This Saturday our church is hosting a seminar for men on the issue of battling sexual lust, and so, as I prepare to teach one of the sessions I’ve been doing some concentrated reading on the subject. One book I’m reading in particular is Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn-Free by Tim Chester. In the introduction, Chester makes a suggestion that I think is especially helpful for men struggling with lust:
Whenever you put the book down, spend a few moments in prayer and praise. Make sure when you finish reading that you’re thinking about Christ and not about porn.
The reality is that when we are striving to fight the sin of lust, we need to grow in our hatred of it and understand what lies we are believing when we give in to it. This requires probing our hearts to see what idols are at the root of our lust, doing some reading on the subject (both in the Word and in Christian books), and receiving accountability from believing brothers. And even as we are thinking about lust and porn as evil, wicked, and abominable, because our hearts are deceitful, we can be tempted to lust in the midst of our assault against it.
This is exactly why every thought of the vileness of sin must never be without a thought of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Yes, sin is sick, but Jesus died to pay for that sin and transfer his righteousness to your account so that God treats you as if you lived Christ’s perfect life. Yes, sin is sick, but Jesus rose from the dead conquering that sin so that you are no longer a slave to it. Yes sin is sick, but your Father in heaven loved you with a love so great that he sent his only son to die for the forgiveness of that sin.
In Ephesians 5:1-2, right before Paul says “sexual immorality… must not even be named among you”, he writes, “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Chester understands the same thing Paul did… the motivation for change is in the gospel. The condemnation of sin is only part of the equation. Even if we describe lust in the most horrific terms possible, our hearts will still be able to find something desirable in it. But when we remember the love with which Christ loved us and all the resources for change that he gave us through his sacrifice, we will begin to find the fight being won more often.