The Most Foreign Idea In American Christianity is the Most Important One That Sets People Free from Porn

Here is one more post from my Monday column over at Zondervan’s Engaging Church Blog on an important new book, Heath Lambert’s new book Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. I think it is one of the more powerful, crucial resources to come out in a while to help people leave pornography behind and live as God intended them to live. Buy it, read it, give it!

For the past 5 months I’ve been teaching at a church on Saturday evenings an hour north of my own church. One evening I was thrown back to the late 90’s with a worship song I hadn’t sung since my Freshman or Sophomore year of college. For some of you it will be instantly recognizable. Sonicflood anyone? Here’s the song:

Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what You
want from me

Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what You
want from me

So, take my heart and form it
Take my mind and transform it
Take my will and conform it
To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord

When was the last time you heard such a call in the American church? To be holy? To be transformed in mind? To conform our will to the Lord’s? When was the last time we placed such a calling toward radical living in Christ on our people?

When was the last time we were called to holiness? When was the last time we ourselves strove for holiness?

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I would argue that holiness is one of the most foreign concepts in the American Church today. Yet, holiness is the most important one when it comes to becoming free from pornography.

Grace and acceptance define the USAmerican Church brand in the same way that all-consuming tolerance defines the American one. And while cultivating judgment-free zones is admirable and necessary for sanctification,  people will not grow in Christ without the deliberate call “to be holy as God is holy.” (1 Pet 1:16)

Heath Lambert’s new book makes such a call. His singular intent is to help eradicate porn from the lives in your youth group, in your small group, in your broader church community—even in your own life. But he does it in a way that balances both truth and grace, both holiness and hope. Because people need both if they are ever going to finally be free from porn.

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4 Significant Threats To Holiness

“Many Christians ask complex questions about God’s will.” Heath writes. “They search for it, agonize over it, and develop methods to discover it. Paul says he already knows what it is. The will of God is that Christians be ‘sanctified.’ By this, Paul means he wants Christians to be more like Christ.”

Heath is right. God’s will is no mystery. His will is that we would be more like Jesus by pursuing Christ’s character. What we need  is holiness. Yet sexual immorality threatens this in 4 significant ways. Paul describes these threats in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7:

  1. Porn Obstructs Growth in Jesus: “Pornography threatens your ability to live within God’s holy will because pornography is an obstacle to your growth in Jesus.” (153) Paul lists sexual immorality as the example sin that threatens our ability to control our body and grow in Christ
  2. Porn is Paganism: “[Viewing pornography] displays a lack of self-control that characterizes the pagans who do no know God.”  Christians who view porn engage “in the same graceless act as those who have rejected Jesus’ infinite grace.” (153)
  3. Porn Hurts People:  “Pornography is opposed to growing more like Jesus because it harms others.” (153) Paul makes it clear that  “no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister,” yet that’s exactly what happens when a person looks at porn.
  4. Porn is like Fire: You don’t run toward a forest fire, but away. You don’t run into a burning building, you flee from it. Porn is so threatening to ones life that we must “run passionately away from porn and toward holiness, love, self-control, and grace.” (154)

But Wait, There’s More!

Alongside this call to holiness is the call to hope. God has not left us on our own, and this is a crucial point to remind your people as you nudge them on toward holiness.

The bedrock principle in this book has been that “we need the grace of Jesus in order to be like Jesus.” (154) This is why I love this book. Heath continually reminds us that freedom from porn comes from God’s forgiving, transforming grace. Which means that “Being holy and fleeing pornography requires a power outside ourselves.” (155)

And God Himself provides that power. Paul makes it clear that God is “faithful, and will [sanctify you through and through].” (1 Thess 5:23-24) “Because God is perfectly good and perfectly powerful—because he is faithful—” Heath writes, “he will surely accomplish your sanctification.” This is crucial.

1 Thessalonians 5 is just as important as 1 Thessalonians 4—the key to helping people who are addicted to porn is to help them believe both, to embrace the command of holiness and the hope of grace.

Becoming finally free involves both the fight for sanctification by avoiding pornography and depending on the inexhaustible, rich resources of our faithful God who will ultimately accomplish that sanctification through His grace.

 

Heath ends his book with a final prayer, which I thought was a great exclamation point to this series:

Fellow child of God, I write these words with one final prayer—that you might know the hope that, in Christ, you can be finally free from pornography. The grace of Jesus guarantees it.

Amen and Amen.

 



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