Chester says, “the main reason we don’t change is our proud self-righteousness and our proud self-reliance. Porn and pride go hand in hand. It’s an odd dynamic, because porn brings so much shame. But we’ve seen that porn also puts me at the center, creating a world in which I’m worshiped. So despite the shame it brings, it strongly reinforces our pride. In our proud self-righteousness we excuse sin or minimize it or hide it. ‘I occasionally slip up,’ we tell ourselves, ‘but it’s not a big problem.’ It’s tough for me at the moment – that’s why I do it. Or we recognize the problem, but we don’t want anyone else to find out. We don’t want other people to see us as someone with a porn problem” (74).
Further, these “slip ups” and the guilt that ensues will hinder us from desiring service or prevent us all together from engaging with God’s people. Serving or pursuing Christ “will be characterized by joyless duty and complaint because you’re not finding joy in Christ but looking for it elsewhere. Your ability to proclaim the goodness of God will be compromised because you don’t find him good enough for you. You’ll find it hard to view Christian women as sisters because you’re used to viewing women as objects. You’ll find it hard to confront Christian brothers for fear they might challenge you in return.
Why change? If changing won’t earn approval than why change? We change so that we more and more faithfully, accurately, and obediently live out our identity in Christ. This is referred to gospel indicatives and gospel imperatives. Who you are in Christ (indicatives) is always the root by which we lived out the moral commands of Scripture (imperatives). To get it out-of-order is works-righteousness and tantamount to believing in a different gospel. I don’t “do” in order to “be.” I am in Christ therefore I do what Christ calls me to do.
Paul addresses this dynamic in 1 Corinthians 6, to which Chester extracts five truths.
- You are free to be free. Paul says God has set you free (1 Cor 6:12) to be free and not to be mastered by anything. To be mastered by sin is “like a captive, released after years in solitary confinement, saying, ‘I’m going to use my freedom to live in a dirty prison cell'” (78).
- You are clean to be clean. God has washed us (1 Cor 6:11) so we can be clean. Elsewhere Paul calls believers to not offer up the instruments of their body is instruments of unrighteousness but instead as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:13)
- You are united to be united. God has united us with Christ in his resurrection so we can enjoy union with Christ (79). As a result we’re not to join ourselves with anything that seeks to bring a division between our union with Christ.
- You are holy to be holy. Paul tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:18-19) and that we are therefore called to flee from sexual immorality. Chester has an unbelievable explanation of this which I will quote in its entirety:
The temple was the sign of God’s holy presence among his people, a beautiful and glorious symbol, but also awesome and terrible. Only the priests could enter the holy place, and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies to which they did only once a year through a blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:1-10). The temple and its sacrifices pointed to Jesus (Hebrews 9:11-28) He is God with us, and through his blood we come into God’s presence. All that the temple represented is now a reality in your life. God’s glorious, holy, awesome, terrifying presence is in you, through the Holy Spirit. So sleeping with a prostitute or using porn is an act of defilement, like committing an act of defilement in the holy of holies. I hardly dare write it, but this is the force of Paul’s argument: it’s like having sex with a prostitute on the ark of the covenant. Such an act is unthinkable (81).
- You are valued to be valuable. We’re not valued by God because we’re inherently valuable. It’s the other way around. We’re valuable because we are valued by God, and the value he places on us is the precious blood of Jesus (81)
Lastly, Chester breaks down the following statement: “to enjoy the freedom from porn and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus” (80). He says first it means growing in holiness and joy. Second, change is about living in the freedom that Christ purchased for us. Third, change is about knowing and serving God and fourth, change is enjoying the new identity we have been given in Jesus.
Christ came to give us freedom so that we are not to continue in the slavery to our sinful natures. Prayerfully and in the power of the Holy Spirit I pray this is true of your life.