Why Praying For The Strength To Quit Pornography Won’t Help You

by Dale Partridge

Let’s imagine you and some friends were playing basketball, and I walked up to the person who had the ball, and I asked him, “Hey can I have the ball?” He says, “Sure!” And he tosses me the ball. Then, while I have the ball in my hands I ask him again, “Hey can I have the ball?” With a strange face and a still body he replies, “You already have it… It’s right there in your hands.” But again, I respond with the same question, but this time, I get on my knees passionately and say, “Please… can I have the ball?” He looks around at everyone watching our interaction, wonders if I’m mentally stable, and then blurts out, “YOU ALREADY HAVE IT!”

Sadly, this is the same type of prayer dialogue Christian porn users have with God. A conversation where men (and women) kneel down and beg for the freedom, victory, and strength that God has already given to them.

Despite hearing the Gospel, being born again (John 3:3-5), becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), receiving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), having the ability to walk in the liberty by which Christ has made us free (Galatians 5:1), these people still believe they are in an impenetrable dungeon with walls too thick for the bondage-breaking power of Jesus.

It all stems from a lie. That is to say, if you believe wrong, you’ll never live strong.

For example, if the Gospel you believe can only save you from some sin while leaving you in a dungeon with the rest of it, is Christianity really “Good News?” When you tell others about Christ do you say, “Repent and believe in Christ as your Savior! Through Him, you will overcome the bondage to your sin (unless it’s pornography).” Of course not!

Sadly, this is the Gospel of which many people have subscribed—a false and fraudulent imitation that leaves husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters begging for the prison door keys that are hanging around their neck. The question then becomes, why? Why are people who claim the name of Christ still in bondage to their sin?

There are really only two possible answers. The first is they are simply spiritually immature and/or ignorant of how God calls Christians to behave regarding sexual activity. The solution is straightforward, these individuals need to both read the Scriptures and sit under the teaching of a faithful biblical preacher. Once the clarity and gravity of their sexual behavior are seen, through the power of the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace to mortify sin, they will quit and conquer their bondage to pornography (more on this later).

The second possibility is that, while they call themselves Christian, they have never actually been born again. That is, they came to church but they never came to Christ. This is actually far more common than you think. I say that because it was my own story. I spent nearly ten years trying to overcome the bondage to my sin without the help of the Holy Spirit (My testimony here). I was a spiritually dead religious zealot who confused moralism with regeneration. I was battling sin in my own strength and while I had some wins under my belt, I could never conquer my pornography habit. The scariest part of being in this group is that you’re unaware of your station. You’ve been told you’re a Christian your whole life. Maybe you were even baptized and led worship in the church band (again like me) but you just don’t have the sanctifying power of God on your life.

Dr. Steven Lawson once said, “The only thing worse than not having the assurance of salvation is having the false assurance of salvation.”

Essentially, if you confuse the second category with the first, you will work yourself to death in an attempt to modify your behavior (which is all you can really do). But if by God’s grace, you can see your depravity and come to Christ in genuine repentance and faith, He will come and set you free. But in the hope to serve both groups, I’m going to primarily speak to the solution of the first group that it may also strengthen those in the second group who have recognized their false conversion and, as a result, have sincerely come to Christ.

Born again Christian, there are over 100 Scriptures that speak to the freedom and victory we have over sin through Christ Jesus. I believe many believers are in bondage to their sin simply because they don’t know what God’s Word has already said on the matters of sin, sexual immorality, repentance, healing, and power. Below, I have summarized those lessons for you.

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1. Your Pornography Habit Should Cause You Great Concern

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Masturbation at the viewing of other individuals participating in sexual behavior (who is not your spouse) is fornication. If you have a pornography habit, you are behaving as a fornicator. It’s not that you have fornicated. But the active, continuous, unrepentant, habitual pattern of porn usage makes you a fornicator.

Moreover, we mustn’t forget that 1st Corinthians is a letter written to Christians, not non-Christians. The Apostle Paul is reminding believers, “Do not be deceived.” That is, examine yourselves closely. Kingdom inheritors do not behave this way. In other words, born again Christians, may have sin that remains in their life but they will have no sins that reign in their life. They will, through the power of Christ be free from these habitual, addict-like, unrepentant sins.

But I can hear it now, “But I do repent after I watch pornography!”

Let’s define repentance. It means to turn away. But there are two types of repentance we see in the Bible. The first is what I call big-R repentance and the second is called little-r repentance. The first happens only once when you are born again and recognize your great transgression against your Maker (this leads to faith and justification). The second (little-r repentance) is the ongoing repentance that occurs from a child of God with a changed heart. Ultimately, little-r repentance is not a saving repentance but, in a sense, it’s an ongoing renewal of the heart behind that saving repentance. In fact, you can’t genuinely perform little-r repentance without first performing Big-R repentance. If Big-R repentance doesn’t occur than any little-r repentance is, in fact, not repentance but a mere apology. That is, you feel sorry about your sin but you’re not repentant.

So, I have a question for you. If you’re continuing to look at pornography week after week and month after month (maybe even year after year) have you truly turned away from your sin? The answer is more than likely, no. Your repentance then is a mere apology.

The truth is, pornography causes you sorrow but you don’t actually hate your sin. In fact, you love your sin. Yes, let this sink in… You love pornography.

Sure, you hate how it makes you feel. You hate the shame and guilt that it brings to your life. You hate hiding it from others. But you love pornography and you love it more than you love Christ. How do I know that? If you loved Christ more than you loved porn than you would choose Christ over porn. But until you hate your sin through sincere Big-R repentance and truly give your life to Christ (John 8:36; Galatians 2:20) you will not break this bondage.

Let me illustrate it another way. There’s a difference between the person who walks a hundred miles, slips into a mud puddle, gets up, wipes the mud off his clothes and continues moving forward; and the person who walks a hundred miles, slips into a mud puddle, pulls out their beach towel, stays at the muddle puddle (because they love the mud), and willingly jumps back into the mud over and over again.

1 John 3:4-10 explains the difference between these two people quite well: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness (this is the person who loves the mud). You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (this is the person who does not love mud). Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil (mud lover), for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God (mud hater). By this, it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil…”

This should strike righteous fear into the heart of every Christian with a porn habit.

People, the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Jesus continues in Matthew 10:28 by saying, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

God does not call us to a malicious or vindictive fear of Him but to a reverential fear. Psalm 19:9 even says, “The fear of the Lord is clean.” However, much of the church today has lost this very healthy, fundamental fear of the Lord.

Having said that, let me reaffirm my theological position. If we as born again Christians fall, there is grace. If we sin, grace will abound (Romans 6:1-2) and through Christ, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). If we stray, there is restoration. But if a person falls and stays down, if a person sins habitually without genuine repentance, if a person reveals that they love the mud, then, it is likely this person has not been born again.

2. Pornography Doesn’t Happen To You, You Choose It

Too many Christians and too many churches have catered to pornography viewing brothers and sisters by acknowledging it as something that’s uncontrollable. Some Christians have even tried to excuse the responsibility of this sin by labeling it as an addiction. By this, they imply these people are in a state of brokenness too far for the Gospel to reach or that the Scriptures are somehow insufficient and secular conventions must be used to experience true healing.

The truth is, addiction is merely a biological response to sinful behavior. It is not a territory too remote for the healing power of Jesus Christ. There is no biblical support that addiction can separate you from the truth and the transformative power of Christ.

So while some Christian porn viewers believe their “addiction” forces them to sin, it’s simply not true. Sin doesn’t happen to us, we choose it. It’s not your phone’s fault, it’s not your computer’s fault, it’s not your faulty pornography accountability software’s fault, and it’s not even the pornography’s fault. It’s your fault. Your sin is your choice.

In other words, the Bible tells us, as Christians, we aren’t a victim of our sin but we are a victor over it.

Colossians 3:5 tells us, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” That is to say, you have the power to kill off your flesh’s desire for evil.

1 Corinthians 15:34 brings further support by bluntly stating, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin;” Another direct call to the power Christians have to choose what is right. But most importantly, Romans 6:12-14 declares:

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members (your body parts) as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you.”

Born again Christian, you are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. You are a victor over the sin in your life. Now, are you perfect? No. Can you live a sinless life? No. But do you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to win and win often? Yes. In the Spirit, do you have the power to choose not to sin? Yes. In the Spirit, do you have the ability to put to death the desire to look at pornography? Yes.

3. God Has Already Given You A Way Of Escape

Everyone faces temptation in their life, both believers, and unbelievers. Hebrews 4:15 even tells us that Jesus was tempted, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

The problem is when action follows temptation—then you have sin. Over the years, I’ve worked with individuals who believed they could not escape the temptation to indulge in pornography. They believed once the thought of it had entered their mind it was impossible to remove. To be clear, anyone outside of Christ is subject to this reality. Romans 6:6 states, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” That is, outside of Christ, we are slaves to sin and the temptation that births it. But for those who have been born again and hold this perspective regarding temptation, I empathize with their brokenness, however, it a profoundly unbiblical perspective.

1 Corinthians 10:13 states the exact opposite, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

If I could paraphrase, I believe the Apostle is saying, “Your temptation to look at pornography isn’t special. It’s not some extra-dominant form of temptation. It’s actually quite common. Millions of God-followers have dealt with it, and millions have conquered it through Christ. But God who remains loyal to you, through the Gospel, even after you sin, won’t allow the temptation of sin to overpower your ability to reject it. But more than that, God will also provide you a way out—meaning, if you walk in the Spirit, you can escape your temptation to sin.”

Read that last sentence again. You, through the power of Christ, have the ability to overcome temptation! Go ahead, stand up and scream, “Glory, hallelujah, amen! The truth has set me free!”

Conclusion

Habitual pornography is idolatry. It creates a repetitive pattern of lust that leads a person to surrender their mind, body, money, time, and purity in service to it. It becomes their god and their master.

Additionally, long-standing, enslaved-like, unrepentant pornography use isn’t some slight spiritual infraction that merely requires proper sin management. It’s the evidence that you don’t know Christ as Lord. It’s the highway to hell that needs an immediate detour.

Lastly, while this article might hurt, it is not harsh. Harsh is God’s consequences for those who choose to reject and disobey Him. This, however, is healing. This is redemptive.

So yes, pray for the strength to remain in the Spirit. Pray for the strength to remember what God has already said about the power He gives to His children. But do not pray for the strength to quit viewing pornography. After all, that would be like asking for a basketball that’s already in your hands.

Solution

Our ministry recently launched a simple, gospel-centered course on breaking free from the bondage of pornography. Three 15-minutes videos with three PDF study guides. Hundreds of people have found freedom through its teaching. Here’s one testimony from the program:

“I had quit porn before for long periods of time but always fell back into sin and the shame that came with it. I thought that I was a faithful man of Christ who just had a porn problem. However, I came to a point where I couldn’t hide my shame any longer and needed help. I confessed my sins to a brother who had conquered this sin and he led me to Stand in Victory. With the lessons and blunt proclamation of the Gospel, I finally realized that I never gave Jesus lordship over my life. Dale’s breakdown of habitual sin in 1 John 3 made me realize that I was obedient to sin and not a child of God. It led me to a saving repentance and now I have such an awesome understanding of the Gospel! My eyes have been fully opened to the glory that is Christ and how my life is His alone. Praise be to God for His sacrifice. Thank you for your ministry!”

Job J. from Arizona. Age 22

Dale Partridge is the Founder and President of Relearn.org. Dale finished his graduate studies at Western Theological Seminary and is now an M.Div candidate at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles, California. He is also the author of several Christians books, the host of the Real Christianity podcast, and an elder and teaching pastor at the local house church in which he serves. He and his wife have three children.

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