Me at age 14: I thought I was a ‘good Christian kid’, in church, in youth group, in school, on the basketball team. I had a solid foundation of Christian friends, family, and mentors. I was involved with Bible studies, going on mission trips, and whatever else a church kid does. Honestly, I didn’t recognize any major sin in my life. Then, what at first seemed like an innocent curiosity turned into complete bondage. I got hooked on porn.
My pride held me from confession. If I’m a good Christian kid, there’s no way I’m going to admit that I’m watching porn and I need help. What would people say? What would people think? Only perverts and addicts are into this stuff, right? I’m going to be an outcast. I was deceived.
I tried to kick the habit in high school. I told my dad, and he kept me accountable, but I lied over and over. I told a couple close friends the summer before college, and it helped for a short time, but the lustful thoughts were still so nagging. I wanted to kick the habit because I knew it was bad; I don’t know if that was the right motivation. I was more concerned about being embarrassed than I was about breaking the heart of God.
I got to college at GVSU and pornography became a habit again, not as often, but still a habit. I knew that I loved God and had a relationship with Him, but I was not fully free.
At this point, the question should be asked: If I’m a true follower of Jesus Christ, why am I not free from this? Why am I not leaving my sin? Why am I wrestling with the desires of my flesh so much? Why can’t I just obey God? I felt like Paul in his letter to the Romans when he says,
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” – Romans 7:15,19
Then, I hit February of my freshman year. I was emotionally broken, spirituality broken, the freshman wall had hit, and I could not do it on my own. God humbled me. One day, I had a very rough evening and I found myself falling for temptation. By the end of the night, I hated what I had done, I did not like who I was, and I broke down before God. I finally gave it all up to God and cried out in my heart,
“God, I want you. I want to know you fully and to love you fully. I know this sin is separating me from the goodness of you. Help me.”
The next morning, I went over to my friend’s apartment. I knew he was a solid Christian guy; we had become friends through our Lifegroup Bible study with Campus Ministry. All I said to him was, “Hey man, do you want to like start doing some sort of accountability or something? I need it.”
And he said, “Yeah man, I need it too.”
Those might be my favorite words that have ever come out of anyone’s mouth in my lifetime. To know that I was not alone and to have a brother in Christ who I could walk this road with was so freeing. We started meeting up once, twice, three times, and more each week to talk about how we were doing; to pray and dive into God’s Word together. I had never experienced life like this: deep friendship, true joy, seeking God, being loved and rescued by God. It was awesome. By the way, the guy’s name is Nate, GREAT guy; you might know him.
From that one night, February 18, 2015, God has transformed my heart. He has allowed me to walk in freedom. He has given me friends better than I deserve. He has showed me my passions and gifted me with roles to help and serve others. My life is full of Him, and I don’t deserve it. I’d be a fool not to live for him. I am humbled and grateful for God’s work in my life.
Since then, I have been free from pornography. It’s been the best 601 days of my life.
“For freedom Christ has set us free…” -Galatians 5:1
Have I been perfect? Absolutely not. I’m just in this wonky dance that Christians call ‘sanctification’, growing closer to God, two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, two steps back. For we all stumble in many ways. But I know that if you seek God, you will find him. And if you let Jesus Christ carry the burden of your sins, he will. And everything that God has promised will come true.
And guess what, you and I get to live this life with him and beyond. Jesus Christ and God’s Word are the rock I stand on.
I would hate for us all to live in isolation, to think that we should have it all together, and to hide the darkest corners of our life from each other. That’s not right. A guy named Milton Vincent puts it this way,
“Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?”
Jesus Christ did not die for the righteous; he died for the sinful. I am glad I don’t have to save myself.
We need God, we need Jesus, and we need each other.
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:11-13