I came across a solid clip that I want to share with you today. In it, Dr. Jeremy Pierre discusses the relationship between faith and freedom from lust. To ask the title of this article, Is it possible to be totally free from lust? implies a passive relationship, and a day when the mature man will no longer experience any tempting urges or evil desires. That is not the Biblical portrait of reality, Dr. Pierre argues, nor is it consistent with my own experience and observation.
The better, clearer question that Dr. Pierre puts forth is of a more active, dynamic nature: Is it possible to walk or live free from lust? The answer for Dr. Pierre is “unequivocally yes.” The power and support we receive from God, accessible to us by faith, is adequate to resist every temptation and live the kind of life that he is after.
Many people believe that freedom is not possible because they have been a slave of addiction for as long as they can remember. If that describes you today, then maybe it is time to stir up your faith in God. Unless we believe that freedom is possible, we almost certainly will never be free.
Check out the video and transcript I’ve produced, and let me know your thoughts down below!
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”Mark 9:23
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.1 John 4:4
Well, the answer to that is not easy because the question is not easy, and sometimes coming to the right answer means adjusting the question. And so the question was, “Is it ever possible to be totally free from the sin of lust?”
That phrasing, “to be totally free,” implies a passive sort of state of freedom where lust no longer is operative. And that’s not the most helpful way, I think, to think of the question, let alone arrive at a good answer. I want to frame it actively, not passively, meaning “Is it ever possible to live or to walk in triumph or freedom from the sin of lust?”
So there’s an active, sort of, daily valley of decision that we come to. And the question is, “Do I have what I need? Do I have the resources, the strength to honor God in what I choose to do in that moment?”
If we believe the promise of the Gospel, then the answer is always yes. I have the power in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to, in any given moment, have every freedom to choose to obey him. That obedience is the outflow of my faith that Jesus really is wiling to provide the power that he says he’s going to provide for me in that moment.
So I like phrasing it that way a little better than just freedom from sin being sort of a passive state, because that implies that you can sort of arrive at this level of Christian maturity where you sort of look down at the waters of temptation and think, “Hmm, I wonder why I was ever tempted by that. Oh, I was clearly immature. I’m glad I’m more mature now.” That’s not the Bible’s picture of Christian maturity.
The Bible’s picture of Christian maturity is under those very waters of temptation, when my desires begin to creep up on me, and things that God has forbidden, or that don’t honor him. In the midst of that temptation, do I go to the cross of Jesus Christ? In other words, do I believe, even then, that what Jesus testifies about my sexuality is more true than what this external temptation is saying, or what my internal impulse is saying. That’s what I mean by faith, believing that, leading to obedience, the power to do that. And we always have that fully and freely at our disposal.
You know, a lot of young men that I counsel, they have a hard time believing that, in particular [on] the issue of pornography, because a lot of these guys were raised on it, in ways that maybe–I’m sorting of a Gen Xer, and up. [We] weren’t raised on it. We didn’t have access to the internet. We didn’t have it seeking us out in the same ways that pornography seeks out young men today, and young women these days.
And so it was more just part of the interwoven experience that they grew up with. I’ve just noticed they have a harder time believing that a Christian man, conducting himself as a disciple and follower of Christ, over the decades of his life, really can live a life that doesn’t dabble—that doesn’t use, let alone dabble in pornography. They have a hard time believing that.
And, honestly, that’s a huge hindrance to their actually not participating in pornography, because, as the Bible argues, as I’ve been pointing out, obedience, not looking at pornography, and instead using our vessel to the honor of God, comes from faith. And yet they’re not really even believing that it’s possible to, in a moment, have the grace I need to have victory. And so that really hinders their obedience.
So I want to encourage them that it is possible, and there are models of that in their lives, that they can look to and find sustenance. So it is possible, but we have to be careful with what we mean by that, as I’ve been making clear.
It’s not rising above the level of temptation. It’s not being free of any internal huge or impulse. But it is being able to respond to those urges, respond to those external temptations, by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and who gave himself up for me.