God has given us great victory over the battles of the flesh and the temptations of the world. This particular section is designed to help the Christian to be aware of and know how to properly deal with the subtle and powerful pornographic attacks that at times comes upon God's people.
As a man, I write to men. I have not sensed the battle to be the same among women. They are made differently and have other weaker points. Nor is this message addressed to those who are regularly dealing with pornographic thoughts. Parts of it can be helpful to them, but it is not designed for them. (See The Big Race.)
"And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)
This message is for those who have, for the most part, come clean from pornography and other sexual sins. Perhaps they were ensnared at one point in their lives; perhaps they were not, but now they share in common strong irregular porno attacks.
God has done great things in freeing me from pornography from my young days. I have battled with this devious enemy and by God's grace and truth overcome. I believe if I had a mentor, the battle would have been overcome much sooner. In a real sense, we face this battle everyday. I do not deny the existence of the tension nor how quick it is to again be caught in its ugly claws. Every day is a battle. Every day a multitude of decisions have to be made so that I am not entwined in Satan's devious plot.
A new soldier wears easily on the battlefield. The mature soldier has learned the tough battles of endurance. What might daze the untrained will usually have little or no effect on the seasoned soldier. The countless decisions that have to be made to remain pure are mostly undetected. The battles indeed are present but are won subconsciously. No real extra effort is needed. Faith to slay the mighty giant is present. Something happened last week, however, that surprised me.
The Big Surprise
Out of nowhere, came a slew of vile sensual thoughts enticing me to indulge. I was surprised at this because it has been quite a while since such attacks have come to me. But no doubt, these volleys are not reserved for me alone, and so I venture out to share God's grace in these situations.
And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)
Before I continue, however, I want to make it plan that I have reserved no special opportunity for the evil one to attack. In other words, I have not looked at any pornography. I have not watched any television, video or Library movie for a good while. I have been, by God's good and wonderful grace, been protected by a wall of good choices. The images that were projected on my mind did not come from scenes that related to recent sins. The wall of grace was still secure. And praise God it stayed secure through this whole intense battle.
These images were horribly pornographic. The devil took normally dressed women and in a sudden flash perverted the thoughts right there in my mind. I will not be more explicit for all our sakes. Even words or thoughts expressed in a normal conversation were hijacked and abused to present horrible scenes in my mind. At times I was working as usual. At other times I was talking with my family about common good things. These images kept leaping into my mind many times through the day. The attack was heavy. I was very conscious of it.
I would like to share with you how God took me through this battle. Satan is real. He does tempt. I want you, my brother, to join with me in the fight to stay pure. We need to share our experience so to rally our faith and not be caught off guard. Why fight alone when other soldiers can fight with us?!
Shocked and surprised
I was surprised by the attack because it has been such a long time since I have had to battle such vile thoughts. I was shocked by the abhorrent images. It has been a long time since such filth has visited my mind. I realize now that God has been protecting me far more than I ever before realized.
It was just a few months ago that I shared with a group of a past experience. Satan on numerous occasions tried to induce me to adulterous thoughts by having images and feelings of nude women in bed beside me. I rushed up out of bed on each occasion once I observed their presence. My wife can testify to this. Satan can project feelings, words and images to the screens of our minds. I think rather graphically and so perhaps he uses different means to snag different individuals. In any case, let me start by sharing how God led me to overcome this onslaught of attacks.
Steps to Overcoming
1) Examine oneself
I of course immediately examined myself. I went through my life and tested the gates of my life to see if they were secure. Had I inadvertently left a crack in the door open to the evil one? I discovered that none of my habits had changed. I was not able to detect one change that made a difference. I had by God's good grace typically been making all the needed decisions to have a pure and godly life.
I also examined my motivations. This was much more difficult. For example, did I linger one second longer than necessary looking at some web page because of some exposure of the flesh? I sensed I was okay but that I needed to be careful. My decision-making process had slowed down a micro-second (every moment is precious in this fight). In response I turned up the speed by which I made my decisions. This caused me to be unable to linger (if lingering was what I was doing).
On most days I will look at a news page on the web. It has an entertainment section. I go very quickly over that section so that I do not see any pictures that would even cause me to want to linger. In the end I was somewhat satisfied with the examination but in the good spirit of Psalm 139:23-24 prayed for my heart. It is very deceitful.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
2) The Battle
As mentioned above, I needed to do battle against these thoughts. They were no longer unconscious. They were demanding my time and prayers. During my quiet times, for example, I would often find a promise or Word and apply it to my situation.
What would I do when the filthy images exposed themselves in my mind?
I instantly rejected them for their vile content. But since the image was prolonged by its repetition, I needed to keep rejecting it in a number of cases. I believe the devil and his accomplices brought these images to my mind.
In the end, my will was being tested. Did I really want to get rid of these images or did I not have some secret desire to indulge in them? Satan tested me; God proved my faith. In essence, I did not have to change my battle plan from before but only hold onto it. This was not the time to try something new. I only needed resolve. I needed commitment to being a pure man for my Lord and my wife. I deliberately chose this path rather than indulging in those wicked images.
Even as I write this, one specific image (horribly pornographic) keeps jumping back into my mind. Since it intrudes in my normal thinking process, I have to deliberately choose not to focus on it. It is kind of difficult because it becomes for a short moment my mind's full viewing screen.
These thoughts are not my own. If I indulged in them, like a candy man offering me a free piece of candy, and took a 'good look,' then they would be mine. In that case I would choose to serve my own flesh rather than God's will. Instead I chose to focus on continuing what I was originally doing.
3) Diligently Pray
If I couldn't push the thought out of my mind by simply concentrating on my work, I would pray. The evil thought at times would be relentless in coming back to my mind just as a hound dog would bark up a storm having found his prey. I forget what I might have prayed, but let me give you an example of what I might pray.
Level 1 Prayer
"Dear Father, I come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have delivered me from all evil. Deliver me now. I reject these thoughts as vile and evil. I want no part in them. You have overcome the evil one. Now overcome him and demolish these thoughts. Set my mind free to serve you in my work, attitudes and thoughts. In Christ's Name I pray, Amen."
Level 2 Prayer
If I felt really oppressed, I would pray more intensely.
"Dear Father, your child is being attacked. He needs your help. Come and deliver me from this vile net being thrown over my heart. Come and help me. I want your ways and your ways alone. If I have in any way defiled myself, come please free me. Purge my sin. I want to be wholly dedicated to your purposes. I want to wholly love you and my wife, in Christ's Name I pray, Amen."
Level 3 Prayer
This third kind of prayer I only prayed once. It came about when I saw that this onslaught of vile images seemed to have no end.
"Dear Lord, I need your help. You are my Deliver. I now come in the great Name of Jesus Christ and reject the evil spirits that have been appointed to disturb me. I command the spirit of pornography to leave and disturb me no more. I command every wicked spirit to leave my presence and leave my mind alone. In Christ's Name I pray, Amen."
The former prayers (these are not exact) were brought before the Lord's throne as regularly as I needed. I realized that there was a fight going on for my soul. I knew the Lord could deliver me as He has before. He did. I saw a significant change after the third kind of prayer1 and after asking my wife to pray for me about this matter.
4) Asking my wife for prayer
I was once talking to someone who counseled men who were involved in pornography. He told me that he tells the men not to tell their wives about what was happening. I know there is some risk in doing so. But the risk not telling our spouse is much greater! In fact, I would consider ourselves as fools if we men do not realize that one method that Satan uses to bind us into a trap is false secrecy and smug success is to not to ask our wives to pray for us.
I did tell my wife and am glad I did. For one, I knew if anyone would pray for me on this matter, she would. She has a personal interest in my faithfulness. Could there be a better partner in this matter? I think not. Instantly I realized a lessening of intensity in the attack. In this case the third level prayer happened just prior to this.
I did delay 3-4 days into the attack before mentioning this attack to my wife. I will do it earlier next time. I suppose when I finally saw that this was an all out assault on my life, I better get help. If this did not help in a significant manner, I would have written and asked people on our prayer list to pray. If I ask someone to pray for my cold, I better not be slow in asking prayer for a potential 'marriage-threatening' situation.
Satan uses insincerity to trap us into his snare. Honesty breaks all those cords. What a relief to share with my wife about my special need.
5) Desire for Purity
I would like to close by mentioning my desire for purity. This heart's desire laid a strong base for this attack against these vile images. I want to be wholly in love with God. I want no part of me that is not consumed in a full desire for accomplishing his will.
I have come to see in the past decades that God's plan is incontestably good and beautiful. There is not greater peace and joy than to be fully content with my wife in His presence. This is a true blessing from Him. Everything else is ugly, horrible and crude. Why leave the sphere of love for empty selfishness? It just doesn't make any sense at all.
I have chosen only to love my wife, even when she might not appear to be very loveable. This is what I have committed to do before God. This is simply what I will do. Nothing shall keep me from this plan for my life (by God's enabling grace). It is so nice to be able to tell my wife that there is no other thought, image, person, or feeling for another woman. She fully satisfies me
Beyond this, I have found that the intensity of my love for my God and my wife are related. If I am not lust-shielded, then I have no purity before God either. There is no spirituality without true sexual commitment. As my love grows for God, so my love grows for my wife and vice-a-versa. I want this arrangement to continue to grow and be built up. Do I have anything else so precious or wonderful? Absolutely not. (For more on purity read the articles on Purity from the Godly Man series).
The enemy can attack by putting lurid images in my mind, but that does not mean that I need to make them mind. Just as my eyes steer themselves around 'woman' billboards, so my mind steered away from thinking about such images. I by God's almighty grace put my mind back on His work.
There are enemies to God's people who set their hearts and prayers on having pastors fall. We must not be easy prey. If we stand firm, the enemy will flee. Darkness cannot fellowship with light. Once we pledge ourselves anew to the principles of truth, the enemy runs.
I rejoice that the victory is the Lord's and that I constantly live in the mercies of His grace. If it wasn't for this, I would be swamped by the attacks of the evil one, fall and become another statistic. We give praise to such a faithful God who delivers those who trust in His saving grace. Glory be to God!
And do not lead us into temptation.
But deliver us from evil (from the evil one),
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.
1I am not saying that one prayer is better than another. Different prayers are suited for different situations. They all had their place.