In my initial post, “My Story,” I mentioned some of what helped me stop my sinful sexual behavior. Here is a list of the steps I took, in more detail. This is not necessarily a list of what will work for you; God works differently, and through different tools, in different people’s lives. However, these worked for me. You may need a different combination of these or other tools, but the bottom line is that you must be sold out to God completely, ready for Him to change you – the way you think, speak and act – to bring you into alignment with His will for your life. As powerful as these tools are, they won’t work without your total commitment. And, as powerful as God is, He won’t force his healing and recovery on you; you have a free will, and it needs to be solidly set on letting Him work in you.
Here are the steps I took:
1. ADMIT TO YOUR PROBLEM. You can’t fix this “in the dark” of continuing to keep it a secret. Sin, just like mold, thrives in darkness. Satan must keep your sin covered and secretive for it to sustain its power. Once others know about it, it can’t continue. So, what does this look like?
a. Tell a friend. If you’re a man, I can pretty much guarantee you that your friends either already deal with sexual sin or have recovered from it. And, even if recovered, are most likely still tempted from time to time. You probably won’t shock them. They’ll probably be a lot more understanding than you think. And, you may just find, like I did, that the one you choose to tell is already struggling with it himself. The friend you tell can be (and should be) your accountability partner. You can hold each other up during the difficult times of temptation. This is where bringing the temptation into the light comes into play. Once you tell him you’re being tempted, that temptation loses its power. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
b. Contact that friend every time you are tempted. Do this by phone, text, email, smoke signal – whatever works best for the two of you. In addition, arrange to contact each other regularly to check in and see how you’re each doing with this battle (or perhaps he is battling something else that you can hold him accountable for). My accountability partner and I text each other every weekday morning (and sometimes on weekends), just to check in and ask how we’ve done since the day before. We meet about once a month for lunch, too. Part of the power of accountability is that, when you’re tempted, if you give in to Satan and commit the sin, you’re going to have to be honest with your partner and tell him about it. Sometimes knowing that, combined with the other dozens of reasons it’s a bad idea to give in, is enough to stop you. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:16-18
c. Speaking of being honest, that’s paramount. If you lie, well, you’ve probably done a lot of that while continuing in your sin. How’s that worked out? Pretty badly, if it’s worked out for you like it has for me. My wife says the lying about it was worse than the sin I was lying to cover up. And that’s because the lying broke the bond of trust we established when we said, “I do.” Trust can be broken in an instant, and can take years to rebuild. Don’t risk it.
2. GET HELP. Not only can’t you fix this “in the dark,” keeping it a secret, but you can’t fix it alone. That help can take many forms; here are the ones I chose:
a. Accountability Software. Some men have removed computers, tablets and smart phones – any devices that access the Internet – completely from their lives. For many of us, that’s not an option, whether we need them for work, school, our kids, or for other reasons. Pray through (and discuss with your wife, if you’re married) whether this is an option for you. If it isn’t, and even if online sin has not been a problem for you, I suggest everyone install this software on all their Internet devices – anywhere you can access pornography, chatting/camming sites, instant messenger programs, whatever you have used (or could use) to act out sinfully. There are multiple companies that offer this software. I have only used one myself, called x3watch, but I’ve been told that Covenant Eyes is also excellent, and there are many more choices, as well. Look into them and see which one might work best for your situation. Most either block objectionable sites or monitor all your activity and report on what’s objectionable; some do both. Generally, someone other than you receives the reports from these programs, to keep you accountable. My suggestion: Have that person set up the password for you, so you can’t try to get around the program.
b. Recovery Ministry/Support Group/Counseling. Find out what ministries, support groups and counseling exist in your church or local area that can help with recovery from addictive behavior. I highly recommend you try to find ones that are Biblically-based. My church has one, an international ministry called Celebrate Recovery (CR for short). This program, started in 1992 at Saddleback Church (where Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, is pastor), is now in thousands of churches nationwide, and expanding into other countries. It is a Christ-centered 12-step program that helps people with any addiction, hurt, habit or hangup. Examples include alcohol, drug, food, gambling and sexual addictions, codependency, abuse (giving/receiving), relationship issues, same-sex attraction, hoarding…the list goes on. (There really is no “official” list; just about anything that bothers you or affects your life can be helped). At CR, you will find a community of believers who will welcome you with open arms, rather than judging you. They will be glad you are there, because they know the program works and they want to see it work for you like it has for them. It worked for me. Like every other step you take, though, it takes your commitment. At their national website, you can find if there’s a CR in your area. If you don’t find one, try doing a Google search, entering “Celebrate Recovery” and your city or state. http://www.celebraterecovery.com
c. Setting Captives Free. This is a website that offers thoroughly Biblical and free studies to get freedom from virtually any addiction. They have one just for sexual addiction (and it is written for any sexual orientation), called “Way of Purity.” You get a mentor assigned to you, to help you through it, as long as they have one available. They read your answers to the lesson questions and respond to you with their experiences and helpful suggestions, encouragement, scriptures (which the lessons are already full of), etc. And you can have anyone you choose, even multiple people, also receive your answers to each lesson via email (your accountability partner is a great person to have do this). That serves as accountability, as well as gives those partners opportunities to encourage and help you along. The course I took there helped me immensely! And, again, it’s free. http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com Note: Since I wrote this post, Setting Captives Free has changed to Gospel Growth Ministries, and they now have one course, instead of separate courses for specific issues. I haven’t taken the new course, but I expect it to be excellent based on my past experience with them, and it’s still free, at http://gospelgrowthministries.org/.
3. INUNDATE YOUR LIFE WITH JESUS! I started filling my mind at every possible opportunity throughout the day with His Word and thoughts and words about Him, about recovery, about what freedom through Him would look like. I started using Twitter, Facebook and texting to put out messages to other guys several times a week, and of course, I benefit from those messages as much as they do. Stay in the Word, not just once a day. Check out YouTube for testimonies of others going through similar issues, as well as sermons and teaching about it. Pray with your wife if you’re married. Get her on your support team. When I say inundate your life with Him, this should touch everything – what you listen to on the radio, watch on TV, movies, websites – take every chance possible to put Jesus in your mind during each day. Pray constantly, over every decision (even the “small” ones that you may not think are important enough to pray about). Put Godly messages in your home, your workplace, your car, anywhere you spend time, to keep Him on your mind. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8