He Sets The Captives Free
I am going to talk about a topic most would consider to be very sensitive, and that is, pornography. So if you don’t feel comfortable reading about it please stop whenever you like to. I will talk about it from my personal experience and will not to focus on porn or talk about it in details, as my goal is not to assist others to indulge in sin but to glorify God for the freedom He has given me.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19
First of all I want to say that talking about being addicted to porn is not easy. I had considered talking about for some time but didn’t really want to do so. So I decided, like I do often, is to lie down and talk to God and think about why I didn’t want to write about it. The reason was simple: I didn’t want people to have a bad idea about me. The final point was: I wanted to keep my image “clean” like so many of us Christians like to do. However, after some thought I came to this conclusion:
- I was born a sinner and I am as sinful in my nature as anybody else ever lived on earth, so there is no point in acting like I am better than anybody else.
- I am who I am because of who I am in Christ, and that’s because of His perfect and finished work on the Cross: His death for my sins. Not because of anything good in me or about me.
- When I accepted Jesus I basically gave Him ownership over me. In other words, there is no more “my reputation”, “my name”, “my this” and “my that”. Everything belongs to Him now. Of course I thought that I could simply avoid talking about this topic and “act” as if there is something special about me. But the truth is that He is special and I am special only because the Holy Spirit, who is special, lives in me.
- For Christ to be lifted through me I must be lowered. For Him to be glorified I must tell the world about who I was before Christ.
- I didn’t want to be a hypocrite! Of course, as we all know, being a hypocrite is much easier than a lot of things in life. (And believe me it is much easier to be a hypocrite than to live the Christian life, but only through living the Christian life we can find true fulfillment in Jesus.) But if I claim that I belong to Christ and that my identity is wrapped up in who I am in Him, a prince and a child of the living and holy One, then I have to act upon this claim. Otherwise I am simply being a hypocrite. I cannot say that my value and worth are in Him, when I value myself in how others see me.
I was not familiar with pornography until I came to Canada, and especially after I bought my first computer. Like so many others I started watching porn because of curiosity. I accepted Jesus in my life before I came to Canada though. Being still an immature Christian, spiritually like a few days old infant, I was an easy prey to Satan’s lies. Then porn turned to more than just curiosity—it became a habit. Then from a habit it became an addiction. It pretty much consumed hours of my daily life, and all my energy. It cost me a lot in school as my marks dropped dramatically. My relationship with God was reduced to “hi” and “bye”! I tried to quit many times but I couldn’t. I knew it was wrong but by then it was too strong of an addiction to break free from. I hated it and loved it at the same time. I hated it because it ruined every aspect of my life. I loved it because I was emotionally dependent on it: it was my idol.
Pornography was a very strange affair. I mean, when I went out I tried not to lust after women but when I came home I entertained the worst thoughts for hours! One of the worst things about porn is that it gets worse overtime. You never start at a low level and stay there; you stoop to lower levels because after a while those materials are not satisfying anymore. Can you imagine the helplessness people who are addicted to porn feel? Can you imagine the feeling of entrapment? Can you imagine not only seeing yourself in a very bad situation but also seeing yourself heading toward a worse situation and you are going by your own will simply because you couldn’t resist doing the thing that is hurting you and eventually will destroy you! It is like standing in a hole and digging it to make it deeper and deeper and deeper.
One summer break I spent it pretty much editing photos using Photoshop and listening to Dr. Charles Stanley. In one sermon he was talking about how God sets us free and the bottom line was that we have to:
- Realize and admit our situation and helplessness
- Trust that God can free us
- Surrender ourselves, lives and hearts to Him
So I tried it. I went to pray and told God all those three points and I meant them—I truly believed and knew that I couldn’t free myself from this sin, and I knew that God was a good God who loved me and cared about me….but, I didn’t know how to surrender! I mean if I was in a war then I could take a piece of white cloth and put it on a stick, raise it up and walk toward the enemy. They would see the white piece of cloth and would know that I am surrendering, but how do you do that spiritually? I mean, it is more than words just as in the scenario of the battlefield above: I have to raise (action word) the stick, and walk (another action word) toward the enemy. But how do you surrender spiritually?
Needless to say after that prayer I went back to pornography as if I had not even prayed it! I knew Dr. Stanley is a godly man so I knew he wouldn’t teach something false, but I simply didn’t know how to apply it. So I kept trying to break free from pornography using all methods I knew from self-control (emphasis on the word “self”; I am not talking about the self-control we have by focusing on Christ and putting Him first in our lives), to using filters to always keeping the windows and door open, etc…nothing worked.
God wasn’t completely silent in those couple of years when I was addicted to porn. I can recall some other time when God completely cut all communication with me until I obeyed Him in a certain matter (thank God He did that!), but that was not the case in those two years. I think God knew that I was helpless against breaking free from porn. He knew I was too young spiritually to abandon me completely to my weakness and leave me completely at Satan’s mercy (as if he has any!)
A particular scary moment was when one night after indulging in sin for hours I stood and planned to go carry out a sinful act. After a couple steps it was as if God slapped me so hard that He woke me up from a nightmare; the only thing is that I was not dreaming–it was real life! I had so foolishly bought Satan’s lies to the degree that I was going to carry them out! I froze and couldn’t move for few seconds because it was as if God had blocked my way. Then I realized that I was basically a slave of Satan if I kept believing what he told me. I was like a zombie having all sense sucked out of me and so dead in my sins.
I also realized that I was not so different than Ted Bundy or any other serial killer and rapist. I was a step away from going that road if it wasn’t for God mercy, grace, love and compassion. I can never be thankful enough for Him for intervening in that moment. We were all born sinners, and according to God holiness that demands divine justice we all deserve the death penalty. That’s why our Lord had to die for our sins to be forgiven. So please, next time you hear about a criminal so “evil” ask yourself these two questions:
- Can Jesus’ blood forgive all his sin? Yes, or no?
- Can God change him? Yes, or no? The answer is yes to both questions.
One time I managed to stay away from pornography for 18 days! I was so happy but when I fell to sin again I was more miserable than ever before! I knew that I couldn’t do better than that. That was about half a year after listening to Dr. Stanley’s message.
So sometime in March of 2003 I went to pray at night. And I basically told God that I had enough and that I wasn’t going to pray anymore. I was ending my relationship with Him! I didn’t know better at the time that He paid a high price to adopt me into His family and He wasn’t just going to let me go! I was so tired of pretending that my religion works when it didn’t! I became a Christian not looking for a religion, but because the God of the Bible was so real I wanted to know Him…I wanted to experience what He did and said He would do. But it was not working! It was also so repulsive to me to come pray to God when I had so disgustingly disobeyed Him! It was like lusting after women all day long then going home and kissing my wife and pretending that everything is “fine”, (by the way, it is NOT “fine” with God and His opinion is the only opinion that matters if not now then later!). I simply couldn’t carry a relationship with a Holy God when I was so steeped into sin. I was crying when I told Him “good-by” because I had really wanted Christianity to work since it was the only faith that held its own claims and its God was so real that it would require more faith for me not to believe in Him than to believe in Him! (How much faith does it take to believe in gravity? None, because we know it exists! That’s the same case with our God.) So I told Him that I don’t care anymore. I give up. I can’t break free from pornography’s hold on me, and He isn’t helping me. So I give up and won’t try to resist porn anymore. I was too tired to try to please a God who wasn’t willing to help me with my burdens.
I don’t remember exactly what day it was that I prayed that prayer but I know it was in the last 10 days of March, 2003. So I stood up and thought that was the end…that all those prayers I had prayed and He answered, the peace He has given me, the joy, and the awesome awareness of His presence I had experienced before…were all things I had imagined.
Next day I didn’t watch porn, and I thought because I was busy with school work. The day after I didn’t watch porn either and I thought because the whole week was a busy week with school work! After a week I realized that I didn’t watch porn for the last week nor did I think about it or desired to watch it! That’s when it hit me: I was free! Hallelujah, Jesus set me free! Christianity works! My wonderful God is real! Everything He did before was real!
So I went to pray again, and asked Him what I should do now! He put on my heart to go to Setting Captive Free and register! So I did, and went through the online program for 2 months. And I have been free from pornography since that March night until today. I had a friend in high school was struggling with pornography too. He was from Pakistan and when I told him that I was free he didn’t understand how. I couldn’t explain it more to my friend than the blind man, whom our Lord Jesus healed, answered in John 9:25
He replied, “…One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
It took me a while to realize that the Biblical principle in Dr. Stanley’s sermon works! What I did in that prayer is simply gave up: surrendered. I stopped trying to do it in my own strength. I stopped trying to fight God’s war for Him. I stopped trying to earn His favour. I stopped trying to win my way according to my timing. I ceased striving.
If you read Gideon’s story, the story Dr. Stanley based his sermon outlines on, you will realize God did the same thing with Gideon and His army. I truly encourage you to read it. You can find it in the book of Judges.
Why did God free me this way? Well there are many reasons, here are some:
- He wants to bring Himself the glory. If we do it on our own and succeed what does that tell the world about Him? Nothing. Then I could’ve written this whole story without a mention of Him. But the fact is I couldn’t break free from pornography on my own in a million years. It was all His work.
- He desires to grow our faith. My faith wouldn’t have grown in a God that stands idle while I did everything myself. But now I know He is more than able to do everything He said will do.
- God wants us to trust Him and know that He can handle His own affairs and wars. It is good to defend God and fight for Him, but we must let Him fight His own battles so the world to know that He is a mighty and powerful God, and that He is real.
- For others to see, hear, believe and come to know Him. If I was able to free myself from porn by myself, how would that draw people to Him?
If you realize you are sinning against God, then repent right away and seek to follow Him! It is never too late to make a decision to live for Him, even if you just realized that at the end of the day. Daily surrender yourself to Him if that’s what it takes for you to live a pure and blameless life. I will stop here. All I ask is that if you claim to believe something about God put it into practice. Whether in regard to your identity in Him, your personal agendas vs. His plans and purposes, or if you claim to believe that Christ died for someone else’s sin then why not forgive them? Remember, John 13:17
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” What things? The things that are written in God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit reveals to you. And don’t ever lose focus of this fact: all things are done through His goodness, grace and mercy—it, life here on earth and eternal life, is all about Him. However, for Him: it is all about you. It is the “Lord’s favour” and not our own works whether in being saved or the power to live for Him: it is all about His grace.
Helpful Resource: Setting Captives Free The Way of Purity Course The goal of this 60-Day interactive course is your complete, final way to find freedom from pornography and sexual impurity of any kind.