This is not meant to discourage you but your accountability software will not solve the problem. Having an accountability partner who asks you often how you’re doing in that area will not cut it. Even flogging yourself on the back with a cat of nines every time you have the twisted desire for a false image of a real woman just lacks power to ward off the pleasure of mental and physical titillation caused by the demonic, cyberspace harlotry that is pornography. These things are good (well maybe except the flogging) but they’re wholly insufficient to fight off a real pornography struggle. It is insufficient because it’s only half the battle. Brother, you’re giving a Herculean effort against this sin by cutting off the head of the Leranean Hydra but it, like beast out of the sea in Revelation 13 who has a fatal wound only to be healed, time and time again comes back with a ruthless vengeance. It’s mightier than before and it’s angry. It’s out for blood and the Red Cross of your body is draining your veins of the precious, life-giving flow. You’re being faithful and attempting to mortify your sin by putting set parameters in place. Again, this is well and good. The Puritans called this process mortification. It is the active process of dying to self and sin. It is the killing of sin before it kills you by actively fighting it off. Mortification is the negative side of sanctification- stopping, protecting, guarding, fencing, picketing, and basically building walls around you for the sake of purity. This is what the apostle Paul talked about in Romans 6:11-13 when he said:
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
But, this is only half the battle.
The other half is what the Puritans called vivification. It is coming alive to righteousness in Christ. It is the gazing upon beauty and finding your joy in Christ in such a way that sin becomes utterly superfluous.You will see it for what it is-mud pies by the sea. Vivification is the postive side of sanctification-gazing, drinking, tasting, living, loving, and beholding. This is what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 when he said:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Did you catch that? We’re transformed not merely by putting up parameters around our sin but by beholding the glory of the Lord. If you’re merely fighting sin by putting fences around desires and temporarily chaining up the dog to the post, failure will come. The dog has to have real food or he’s going to get in the neighbor’s trash yet again. He needs steak. The Gospel and our subsequent union with Jesus in all His righteous splendor is the steak the pooch so desperately needs. The death-defeating abuse that Jesus suffered and the precious promises made because of that is the spout where our resolve for gladness in God comes out. We fight for the joy of our salvation to be restored and that restored joy is efficacious. In his book The Purifying Power of Future Grace, John Piper was right to admonish young mean to fight sin through the drinking from deep wellsprings of satisfaction that are in Jesus. He said:
I have often told young people that they must fight fire with fire. The fire of lust’s pleasures must be fought with the fire of God’s pleasures. If we try to fight the fire of lust with prohibitions and threats alone- even the terrible warnings of Jesus- we will fail. We must fight it with a massive promise of superior happiness. We must swallow up the little flicker of lust’s pleasure in the conflagration of holy satisfaction. When we ‘make a covenant with our eyes,’ like Job did (Job 31:1), our aim is not merely to avoid something erotic, but also to gain some excellent…When my thirst for joy and meaning and passion are satisfied by the presence and promises of Christ, the power of sin is broken. We do not yield to the offer of sandwich meant when we can smell the steak sizzling on the grill.
So brother, take hold of your salvation promises. They are eye-opening promises that unveil the “lusts of deceit” (Eph. 4:22) and the “lusts which were yours in ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14). Remember your union with Jesus. The only sinner who can successfully battle his sins is a justified sinner. In other words, you fight against sexual sins from relationship, not for a relationship. Remember the presence of Jesus. The only sinner who can successfully battle his farness caused by sin is a sinner who recognizes Jesus’ nearness (Matt. 28:20). Remember the promises from Jesus. The only sinner who can successfully battle the lies of the devil is one who knows the truth of the absolute supremacy of Jesus in all things (Col. 1:13-23) including your broken sexuality.
Yes put up safeguards for the sake of holiness. But, believe in Jesus and you will never thirst (John 6:35). Deny yourself but make darn sure you dine at the table of Jesus’ excellencies revealed in His word, found in worship, eaten in the Eucharistic elements, lingered on in fellow pilgrims on the way who have been with Jesus, and mediated through love letter-like prayers. The pitiful parasite of pornography will die when men of God protect themselves (mortification) but also pack themselves (vivification) full of the promises, power, and presence of Jesus. Brothers, Christ will give this to you (Rom. 8:32; Phil 1:6) because he loves for his people to rely on his all sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9).