Why is my struggle with masturbation a flippant thing one time and a very convicting one at another? At one season of life justification takes place because you didn’t commit an act of adultery, then you read Jesus’s words that if anyone looks upon a woman to lust he has already committed it in his heart. When Jesus says that it’s as if every man I know is an adulterer. How do I have ongoing fruit that remains in this area, not just a roller coaster lifestyle?
It is easy to justify our sin when we compare it to a “greater” sin such as comparing masturbation to an adulterous relationship. What Jesus has done is taken the letter of the law and explained the heart of the matter.
Man had defined adultery as the act of sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage. Clearly defined, easy to interpret, and relatively easy to follow. But is that the definition that God puts on adultery?
In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
I believe that Jesus is defining adultery as any sexual sin, whether in thought or acted out. Therefore, looking at pornography, thinking about a woman lustfully (with sexual desire for your pleasure), and masturbation are sin to the same extent as an extramarital affair. These things that are broadly accepted, both within and outside of the church, are sin that needs to be repented and turned from.
The second point of your question is how to find freedom from sexual sin. Consistent, ongoing, complete freedom. This is found in heart and mind renewal through the power of the Blood of Christ. I know that this is possible because I have personally experienced freedom and seen it in other men.
The first step is conviction and admission of the sin. Since you ask the question, I’m assuming that the Holy Spirit is convicting you and you are recognizing that masturbation is a sin. Calling sin by any other name, or comparing one sin to another for justification, is a way for the enemy to hold you back from this first step.
Once you admit that you have a sin problem, you must repent. To repent means to confess and turn from. It is not enough just to confess that you sin, you must also turn from it. Now you may be saying, “I’ve tried to stop and it just keeps coming back.” This is where we need the Lord’s heart surgery.
While we are all imperfect creatures subject to sin, when we have a recurring sin such as masturbation there is usually a root issue that needs resolved. Some sexual sins are rooted in abuse perpetrated against us by another. Other times, the root is a heart attitude, something that we have agreed to that is outside the heart of God. A common one is selfishness. A selfish heart attitude with regard to sex is a distortion of how God created it to be and leads to perversions.
God created man and woman for each other’s sexual pleasure within the covenant bond of marriage. When the man is focused on pleasing his wife, and vice versa, they will both experience a depth of connection and pleasure that satisfies the sexual desires that God placed within them. The emphasis is to be on your spouse’s pleasure not your own, and then you get to experience a deeper enjoyment. While this may seem counterintuitive, it is the way that God designed it. Seek the other’s pleasure and you will be rewarded.
Masturbation and viewing pornography is purely for selfish fulfillment. While attempting to satisfy, the result is generally a feeling of lack, emptiness, and loneliness. This often leads to guilt, shame, or possibly even self-hatred. Something we engaged in hoping to feel better ends up leaving us feeling worse.
To gain freedom from sexual sin, whether a result of abuse, selfishness, or other roots, we need the Lord’s healing. Following are steps in the process, with a high level look at each, however all healing is from the Lord and He may choose to adjust these steps to meet with you uniquely. Therefore, treat this more as a guide than a checklist. Through prayer, and probably the help of a trusted man to come alongside you, walk into the healing the Lord has for you.
To gain freedom we need to receive and grant forgiveness. First is to receive forgiveness from the Lord. Then we need to forgive ourselves for our actions, which is often the hardest forgiveness to grant. It is vital that we do so in order to remove the enemy’s ability to hold our past against us. In forgiveness we are not condoning or justifying our sin, rather we are releasing our right to hold it against ourselves.
If someone else was involved in your sin, you need to forgive them for their involvement. Again we are not saying what they did was okay. We are releasing our right to hold the offense against them.
We need to choose to turn from the sin and determine to not go back. Many of us are really good at saying we don’t want to do what we’ve been doing but fail to fully resolve that it is not even an option to do. Our resolve will be tested, and when it is we have to be determined to stay the course. Our determination is not of much value if we only operate in our strength, we must have the Lord’s power and help to be successful over the long term.
A complete cleaning of sin in the Blood of Christ is available to all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior and repent from their sins. Are you willing to be humble enough to receive the washing? We have to die to ourselves to become alive in Him. Put off the old man and walk as a new creation in Christ (Romans 6).
With sexual sin we generally carry a significant amount of shame. I encourage men to envision in their mind meeting with the Lord and giving Him all of the shame. I like to use the image of placing our shame in a box and giving the box to the Lord to take the shame away from us.
Depending on the sexual sin, there may be soul ties or flesh bonds that need to be broken. This is done by renouncing the connections made with sex partners or the women in the images we have viewed. A sample prayer of declaration is “With the Sword of the Spirit, I sever all soul ties and flesh bonds made with ________, I choose to release him/her and myself by the power of the Blood of Christ.”
After forgiveness and repentance, being washed in the Blood of Christ, giving up the shame that you’ve been carrying, and cutting off any unholy ties, the Lord is able to cleanse your memory of the images and events of your sin. This is not forgetting the actions taken or events completely, rather it is a washing of the effects so that those memories will not continue to affect you.
Finally, you have to protect what has been won. Put into place accountability and safeguards so that you do not go back to where you were. This can include software for blocking pornography and other technology options. I recommend that all men have an accountability partner. There is power when two men covenant together to share life and encourage each other to live and grow in Christlikeness.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Jonathan Taylor
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