John Bevere is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and international evangelist. He is the author of Killing Kryptonite: Destroy what Steals your Strength and Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant to Live. For years, Bevere struggled with a pornography addiction that damaged his relationship with God and threatened his ministry and marriage. Today, I’ve transcribed a clip in which Bevere shares his testimony and the revelation God gave him to break free from his addiction.
Bevere talks about the difference between “worldly sorrow” and “godly sorrow.” Worldly sorrow is rooted in the worldly consequences of sin, like losing a ministry or a relationship. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is rooted in the pain that sin causes the heart of God. Bevere makes the key point that grace isn’t merely forgiveness from sin after the fact–it is the present power to obey God in every area. Bevere also describes the the transformation that took place in his attitude toward women. He went from seeing them as mere sexual objects to human beings made in the image of God and somebody’s daughter. These insights empowered Bevere to overcome his addiction in 1985 and live free ever since.
King Saul then says when he is confronted by the prophet Samuel, “I’ve sinned against the Lord.” But the next statement out of his mouth is, “Yet now honor me in front of my elders. . . Samuel, you have embarrassed me in front of my leaders.”John Bevere
If you look at King David, he’s confronted by the Prophet Nathan. He falls out on his face and cries out to God for 7 days. “Lord, against you, and against you only have I sinned.” And you find his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.John Bevere
For more, see complete archive of articles on sexual integrity.
God really delivered me from a sexual addiction. I was addicted to pornography. And that started as a young man, and after getting saved in 1979, I thought that it would immediately go away, but it didn’t. So then I went to the ministry in 1982, and it just continued. I remember praying and crying out to God, and I actually opened up and shared with a worldwide-known minister in 1984, and I asked him. I said, “Can you help me? I know you can. I know the Word of God says you can pray for me, and I believe I’ll be set free.” He prayed for me and nothing happened.
So it was 9 months later on May 2 of 198, that I went on a 4-day fast. I was in a man’s condominium and on this 4th day of that fast, May the 6th, 1985, I was completely delivered from that sexual addiction. And I’ve walked in that freedom, and I’m free today. I asked God, I said, “Why is it when I opened up with that man in 1984–why is it that I didn’t get delivered? Why wasn’t it until May 6th?”
Well, in 1984, when I went to that man, I was concerned that my pornography addiction would keep me from the ministry that I knew I was called to, so the focus of my sorrow was myself. If you look at 2 Corinthians 10, Paul said godly sorrow leads to repentance, but he said worldly sorrow leads to death, or further bondage. Worldly sorrow is when the focus of your sorrow is what’s going to happen to me? What’s going to be the consequences of my sin. What will my sin cost me? Will I be judged?–the whole focus is me.
Godly sorrow, the focus is on him. I’ve hurt the heart of the one I love. The Lord showed me when I opened up with that international-known minister, he said you were concerned it was going to keep you from the ministry I called you to–the focus was you. He said when you went on the fast in 1985, he said the complete, total focus was “God, I’m so fed up with hurting your heart. The heart of the one I love.”
If you look at King Saul and King David, you have a classic example of this. King Saul is confronted by Samuel for his disobedience of not putting to death the sheep. King Saul then says when he is confronted by the prophet Samuel, “I’ve sinned against the Lord.” But the next statement out of his mouth is, “Yet now honor me in front of my elders. . . Samuel, you have embarrassed me in front of my leaders.”
If you look at King David, he’s confronted by the Prophet Nathan. He falls out on his face and cries out to God for 7 days. “Lord, against you, and against you only have I sinned.” And you find his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. So David’s focus was I’ve hurt the heart of the one I love. Saul’s focus was you’ve embarrassed me in front of my leaders. Saul’s sorrow was wordly. David’s sorrow was godly. David, therefore, was completely delivered. Saul was not.
I believe the reason it took me 9 more months from the fall of 1984 to May 6, 1985, was because the focus of my sorrow had to change. You know what’s interesting is in that 9 months in my own personal life, I kept praying “Jesus, I want to know you more intimately. I want to please you more.” And he said “Your whole prayer life changed.” Before I was praying “God use me to win nations.” So the focus of my prayer was “God use me.” My prayer changed to “God, I want to know you more intimately.” And that’s why my heart was broken on May 6, 1985, because I was hurting the heart of the one I love.
Two ways that a person can get delivered. If a person is still self-focused–if his sorrow is still worldly. Then what he needs to do is start crying out in prayer to know Jesus more intimately. That’s what David did. That’s what all the men of God did. If you look at Paul–Paul said “Hey, I forgot those things that are behind, and I press toward the mark of the prize of the high call of knowing God.” You have to press into it. You have to cry out to know him. God says “If you seek me and search for me with all of your heart, then I’m going to be found by you.” So it’s an internal cry where you start wanting him more than you want anything else. Once you get to that place, your desires change. You’re no longer concerned about what’s going to happen to me, you’re now like “I don’t want to hurt the heart of the one I love.”
One of the ways David became so proficient at this is he said in Psalm 119, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” When you put the Word of God in your heart, and you make the Word of God the focus of your life. You desire truth more than you desire anything else, you then are coming to a place where you’re going to be easily delivered.
You know I was just writing on Twitter today. I made a statement on Twitter, “It’s not truth that will keep us from deception, it’s the love of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says what will keep people from deception in the last days is the love of the truth. So there’s a lot of people who have truth, they may love truth, but it’s not just knowing truth, it’s loving truth. It’s when you want truth in the innermost parts of your heart more than you want anything else.
In Extraordinary, I deal with the fact that it’s the empowerment of grace. We did a survey across America in 2009. We asked over 5,000 Christians, “Give three or more definitions or descriptions of the grace of God.” Almost every Christian that answered this survey–all 5,000 were Sunday, Bible-believing, attending Christians. The majority of them, almost every single one that was surveyed, said that grace was salvation, God’s free unmerited gift. And it is forgiveness of sins. Now I’m so glad American Christians understand this, that we’re saved by grace and only by grace, that you can’t purchase it or buy it, but it’s the grace of God that remits our sins, and it’s a free gift.
However, here’s where the tragedy that occurred: only 2% of those polled, of the 5,000 people, said that grace was God’s empowerment, yet that’s exactly how God defines or describes his grace. He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, he said to the Apostle Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power…” So God calls his grace his power. Peter defines the grace of God in 2 Peter 1: 2-4, that it is God’s divine power.
Now here’s the problem. If only 2% of the American Christians understand that grace is God’s empowerment, that means that 98% of the Christians in America are trying to live holy and godly in their own strength. When you try to live holy and godly in your own strength, you’re going to fail because the law proved that we couldn’t live godly in our own ability.
So the big problem is everything in the kingdom is received by faith. That’s what the Bible teaches. But yet nobody can have faith unless they hear it. So if all of America, and 98% of American Christians, if they believe that grace is only a cover-up for my sins and a ticket into heaven, then they’re not going to be able to access the power of grace through faith to get free from sexual addiction.
In this book, we talk about this. Romans 10:14 says “How can they believe if they’ve never heard?” The problem is Americans have not heard that the grace of God is what we need to walk a sexually pure life. The Word of God has to go from our minds to our hearts. How that happens is through meditation–meditating on the Word of God day and night God said. You begin to mull, ponder, speak to yourself–how does this Scripture apply to me? And as you continue, it somehow goes from your head down into your heart. David said “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you.” Once the Word of God gets into our heart, into the deep places of our heart, they can threaten your life, they can threaten to kill you, and you won’t change because it’s so deep in here [heart]. And that’s where true successful Christianity begins–is believing in the heart.
Let’s get down to the practical level. Let’s say a person’s driving by a pornography store. And there’s an incredible urge to go in. I think what that person needs is a revelation in their heart–and this is what I teach about in Extraordinary–And I share in Extraordinary how when I was bound to pornography, I didn’t have God’s heart on women. And what happened was after God delivered me from pornography, I still had to restrain myself from it. I had to say “No, I’m not going to look.”
But what happened was is God started renewing my mind, and it started getting into my heart. The realization that that girl that I used to look at is made in the image and likeness of God. She is some daddy’s little girl. She is precious to God. When that revelation hit my heart, I could no longer look at a girl as a piece of meat or as something for pleasure for me. I now saw her as crowned with glory and honor because God said he crowned human beings with glory and honor, and human beings were made in the image and likeness of God. So if I see that woman as created in the image and likeness of God, how can I look at her to lust after her?
And so when we really get this in our heart, we’re totally set free. You know what’s interesting now, pornography has flashed before me since. I’ve been in Europe and turning the channels looking for some sport channels and there in Europe many times in some countries pornography is openly displayed not just soft pornography, hardcore pornography. When I see that now, I’m repulsed by it. What used to be like a magnet that would draw me in, God’s grace truly delivered me, and I now am repulsed by it, and I don’t have the desire anymore, so it literally changed the desires of my heart.
You know there’s a time period where you have to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, the Bible says. And in that time period, you actually have to restrain yourself. But the more you meditate, and the more you pray and you get God’s Word in your heart, eventually you’re going to come to the point where you’re not even going to be tempted. The Bible says each one when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed. There’s the enemy’s part right there. He entices. But I can’t entice you with something that you have no desire for. If you were to put heroine in front of me, you can’t tempt me with it. I have no desire for it. It used to be that I had a desire for pornography back in 1985, 1984, and 1983. I could be enticed. You have to change the desires of your heart by renewing your mind and getting it into the spirit of your mind–your very heart–what God’s heart is toward women. Once you have God’s heart toward women, you won’t look at them to lust after them any longer.
I had a friend who was battling a battle in the flesh, and he kept praying, and he saw one of his friends get instantly delivered one night in a meeting. And he said, “God, you’ve delivered my friend, I’ve been crying out to you for 2 years, why haven’t you delivered me?” And God spoke to him and he said, “Because you still like it.” And the realization hit him, “Oh my goodness, how can God deliver me from something that I like, something that I desire?” He was instantly delivered from smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day. He never had one withdrawal. He never smoked another cigarette again.
And so a very similar thing happened with me. Once I realized how much it was hurting the heart of God, and it was hindering my ability to have communion and intimacy with God, I no longer liked it. I was delivered.
In the book of Extraordinary, I talk about how to literally walk through the deliverance process toward the end of the book. I talk about how it begins first of all in our soul, and that it eventually goes down into the heart. I give practical examples, I show people how it literally happens, and how God intended for it to happen. But not only are we just changing the way we think, but literally his grace is the empowering factor that backs up what we’re changing in our thinking. And so you’ll get a lot of helpful insight in reading the book Extraordinary.