"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." Romans 3: 21–25
It is possible to be free from pornography. Because of his grace, God sent his Son to pay the just penalty for the sins we all commit. When you believe in God’s grace toward you, you get God’s righteousness. You can be forgiven and free when you trust in Christ and what he has done for you, no matter how many times you have looked at pornography and how hopeless the struggle can feel. When this seems like it isn’t true, it’s because you are thinking more about yourself and your porn than you are about Jesus and his grace. You can be free, but freedom requires grace. It is a wonderful blessing to live in a time and place in which large numbers of Christian leaders and laypeople are focusing on the gospel of Jesus in new, fresh, and powerful ways.
Multiple books, sermons, and blogs describe the rich resources of grace that overflow from the good news about Jesus. While this current emphasis is admirable, there is a danger that grace can become a topic we discuss rather than a power we experience. We can never be saturated with too much grace. The danger in our day is taking grace for granted and not considering how to make it practical. I want to heed my own warning. I don’t want to just talk about grace in this book; I want to show you how you can make use of the grace of Jesus in your fight against pornography. In Romans 1: 5, Paul writes,
“Through [Jesus Christ] we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”
Here Paul is teaching that God has given his people grace so that they are able to obey and bring honor to the name of Christ among the nations. Grace is not merely “unmerited favor”—that God has a pleasing disposition toward us; grace is also power. Grace is divine strength given to us so we can live in ways that please God. God is calling Christians to obedience in Romans 1: 5.
He is also promising that we will have the power to accomplish this obedience. God’s gift of grace is the power to obey. I want to show you how to seize two important aspects of God’s grace in your struggle against pornography. Forgiving Grace The first thing you absolutely must know about God’s powerful grace is that through grace God forgives our sins. Listen to what the Bible says about this forgiving grace in Colossians 2: 13–14:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
God describes in shocking terms how we can have these amazing blessings. We have life and forgiveness—but these things do not come cheaply. Paul gives a sobering illustration of this when he compares the sins we have committed to a credit card bill—a “charge of our legal indebtedness.” The sins we commit do not vanish into the air, but are documented and preserved. Just like we must pay our credit card bills to avoid legal penalties, so the record of our sin debt makes demands on us that are legally binding. The legal demand of our sin debt is divine punishment. Sin must be paid for. But here we discover a glorious truth: even though you and I are entirely and solely responsible for our sin debt, God makes provision for the debt himself by nailing that debt to the cross of Christ and satisfying its demands. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he paid for all of our sin. Every instance of treasuring images of sexual immorality in our hearts, every eager glance at pornography, all of our lustful gawking—everything—is paid for by Jesus in his death for sinners.
The news gets even better. Forgiving grace is only one part of the power Jesus gives. God’s powerful grace also gives us strength to live in new ways. Forgiving grace is wonderful and essential, but sinners need more than forgiveness. It’s not enough that our record of debt is paid; we also need grace to live like Jesus; we need grace that changes us so we can be like him in his holiness and love. In Romans 6: 4, Paul declares,
“We were therefore buried with [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Paul is talking about the death and resurrection of Jesus. For all who trust in Jesus, his death and resurrection is also our death and resurrection. Jesus’ death and resurrection not only pays off our record of debt and gives us forgiving grace; Jesus’ death and resurrection leads to our transformation. Through God’s transforming grace we can live a new life because of what Jesus has done for us. Many people spend a lot of time pursuing forgiveness. They beg and plead for forgiveness after indulging in pornography, but they don’t know what to do next.
The Bible teaches that in addition to confessing sin and seeking God’s forgiveness, you need to pursue God’s powerful transforming grace by believing the good news and walking in faith and obedience to the gospel. God’s grace pardons you and forgives your sin, and God’s grace empowers you to live differently and be obedient to him. Oh, how you must treasure the sweetness of this grace! You need to ask for forgiving grace after you look at pornography, but don’t stop there! Ask for God’s transforming grace, his power to change you from the inside out. Because God is faithful to his Word and his promises, over time you will receive God’s power to never look at pornography again.
God’s powerful transforming grace can give you a pure heart, and you can subdue your desires for pornography. You can honor your brothers and sisters in Christ when you look at them instead of dishonoring them. You can have all of this, and more. You just can’t get it in your own strength and effort. You need the powerful transforming grace of Jesus. God’s powerful transforming grace is available to you, but many people don’t know how to make use of it. Having the power of Jesus to change without knowing how to use that power is almost like not having the power at all. It’s like being stranded on an island with a fueled-up airplane airplane you don’t know how to fly. It is crucial to discover how to grasp God’s grace if you are going to benefit from it. If you want to use Jesus’ transforming grace, you have to do something so easy that many people find it impossible. You have to believe it.
Transforming grace works when you believe that Jesus gives it to you. The moment you believe in Jesus’ grace to change you, you are changing. The more you continue to believe it, the more you will continue to change. Paul writes, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6: 11). Paul is saying that you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ when you count it to be true; that is, when you believe it. If you want to change and be like Christ—whether in the area of pornography or anything else—you must believe that in Jesus you have the power to change. When you believe the power is yours, it is yours.