There is a question that lingers in the heart of every Christian man who struggles with compulsive sexual behavior. It is a question that for some is obvious, and for others operates far below their conscious thought.
But either way this question supplies much of the fuel for men who act out sexually.
The question is this: “Where is this abundant life Jesus promised?”
There’s a point at which the words of Jesus seem untrue.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.
John 10:10 (NASB)
So what do you do with that if you’re a man who follows Jesus and takes the Bible as true, but you aren’t experiencing abundant life?
What i did years ago was become cynical. i concluded that those words were true either in theory only, or they were meant in some oddly detached spiritual way. But those words weren’t practical, i decided. In other words, nothing about my daily life was actually affected by what Jesus said.
And therefore, because i wasn’t experiencing abundant life from God, whatever i thought that should entail, i went and got some “abundant life” for myself.
This is what so many men do. Whether they say it out loud or simply think it in their hearts, men say this:
“God, it’s too difficult and elusive to really experience Your presence and have the good life with You, so i am going to get some sliver of it on my own through porn, or other pursuits that make me feel alive. i have tried it Your way and sometimes i get a small taste of goodness, but in truth it’s rare. i resent the fact that it is so freaking hard to have a fulfilling life with You.”
i’ve been there. This has been my rant against God in the past.
It was a brutal place to live at the time. i experienced constant frustration that i couldn’t have pleasure and enjoyment unless i pulled away from God. And i dealt with heavy shame and defeat when i would realize my wanton ways were not sustainable and i would and try to return to God.
i know many men who are stuck in this cycle, and as far as i can tell, there are only three options.
One, you can continue in the cycle and grow increasingly bitter, dying on the inside while you continue living (sort of) on the outside. Two, you can throw in the towel with God and just decide you’re going to give yourself permission to indulge however, whenever, and wherever you please.
Three, you become convinced that Jesus wasn’t lying and He isn’t holding out on you. You develop a core belief that Jesus isn’t making the abundant life so elusive that it is essentially impossible to ever experience.
Rather, you decide that you will take Him at His word.
If the third option is ever going to come to fruition in your life, your heart will need to be healed.
Why do i say that? i say it because an unhealed heart simply acts out its brokenness, making choices that are fueled by its wounds.
So how does healing happen?
Well, i can tell you how it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen by accident.
The healing of your heart is a journey, and you must be intentional about taking the first step.
You begin by recovering your true heart, the heart God put in you when you turned to Him and trusted in Jesus.
24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
(Ezekiel 36:24-28, NIV)
For the Christian man dealing with compulsive sexual behavior, it’s crucial that he recover his true heart, the new heart he received under the new covenant that Ezekiel is describing. We need His cleansing, and we must put away our idols. The promise of the new heart is our great hope.
That is the heart that is connected to God. That is the heart that beats in time with His heart. That is the heart that the writer was describing in Proverbs 4:23 when he wrote:
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. (ESV)
Jesus’ words about abundant life will seem to be a cruel joke until we realize that the new heart Ezekiel is talking about has been given us in Christ. So the journey of healing for the Christian man is to recover that heart.
When we recover that heart, we recover the springs of life.