Article by Christopher Asmus, Guest Contributor via Desiring God

 

You know the scenario: The room is empty. You’re alone. You look over at your folded laptop sitting idle on the desk, and the urge for sexual release that has been intensifying all day collides with the seductive thought of indulging in porn yet again.

You think to yourself, “I know it’s sin, I know I’ll feel horrible afterwards, I know the satisfaction won’t last.” And yet, so often the scenario ends with turning on the computer, typing in a website’s URL, and taking part in the dark porn experience again.

As I lived out that scenario many times, and as I have walked with men who experience that on a weekly, if not daily, basis, the question we must ask is, “Why was our conviction of sin, our knowledge of Scripture, our joy in the gospel not enough to keep us from consciously, actively sinning against God again?”

Why We Fall

The sins of lust, pornography use, and masturbation are first and foremost worship problems. That is, we do not see sex and satisfaction rightly because we do not see God and God’s glory rightly. Therefore, when temptation rises, God often seems like a distant observer simply watching and waiting to see if we will give in. His presence is like that of a coach watching his defense respond to the other team’s attack.

And that’s why we fall.

We use pornography only when we fail to see the goodness and glory of God in his present-moment actions towards us, and for us. We choose to sin only when we are blind to what God is doing to us, and for us in the very moment we choose to sin.

The Past-Tense God

New Testament scholar Leon Morris writes, “The man who carries on an act of impurity and lust is not simply breaking a human code, not even sinning against the God who at some time in the past gave him the gift of the Spirit. He is sinning against the God who is present at that moment, against One who continually gives the Spirit. The impure act is an act of despite against God’s good gift at the very moment it is being proffered” (Morris, 128).

When we sin against God, we are actively biting the hand that is presently feeding us the substance we are starving for. When we rebel against Christ, we are striking the Physician that is currently, in that very moment, administering the life-sustaining medicine.

It is not hard to sin against the God of past-tense. If our understanding of the glory of God in Christ Jesus is only that Christ came to earth for us, he died to make atonement for our sins, and he resurrected and ascended to the place of highest honor, we can rather easily shelve that good news when our desire for sin becomes greater than our joy in what God did two thousand years ago.

Now surely, we cannot and will not ever graduate from the ever-glorious gospel story of the cross. However, what makes the gospel story glorious is that the story transcends time. While the cross happened in the past, it could not be contained there, and like the morning sun, it has broken through space and time with infinite intensity and brought life and glory into this very moment, and forevermore.

I absolutely adore my wife. I love her and celebrate her not only because she loved me four years ago on our wedding day when she entered the covenant of marriage with me. I cherish and enjoy her because of all that she is in this present moment: a gospel co-laborer, a servant mom, a radical disciple maker, a humble Christ worshipper. My joy in my wife didn’t end on our wedding day; in many ways, it began there. Likewise, our joy in Jesus must not stop with the cross; rather, we must see how the gospel story affects right here, right now, and forevermore.

The Present-Tense God

The only weapon we have to defeat the beast of porn is joy in something — no, Someone — greater: Jesus Christ. The battle strategy against porn is to do everything you can to enjoy Jesus more than you could possibly enjoy porn.

Weary one, this is what Jesus is doing right now in your moment of greatest temptation.

In the moment of temptation:

  • Jesus is loving you (Revelation 1:5b).
  • Jesus is praying for you (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
  • Jesus is representing you on your behalf (Hebrews 9:24).
  • Jesus is sanctifying you and making you holy (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
  • Jesus is sympathizing with your weakness (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Jesus is providing a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • Jesus is advocating and pleading your case before the Father (1 John 2:1–2).
  • Jesus is ruling and reigning in complete sovereign power over your temptation (Luke 22:69; Hebrews 8:1–2).
  • Jesus is upholding you and the entire universe by his word (Hebrews 1:3).
  • Jesus is preparing a place for you to take you to so that you can be with him forever (John 14:1–3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
  • Jesus is sustaining you that you may remain faithful to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8).

What Jesus Does When You’re Tempted

Victory over porn is not a call to mere self-denial, but a call to exuberant indulgence in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Next time the dreary clouds of lust come over your room, set your mind on what Jesus is doing to you, and for you, in that very moment. Set your mind upon the things of Christ (Romans 8:5–6; Colossians 3:2), and may your joy in Jesus become too fulfilling, too gratifying, too satisfying to forfeit over to the sad counterfeit pleasure of pornography.

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