If you follow professional sports at all then you know there’s a common saying around the NFL and other major sports that says, “defense wins championships!”. Now that’s likely true in the sports world but when it comes to gaining and maintaining sobriety from pornography and other sexually explicit activity it takes more than a great defense. It’s like another saying in sports for when a team has a lead, and they’re on the verge of a great victory only to lose to the opposing team in the last seconds because they relied on their defense and, “played not to lose.”
Especially when scripture hints at the notion that we are already more than “conquerers” (Romans 8:37). Fact is, there’s a good chance that if we put half as much intensity into doing important, good, recovery work instead of always defending ourselves from attack and avoiding bad stuff we could see major progress.
This thought is prevalent throughout scripture. Consider what Benaiah did when he met up with a lion and could have retreated, but instead it says,“He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion,” (1 Chron. 11:22b). For me that would seem like a perfect opportunity to run the opposite direction of the lion. Not Benaiah though, he follows the lion into a pit for close quarters combat. He didn’t retreat, didn’t hunker down in a hole somewhere. He advanced, attacked and ultimately got the kill.
Again, the apostle Paul, in his first letter to the young pastor Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1Tim. 6:12) Don’t miss words like, “fight”, “take hold of”, this isn’t a passive, casual thing we’re doing. It isn’t that we simply hope to one day be free. It is in fact, or should be, our deepest desire, and it demands more than giving our friend the password to our accountability software.
What is important is to think carefully about what our end game is. Do we want to simply be abstinent or do we want to be holy? Do we merely want to cease our illicit activity or do we want to be transformed? What we pursue, we ultimately achieve either for better or for worse, or we flail around in mediocrity paying lip service, but never really getting anywhere.
But the pursuit of sobriety is a work of God within the soul of a believer. It does not allow for a passive, “ho-hum”, approach. It moves a believer well beyond behavior modification.
Holiness then, has at its end new life, new pursuits, and new affections. For the Thessalonians Paul would clarify holiness as the very will of God, putting it this way, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3
Lastly, don’t put it off another second! Start clawing your way out of that dark hole you’ve been living in today. Remember we’re playing to win. “But you, man of God, flee from all of this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” I Timothy 6:11