Sermon Manuscript …
Resisting the Poison of Pornography
Tough Stuff–Difficult to resist
Pornography, sexually-explicit material intended to cause arousal–listen to these numbers…
Pornography produces 60 billion dollars worldwide every single year
Pornography produces 12 billion dollars in the US alone
There is more money spent on pornography every year than on all professional baseball, basketball, and football combined
More revenue is collected from pornography than what ABC, NBC, and CBS collect combined
We spend more money on pornography in America each year than we do on foreign aid combined
The average child views pornography for the first time at age 11, usually inadvertently
Parents, you may say you have a 12- to 13-year-old child who you don’t think is ready for teaching on pornography, but statistically speaking you may already be too late. The number one consumer of pornography is boys ages 12 to 17. Pornography is a major issue in our student ministry from students in every kind of home and every kind of schooling approach. There are students battling with pornography who come from solidly biblical homes in hyper-protective environments, as well as students who come from non-Christian homes with no supervision.
Pornography is an issue with our collegians and older singles. And pornography is a problem with our newly marrieds, and to be quite honest our older marrieds of every age. Pornography has been a problem with some of our leaders and it is a constant temptation for every man here of any age and any marital status. And pornography is beginning to become a problem for women. This is a gigantic issue! Google the word “sex” and you’ll get 750 billion hits–the first two will be hardcore porn.
Over 25%, that’s 1 in 4, of all internet searches are for porn! In other words, my brothers and sisters, we cannot just look the other way and pretend this problem does not exist–it does. There is not one of us here who would dare to eat brownies that we know were made with sugar, flour, chocolate, eggs, oil, baking soda and dog poop. We would not do it. None of us would drink a soda that was primarily made up of sugar, soda water, prune juice and pool chlorine–we wouldn’t drink it.
But some of us in this room are reading the Word, going to prayer, fellowshipping with the saints, gathering for worship, giving financially to the Lord, serving in ministry and poisoning our hearts, minds and souls with pornography on a regular basis. And the result is guilt, a damaged marriage, the stealing of your joy, depression, deception, secrecy, shame, a dull heart, distance from others, a lack of passion, an open door for greater compromise and sin against a holy, pure and righteous God who has a better plan for you.
Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure all things are pure.” And Hebrews 13:4 “Let the marriage bed be held in honor among all.” Why is this such a huge issue? Why are some Christians passionless when it comes to Christ and His work? Why doesn’t marriage fix this problem–even a brand new marriage? For the answer turn to James 1 as we continue our series in Tough Stuff.
#1 The problem is not lust, sex and sexuality–lust is
What contributes to the problem of pornography? Lust—and a basic definition of lust is strong emotion, but with this issue lust is the strong emotional craving for what God has forbidden sexually. In James 1:13, after a lengthy discussion of trials, James reminds us not to blame our sin on anyone but ourselves. Most of all don’t blame God. Verse 13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”
The problem of pornography comes when Christians don’t take responsibility for their own sin, nor remember the danger of their own sinful deceitful hearts. Husband, do not blame your wife. You’re just like Adam . . . the woman you gave me, God . . . Eve got fat. No! It is true, our Heavenly Father allows temptations to continue, but we all have an escape and a Spirit-empowered will that can flee.
Christian, the battle is internal, difficult and against your own flesh, but you have the Spirit of God in you who can enable you to overcome. Look at verse 14, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” Carried away is the picture of being lured into a hunting trap. What lures you into the pornography trap? Lust, which is your own strong emotional desire of that which God has forbidden–and part of the trap is emotional, lustful passion. It’s addictive.
Like a drug, this lust creates a rush that becomes a real felt need. Those of you who must start your day with coffee, you understand the pull of the lust of pornography. It is a strong emotional addiction that feels like a physical addiction to caffeine or worse–like a drug addiction. And again, verse 14 clarifies–it is your own lust. Your problem is not the tempter without but the traitor within.
The battle here is not merely the removal of external stimuli, but a battle that must take place in your heart. Men you don’t win this battle by merely turning off your computer, and parents you don’t win this battle by merely isolating your kids any more than hiding yourself away in a monastery would cure you of your lust. This is a battle of the flesh for the heart. So what is it that contributes to the widespread compromise with pornography? Here are some main reasons.
First We don’t run from the fact that it’s free and accessible
Not long ago, in order to peruse pornography you’d have to buy a magazine wrapped in brown paper or visit a sick-looking shop to watch a porno movie. Today all you have to do is go to your room, close the door, turn on your computer, connect with the internet and browse through thousands of sites containing millions of pornographic stories, pictures and movies. Every home with a computer and internet now has the potential of being a pornographic peep show and a brown paper-wrapped library of pornography. Thirty-six percent of all web content is pornographic. There are some who need to post a warning sign on their bedroom door with a giant XXX.
Second We forget how susceptible we are
In James 1, did you notice what follows the teaching on trials? In verses 2 to 12, it’s temptation. That’s true in life too. When we go through the pressure of difficulties, through a trial, then temptations always follow.
Some people turn to pornography to deal with emotional disappointments. When your life is full of fatigue, health problems, trauma, a deep emotional pain, a lack of intimacy with God or distance from others, marriage is strained and friendship has failed, your heart is broken–you’re vulnerable. Sometimes it’s as simple as H.A.L.T.S.–when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed you’re ripe for pornographic temptation.
As human beings what do we want to do with pain? We want to get rid of it fast, and pornography offers a quick fix for the emotional emptiness we sometimes feel. When we’re wounded or weary our defenses are down. Then Satan is able to sneak in with temptations we might otherwise be able to fight off. Some will say, but I am not experiencing any great trials–I’m okay. But even there we are susceptible. Like David in leisure on his rooftop catching a glimpse of Bathsheba, our comfortable culture encourages us to forget we’re in a spiritual battle with an enemy who wants to destroy us or keep us ineffective.
We recently spent ten weeks studying spiritual warfare–how many of you lived this entire week without remembering you were in a battle with a devil who wants to destroy you? Living in this culture is difficult. Sometimes in our culture we even treat media as some sort of right–must see TV like it was essential to our existence–it is not. But Jesus promises no matter what hits us, I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
We’re most vulnerable during trials, but God is faithful and will help us. That’s why God tells us to ask for wisdom in James 1:5. We need to admit we’re vulnerable and cry out for help. We can’t resist in our own strength. Like Peter sinking into the water. Just cry, “Lord save me! Help!” Why else is porno a problem?
Third We underestimate the consequences of this sin
There is a reason the New Testament says in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” Sexual sin, lust, fornication, adultery and pornography are not like any other sin–it hurts us, marks us and enslaves us. Proverbs tell us that sexual sin results in wounds, disgrace and a reproach that will not be blotted out.
Pornography is removing men from ministry, preventing men from ministry, destroying marriages, harming oneness, warping singles, and so much more. You reap what you sow. This is why God says to flee–it means run in terror. Physically get away, move away, get rid of it, stay away–run! Psalm 101:3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.”
In my garage I have some weed killers that are put up high, and some fertilizer I keep on a top shelf, but pornography is a poison so deadly it must be thrown out. The God who created you male and female, the God who gave you your sexuality and your drives knows what He is talking about, and He says flee.
Pornography is sexual sin, and if it remains unrepentant, if it continues to be ongoing, it raises some serious questions. True salvation frees us not only from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin–as a believer you can overcome sinful addiction. If you’re given over to pornography and you’re not torn up about it, it raises the question if you are truly saved? Right before Paul commanded the Corinthians to flee in 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul makes a serious point in 6:9 to 11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 … shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And 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.”
Sexual sins, lust and pornography can be conquered in the life of a true believer; the question is are you a real believer or a make-believer?
Fourth We don’t work at maintaining marital passion
Turn to 1 Corinthians 7. Sadly even healthy marriages will drift into routine. After four plus babies bodies change–with age men fight chubbiness. The exhaustion of work and the demands of children make romance difficult. Providing, cleaning, cooking, repairing and serving makes it difficult for couples to take care of each other physically. And it’s no secret that men need intimacy more than women. As a result, 1 Corinthians 7:2 to 5 commands couples to take care of each other, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
When couples don’t take care of each other’s physical needs, they contribute to (not cause) but contribute to the lure of pornography. And here is a convicting fact–what is it that makes pornography so alluring to men? Answer: 95% of pornographic movies have a single premise. The theme of almost all porno movies is–women wildly want sex with men. That’s the main premise of porno flicks and the main allurement for men.
Men who follow Christ and His Word get married thinking that their wives will feel as strongly about sex as they do. Honeymoons affirm that belief, but time, health, age and children put so much strain on marriages that the passion of intimacy that Solomon’s wife expresses in Song of Solomon seems more like a fantasy than reality. The Bible describes the passion a wife can have for her husband in Song of Solomon so men struggle with the lack of desire even from wives who take care of their husbands.
Some Christian men who become addicted to pornography do so because it is the only place they experience a woman who actually desires intimacy as much as they do. Listen–this in no way takes men off the hook. Wives are never an excuse for men to participate in pornography. Men who blame their wives are sinning even more and are dangerously deceiving themselves as to their own lust. But you must understand as a husband and wife that are one–the issue of routine, neglect, and lack of passion is a contributor to the temptation of pornography. Intimacy is not everything in marriage, but it is important in marriage and is a very spiritual issue before God. Therefore it must be a priority.
Fifth We forget how the sin of pornography works
Back to James 1. Pornography, like all sin first begins in the emotions of lust, then conceives in the mind, then becomes a choice of the will. But it starts with internal emotion. Look at James 1:15 to 16, “Then when lust [strong emotion] has conceived [in the mind] it gives birth to sin and when sin is accomplished [an act of the will] it brings forth death. Do not be deceived my beloved brethren.”
Did you notice sin is described, not as an act, but as a process. From a wrong heart of frustration, anger, fear, desire for ease, comfort and escape that strong emotion creates an open door for sin. Then the mind chooses to dwell on that emotion and finally the will engages in sin. TV, film and porno stir up emotions that bypass our minds and go straight to our affections. Media has the power to make evil look good or exciting without engaging our conscience or mind. Ultimately it hardens your heart because it makes you forget the ugliness of sin and holiness of God, while deadening your spiritual hunger.
Temptation to desire, desire to a thought, and thought to action. But it all starts with a heart desire. At its core pornography is a battle with the drives of our flesh and the desires of our hearts, which leads us to . . .
Sixth We do not find our satisfaction in Christ
We have allowed an emotion, a desire or a drive to be an idol in our life. Every single Christian who battles with pornography has a deeper heart issue they are not dealing with. The Lord warned the prophet in Ezekiel 14:3, “These men have set up their idols in their hearts.” To deal with our fears, frustration over hard circumstances, insecurities over relationships, difficulties with our spouse or children, inadequacies with life, or our love of ease and comfort we attempt to satisfy, cover, or find relief from those emotions with pornography.
Instead of repenting of the root heart issues people try to satisfy those internal idols with a quick lustful rush provided by pornography. The question for all Christians is this–does Christ truly satisfy the desires of your heart? The problem is lust, which points to the most important focus.
#2 The priority is the heart
Turn to Romans 6. There are definitive steps that must be taken to deal with pornography, but as you take those steps you must deal with the heart. When backpacking if you keep the core of your body warm then everything else will stay warm. As a Christian if you keep your heart right before God (warm) all the other aspects of your life will fall in line. Never overlook the priority of biblically realigning your heart by . . .
First Confess pornography as sin
Don’t excuse it–don’t say everyone is battling it so what’s the big deal? Don’t blame your circumstances, don’t blame your wife, don’t blame your lack of a spouse and don’t blame God. Like you did when you first became a Christian, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess, which means you agree with God that pornography is sin.
Second Ask the Lord to help you identify the idols in your heart
Ask the Lord to help you attack the root issues that are motivating your lust for pornography. Remember purity starts within. First Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Run from those idols of the heart–flee from the impurity of the mind. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
The battle to overcome pornography is first an internal battle where you identify, then begin repenting of your internal frustrations, your love of ease, your laziness in relationships, not getting what you want, your internal desire for control, and whatever else is fueling your lust for pornography. Then say the same thing that God says about those wrong heart motivations which are driving your lust. Confess them, turn from them in repentance, and accept God’s forgiveness. But don’t merely run from sin through confession and repentance.
Third Pursue Christ intensely and internally from the heart
The only way to stay pure is to pursue the only pure One–to know Him intimately, to walk with Him closely, to be satisfied with Him fully. First John 3:2 to 3, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Those enslaved to pornography are not focused on Christ. Those battling with pornography are not having lengthy times of prayer with Christ, studying His Word deeply to commune with their Savior. Those battling with pornography are not finding their satisfaction in Christ–they are not focusing on His work on the cross for them, they are not remembering that purity is accomplished by His righteousness and not our works or effort. Ask the Lord to restore your first love and turn your affections to Christ. Remember He’s pure, He’s coming again, then we’ll be perfectly pure forever, but seek such closeness with Christ now that you’ll desire His purity now.
Fourth Believe you can overcome pornography
A lot of men get discouraged because they turn away from pornography, then find themselves like a dog returning to its vomit. Some stop believing they can become free. God can rescue you from this sin–you must trust Him.
I had been gone from Jean for two weeks, I was all alone traveling on an overnight train from Siberia to Moscow, Russia, and in my heart I was battling with lust. There was no external stimulus, just my own fallen flesh. I prayed, took my stand on Scripture and literally put my hand in a handle above me, told the Father I was putting my hand in His hand and asked Him to deliver me–and He did.
God tells us we are not the slaves of lust. Look at Romans 6:11 to 13, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” God actually gives three clear steps in Romans 6.
1 Know the truth–Paul starts in verse 6 and 9 by saying KNOWING–we need to know what God says. Therefore memorize the Scripture about lust, your internal heart idols, God’s character of purity and holiness, God’s design for marriage–you need to know the truth. Psalm 119:11, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.”
2 Believe the truth–Romans 6:11, the word consider is the very first command in Romans. It means to stand on the truth–that you are dead to sin’s power, and that through Christ you can do anything.
3 Act on the truth–Romans 6:12 to 13, do not keep putting yourself in situations where you can easily fall back into the sin of pornography, which leads us to the final crucial step. The problem is lust–the priority is the heart and . . .
#3 The path is to flee
We live in an environment where it seems almost impossible to flee, and we live in bodies where the lust of the flesh is like a wild animal needing to be caged–but regardless, God says to the lust of porn…
1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.”
2 Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
The point of flee is to run away, escape, shun, avoid and turn from. How do we do that?
First Flee by seeing pornography as a heinous sin
1 Pornography is a serious sin against God Himself
God is the one who created man and woman. He designed marriage for a male and female for life. He intended sexual intimacy in marriage to glorify Him and bless the man and wife. His blueprint for intimacy is perfect and points to His character, bringing Him glory and blessing us. But pornography is a sick and cheap distortion of God’s design–it is adultery and fornication of the mind and more.
Let Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28ff cause you to fear, “But I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Jesus wants you to be afraid of the sin of lust and evil desire. There were thousands of people hearing Jesus speak these words of graphic hyperbole to make certain they knew that the sin of lust must be dealt with drastically. Jesus was not advocating self-mutilation, since verse 28 already told us lust is a sin of the heart, but He makes His point that lust is a heinous sin against God, doesn’t He?
2 Pornography is a serious sin against all women
To fuel the pornographic industry with your participation is feeding a system that abuses women. It contributes to worldwide sex trafficking and unmentionable horrors forced upon women and children, and you’re participating. Over 75% of child molestation and over 60% of rapes have a direct link to pornographic material.
I remind men battling with pornography to wake up to the reality that in every pornographic movie there’s a camera, a camera man, lighting and sound technicians, a director and more–it’s all fake. But to the participants it isn’t completely fake and it is not pretty. I know of a Christian woman who came out of the porn industry–she was a porn star. When asked, “Didn’t you feel sick about that?” She said she felt dirty all the time–she felt gross. Then she said, “That’s why I and the other women I was working with did drugs a lot–we’d get so depressed and felt so sick about what we were doing we’d try to forget about it by using drugs and drink.”
Pornography is a sin against your wife, if single–your future wife, against your daughters and against women worldwide who are being sexually abused by men. Flee by seeing pornography as a heinous sin.
Second Flee by taking specific action against the source of pornography for you
For most of you it’ll be your computer. For others it’s their cable channels. For some it’s people at work or students at school who have books, magazines, MP3 players, or pictures on their phone. Whatever the source of pornography for you, the Greek word to flee means you must run away, get away from it, shun it or escape it. If you’re a true Christian you will love the Lord and hate sin, which means you’ll deal with the contributors to your pornographic problem. To flee in this manner involves one or two steps.
Step one–Control the source
Get the computer out of your teenager’s room, have the door always open when the computer is on, keep the computer away from anywhere you can be alone, install Covenant Eyes on it, or some other tough porn filter. Add a filter to your cable channels, hide the remote–control the source.
Step two—cut off the source
If you can’t control it, to flee means you get rid of it. Don’t have a computer at home or get rid of the internet, or only use the internet at school or work. Stop all your cable programming–cut off the source. This is not a game.
Third Flee by immersing yourself in the disciplines for battle
The discipline of Scripture memorization, committing to memory the appropriate verses against lust and against the idols of your heart
The discipline of devotion, making more time to be in God’s presence through prayer, worship, praise and silence
The discipline of fasting to help in prayer, plus the denial of food (for a day per week) in your life will strengthen your battle against the lust of the flesh
The discipline of exercise, 1 Timothy 4:8 says “bodily discipline is only of little profit,” but it is profitable and can assist in your battle with the flesh
The discipline of service, pornography is a very selfish sin–busying yourself in service to Christ in the church and community is a re-orientation toward healthy Christ-like habits
The discipline of accountability, the battle with pornography addiction requires man-to-man accountability in ever-increasing circles
Lone rangers are dead rangers. Paul says in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” The context is confronting sin, so bearing another’s burden is literally holding one another up when they’re battling sin–coming alongside a brother to help.
Every time I help a guy overcome pornography, they have to call me every time they stumble to talk through heart issues and fleeing steps. But if they continue to call me frequently, the next step is to require them to call another brother every time they fail. If that doesn’t curb the failure, there are reminders of consequences and the addition to more brothers to call every time they fail and so on. I am thankful we have the kind of church where brothers and sisters can confess battles with sin to each other, man-to-man and woman-to-woman, and get godly accountability and strong exhortation. We hate sin here, we do, but we also know we all battle with it.
Fourth Flee by taking care of your spouse’s needs
The reason God commands intimacy in 1 Corinthians 7 is a husband’s or wife’s God-given intimacy appetite can only be legitimately fulfilled by their mate. Whatever it takes, in your marriage, work at desiring your partner–not merely meeting their needs, but desiring your mate. Study the Song of Solomon, ask God to change your heart, get under the mentoring of an older godly woman, since in Titus 2 she will train you how to like your husband, have honest non-threatening discussions with your mate about this area, and use common sense.
Listen, if caring for the house, mentoring your children all day long while cooking an amazing dinner for your husband exhausts you and you’ve got nothing left–fix him peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, then make love to him. I guaranty he’ll be happier and he won’t care about dinner.
Fifth Flee by living dependent on the Spirit, pursuing Christ
Fleeing is not merely running away from lust–it is also running to Christ. Second Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Fleeing is not just about not sinning, it is growing more like Christ. In fact if you fill your life with pursuing Christ, learning His Word, obeying His commands, functioning in ministry and sharing His Gospel, you will find less and less time for lust to invade your life.
But you and I can’t flee in our own strength. Just as Paul prepared us to fight spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10 by saying, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
The command is to literally be strengthened in the Lord, ultimately relying upon all His might. We must be humble, dependent people in order to resist the poison of pornography and deal with lust.
Therefore live moment-by-moment, seeking to be filled with the Spirit, which involves being saturated with His Word, highly-reliant, confessing all known sin, and focused on serving and sharing the Gospel .The problem is lust, the priority is the heart, and the path is to flee. Let me ask some final questions.
1 Do you make a practice of looking away?
Job said in 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” I am so thankful God made women beautiful and that I married one, but with all others it is healthy to make a practice of looking away. When you see a woman a long way off walking down the street, make a practice of not looking, intentionally not turning your head to check her out and by doing so keeping your thoughts pure and your heart right. Do the same with billboards, commercials, inappropriately dressed ladies–practice looking away.
2 Do you believe God Himself designed intimacy?
The Bible is not anti-sex. The entire book of Song of Solomon is dedicated to a beautiful description of the sexual intimacy and the romance of a husband and wife. It is frank without being crass. God is pro-intimacy and the enjoyment of sex, but only in marriage. Under God’s design, intimacy is beautiful and good.
3 Do you love purity?
God says to the pure all things are pure. If you have been made pure then you will love purity and want purity. If you don’t love purity then you are not God’s true child. Jesus didn’t die for you so you could look at pornography. Do you love purity? If not turn to Christ today–let’s pray.
For further study or steps to take . . .
Sign up for a computer filter: http://www.covenanteyes.com
Read: Sex is Not the Problem, Lust is by Joshua Harris, and study through the workbook of the same name