In the depths of my addiction to pornography, I saw myself as a pervert. Webster’ 1828 Dictionary defines pervert as a verb as follows:
Pervert‘, verb transitive [Latin perverto; per and verto, to turn.]
1. To turn from truth, propriety, or from its proper purpose; to distort from its true use or end; as, to pervert reason by misdirecting it; to pervert the laws by misinterpreting and misapplying them; to pervert justice; to pervert the meaning of an author; to pervert nature; to pervert truth.
2. To turn from the right; to corrupt. He in the serpent had perverted Eve.
In reviewing this definition, I had definitely perverted God’s truth about me. I had distorted God’s intent for sex as a deep relational connection into a lustful desire of my flesh to gain pleasure instead of an intimate relationship. I had turned away from God and worshipped my body and the porn I viewed on the Internet. I had chosen to corrupt my thinking as I listened to my flesh desires and the lies of Satan, telling me that I deserved to feel better sexually since I was not married. Yet, Jesus who lives in my heart, via the Holy Spirit, spoke to my conscience saying I was disobeying Him and needed to turn back to Him.
But how could I do that? I tried many times to stop by confessing my sins to God, saying I would never do it again. Yet, time and time again I failed and my shame only grew bigger and my need to keep it all a secret only grew stronger. The vicious shame cycle only took me deeper into depression and sexual compulsions. So often, I would hopelessly just give up and give in. Only to beg God for forgiveness later. I so understand why Paul wrote in Romans 7:
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Romans 7:21-24 NLT
I knew that it was Jesus that could set me free, but I just didn’t know how to go about doing it. I had tried everything in MY power, and it wasn’t working. But this is where I had it all wrong.
Paul wrote in the very next verses:
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 7:25 - 8:2 NLT
Okay, so I am a slave to my addictions and sin. In order for a slave to be set free, she needs to let her master, Jesus Christ, purchase and wash her clean.
“”Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 ESV
“O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts?” Jeremiah 4:14 NLT
I came to the realization that I was holding on to the chains of addiction and shame, feeling it was my job to punish myself for my sins. I was unwilling to receive God’s forgiveness and Jesus’ righteousness. Now I get to make the choice to surrender my own power and will to God and allow Him to do the purchasing and purifying of me.
Paul tells how Ananias told him:
““Then he [Ananias] told me, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One [Jesus] and hear him speak. For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’” Acts 22:14-16 NLT
Paul did as he was told. He was washed clean from his sins as he called on the name of Jesus Christ. Through our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and through the cleansing by God’s Word and water in baptism, we are adopted into God’s family. God chooses us just like He chose Paul. Before Paul met Jesus in a vision on the road to Damascus, Paul was persecuting and murdering the followers of Jesus Christ. Likewise, I came to the realization that God also chose me and desired for me to accept and receive His mercy and grace.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”James 4:8 ESV
I remember the very moment I came to the realization that it was God who purified me from my sin instead of my own effort. I had been certain that I would always be stained by my sexual sins against my own body. I attended a 5 day intensive workshop for women struggling with sex addictions. In our group work, we told our stories to get the secrets out and named our feelings that we had tried to escape from in our addictions. It was a lot of hard emotional work. On the last day, as I sat in the “hot seat” of affirmation, I was told by my counselor that God sees me as pure and she placed in the palm of my hand a clear glass marble and said, “This is a reminder of how God sees you – Pure.” Wow! I was both in awe and very humbled. How can this be?
“And everyone who thus hopes in him [Jesus] purifies himself as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3 ESV
I choose daily to receive God’s grace and forgiveness, because I know Jesus has purified my heart, that my sin nature still wants to be in control of my flesh, yet I choose to surrender to God, allowing Him to be in control. I no longer have to walk this journey of life on my own; I let Jesus “take the wheel!”
How about you? What do you still hold onto that God is asking you to hand over to Him and let Him wash you, purify you, and lead you on the path of righteousness? Please share in the comments below.
Sure, it is hard to give up control! May I say from experience – It is so worth it! I’ve experienced peace beyond my understanding and a lot less need or desire to punish myself for not obeying God. You can do it too!
Surrender to God. He is good! He will purify your heart too!