Refocusing

Stephen Arterburn

When Jesus walked the earth, He directed the focus off of the apparently ‘good’ people doing apparently ‘good’ things,’ and redirected people’s focus on to God. The religious leaders were pointing to the rules; Jesus pointed to Himself, through whom relationships are restored to God.

A healthy, growing faith is always focused on the person of God Himself, not on cheap substitutes. A healthy faith begins and ends in God, not in rules, regulations, and sheer duty. Jesus Christ, not religion, is at the core of a robust Christian faith.

Today Jesus Christ offers men like you and me the same opportunity He gave to those people in the early church. The choice is ours. We can insist on performing and conforming out of obligation and can try to feel good by chalking up good deeds.

Or we can choose Christ’s way. We can love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. We can experience His love and come to know Him intimately. We can stop hiding behind religious facades and meet Him right where we are. We can focus on Him and find sanity, rest, and peace when all hell seems to be breaking loose around us.

Men, it’s not about you. Surrender yourself to Christ’s love and acceptance. Grow closer to Him. Make Him’not your ‘good deeds’ or anyone or anything else’the focus of your life. You’ll never regret it.

Fighting Temptation

When your world collapses under the weight of sexual addiction and you find yourself hopeless and helpless, you WANT to change. You want to crawl out of the hole of destruction that you have created for yourself. Your marriage is in jeopardy, your family may turn against you, and your career may be on the line. You are definitely motivated to change.

Initially, you have success, but as time goes on you begin to waiver. You may have a ‘slip’ and act out. You may stick to your commitment, but the temptation may seem overwhelming. Actually, this is completely normal and expected. Without a miraculous intervention by God, you will struggle with this addiction day in and day out. You will be tempted and you must be prepared for this temptation. The more you have prepared yourself beforehand, the more likely you are to withstand this temptation.

1) Accountability- This one is a no-brainer. But it needs to be a specific type of accountability to be effective. A group of guys meeting together for a bible study is not the type of accountability a sex addict needs. A sex addict needs to be surrounded by other men who struggle with sexual temptation. If you are asking your accountability partner if he has kept his quiet time this week and he is asking you how many times you masturbated last week, you are not in an accountability relationship that will be effective long term. In general, sex addicts know how other sex addicts think, act, and lie. They will be able to relate with you and call you on the carpet when you are being deceptive. Having this type of accountability in place will often make addicts think twice before they act out because they want to avoid the embarrassment of revealing their slip.

2) Plan Ahead- Too many times guys will look back in hindsight and see what they did wrong. However, they will not connect the dots and look for patterns and trends in how they act out. For example, it is very common for sex addicts to act out on business trips and weekends when their spouses are out of town. Rarely do these instances happen unexpectedly. In fact, most of the time, these trips are planned well in advance and the addict finds himself fantasizing about what he will be doing during these trips. When you go on a business trip by yourself take a picture of your family and immediately tape it on the television. This is to remind you that you are NOT single. You have a family that loves you and is waiting for you back home. You need to go to the front desk and cancel all pay per view options. If basic cable is a stumbling block, unhook the cable cord to the television and turn it in to the front desk. Have your wife or accountability partner call you late at night on the hotel phone to insure that you are in your room.

3) If your wife is going out of town, you need to have every minute of every day planned out. The enemy of the sex addict has large blocks of time with nothing to do and no one around. This is a recipe for disaster. Plan a round of golf with some friends, fix the back fence, clean out the garage, it really doesn’t matter. Just come up with a list of projects that will occupy your mind and that you can be held accountable for when your spouse returns.

4) Internet filter- There is absolutely no excuse for a sex addict who looks at pornography on the internet to not have some sort of internet filter. There are many different options at different financial costs. There are a million excuses not to install one, but they are all shallow. If you don’t like the one that you used last, then install a new one and leave it on until you find a new one.

5) Read- You should always have a book about recovery in your reading rotation. New Life Ministries has a virtual library of books about sexual addiction and there are countless other resources available. In order to stay sharp and focused, you should always be in the middle of a book on recovery. As long as you are constantly going through these books, you have a greater chance of not letting down your guard and falling prey to temptation.

Temptation is NOT a sin. Every addict has faced temptation and you are not alone. Be smart, and be wise and use these tools. Do not face these trials alone and do not get blindsided by this temptation. This battle can be won and you can be victorious in your recovery.

For additional help on this topic see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Bryan Atkinson

The Pursuit of Purity

Psalm 119:9: ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.‘  Matthew 5:8: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

Pursuing purity is a reality for every believer in Christ. Yes, even those who struggle with sexual addiction and lust. What seems impossible with man is possible with God. God is able to transform us through the renewing of our mind and lives.

I see purity as an attitude of the heart that will result in a lifestyle change. It is an active decision every day to commit yourself to the pursuit of purity. ‘One day at a time’ is the expression used in AA. Each morning you decide for moral purity. Keeping yourself pure according to ‘Thy word’ requires a daily plan. Essential to your plan is another heart attitude, humility.

Humility is best reflected in the example Christ set for us to follow. Paul, in Philippians 2: 3-8, reminds us of the importance of focusing on the needs of others and not exclusively our own, which so characterizes our selfish nature. Humility of mind reminds me daily that, apart from Christ, I can do nothing. I am dependent on Him to be able to live right. Pride is the opposite of humility, an attitude that says I can do this myself without God. Just remember where that attitude (pride) got you.

So the commitment to be morally pure is a daily one, where you build new patterns of thinking and behaving motivated by a change in heart. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 1:5-8:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Job made a covenant with his eyes to not look lustfully on a woman. Learning to turn away from lustful thoughts requires the daily discipline of replacing old thoughts and sinful patterns with new and God honoring ones. In your daily plan, be sure to include scripture memorization, mediation, and study of God’s word. Find a bible study group or take a class with others. Learning the scriptures and encouraging one another makes studying enjoyable and enriching. Doing this also helps you build relationships where you can develop accountability and fellowship.

Another part of your daily plan in pursuit of purity is to have a means of confession or honest discussion about your thought life. I know that when we admit any thoughts that bother us to another, the thoughts lose their power. Having another person pray with you can really encourage you. James 5:16 is a reminder of the power of confession, and Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us ‘to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.’ Having another person to share with also helps you overcome the deceitfulness of your own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Asking someone to mentor you in the spiritual disciplines can really be helpful. Look for people who have walked with the Lord and have a mature walk with God. Ask your Pastor for guidance to find someone to mentor you. Sponsors, like mentors, are very helpful in your specific area of recovery. They guide and coach you in the recovery process. A spiritual mentor may not have specific knowledge about addiction, but would bring the wisdom and knowledge that comes with walking in relationship with God. You need both.

In closing, as you seek God in pursuit of purity, He will enable you to develop the disciplines that have been lacking in your life. Ask Him to give you a heart inclined towards purity. As Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Chris Cole