Mind Mapping How to Resist Porn on a Daily Basis – 3.0

RMlogo Mind Mapping how to resist porn on a daily basis - 3.0

The fight to resist porn will more than likely be a daily battle for the rest of your life. This does not have to be bad news if you’re equipped, ready, and willing to fight the battle.

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In This Series:

This is the last of a three article series addressing how to overcome the use of pornography. The first article covered some basic fundamentals of the problem and a solution to those problems, while the second article addressed the understanding one must have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in order to undergo ongoing change, which is called progressive sanctification.

This last article addresses how to daily engage in this battle and gain ground in our sanctification. It hopefully answers the question, “What does the practical outworking of our sanctification look like on a daily basis and how is this accomplished in the fight against porn?”

Case Study

As Ben and Beth sought help in their struggles with pornography they were learning about (1) the ontological origin of their porn problem, (2) their wayward hearts, and (3) their self-reliant responses to life. The dots were starting to connect and they were seeing a glimmer of hope.

This brought them to the point where they understood the dynamics, but not always able to resist the temptation (James 1:14-15). It was like watching a sporting event or dancing competition. They knew what success looked like, but didn’t know how to do it themselves.

After they gave in to the temptation, they could accurately describe their unbelief, idols, and old-thinking patterns, but why didn’t this knowledge help them resist sin? Why were they still failing?

  • The way to avoid sin is to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), but how is that accomplished? How does one walk in the Spirit?

To get there, we must first refresh our minds on what we have already learned in the previous articles. Ben and Beth need to continue their journey of long-term gospel character change, and this will take place within the Spirit-flesh context of the Christian life.

Old thinking patterns must give way to the counter-intuitive thinking of the gospel (Ephesians 4:23). To move forward they must find ways to (1) strengthen the Spirit, while (2) weakening the flesh.

Strengthening the Spirit

Ontologically, as Christians, we are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18), but we must learn how to live out this new identity by learning how to walk in the Spirit. This is a learned behavior that comes through (1) dependence and (2) weakness.

When faced with difficulty, we naturally fall into self-reliant habits, which we hope will lead to permanent solutions. We naturally turn to our strengths, and from a worldly standpoint, it appears to be wise (1 Corinthians 1:25).

God’s ways are different than the world’s (Isaiah 55:8-9). He doesn’t give us permanent solutions to our day-to-day spiritual challenges because He knows we have a tendency to wander from Him after we get what we want.

What (God) wants is a relationship. And so He gives us enough truth so that we’re responsible, and enough mystery so that we’re dependent. – John MacArthur

He encourages dependency by dispensing His grace one day at a time (Exodus 16:4). Christ taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and thus, as Christians, we must learn to rest in our incompleteness while striving for daily obedience.

Though this daily focus does provide relief from the battle, discouragement can easily enter when we think about a lifetime of struggle. The enemy will paint an impossible scenario, tempting us to give in to quick relief.

But if we have a manna-mindset–our daily bread–we will remember that we are only asked to obey for today–an outcome much easier to achieve. Thus, we begin each morning (1) remembering our dependence on God’s grace, (2) staying close to Him, and (3) facing the day as a new battle (Ephesians 6:14).

The grace for this task comes through weakness (James 4:6). If we carry any self-sufficiency or self-righteousness into our walk, we will quench the work of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). God only works through clay pots (2 Corinthians 4:7), not ornate vessels.

The only way to live righteously is done by living with a repentant mindset.

An excellent illustration of this is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee’s thinking was a mixture of the world’s strengths and his knowledge of God. The tax collector knew he did not possess any righteousness of his own, which is why he walked away justified.

I believe Christ shows us how to live this out in His sermon on the mount, as shown in the mind map. Christ shares the upside-down nature of the kingdom of God in that sermon.

3 How to overcome pornography addictiont The first step is to come to God poor in spirit, which is the pivot point for us to transition from fleshly living to walking in the Spirit (secondary cause).

This is the most difficult step. Our sin-impacted thinking hinders us from understanding our spiritual bankruptcy and resulting consequences. Regeneration gives us the ability to see this, but it takes (1) God’s gifting (2 Timothy 2:25), (2) soul care from others, and (3) a solid grasp of the gospel to get to a true understanding;

We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. – Tim Keller

Our souls can only accept these truths about ourselves when we are firmly standing on Christ’s righteousness. Worldly sorrow over unfulfilled longings is replaced with godly sorrow (Matthew 5:4) as you see your heart’s love for evil.

As we understand the gap between God’s holiness and our depravity, our rebellion disappears and we become quiet and gentle (Matthew 5:5). We no longer play the main character in our story. The “I” disappears in our thoughts. We are done with self-centeredness (Galatians 2:20).

This leads to new desires, a longing for what we do not have. We start to develop a taste for what only God can provide (Matthew 5:6). The blessings of this world begin to taste less satisfying.

It is at this point where we have positioned ourselves to walk in the Spirit. We come humble and empty-handed. As we follow the Spirit’s leading, we are merciful (Matthew 5:7), we strive for purity, and we look to bring peace (Matthew 5:8).

This is where we lose our worldly identity and begin living as children of Christ. As my previous pastor and dear brother in Christ once shared with me, “I have never come across anyone struggling with sin if they are actively praying for how they can serve God.”

Weakening the Flesh

There are many good resources out there that address the behavioral steps one must take to amputate (Matthew 5:30) and mortify sin (Romans 8:13). Rick has written many articles on the subject and click this link to go to the Covenant Eyes website, but I will highlight a couple of topics shown in this mind-map.

3 How to overcome pornography addiction2 First – A complicating factor when fighting against the use of pornography is the addictive nature of sin. When viewing pornography, there is an interplay between the inner and outer man–visual images that lead to physical reactions.

This creates a physical dependence (similar to drugs, alcohol, sugar, etc.), which can leave one caught in a sin (Galatians 6:1).

Physical steps are required to overcome this sin, which involves setting up fences (restricting access), accountability software and accountability relationships, etc.

Resources

Second – We must account for our fallenness. As works-in-progress, there will be times when we fail. We must recognize that when we do fall, the root of our sin is unbelief.

Our crooked hearts remain active and continually create new idols. Life’s disappointments tempt us to question’s God’s love and care for us, and we become enticed to sin (James 1:14-15).

There is no shame in this tendency of our hearts, but we must respond in line with our new identity. We need the gospel to address pockets of unbelief and a gospel community to encourage and admonish us (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

As we monitor our hearts, we can look for early warning signs of unbelief. If we do not properly feed our souls, our souls will become weary as evidenced by bearing fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). Early harvest includes grumbling and a lack of thankfulness.

When this fleshly fruit surfaces, we must quickly examine our false worship structures. We need to ask ourselves, “What is triggering shame, fear, anger, lust, guilt, or unbelief? and “what are the gospel gaps in my thinking?”

If we do not properly respond to these warning signs, fleshly thinking patterns can take over leading to bitterness, anger, which can escalate to sexual sin strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

We need to respond properly by looking to feed our souls with gospel truths. There is no step-by-step instruction on this process because God provides many means of grace.

Personally, I have a few methods that I like: (1) worship music, (2) going on a brisk two-mile prayer walk to talk things out with God, and (3) putting Covenant Eyes on my iPhone and computers, (4) the Bible, (5) prayer, and (6) competent friends.

I highly encourage you to find your personal “means of grace.” Rick’s article mind mapping Christian maturity is a great overview.

Third – Since we live life in a spiritual war zone, some battles will be lost (1 John 1:8), which should motivate us to process these defeats through the lens of the gospel.

For example, sexual sin can led to guilt and shame, while undermining your assurance. If your struggle has you questioning your salvation, I offer the following:

  1. If you see the beauty in the gospel and have a godly-sorrow over your sin then you have spiritual eyes, which only comes from the work of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). This makes a good beginning, but it is all about the finish (Hebrews 12:1).
  2. God is sovereign and He elects His people (primary cause), but in some mysterious way, we are called to hold our original confidence firmly to the end (secondary cause) (Hebrews 3:12-15).
  3. Our faith is a fight. Our enemies are doing all they can to undermine your faith, so I urge you to continue in the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) and hold on to your confidence in Christ.
  4. If you have a gnawing sense of unworthiness and guilt over a sexual failure that has led to spiritual apathy, I want you to know the gospel is greater than your sin, and I encourage you to read the John Piper sermon on sexual failure.

Call to Action

I hope these articles provide a solid foundation to the various issues one must address when overcoming addiction to pornography.

They are best worked through with a mature Christian brother or sister. The discussion of each of the topics can and should go deeper in a discipling context.

If you are struggling, I pray you don’t let this sin define you. Reach out and find a good gospel-centered church.

The ideal church is a church where everybody is repenting publicly of something. The ideal church is where people are saying, “I struggle with this, and I don’t want it to define me, but I need you to cover my back in prayer. I struggle. I fail. I have been a Christian and I want to struggle in the Lord.” – Rosario Butterfield

For reference, here are some key takeaways from each of the three articles.

How to Think about a Porn Addiction – 1.0

  • Pornography is an ontological problem.
  • The gospel is our only hope.
  • It gives us new potential.
  • It is the only weapon that can defeat strongholds.
  • We must renew our minds with gospel truths.
  • The Spiritual battle takes place in our minds.
  • We must embrace our new identity in-Christ.
  • We must know gospel well since this is the fullest, truest picture of God.

How to Break Free from a Porn Addiction – 2.0

  • Our Duty as Christians is sanctification.
  • This is achieved by remembering the context of the Christian life is one of conflict.
  • By renewing our minds.
  • By restoring our worship.
  • By warnings.
  • God’s will for us will not be thwarted.
  • Ongoing sin disqualifies us from participating in Christ’s ministry.

How to Resist Porn on a Daily Basis – 3.0

  • Strengthening the Spirit.
  • Learning to walk in the spirit.
  • Adopting the manna principle.
  • Repentant heart.
  • The daily fight includes weakening the flesh.
  • Addressing the addictive nature of pornography.
  • Knowing and guarding your heart.
  • Applying the gospel when sin happens.
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