It may seem a contradiction offering help for Christians to escape the snare of pornography. Surely Christians don’t do porn! The New Testament, however, shows that Christians were as vulnerable to promiscuity in those days as they are now. The posts that follow are intended for Christians who may have fallen into porn's snare.

THE SNARE OF PORN

There are many New Testament verses where people who've become followers of Jesus Christ are told to avoid certain types of sexual activity. When the message of Jesus first came to people who weren't familiar with the Old Testament teachings about purity, a meeting was held in Jerusalem to decide what should be expected of them. Their conclusion was given in a few short instructions, one of which was that those who had turned to God from pagan backgrounds must "keep themselves from sexual immorality." (Acts 15:28-29)

Later, when the man called Paul wrote to Christians living in the Greek city of Corinth he said: "Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Those words show that Christians also experience sexual temptation, and that God wants those who belong to Jesus to turn from sexual sins that abound in the world. Christians mustn't do their own thing, but should learn to live in the way God wants them to live.

But what if a Christian man or woman has become snared by pornography? Does it mean they weren’t true Christians? Have they fallen into sins that can never be forgiven – especially as they are guilty of doing the same thing so often? What about the freedom from sin that Jesus promised to those who follow Him?

I don’t have all the answers, but I hope the following posts will be of some help to you if you believe you are a Christian, but still experiencing a real battle in trying to break free from the powerful hold pornography has on your life. If you've not looked at any of the posts under the tab WHY CHOOSE, you'll find some practical steps there that can apply to Christians also in their determination to be free from porn.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT SEXUALITY.

A big danger in discussing pornography is to only use intellectual arguments. Those who promote porn will argue strongly why they think it’s not an issue. They’ll say we live in a 'more enlightened and liberated' generation and it’s unreasonable to expect sex to be limited to married people. Some Church people will even reason that, because looking at pictures doesn’t involve participation, and because God gave us sexual feelings, viewing pornography can’t be that bad. There will also be those who say we mustn’t struggle ourselves to overcome the temptation of pornography, but simply 'allow God to set us free'.

The above arguments can weaken the Christian who is trying to escape from the pit they have fallen into. That’s why we need to give serious attention to what the Bible has to say about sexuality so that our thinking is guided by what God says, and not misguided by the media and human reasoning. The posts which follow look at some verses from the Bible (which I've highlighted in blue) which can help confront the danger pornography poses to a healthy relationship with God.

If you don't read much else on this site, please read the verses, because God's word is the weapon He has given to win the battles that all Christians will encounter in the world. 

CHRISTIANS ARE VULNERABLE TO DOING WRONG.

The fact that the Bible tells Christians to 'turn away' from all wrong actions implies that they are still vulnerable to doing them! The following verses are some examples of wrong behaviour that’s common in the world, but which Christians are told to avoid:

Ephesians 4:28-5:4 "If you're a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and give generously to others. Don’t use foul or abusive language . . . . no more obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes, for these are not for you. Don’t get drunk." Colossians 3:9 "Don’t lie to one another.” 1 Peter 5:2 "Don't be greedy for money". 

Now while one person may find it more difficult to ‘tell the truth’, another may find it harder resist a temptation to take something that isn’t theirs. Some Christians show weakness when it comes to alcohol. And, yes, some Christians may be more attracted to sexual things and be more vulnerable to failure in that area than others. But having strong sexual desires doesn’t mean one isn’t a Christian.

Sexual wrongdoing can be more difficult to deal with than those other things. This is partly because it often ‘feels worse’ than other sins, and people are afraid to admit they’ve looked at porn. It’s also because of the sexually charged society we live in. From skimpy clothing to sensual advertising, from sex filled song lyrics to the thousands of erotic sites on the internet, sex is everywhere! When you add the ease with which one’s mind can turn to sexual things, then a Christian who falls into porn may feel that they can’t be a true Christian. After all, didn't Jesus once say: ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ ?

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, but struggling with strong sexual temptation and experiencing little of that freedom Jesus promised, take courage. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a true Christian, even though you feel you’ve no right to be called one. True Christians can and do experience temptations! They may even be lured into sin and become trapped in it, like a bird caught in a snare. The Bible speaks of such a possibility when it says: "Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted!" (Galatians 6:1)

Yes, Christians can get trapped in sin – but they can also be helped to escape!

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO REJECT IMMORALITY.

Even in the days of the apostles some Christians tried to satisfy sexual temptation by saying that, because Christians have are free from the law they can do as they please. Others said that sexual encounters are just external and don't affect our spirit.

In answer to this sort of reasoning the apostle Paul wrote the following words in 1 Corinthians 6:12-18:

"You say, 'I'm allowed to do anything' - but not everything is good for you! And even though 'I'm allowed to do anything' I must not become a slave to anything. You also say, 'Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.' (That's true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t therefore say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality! They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. In fact, God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? (For the Scriptures say, 'The two are united into one'.) But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Flee from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body!"

Paul made it clear that God doesn't want us to be controlled by our passions and indulge in immorality. He put it even more bluntly in the verses just before these when he wrote: "Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, greedy, drunkards, or are abusive, or who cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that, but you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Bible teaches that people who live for unrighteousness will not enter God’s kingdom. The good news is that it’s possible for people whose lives were the worst to be made pure in God’s sight, and perfect in His eyes, through what Jesus did for sinners on the cross and by His resurrection.

MARRIAGE IS THE SETTING SEX IS INTENDED FOR.

Genesis 2:22-25 says: "The Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.' That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

Now whether you take those words as literal, or only a story, the meaning is still obvious. Right at the start of the Bible the relationship between a man and a woman, called marriage, is established. The New Testament confirms the importance of that relationship in when it says: "Marriage must be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all who are sexually immoral." (Hebrews 13:4)

In 1 Corinthians 7:1-3 the apostle wrote: "Regarding the question you asked in your letter, yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs".

Sex was evidently as big a part of people’s lives when the New Testament was written as it is today, and Christians needed guidance. The principle they affirmed was that marriage was to be between one man and one woman, and that abstaining from sex outside of marriage was the right thing to do.

If you read other verses in 1 Corinthians 7 you’ll also see that sex was not regarded as being something vital and essential to our happiness. There were Christians who chose not to marry so that they had more time to serve other people. The majority, however, did go on to marry and were encouraged to meet one another’s sexual needs within the marriage. But they were never taught to have one night stands or to satisfy their sexual urges through other ways.

GET TO GRIPS WITH GRACE.

While it’s true that to experience strong temptation, and even be caught in a particular sin, doesn’t mean you're not a real Christian, it's important to make sure that you are clear about what a real Christian is, and that you're not fooling yourself on this vital issue. The Bible says that it is only if we are 'IN Christ' that we are a new creation! Then the old person we were has gone, and a new one is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

In other words, being a Christian isn’t about our PERFORMANCE (whether we've been christened, confirmed, baptized, or regularly attend Church) but it is to do with our POSITION. A real Christian is someone who has been joined to Jesus Christ by God’s Spirit through faith. Our eternal salvation doesn’t depend on how clean we’ve kept our slate, but on the mercy that God has shown us through Jesus Christ. It’s as if God broke the slate when Jesus took our guilt upon Himself. And while God will discipline us if we stubbornly persist in something we know is not pleasing to Him, He won't disown us because of our shortcomings.

This isn’t an excuse to live as if pornography, or drunkenness, or gossip, doesn't matter, for then we may well be deceiving ourselves! But it is an encouragement to know that God doesn’t discard us because we may have failed Him so many times. His grace is greater than our frequent failures.

The disciple called Peter once asked Jesus: 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him: 'I don't say to you seven times, but seventy times seven!' (Matthew 18:21-22). If Jesus encourages us to show such forgiveness to those who let us down, how much more will he forgives us when we have failed him.

An important step in breaking the hold that pornography can take on a believer’s life is to get to grips with God’s grace. Think often of how much He loves you and what He has done to wash you from sin.

TAKE DRASTIC ACTION IF YOU MUST.

The fact that God’s grace is greater than our frequent failures doesn’t mean we can live as if doing wrong doesn’t matter. If we know there’s an area in our life where we often fall down, we must be willing to take even drastic steps to deal with it. That’s surely the implication of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28-29 where He says; "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away! It's better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Obviously one can look and lust with one eye just as well as with two, so Jesus wasn't advocating a band of one-eyed followers in the world! But He was teaching that there will be situations where drastic action is needed. If you are one that just can't avoid clicking on to porn then it could mean giving up your iPhone or computer. Far better to go to heaven with Christ than to go to hell with Google and Windows!

DON'T BE FOOLED BY QUICK FIXES.

It’s common for Christians struggling in some area of life to pray and ask God to 'remove the problem'! Even the apostle Paul prayed earnestly that God would take away something unpleasant in his life which he referred to as 'a thorn in my flesh'. But the Bible shows that God’s more likely response to such prayers is to give us strength to press on through trials and temptations rather than simply remove them. He also tells us to 'flee' from certain things, and to 'resist' the devil. In other words, God won't just remove the causes of our conflict! That could make us like a spoiled child who's given everything they want and so never learns to cope with life’s challenges.

Be careful therefore of well-meaning Christians who claim to 'see demons of darkness and lust' in your life, and promise you 'deliverance'. Be wary too of those who claim that being 'baptized with the Holy Spirit' is the answer! From the letters the apostle Paul wrote to Christians living in the Greek city of Corinth we know that they spoke in tongues and exhibited many spiritual gifts. Yet that church seems to have been one of the most promiscuous of the early churches.

There are no 'quick fix' solutions to our struggles with sin in any of its forms! What we do see in the Bible are encouragements to apply God’s word constantly in our lives, to make much of prayer, to press on in faith, and to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.

YOUR PART IN RESISTING TEMPTATION.

Some Christians teach that victory over temptation comes by simply 'allowing God to work in us'. They say that, because we don’t have the strength to defeat sin ourselves, we must passively trust in God to break its power over us. Now while it’s true that we can never be righteous through our own strength, God commands us to not only to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, but also to be active in taking a stand against sin.

For example, James 4:6-8 says: "God opposes those who are proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, all of you whose loyalty is divided between God and the world."

Part of our problem is that we’re often double minded! We want to be pure, but we also don’t want to let go of some things we enjoy but know are wrong. So action is required on our part in resisting those whispers within to indulge in sinful attractions. So in 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul says: "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." In other words, Christians must run for their lives when confronted by immoral options, and not debate and rationalize their way through them! There's a story of this in the Old Testament when a woman tried to seduce a handsome young Jew named Joseph while her husband wasn't around. He didn't get into conversation with her but took to his heels. Had he hung around and flirted he would have probably ended up in bed with her.

The prophet Jeremiah said to the people of Jerusalem: "Wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbour wicked thoughts?" (Jeremiah 4:14) Their problem was that they were entertaining wrong thoughts in their minds, and so their hearts had become evil. To 'harbour' a ship meant to allow it to remain in port and to give it supplies. Christians mustn't dwell on infatuations with sex. When misplaced erotic thoughts enter our minds we need to quickly show them the way out and not go on entertaining them.

A great example of someone taking an active stand against immoral thoughts is found in Job 31:1 where Job says: "I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman." The Bible describes Job as being a man who was blameless and upright, and who turned away from evil. And we see that Job was careful about not allowing lustful thoughts to linger in his mind. He made a habit of turning his eyes away from whatever would stir up wrong desires.

As Christians we are called by God to take a stand against sin. This includes not allowing our eyes to linger on sexual scenes, and not allowing our minds to mull over sexual scenarios.

LOOK FOR SOMEONE TO SHARE YOUR STRUGGLE.

One of the privileges of being a Christian is that we belong to a family and we’re not alone in this world. And in this family we are not called to condemn one another or think we are better than others. Instead, Paul says in Galatians, 6:1 'Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted!' And in James 5:16, we read: 'Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective'.

One reason why pornography keeps such a strong hold on a Christian is because of its shameful and secretive nature. It’s easier to confess the sort of sin that's obvious for others to see anyway, like often losing one's temper. It’s more difficult to own up to something that no-one else knows about. But sharing with someone who is spiritually mature and willing to talk and pray with you, can be of great help in breaking the power of secret sin. It’s hard to do, but it’s one of the ways God has provided for Christians to experience victory over sin.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE TEMPTATIONS POWER.

There’s a story in the Old Testament of how a man named Lot was warned by angels to flee for his life with his wife and daughters to escape the judgement God was about upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities that were filled with sexual immorality. When Lot fled he was afraid he wouldn't get far away enough in time and said to the angels: "I can’t run to the mountains; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die. Look, here's a town close enough for me to run to. It's a small place. Please let me go there - it’s only a small place, isn’t it —so that I can survive.” (Genesis 19:19-20)

What Lot didn’t anticipate was that, by lingering and hiding in a nearby cave, when the disater hit Sodom and Gomorrah his daughters thought there were no longer any men left alive to keep up the family line! So they made Lot drunk and committed incest with him. As Christians we also run a risk if we treat some temptations as 'just little ones' and we don’t flee from them. A little bit of flirting or an 'occasional peek' at a 'soft core' website or adult movie, can easily lead to disaster.

Proverbs 24:30-34 says: 'I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles, covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.'

Just as a landowner who is casual and lazy about looking after his livelihood runs the risk of it falling into ruin and decay, so a believer who is casual about taking a stand against sexual immorality runs the risk of their life ending up in ruins! It may be a marriage that is destroyed, a career of serving God that crashes, or a conscience that finds no rest. No wonder that Jesus taught His followers to always be alert and watchful when he said: 'Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak'. (Matthew 26:41)

We mustn't flirt with temptation - even when it looks small it may be far stronger than we realized!

DON'T BE SURPRISED BY SIN'S PERSISTANCE.

In 1956 five missionaries were killed by the very tribesmen they'd been trying to bring the gospel to. One of those killed was a man named Jim Elliot. He was extremely devout and his motto for living was: 'Only one life, will soon be past - only what’s done for Christ will last.' But, despite his strong love for the Lord, Jim honestly spoke of having also been a man who experienced strong sexual temptations. 

Jim's struggle isn't an isolated case. There've been many strong Christians through the centuries who also spoke of their struggle with sexual temptation in this promiscuous world. We mustn’t be surprised then at how persistent temptation and sin can be in our lives. Long ago the apostle Paul wrote some words that show that our struggle with sin is not something that only we go through. What he wrote has important bearing on the subject we're talking about so try and follow his line of thought. He said: 

"We know that the law is spiritual - but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin. I don't understand what I am doing, because I don't practice what I WANT to do, but I do what I hate!  Now if I do what I don't want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.  

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it, for I don't do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I don't want to do.  Now if I do what I do not want, I'm no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. I discover this law that, when I want to do what is good, evil is present with me! For in my inner self I delight in God’s law - but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.  

What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.(Romans 7:14 - 8:2)

Christians have debated whether Paul is describing his own experience as a follower of Jesus, or just giving a picture of a person before and after conversion. I personally believe Paul was describing the conflict that takes place in all believers between the sinful nature we were born with, and the new nature we received when we came to Christ Jesus by faith. Just as our new nature keeps us from plummeting into the depths of sin, so the old nature keeps dragging us back and hindering us in our desire to follow the Lord.

That’s why people wrestling against the attraction of pornography may find that its appeal doesn’t vanish overnight, and they can still be strongly drawn towards it. It’s why they may also stumble again as they seek to turn away from it. The encouragement of Paul’s words is that, even in their struggling state, God has assured them of victory in Jesus Christ. They can take courage from the truth that It is Christ's atonement and not their attainment that makes them acceptable to God.

BE ENCOURAGED BY THE DEPTH OF GOD'S MERCY.

One of the hardest things in a struggle against any sin which keeps tripping a person up is when they've 'tried to stop', but then do it again. We can’t help but feel that ‘there must be a limit to how much longer God will accept our apologies for falling yet again.’ And yet, without giving an excuse to go on sinning, God’s word gives real encouragement to not give up the struggle.

Peter once came to Jesus and asked: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered: “I tell you, not seven times - but seventy times seven!" (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter’s question came at a time when Jesus was teaching the disciples about forgiveness and God’s great love for those who had gone astray.

Jesus also told a story of a man’s son who had rebelled and ruined his life. In the story Jesus described how, one day, the father, from a long way off, saw his son who had gone off the rails returning home again. (It was as if the father had been longing and watching for that very moment every day!) The father ran to meet and embrace him. The son quickly said that the wild things he'd done made him unworthy of being treated as a son, and that he was willing to serve as a slave. But instead, the father threw a big party because his son had returned!

Peter’s question and the story of the wayward son both show that there was real sorrow on the part of the ones who had done the wrong. So too, we mustn’t take God’s mercies for granted, as if sin is not serious and doesn’t matter. But what Jesus said showed that the Father’s love and mercy are far greater than all our transgressions! This was evident also in another story Jesus told of a King who showed great mercy to a servant who owed a vast sum of money which he could never have repaid himself.

Christians are encouraged to come to God often no matter how great their debt. The Old Testament speaks of this mercy and frequent forgiveness of God when it says; 'The godly person may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.' (Proverbs 24:16)

If you are someone who is struggling to break the hold of pornography, be encouraged by how large a supply of love and mercy God has for those who seek to return to Him. You may have failed Him and fallen repeatedly into doing what is wrong. But He is a pardoning God. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross is sufficient to cover all our transgressions. Turn even now to Him in confession and in in faith. He forgives to the uttermost.