A Perspective on Victory over Sexual Sin

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Sexual addiction and obsession of any kind is energized by dark forces. Pornography—a pervasive expression of this and an all-too-common habit in our culture, is evil. Period. Make no mistake about it. But whatever your current level of victory or defeat, press forward!

Sometimes in the fog of war we lose perspective. Repeated relapses can blur our vision and lull us into apathy. But don’t forget all that this bondage has cost you. Determine within your heart not to pass the bondage on to your kids, nor to let it ruin any more relationships.

For many, the approach of a ninety-day challenge will be absolutely liberating. Some of you may have found one of the prayer keys essential to staying clean. Or possibly you have been infused with strength simply by opening your heart to a band of fellow strugglers. For some, victory is possible by seeing this program through to the end.

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However, I have worked with sexual addicts for many years and know that some of you will feel this ninety-day effort to be yet another pipedream. You may find a smidgen of healing, but you will feel as condemned as ever to the slavery of sexual obsession.

Do not give up hope! Where God commands obedience, he provides grace to enable us. It simply takes longer for some than for others.

And he has, in fact, commanded obedience for this issue. Likely you already know 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (ESV). But this verse and others like it are not meant to goad us with guilt. It’s not another rock to cram into your knapsack of shame. Not at all.

In fact, at the beginning of this letter, Paul states that this young church had become “an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1:7). Far from shaming them, Paul had been bragging on them to other churches for how they “turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God” (1:9)! In chapters 2 and 3, he applauded their courageous faith in the midst of fierce persecution. And even in this fourth chapter, he states that they are living a life that pleases God, but urges them to “do so more and more” (v. 1).

My point? These were sincere believers who had experienced the power of God and, like you, they were seeking to please God. But apparently sexual sin was still very evident among them.

Your progress pleases God. Keep both feet firmly on the path and move forward in faith.

One of my friends recently had a breakthrough. After thirty years (yes, thirty years) of crying out to God for consistent victory, he was finally able to avoid pornography week by week. Twelve-step programs, therapy, retreats—he had tried them all. But the one thing he clung to was 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (ESV). He continued to believe. If God commanded him to abstain from sexual sin, he knew that eventually God would grant him enough healing and strength to have victory.

Perhaps we see this illustrated in Romans 7. No matter what your addiction “monkeys,” most of us quickly identify with Paul’s description. He describes a person who simply cannot do what he knows God wants him to do. His anguish finally finds its voice: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (7:24). We find hope, however, from the very next sentence: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25a).

And if you find yourself still in verse 24, take heart! Look to the next chapter and latch onto the following verse with the ferocity of a pit bull: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Are you a Christian? Have you found forgiveness for sin? Then the absolute truth is that you are in Christ Jesus! There is no condemnation on you! None! Yes, you feel like pond scum. Repeated defeat shouts at you: “Loser!” But in God’s eyes, each time you humbly cry out for forgiveness, the dust of shame is washed from your feet. All that God sees is the righteousness of Jesus draped over your entire being. That is the truth.

And so, let me be redundantly redundant: Continue to press forward!

The principles established in this book are God’s means of grace for you. Stay in fellowship with a few safe and trusted friends who can encourage you day by day. Keep the solar panels out, soaking in all of the light of God you can through the prayer exercises and through Scripture reading. Seek inner healing from God through those gifted in formational prayer.

And remember that your sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. Continue to ask, seek, and knock for the Holy Spirit to pour out his love into your heart, setting you free from bondage to the flesh (see Luke 11:9–13; Romans 5:1–5).

Press on! Rejoice in God for each new step of progress. Believe with all of your heart that if it is God’s will that you abstain from sexual immorality, he will grant sufficient grace and healing to reach ninety days and beyond. Give him no rest as you implore him for the grace to find consistent victory.

This is an excerpt from Mark Ongley’s new book, Pure Hearted: Banding Together for Sexual Wholeness. It is a self-guided handbook on how to overcome sexual sin together in groups. It engages in formative prayer practices and meaningful questions that gracefully help persons journey toward sexual purity.

Maintaining purity of heart in a sex-saturated world is a challenge for all believers. Sensuality has always grabbed our attention, but with the Internet, explicit and highly addictive material is jus ta click away. A glance becomes a gaze, a gaze can become an obsession, and obsession unchecked can bring the chains of addiction. Getting free can be maddening.

But freedom is possible! Studies reveal that abstinence from addictive behavior for ninety days can place you on a new plateau of victory. But you can’t do it alone. Gritting your teeth and making more promises leads only to disillusionment and despair. Banding together with a few trusted friends, however, is a key to liberation.

Arm in arm with a few others, this approach goes beyond mere sin management and aims for the root issues that feed sexual obsession. Are you ready for a journey toward purity of heart?

Perfect for:

  • Anyone struggling with sexual sin
  • College groups
  • Men’s groups & women’s groups
  • Accountability groups
  • Discipleship bands

In these pages you’ll:

  • Deepen your relationship with God
  • Grow in intimacy with others
  • Understand basic principles of sexual brokenness
  • Learn effective prayer practices

Get your copies from our store here.

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Dr. Mark Ongley has over 30 years of pastoral ministry and holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Formational Counseling. He has counseled hundreds of people with varying issues of sexual brokenness. Currently he pastors Ashes to Life Ministries, a United Methodist church in Beaver Falls, PA, reaching people in recovery, and is author of Into the Light: Healing Sexuality in Today’s Church (Seedbed Publishing, 2016).

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