Law Already Ban Porn? – Robert George’s Letter to William Barr

No one seems to talk about it. No one seems to talk about other addictive sins either. No one talks about sexual addiction. The world talks about sex all the time, churches that mingle Law and Gospel do on occasion, yet no one seems to offer any answers as to how to overcome addiction except by the Law. “God says not to do it, you can’t be a Christian if you do it, so stop doing it“.

There not only isn’t any comfort in that message, there isn’t any real hope either. If “Just try harder” worked then I wouldn’t be sitting in your office right now, if “try these steps and principles” worked, I wouldn’t feel shame and hopelessness, if “work the 12 steps” actually worked I wouldn’t count the days and fear a slip up, that will come, as well as the shame, doubt, and ultimate feeling that God doesn’t want me.

Dr. George was a close friend to Chuck Colson and the recipient of the 2015 William Wilberforce Award. In his letter to Barr, excerpted at the Daily Wire, George points out that laws already on the books forbid the distribution of “obscenity,” especially to minors. If there’s any question whether or not modern-day porn counts as “obscenity,” let’s just say that the days of “Playboy” magazines at gas stations are long gone. George unflinchingly describes the dark, depraved world of increasingly brutal, abusive, and twisted content, bluntly concluding: “A 13-year-old with a smartphone now has unlimited access to his own personal theatre of sexual horrors.”

Does the Law Already Ban Porn? – Robert George’s Letter to William Barr

Think about that. I have had more people talk to me about sexual addiction than any other type of addiction. Perhaps it is our day and age suffering the effects of the American Sexual Revolution, yet there are many other addictions out there that is promoted as good and fun, just watch any commercial segment and how it encourages beer, food, travel, pills, sex, ect.

I’ve seen tears, hopelessness, and even the statements that “God doesn’t want me because I can’t live up to His demands for a Christian life“. I’ve seen people fall away because their addiction was so strong that it drove out the Spirit and choked the seed (Matthew 13). If only we talked about it, truly, instead of either giving more Law or a watered down gospel. If only… Well, today I’m going to try to give hope to the hopeless and give real answers to overcome porn addiction.

Stop trying

Yeah. You heard me. Stop trying to overcome your sexual sin on your own. You won’t be able to do it. You will not be able to overcome something that you are addicted to, something that has you by the throat. This cannot be overcome by the Law. If you could stop looking at porn or being sexually immoral, you would have done it by now. Your efforts, some new program, etc, will not be the answer.

I have seen people of all walks of life crushed, fed up, on the floor, in tears because they just couldn’t stop, they tried everything, and they didn’t have answers or hope. They were more sure that God was disappointed with them than they were of their being any hope. This is what trying to be sanctified by the Law does. It leaves you utterly hopeless, despairing, and at odds as to how to have success for victory over the addiction.

The Law Doesn’t give the Power to do what it Commands

The law always accuses. It doesn’t only accuse, it shows us our sins, helps us to see what a good work is, and is a curb to sin. The Law tells you what to do but it offers no help in fulfilling it’s command. This is how other religions and the Pharisees operate. They think by keeping the outward simplified watered down version of the Law that they will be justified. This gets cut to the core when the Law is used correctly to show us just how deep our sin is. Think of how Jesus explains that adultery is lust (Matthew 5).

If you are addicted to porn, or some other sexual sin, then you are aware that programs and accountability just don’t seem to work. This is because when it comes to addiction or sin, the Law has no power to help you overcome. By adding more rules, safeguards, and principles you are only making the problem worse because you will fall every time and end up despairing or having a false sense of righteousness that it’s “not as bad as it was“.

You cannot be a Christian and be addicted to porn.

This hurts. It’s true but it hurts. You cannot be a Christian and be addicted to sexual sins. It hurts to hear it and it hurts to say it. Yet it is true and you know that it is. Why would you even try to stop the addiction if you thought God approved of it?

5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.

Eph. 5:5

9 Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

It cuts deep. It is necessary though. Some pastors won’t talk about it, some of them will excuse it away. Yet it is true. You cannot continue to be addicted to porn or to be sexually immoral, and expect to be saved. This is not a “thumbing the nose” to you. I am in no way talking down to you or being self-righteous. I’m right there with you, in your muck and grime, giving you the medicine. I told you that this post contains the cure but to get there we have to diagnose the problem. It isn’t pretty but we need to discuss this truth.

22  What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Matthew 13:22

You can lose your salvation. The Bible is quite clear in many places that we are to watch our doctrine closely, to make our salvation sure, to work out our salvation with fear, etc. This doesn’t contradict that we are saved by grace through faith, but faith, being a gift from the Spirit, cannot remain in someone who rejects the Spirit, and rejects the Spirits work to grow fruit of repentance.

It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, … and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8If we say that we have no sinwe deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Smalcald Article 3:43

Smalcald Article 3:43

David had ceased to be a prophet enlightened by the Holy Spirit and a child of God when he fell into sin. Had he died in those days, he would have gone to perdition. Yea, that could have happened to him during the entire year before Nathan came to preach repentance to him; for David had pronounced the man who had committed the crime narrated by Nathan a doomed man, when Nathan told him, “Thou art the man,” and showed him that he had uttered his own sentence: if he did not turn from his iniquity, he would go to hell and be damned. Walther

C.F.W. Walther The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel Thesis 10

45] Therefore, Luther wishing to declare the magnitude of original sin and of human infirmity [what a grievous mortal guilt original sin is in the sight of God], taught that these remnants of original sin [after Baptism] are not, by their own nature, adiaphora in man, but that, for their non-imputation, they need the grace of Christ and, likewise for their mortification, the Holy Ghost. Defense of Augsburg 2:45

Defense of the Augsburg Confession Article 2:45

I know this hurts. I know that you might be ready to stop reading. I know you might be thinking of ways to explain away everything that Scripture says. Yet, you need to know that your addiction is serious. The Old Adam, your sinful nature, has you by the throat, and the devil wants to kill you and keep you away from the Truth.

I want to share with you some quotes from C.F.W Walther who taught a thesis on Law and Gospel about this very subject of losing salvation. After these quotes I want to discuss with you how all of this leads to your freedom.

In the sixth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher describes faith in a manner as if the mere inert acceptance of truths, even while a person in living in mortal sins, renders that person righteous in the sight of God and saves him; or as if faith makes a person righteous and saves him for the reason that it produces in him love and reformation of his mode of living…. We read in I John 5, 4 Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.Accordingly, a person in his old nature and not born of God, a person who still loves the world and seeks his heart’s satisfaction in its folly and vanity, has no faith; for faith overcomes the world.

C.F.W. Walther The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel Thesis 10

The light of faith can be extinguished not only by gross sins, but by any wilful, intentional sin…. (St. L. Ed. X, 1706 ff.) Luther says: “When a person sins against his conscience, that is, when he knowingly and intentionally acts contrary to God, as, for instance, an adulterer or any other criminal, who knowingly does wrong, he is, while consciously persisting in his intention, without repentance and faith and does not please God.

C.F.W. Walther The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel Thesis 10

“The truth of what I have stated is clearly established from the following passages: 1 John 3, 7 f.: ‘Let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil.’ For instance, when David permitted his heart to be set on fire with the flames of inordinate desire and lost his stability, he was urged on by the devil, who, after conquering him through the first sin, drove him to still greater sins, murder, etc. That the Holy Spirit had been driven out of David’s heart is evident from the words of Paul in I Cor. 6, 9 f.: ‘Adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ He is speaking of adultery that is still continuing; while an adulterer persists in his purpose, he is not an heir of the kingdom of Christ. Consequently, he is not righteous and holy, nor has he the Holy Spirit. ‘Because of these things,’ says Paul in Eph. 5, 6, ‘cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.’ In Rom. 8, 13 Paul introduces a distinction that must be made among sins; he says: ‘If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.’ Now, it is manifest that Paul in this passage preaches for saints and teaches them how they may remain holy, namely, by resisting their evil inclinations. On the other hand, he says: ‘If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die’; that is, If you yield to your evil inclinations, you are again under the wrath of God; for that is what he means by dying. In Ezek. 33, 13 ff. we read, in effect: Whenever the righteous does evil, his righteousness shall not be remembered; and whenever the wicked turns and does good, his sins shall be forgotten. This is a clear text; it proves that the righteous, when falling into sin knowingly and intentionally, is no longer righteous. In Rev. 2, 14 the Holy Spirit reproves the church at Pergamos for tolerating false doctrine and fornication, of which things He says: ‘I hate them.’ Now, when God is angry with some one, that person is not holy and accepted with Him, etc. And among those who were rebuked at Pergamos there were, without doubt, elect and non-elect.”

C.F.W. Walther The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel Thesis 10

It is not the manifest enormity of their sin that casts such people out of their state of grace and puts out the heavenly light of their faith, but the attitude of their heart towards their sin. When I am suddenly overtaken by sin, God forgives me; He is not angry with me and does not charge that sin against me. Such acts do not extinguish faith. Or it may be that I am rushed into sin by my temperament. I do not want to sin, but I have been irritated to such an extent that, before I know it, I have sinned. That is not a mortal sin, which would take me out of the state of grace. But when a person persists in his sin against his conscience, though he knows it to be a sin, and continues sinning purposely for a long time, he no longer has faith and cannot truly pray to God; the Holy Spirit leaves his heart, for another spirit, the evil spirit, rules in it, whom the sinner has admitted into his heart. To him the Holy Spirit yields His place and departs.

C.F.W. Walther The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel Thesis 10

Freedom in the Gospel

That was hard. I know. Now that we have taken down all the walls of self justifying, of trying by our own efforts, of any hope that we can continue to let sin reign and still be a Christian. How then can you be free of sexual addiction? If the Law is of no help, if the Spirit leaves a person who persists in letting sin reign, if God Commands you to stop; how then can you stop. Where is the hope?

As I had told you above. You are to stop trying. No law, no program, nothing is going to ever give you complete freedom; except God. God Commands you to stop and He is the one that gives you what He requires. Some of you might think “yeah If that were the case I wouldn’t be in this mess“. You might be tempted to think that you’ve prayed, you’ve trusted God, you’ve tried all of that. A deep look at your efforts might reveal to you that you were relying on your efforts; not on God. You see it’s very easy for us to start our Christian life in faith but try to perfect ourselves by the Law; the Galatians made the same mistake.

19 For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. 21 I don’t reject the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:19-21

1 Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 I just want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain, if it is indeed in vain? 5 He therefore who supplies the Spirit to you and does miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:1-5

We can see that Christian faith is to have our old selves crucified with Christ, you now have a new life, given by faith, that lives not on cleaning up your crucified self, but by the Spirits work in you. You are a new creation in Christ. This new life, started by the Spirit is not to be perfected by the old man in you, but by the Spirit who doesn’t sanctity you by works of the Law but through the gift of faith. The Law in our new Christian life is never used as the heathen would use it, but as a mirror and guide, that the Spirit mirrors and guides you because of your new life created and sustained by the Spirits work of faith in the Gospel.

26 For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:26-27

You fail to break free of the addiction to porn, improper sexual desire, and other sexual immorality because after you receive forgiveness you turn from the Gospel back to the Law and try by your own efforts to clean yourself up. You are taking the power away from the Gospel and trying to be perfected by the flesh, or by your own efforts. Yet, You are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, you no longer live but God lives in you and He works in you to start to fulfill the Law. It’s Him, not you, that does this.

He works through the Word and Sacrament, He gives faith, sustains faith, works forgiveness, and causes you to grow all sorts of fruit; His fruit not your own fruit. He does all of this through the Gospel. Let’s return to that quote in 1 Corinthians. This time I’ve included verse 11:

9 Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. 11 Some of you were such, but you were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Some of you were those things but though baptism, through Word and Sacrament, you have been washed, sanctified, justified, and this is not of your own efforts. The Spirits work is to bring you faith, keep you in faith, bring you the forgiveness of your sins, and life everlasting; through Word and Sacrament. It is in this Gospel, in delivering to you the forgiveness of your sins, in daily repentance, daily drowning your sinful nature in the waters of baptism, that the Spirit operates and works in you. He is the one that produces fruit, He does this through His means of grace, Word and Sacrament. He does this, this is His work in you, this is His fruit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.

Galatians 5:22-24

Your old self, your sinful nature, is crucified, your passions and lust, are to be daily drowned, not by your own efforts to try harder, but by the Spirit who produces the fruit inside of you. This doesn’t mean that temptations go away, you won’t feel them nearly as heavy as you used to, but they will come. What then should you do? Should you throw your hands up and become indifferent? If it’s no longer your effort should you just wait for God to stop you and like Kevin McCallister from the movie ‘Home Alone’ say “Guys God, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me!“. Of course not! For we aren’t to mock God or His holy Law as if we were Antinomian. Instead, when you feel temptation, pray the Lord’s Prayer. You say “Dear Father, you have commanded me to pray and you promise to not turn me over to temptations, let me not fall, your will is that I not fall, then your will be done, in Jesus’ name, Amen”.

106] This, then, is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us power and strength to resist, the temptation, however, not being taken away or removed. For while we live in the flesh and have the devil about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot be otherwise than that we must endure trials, yea, be engulfed in them; but we pray for this, that we may not fall and be drowned in them.

Large Catechism; Lord’s Prayer

The power to end the addiction is not yours, it’s God’s. It’s His fight inside you, He fights your sinful nature by the Gospel, He grows fruit inside you by the Gospel. It is truly fought by Word and Sacrament, all gifts given to you, all grace given to you, poured out and overflowing, as a gift. Why have you struggled this long as a Christian? You have tried on your own efforts to do what only God can do, you have tried to do what Christ has already done for you, you have tried to conquer sin, death, and the devil on your own. Luther, in summarizing the petition on ‘Lead us not into Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer says this very thing and it is often overlooked by so many Christian’s:

110] Accordingly, there is no help or comfort except to run hither and to take hold of the Lord’s Prayer, and thus speak to God from the heart: Dear Father, Thou hast bidden me pray; let me not relapse because of temptations. Then you will see that they must desist, and finally acknowledge themselves conquered. 111] Else if you venture to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head, which if it gain an opening into which he can slip, the whole body will follow without check. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back.

Large Catechism; Lord’s Prayer

Your own efforts make it worse. If you were meant to conquer sin by your efforts then Christ died in vain. I think it is easy for some to see this when it comes to Justification but this is true with Sanctification as well. You are not meant to repent, have faith, and bear fruit in keeping with that repentance, without the Spirit. In fact it is impossible to do any of that without the Spirit.

More Good News

The battle is won. God in the person of Jesus, came down from heaven was born of the Virgin Mary, became man. Fully God and fully man, He suffered, He was tempted, yet He never sinned. He fulfilled the perfect demands of the Law for you. He remained sinless. He, was the perfect sacrifice for your sins. God was punished for you, nailed to a tree, and hung for the world to see. God spilled His precious blood for you. With all your sin, every time you looked with lust, every time you rejected God, every sin that you committed, His blood dripped as He bore your sin in His body on the cross. God suffered agony for hours on that cross until He died. God died. He died for you.

He didn’t stay dead. He also rose from the grave for you. The great exchange has happened. He took your sin and punishment, and you get His righteousness and holiness. You are right now as righteous as Christ by the gift of faith. The Spirit gives you faith, He gives you all the benefits of what Christ did for you then, right now. He works in you by this Gospel promise. Your sins are forgiven. The battle against sin has been won. You were bought from slavery, you are no longer in bondage, you are free. God did this for you. God has set you free. God loves you.

All of the filth, all of the shame, all of the idolatry; Jesus took it all away from you. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He has removed your sin from you and left it in the grave. You, beloved, are so precious to God. He has unshackled you from your addiction. He has washed you, given you a robe of Righteousness, and calls you His own. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With the battle won, your chains broken, and your sins forgiven, you are free, go in peace.

Christian soul, here is the strength of your salvation; here is the cause of your freedom; here is the price of your redemption. You were a captive, but you have been redeemed; you were a slave, but [by Him] are made free. And so, an exile, you are brought home; lost, you are reclaimed; and dead, you are restored to life.

Anselm of Canterbury

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