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Can I Really Overcome a Sexual Addiction?

Join Josh and Kit this week and they unpack getting after what we tend to think about freedom, sobriety.

Highlights:

…there is a tension between freedom and process…

…trust that God knows the order of things…

…He loves freedom in our lives, we were made for that, it’s in our DNA…

Resources:

You Can Change (And You’re a Rubik’s Cube)

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:04
When people truly overcome a sexual addiction, pornography addiction, can somebody really be free? Think whether you’re starting off in this journey, you just starting to get help. And you’re grappling, you know, to put one day with another day of sexual sobriety, or you’ve been on this journey for a long, long time, but you continue to stumble and fumble and you know, every once in a while, you’re going back to that same old dirty while people want to know, can I really be free? Can I reach a place where I’m free? kit? Can you reach a place where you’re free? can people expect to be able to walk in freedom from sexual sin? If this has been an addiction in their life?

Kit 1:12
Yes. I mean, absolutely. You know, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there’s freedom, he wants freedom for us. And if you unpack that, it’s not that simple. You know, it’s not like and you’ll never sinned again, you’ll never have a temptation again, you know? So, yes, our hope is that we can be free from these things. And we’re also always in process.

Josh 1:34
Yeah. And I think that’s that there is a tension between freedom and process. Yeah, and there is, and maybe there is even some. So let’s just do this. Let’s get after, we want to talk about some of the ways that we tend to think about freedom or think about sobriety that actually lead us into a place where we end up getting stuck in one extreme or the other, then we want to try to come up with some ideas or paradigms or ways to think about or envision what freedom with overcoming what sobriety looks like, they’ll be helpful for you on the journey. Okay, I think that there are different ways to think about it that really end up either tripping us up or helping us to walk in freedom, yes, and make progress. So I love that we start with an unequivocal Yes, for freedom freedom sake, you were set free Christ to set us free. He loves freedom in our lives. We were made for that it’s in our DNA. And we live in a fallen world. Our bodies are not yet fully resurrected. We can experience healings and things like that along the way. But the Christ has not returned. We have not been raised fully with him yet. It’s we’re living that now. And not yet time. Yeah. So for the person, certainly. So I like let me just set it up this way. I was talking very, very recently with somebody who has been on this journey for probably about 20 years. And maybe about once or twice a year, he dips back into looking at the same old stuff online, that he lost after and he always feels incredibly miserable about it. He just feels so low about where he is. And he tries to shake it off. But he you know, it always speaks deeply to him on a shame level. Is that freedom?

Kit 3:25
Well, you know,

Josh 3:27
I think there’s a long pause.

Kit 3:29
Yeah. Because, you know, that’s a really that’s a really complex question, because what I was thinking about while you were talking is talking about that situation is what matters. Doesn’t isn’t what matters a great deal there, what we do with it? are we are we falling into a pit of self hatred and condemnation? Or are we saying, I need you, Your Grace, your love is what I need right here in this moment. That’s freedom. That, that, you know, that we know that he’s there for us that he will love us And forgive us. And they’ll also say, Now, you know, go and sin no more. But so I think his freedom is part of what determines freedom, how we respond and invite God into it.

Josh 4:21
I think what you’re getting after is that there are different layers to this journey. Yeah, I wrote a blog A long time ago called something like, you know, your, your Rubik’s Cube, you know, I mean, this the idea that, that when God’s trying to form us into Christ’s likeness, it’s not just a one dimensional image he has, it’s not he’s not a drawing that he’s like moving lines around on it’s a, it’s a three dimensional or four dimensional thing. You’re looking at our, our mind our thoughts, or our spirit or body, our relationships, our emotions, our patterns. And so, I think for a lot of people who are approaching sobriety, it can feel like you know, all I’m after is to stop doing the things I’ve been doing. While God is really after something much, much more, and sometimes our priorities of sexual sobriety are different from his priorities. Yeah. And that’s, I think, part what you’re getting after and what. So let’s just throw that out there. I think that one of God’s priorities for all of us is to learn to walk with him and receive His grace, whether we’re doing well, or doing poorly. Yeah. And so there is a, there’s a, there’s a growth that happens, a freedom that begins to happen if someone begins to experience Jesus, whether they’re stumbling along or really, really doing well.

Kit 5:30
And when we receive that love, that’s actually healing. Yeah, like, that’s actually, you know, to the extent that we can receive His grace, receive His love and internalize that receive that, then that’s healing, that’s growth, towards more freedom.

Josh 5:48
So if you’re if you’re walking, and you yourself are struggling with sexual sin, or you’re walking with somebody who’s struggling sexual sin, you might hear that and go, Well, that’s not what I want. I mean, yeah, sure, I want God’s grace, but I want to be free. I mean, it can’t be free. We got to be careful not to shake our fist at the progress that we’re making, and not to shake our fist at God for you know, well, you know, thanks a lot for that fruit. But that’s not the fair to ask for, like, trust, trust, the god knows the order of things. And we’re not saying please don’t hear us. We’re not saying that it’s not possible for God to do something. Now, right? We are saying that as you journey and stumble from along, even if you even if God has absolute sexual freedom for you right now. And you’re not living that out yet, and it’s completely your fault. It doesn’t mean that he’s not working in other areas of your life, that he won’t use those bad things for good in your life in some way.

Kit 6:44
Yeah, that’s what he wants to do. And we’re also not saying that his grace means we can be complacent in any way.

Josh 6:51
Yeah. So let’s talk about that.

Kit 6:53
Yeah. You know, His grace is this gift, and we can’t be like, oh, God’s grace is gonna cover me. Hmm. Like, that’s not understanding the power of and, and, and the intention and desire for God in any of what God has for you in your life.

Josh 7:09
Yeah, there’s so there’s these two extremes. On the one, one side, we can swing the pendulum to, I’m just after sobriety, and I’m gonna, you know, fight, fight fight for that, that, that that’s it, you know, that’s my focus and, and on the other side, we can be like, well never really be free. So we can kind of demand right now absolute freedom on my terms, on the other side of you say, Well, you know, in this world, we, you know, we’re always going to struggle, everybody will do you know, it’s a dance race. And those are our faulty there. We don’t want to be on those extremes, right? We want to be walking with Christ. In the middle, yeah, there’s, there’s a middle.

Kit 7:48
It’s the relationship, it’s about cultivating that relationship. And you can even be, I can’t even begin to understand what that means unless you have it. Like you want to understand, you know, that this is about relationship with Christ. This is about, you know, this, this deep intimacy, just like in a marriage, or in a deep friendship, right, there’s this acceptance of one another and this graciousness of one another. That is hard to describe until you experience it. And with God, it’s even more expansive. So this, this idea of entering into this relationship with God, with a person, and that’s where the healing is going to come from. It’s not about behavior.

Josh 8:36
So I think if we were to sum up what we’re getting after here, kit, if I could sum up, what I hear you getting after is, really it does us, it does every person who’s trying to overcome an addiction, well, to re organize their priorities. number one priority is relationship with Christ, walking in Union 10, whether you’re stumbling along or doing really well make that your priority. That’s going to help to set you up for longer term freedom and overcoming better than just focusing on the overcoming and freedom. So what you’re saying, absolutely, yeah, I like that. So let’s come back to the to a couple of the questions I’ve you and I get so you know, kind of up here somewhere in our, in our conversations, I think we can be we can not be as concrete as some people like, Okay, what are some of the images maybe that people have when they think about trying to gain freedom that are that are unhelpful, that really actually end up keeping them stumbling along I think, I think if we were to summarize the first thing we might say, you know, it’s a one dimensional journey. I’m either I am either walking in sobriety and freedom or I’m not. I think another one is kind of that mountain path. You know, I’m going to I’m going to climb, climb, climb, climb, climb until I reached the summit of sobriety and freedom. Yeah. And to that, I’d say that’s, that’s not the most helpful that just kind of, you know, always moving upward ascent. And reaching the summit is not the helpful way to think about freedom because anybody who’s walking in freedom, they’re not just sitting around in the summit. That’s not that’s how it works. You know, they didn’t. Yeah. You know, that’s the summit is actually just one summit among many. And then, you know, when you when you climb, there’s some times where you actually, you’re not just going up, you’re also going back down and going. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So,

Kit 10:23
so is there is is part of what we’re talking about a practical like, how do we deal with the pain? How do we not be fearful of it? How do we not be, you know, completely handicapped by pain? How do we get a little more accustomed to that being a part of things?

Josh 10:39
Well, tell me, how does pain come into this?

Kit 10:42
Well, because if you’re, if you’re, you know, getting gaining freedom, and you’re like, oh, okay, so freedom means that I’m not going to have pain anymore. I’m not going to have discomfort, I’m not going to have disappointment. Because I’m going to, I’m going to give up this addiction, and, and then something else will happen, whether it’s the addiction or something else, and we again get like all pain, but that’s bad, right? I can’t I gotta get away from that rather than be like, isn’t it? Isn’t that practical thing that would help in this, okay. pains a part of life. I don’t have to fear it. Again, I can invite God into it. So that’s kind of a practical, like, just our reaction or knee jerk reaction to pain is so good, right?

Josh 11:29
Maybe you throw that in that category? temptation? Yeah, like wait to summit? I’ve arrived when I don’t feel any temptation anymore. That’s That’s

Kit 11:36
impossible. Right? That’s such a trap. So there are these traps that I think we set ourselves up for time and time again.

Josh 11:45
Yeah, Jesus felt temptation. And he was the perfect man. He was he was like us, in every way attempt to like us in every way. And, and that was not a sign that he wasn’t walking sobriety or freedom he was, I would actually say to people, like, if you’re if you’re feeling tempted, that’s not a sign that you haven’t reached, that you’re not overcoming. It’s just the current PC, you need to overcome.

Kit 12:09
Yeah. And, you know, I, I’m thinking about some of the young women I meet with, are struggling with pornography, or, and, you know, they do get really discouraged because I think they think I’m, I’m just, you know, I need to get over this. Well, that’s not a that’s a good desire. But I think in the meantime, they it’s mysterious. So to give practical is, is so important. But it also is mysterious, right? This whole journey we’re on is pretty mysterious, because we can make progress, and then we can fall again. And then we can move on. And we’re still actually not where we used to be. But we’re not where we want to be. So it’s this mystery of, of accepting, you know, that we are growing even if we’re not arriving?

Josh 12:56
It doesn’t. That’s another important piece of recovery. That’s another way that people view it when we think about that, that, you know, ongoing ascent reaching a summit. I think that the idea that I fallen mean, somehow I’ve slid back down to the beginning. And that’s not necessarily true. That’s usually not usually

Kit 13:12
not true. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a big one. I think that’s a practical thing. Like, if you are struggling, and if you are, you know, staying close to God and and filling your mind with good things and paying attention to your choices. And something happens that you fall like, Don’t forget that you’re not where you used to be. You still made some progress. Yeah,

Josh 13:37
yeah. Yeah, that’s really destructive that and that’s exactly what the enemy wants. If he can make us think that we haven’t made any progress, then we’re just more likely to keep doing what we’re doing. And a couple that one was the temptation piece, I think that just makes a lot of sense. And I will say, just just because I know that some listening, their sexual addiction to their area of temptation is homosexual nature. I think we live in a culture, that right now is especially hard on people with same sex attractions in this regard. If they’re seeking change in their lives, and they experience an attraction to someone of the same sex or romantic feeling of temptation. I think we live in a culture that would just jump on that and say, you see, that’s because that’s who you are. You’ll always be that, you know, and that’s, that’s unfair. I mean, it’s unfair for anybody seeking to walk in newness of life and walk in Christ likeness.

Kit 14:24
And it’s just not the truth. I have many clients over the years that have struggled with that and that find good, healthy relationships with the opposite sex and still have some of those experiences. But it doesn’t really, you know, derail them, they’re like, okay, I don’t like that. That’s painful. And I still know what’s true. And I’m not where I used to be. I’m in a different place, and I can continue to move forward. And I think that’s, that’s very important.

Josh 14:58
And part of what we’re saying here. Some reflecting on this is that if you want to overcome addictive sexual sin, you really you need a more holistic perspective of what that’s going to require. It’s it’s not a straight line, it’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

Kit 15:16
Oh my gosh, yeah, it does

Josh 15:17
include learning to walk with Jesus in all of it, learning to receive His grace, learning to walk through pain, experience, pain, experienced temptation, maybe even have a slip up and not catastrophize and stand back at the beginning, learning to recognize the enemy’s traps, I mean, these are all part of it. And so, so can a person become free walk in freedom for the rest of their lives? Absolutely. And they’re gonna have a much, much better chance of actually living that out, if they learn these practical things along the way to include more than just, you know, the, the I am or I’m not along the way.

Kit 15:54
Yeah, and when you were talking, I’m thinking, you know, if we set our minds on, I’m going to overcome this addiction. And even if you’re like, in God’s gonna help me, but then you overcome this addiction, like, the temptation could be, I, that’s who I am now that I am not doing a bad thing anymore. I’m not doing a bad thing. In and instead of, Oh, I have the love and the grace of God in my life. Like if we’re, if we’re in a desperate place, we can sometimes be a lot healthier, without being sad, desperate, but just like, I need him, I need him. I’m not trying to arrive so that I don’t need him. I’m actually trying to develop a very wonderfully dependent relationship on him. Right? Yeah,

Josh 16:42
yeah, the goal is not. I’m so strong. Now. Jesus says, Thanks for your help.

Kit 16:47
Okay, now I’m gonna live my life, you know, without you or, you know, so that is a interesting

Josh 16:52
trap. So we were talking with a colleague about this topic, and they, and they were asking, you know, they were kind of putting forward the idea that, well, if you’re really free, you shouldn’t have to go to like, if you’re, if you’ve struggled alcoholism, or sexual addiction, you shouldn’t have to go to a, a or sa, you know, a group the rest of your life, that’s not really free, is it? Let’s, let’s talk about that. Yeah. I think that that, when it comes to what we’re talking about there with the humility and our need for Christ, and our need for his his body, yes, in fact, you can, you can be a person who decides for the, you know, for the rest of my life, as long as I need to, I will be doing recovery work, I will be in a recovery community, I will have people in my life that I’m going to go, I’m talking about this specific area of my life, so that I can maintain this freedom. And so I can walk in overcoming, I get what our colleague was saying, because in another way, it can feel like well wait, but if you’re free, you won’t have to do those things anymore. But, but the people I know, who have who have been recovered for a long time and who’ve walked in sobriety for years and years and years, and continue to go to recovery groups. It’s not a burden. It’s not a it’s not for them, like, I need to discuss man, who I mean, I’m just, I’m just barely making it. You know, I just, you know, it’s, I’ve been, I’ve been walking in freedom, I rarely feel temptation, but when I do, you know, I acknowledge this has been a part of my life. I like being in these groups. I like being with these people. They’re my people.

Kit 18:16
Yeah. And the key is that they’re seeking God and the recovery. They’re not seeking some other idol in recovery. The good recovery program is seeking God is just like saying, Well, at some point, I won’t have to do spiritual practices, right? Like, you know, like, so spiritual practices aren’t, aren’t my thing. I want to I want to have intimacy with God, but they are a tool that I use, and I’m never going to say, Oh, I don’t need that anymore. I need that. I need that. That kind of seeking this intentional seeking of God, by myself or with others, that’s going to be my whole life. And that’s in some ways that’s recovery, too.

Josh 18:54
It’s, it’s the it’s, it’s accepting the reality that we are creatures and not the Creator. Yeah, the creator is the source of life. Everything comes from him. Yeah, a creature needs to acknowledge the reality like I actually need to be receiving. Um, yeah, you know, a car can’t be fully a car and decide is never going to go get an oil change or get a fuel up again, like to be a car, you need to go fuel up, you need to get an oil change, and to be a human being. You need to receive from other people, you need to tell the truth to other people. You need to bring your temptations and struggles into the light. And on and on and on. And that’s it’s a part of accepting our humanity. Yeah. So on the one side, there’s this. We want to encourage listeners to be humble about recovery and to be willing to stay on this journey. It won’t always look the way it does right now. On the other side, we want to strongly challenge people in recovery. Don’t settle for the idea that Oh, I’m always going to struggle. That’s a setup to continue to struggle. This man I was talking to earlier today. He doesn’t need to do this anymore. He’s He’s Been in this long enough? And he can say no. And, second, somebody else recently who one of the things I said to him, I said, you know, God’s not going to remove all this temptation. That’s, that’s not the sign of freedom for you. He’s going to allow you to experience temptation so that you can learn. I can say, No, I can feel this strong poll and say, No, I’m not mastered by that anymore. Yes, you can be free. I’ve been free from from porn for well over 15 years, and gratefully. So. I also work here, which makes it easier for me in some regards, if I’m honest, and I try to be I was thinking about this passage earlier. This is Paul writing to the church in Corinth. He’s writing about the the apostles, those who are pouring out their lives. So these are the leaders he says, we have this treasure in earthen vessels. They are the earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will, so of the power, God’s power, it will be of God and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way. But we’re not crushed. We’re perplexed, but we’re not despairing. We’re persecuted but we’re not forsaken, we are struck down, but we’re not destroyed. And this is the part that just got me today in light of this conversation, always carrying about in the body, the dying of Jesus. So the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. So this journey can can a person overcome? Yes. How does it happen? I think this is a way of summarizing, we learn to carry about in our bodies to unite our suffering, our temptation, our difficulty, our struggle with the suffering, difficulty, and death of Jesus. So that we can be always caring about our in our body, the life, the resurrection, power, the overcoming of Jesus. And as we grow in that, we gain more and more freedom. Jesus, these are mysteries, and I it’s obvious that kid and I even struggled to how to articulate these things, but our hearts Lord are for people who have struggled for a long time, and people who are despairing, or hearts for the men and women who walk with these ones who struggle and you get frustrated and wonder, will they ever stop? Will they ever be free? Or you are a resounding yes. For them? You are a resounding yes. Your resurrection is a resounding yes. Are you freedom is for us now. And you’re leading us into greater and greater freedom. So we pray for our brothers and sisters who are struggling or instill in them a great hope and a great conviction. They need not settle for continuing in their sin. And we pray for those who are doing well. That you would draw them in to be increasingly humble. And doing what they need to do to walk in that freedom to stay close to you on the path where we offer all these things now in the Navy. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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