How Do You Stop a Sin Addiction?

  • Jeff Crotts
Man punching with punching gloves

One sin continues to plague men and marriages more than any other and that is the sin of viewing pornography.  Immediate access to unfiltered modern media has been the catalyst for spreading this sin like wild fire.  However, this sin is nothing new. 

Back in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve fell, “…the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths…and [they] hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Gen. 3:7-8).  When asked them why they did this, Adam explained, “I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10). 

Fighting this very sin is found in the earliest days of the history of God’s people.  The ancient record from the book of Job cites Job himself making a covenant with his eyes not the look upon a woman (cf. Job 31:1).  Later, Joseph fled Potipher’s wife.  Do not forget Samson’s temptation with Delilah.  Samson teases Delilah by lying over how he loses his strength and is subsequently wooed through Delilah’s sensuality into telling his secret.  Samson trades his strength for sex (Judges 16).  For centuries, God’s chosen people, Israel, are in a constant battle to flee pagan idolatry.  Idolatry always involving sensuality like worshipping the false goddess of fertility known as Ashereth. 

Israel’s king David sinned by ignoring his responsibility to go to war.  With a simple glance at Bathsheba bathing, David falls into a downward tailspin he lives to regret for his the rest of his life.  David’s son Solomon sunk deeper with his lascivious sins that to his hardened heart became normal.  As the author of Proverbs 7, we know he knew better.  There he warns that when a man follows after a seductress he will be reduced to a loaf of bread. 

Jesus warns that lusting in your heart toward someone is committing adultery.  In the book of Acts, whole cities like Ephesus got up in arms rioting when Paul and company threatened their idol worship.  Idol worship was linked with sexual orgies (Acts 19).  First Corinthians 6 says to flee sexual immorality which in Greek is the single word, pornea.  Flee or run from this sin because every other sin is outside of the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his body.  Paul boils this down to the core stating that this is “the will of God” to abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4). 

John the Apostle, as if to summarize God’s Word on this sin, says that everything in the world…the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and the pride of life…is not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2).  Lastly, again, John, the author of Revelation, paints the picture of the anti-Christ bringing a false religion called “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Rev. 17:5). 

God’s Word makes the case that this widespread porn-pandemic should be expected in our world. It should not catch Christians who have read the Bible by surprise.  Modern media pumps it like a firehose from a person’s palm to and through his eyes into his soul.  Viewing pornography is not only uber-accessible, it has devastating effects on a person’s mind and heart.  A predatory sin easily hidden and extremely addictive. 

Still there is hope.  Back to 1 Corinthians 6, you find that early believers were likewise enslaved to these sins, what Paul calls, “sexual immorality” (pornos in the Greek language).  Sexual immorality is listed right alongside greed or stealing or drunkenness or revilers or being a swindlers.  All of these sins, if not repented of, will eventually expose you as an unbeliever.  In other words, someone who will not inherit the kingdom of God, which means someone who is not going to heaven.  At the same time, this kind of slavery is not without deliverance.  First Corinthians 6:11 answers enslavement with hope: “And such were some of you.  But you were washed…sanctified…justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Paul offers this same hope over and over again in his New Testament letters:

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.” (Romans 6:6)

“…and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)


Question?  “What if you are truly a Christian but are still drowning in your own vices?  Filled with guilt and shame.  This begs another question.  “Are you willing to fight your sin to the death? “ “Are you willing to kill it dead?” 

Are you like a football player who holds back when he blocks, tackles, or runs, who ends up getting hurt for not going full speed?  But you say, “This is pornography and I cannot stop.”  The key is realizing that the Bible teaches us to deal with sin the same way no matter the sin.  The implications and consequences of committing certain sins will be different but the need to fight and kill a sin or sin addiction is accomplished the same way!  You can fill in the blank in terms of the sin but then you have to aggressively kill it. 

The key to winning a fight?  Being all in!  The great Spanish explorer Cortez upon arrival to his new land gave to order: “Burn the ships.”  This is the level of commitment it takes to kill or mortify sin.  One of my heroes is John Owen, an English Nonconformist from the 1600’s.  He was a church leader and Oxford theologian who penned his masterpiece called “The Mortification of Sin.”  Several years ago, I read this work and from this put together a practical approach to killing sin based on God’s Word.  I can summarize the series in two words: Feed and Starve.  Feed your heart and mind with Truth and starve yourself from the world!  Read your Bibles!  Do not look at anything sensual.  Period.  Feeding and starving is the rock solid way to put this sin to death!      

Admittedly, this kind of battle will never end until heaven. Nevertheless, this battle must be waged.  You have to be willing to plunge deep into the fight, to swim down to where there is pressure.  Only when you accept that the battleground for this war is your mind, will you be willing to embrace a fighter’s mentality.  You need this mindset to see progress.    

In Virginia Beach the lifeguards train with Navy Seals in the morning before dawn.  They challenge each other to dive down and grab sand each time going 10 feet farther out and a few feet deeper down.  Where the pressure is.  Ultimately, someone will give up.  Those not willing to dive down where the pressure mounts will not succeed.  The one with a fighter mentality will.