Never Stop Reaching Out For Freedom
“The worst thing you can do with (people involved in pornography) is lecture them about praying more or asking God for help. They’ve already done that, often to the point of despair.”
Such were the blasphemous words of a “Christian” therapist who went on to assert that the only real hope for sexual addiction is found through psychotherapy.
There is no mistaking the inference here: God is not trustworthy. You can cry out to Him until you’re blue in the face and nothing is going to happen. Such sentiments are extremely poisonous to one’s faith and paralyze the hungry soul from believing God for deliverance.
How contrary such thinking is to the truths found in Scripture! The writer of Hebrews directly addressed this very issue when he wrote: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (4:15-16)
When a beggar comes to the door of a rich man known for his benevolence, he comes forward with a certain degree of confident expectation. He is driven, not by arrogant presumption, but by need. It is this sense of desperation to which the wealthy man responds. A sense of one’s need coupled with a belief that the other person is willing to meet that need is the basis of all believing prayer. God delights to see people come to Him with this kind of trust and faith. C.H. Spurgeon put it this way:
“How very small, after all, is this demand which God makes of us. Ask! Why, it is the least thing He can possibly expect of us, and it is no more than we ordinarily require of those who need help from us. We expect a poor man to ask; and if he does not, we lay the blame of his lack upon himself. If God will give for the asking, and we remain poor, who is to blame? Do you know what great things are to be had for the asking? Have you ever thought of it? Does it not stimulate you to pray fervently? All heaven lies before the grasp of the asking man; all the promises of God are rich and inexhaustible, and their fulfillment is to be had by prayer.”
Come as You Are
Consider the story of the “woman with the issue of blood.” (Mark 5:24-34) Though driven to Jesus primarily by physical need, her situation is very comparable to the person who struggles with habitual sexual sin. In the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time, this woman was considered unclean. In fact, anyone who touched her would have to undergo an elaborate ceremonial cleansing.
For twelve long years, she suffered with her affliction. Having already visited all the “professionals,” she had tried every remedy offered by man. Her story closely resembles those of sexual addicts who typically exhaust man’s wisdom before finally turning in desperation to God.
One day, she heard that the Healer was in town. It should be noted here that her day undoubtedly began the same way as hundreds before it. She would have long since lost any hope—destined to remain unclean the rest of her life. She had no indication that anything would be any different this day.
I was there once myself: unclean with no hope that anything could ever change. I too tried the “experts” with letters behind their names—all to no avail. Once my uncleanness became real to me and I realized man could not change me, there was nothing I could do but throw myself on the mercy of God. It was then, in my spiritually weakened condition, that I reached out and took hold of His garment.
Believe for the Impossible
As she approached, she saw a vast throng of people surrounding the Savior. In her weakened condition it must have seemed impossible to reach this Man. Imagine if, in the process, this poor woman would have come across someone like the faithless therapist mentioned above. She probably would have been told, “There’s no sense in going to this Jesus. He can’t help you!” Perhaps these words of empty counsel would have provided just enough discouragement to paralyze her. Isn’t that exactly what the devil would want?
But she had heard the reports about Jesus and she believed. Having tried all the self-appointed specialists, she instinctively knew that only God could help her. A singular thought compelled her: “If I can just touch His garments, I will be healed.” It was faith that drove her to the Redeemer, something this therapist apparently could not understand.
Desperate people like this woman learn not to be denied. She was determined to persist, regardless of the obstacles. It’s very possible that the prayer of the Psalmist energized her that day: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) This is the kind of determination that men in habitual sexual sin need to find their deliverance. By simply refusing to be denied, this woman both learned and demonstrated the secret of tapping into the power of God: faith. Charles Spurgeon speaks of this:
“If it had not been for faith, she would not have been earnest and importunate. Faith hangs on to Christ in the dark, it holds to a silent Christ, it holds to a refusing Christ, it holds to a rebuking Christ, and it will not let him go. Faith is the great holdfast that hooks a soul on to the Savior…
“Faith is like the Greek in the days of Xerxes, who seized the boat with his right hand. When they chopped off the right hand, he seized it with the left hand; when they cut off the left hand, he laid hold of the boat with his teeth, and did not let go until they severed his head from his body. Soul, if thou canst lay hold of Christ with thy right hand, or with thy left hand, it will be well with thee. Cling to Christ, and say to him with that holy boldness that is the result of faith, ‘I will not let thee go except thou bless me.’”
The truth is that this woman was too frail to press through that mob, but there was an unseen Hand which made a path for her—the same Hand which will always help the sincere prodigal find his way home. It was her faith that caused her to hold onto that Hand.
Take Every Opportunity
Finally, she miraculously made her way through the vast throng of people to the Savior. She had one chance. One second longer and He would be gone—along with all her hopes. But she seized her opportunity. The quivering hand reached out and touched His garment. Instantly, she felt the warm flow of God’s power rush through her body. It wasn’t a mere superficial remedy, either. The Lord’s healing power went right to the root of the problem.
Perhaps your soul has uncleanness clinging to it, just like this woman’s body. Following her example of perseverance, you too must press through the obstacles to lay hold of the Master’s robe. Your healing will most likely take place over time—as you hold onto His garment. The secret is persistent, believing faith. Keep crying out to Him for your deliverance! Look upon that Face which radiates the intense love of God and listen to that Voice brimming with compassion.
Yes, it is true, you have sinned. You have no right to come before Him. And yet, what is also true is that He awaits you there. God’s throne truly is a throne built upon grace. Humble yourself before Him. Throw yourself upon His mercy. And you will find help in your time of need. I will conclude with a passage from my book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry:
“I once thought that all of the trips I made to the altar crying out for God’s help were a waste of time. Then as I re-examined those isolated incidents, I came to realize that those trips to the altar were instrumental in bringing about my deliverance! If you really want to be set free from the bondage of sexual sin, cry out to God daily. Do it today! Do it now! Your cries will be heard!”
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.