Hi Bill, (not his real name)
much for your honest heart as well as risking being open with me. We're about
the same age. And I can relate to your struggles with pornography. I've walked
that path and I know the deep condemnation that goes with it. I know the
paradoxical feelings of being drawn to and being sickened by it at the
same time. And I know well the repetitiveness of it and how that especially
drives you to feel that you must not love God adequately enough (if we did, we
would just quit, right?--no!) and just generally feel so worthless. Well, I was
referring to Romans Seven earlier, and I think that there are some encouraging
parallels between Paul's situation and what you and I have experienced.
First of all, we see Paul in deep confusion. What he's doing, he doesn't understand (v 15). He doesn't understand himself and why his actions are expressing the very opposite to his firm desire to break this habit. He tells us earlier, in v 7, what that habit is: coveting. Coveting is strong desire, wanting strongly what we shouldn't have. But more. Paul can't seem to stop this coveting. He tells us in those earlier verses of Romans Seven that at some point in his life he for the first time took seriously this commandment, "Thou shalt not covet." Apparently, this was really devastating to him for he says "the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." (v 9). Why do you think that this was a new place for Paul, raised as he was a strict Pharisee? Because coveting is the most hidden of sins and can still go on while apparently keeping the other nine commandments. But Paul saw, for the first time, that outwardly keeping the commandments was nothing if in his inner desire he still wanted to break them. In other words, by the Holy Spirit's inner work, the inside of the cup mattered to him for the first time.
Brother, I want to encourage you right here. Do you see what good company you're in? It's apparently not enough for you to whitewash your sin and and just worry about the outside of the cup or you wouldn't have written me. You may not realize, but this in itself is a miracle and could not happen without the Holy Spirit. Something holy is at work in you that you actually agree with, Bill. Do you see that? I say this because in piling up for ourselves the often hefty servings of self condemnation, we can forget even this--that in our heart of hearts we are on the right side and want what God wants. Paul said it like this: "For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. . . I agree with the law. . . I delight in the law of God according to the inner man (vs 15,16, 22)." I'm willing to bet my last dollar that that describes your heart too, Bill.
That being the case, however, what greater conflict could arise than that of doing the very opposite of your heart's desire? It sounds ludicrous, but you and I along with Paul have found ourselves just here. I can vouch for the repetitiveness of it that Paul describes when he says that it's just like a law. As dependable as the law of Gravity, every single time out of my true heart's desire that I would do good--evil happens (vs 21, 23). Here, then, we find ourselves in a most desperate state, a state of wanting so badly to please God, but unable to do so: "for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not (hence, our desperation). . . wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me. . . (vs 18, 24)?" And that's just what He's waiting to hear, Bill. The "Who." When our how to perform gets tired enough to get swallowed up in a "Who," the Who, rather than all our ways, efforts, dedications at stopping sin. That's why your desperation is the best place you've ever been in. Praise Him, for you're so close to reality that you have no idea just how close. . .
So, what next? I'm only going to suggest one thing. It's very simple. Simply ask the Lord to reveal the "Who." His Person. Tell Him that you--like Paul--have no ability whatsoever to perform that which is good (i.e. to stop the pornography, and for your wife only to know that holy place in you) and also that you are giving up on any answer along those lines (but you must be convinced for yourself that there really are no other answers here, none that is, that deal with the inside of the cup), and that you need the very same answer that he himself got: a Person. . . a revelation of The Person. . . a revelation of Jesus Christ in you. Thanks so very much for sharing, brother. I am standing with you. I await your next line.