This is a really great article/video from three incredible men of God: John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Tim Keller talking about how we can effectively use the Gospel to help us fight pornography addiction in a successful way. Enjoy!
The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I can vividly remember the fear that gripped my life a decade ago when I was battling porn addiction. I remember the long nights binging on porn on my computer, tucking myself away in remote corners of a public library to download hardcore videos, driving to porn shops to buy DVDs, calling phone-sex hotlines—my life felt out of control.
I did all of this while professing to be a believer in Christ and while working as a minister of the gospel. The double life was as hypocritical as it was frightening.
Since those days, I’ve spoken to hundreds of individual Christians who have told me similar stories. And the question I’ve asked myself over and over again is this: How is it that so many believers in Christ can be gripped by a sin so powerfully?
Going Deeper into the Gospel
It is fair question to ask these people, “Do you believe you are authentically born again? If you are so strongly gripped by sin, perhaps this is evidence that you are still a slave to sin. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has yet to really transform you.”
I say this is a fair question because all Christians—gripped by porn or not—are called to test the authenticity of their faith. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 13:5). Peter also writes, “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (2 Peter 1:10).
Regardless of whether you are a pretend-Christian or an authentically saved person battling porn addiction, the way out is the same. For both, the way to overcome the power of sin is through faith in the gospel.
The gospel of Christ is not merely a message we initially believe to be saved from the guilt of sin; it is a message we embrace in order to be saved from the grip of sin.
The Gospel of Costly Grace
Below is a video conversation of three noteworthy church leaders today: D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper. Here they talk candidly about how the gospel sets someone free from the grip of pornography.
John Piper’s question is the core of the conversation: How does the biblical gospel help someone ensnared in lust?
They talk about the message of “costly grace”: costly because it cost the Son of God His life, and gracebecause God’s favor is so freely given to unworthy sinners. They talk about three ways this gospel of costly grace brings about lasting change.
1. The gospel reveals the wrath of God against lust.
John Piper points out Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:27-30. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). God detests lust so much, we deserve hellfire for engaging in it.
Tim Keller points out the enormous price Christ paid for our lust changes the way we see our sin: it exposes pornography as something repugnant.
The point is this: the more deeply we internalize the gospel, the more we will see the ugliness of our sin for what it is. The more we meditate on what Jesus endured on the cross—the curse of God—the more we will loathe our sin. The more we think about the mysterious rift between God the Father and God the Son experienced at the cross—”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”—the more we will sink under the thought of our sin.
It is then that we we can echo what John Calvin wrote, “When we behold the disfigurement of the Son of God, when we find ourselves appalled by His marred appearance, we need to reckon afresh that it is upon ourselves we gaze, for He stood in our place.”
2. The gospel reveals the love of God for sexually broken people.
Tim Keller rightly says many people rush to the false intimacy of pornography because they hate themselves; they are consoling themselves on a parody of real love. In the fantasy world of porn, men and women are looking for refuge, relationship, reward, and redemption.
The more the porn-enslaved person embraces the gospel, the more they realize that the very things they are sinfully seeking in pornography are actually found in God. Porn makes false promises that offer to satisfy the soul, but only God makes promises that deliver true satisfaction.
This is experienced, again, in the gospel of costly grace. The more we meditate on the face of Christ and see in Him God’s ruthless pursuit of reckless sinners, the more we can be satisfied in that love.
3. The gospel places us into a new community.
D.A. Carson mentions how essential brother-to-brother accountability can be when it comes to pornography.
It is important to note that accountability is not a second-best or a crutch for those who are “really screwed up.” Accountability is not a last resort; is is a lifestyle. Biblical accountability is one of God’s ordinary means to help us remember the gospel of costly grace and apply that gospel to our persistent sins.
What is accountability? It includes, of course, a regular willingness to confess your sins to another believer (James 5:16), but it is more than this. It is also a willingness to receive gospel-centered encouragement. It is the regular practice of stirring up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25), encouraging each other so sin doesn’t deceive us (Hebrews 3:13), edifying each other (Romans 14:19), and bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).