God designed sex to be a reminder and picture of Jesus covenant relationship with His people. This is the primary purpose of sex. Understanding this explains why sex is so destructive outside the covenant of marriage and why we experience such shame and brokenness when we approach it selfishly.
If you have struggled in any way with sexual sin or have been impacted by sexual sin, here are 10 resources to help towards getting the help you need.
1. The Gospel
The gospel is the power to free us from the cycle of sin and shame that comes with sexual sin. There is no sexual sin that is beyond the grace and forgiveness of God. This is great news for the one who is struggling and for the one who has been sinned against. God takes our sin seriously; so serious that He killed His only son for it. By believing that Christ paid for every sin we are freed to experience true intimacy with God. The gospel also enables us to sever the roots of sin and its temporary promises of pleasure by offering us a superior eternal satisfaction in Christ. Be radically honest with yourself, repent, and acknowledge your need for God to change.
Sexual sin and brokenness brings with it deep shame & guilt that leads us to hide and isolate ourselves from others. If you are married, God’s design is for your relationship with your spouse is complete honesty. Your spouse can be your greatest advocate in the path to healing. Share with them what you are struggling with and pray and fight together. If you are single, find a close friend or two and share with them. Let them pray for you and encourage you. We cannot grow in Christ apart from community. We should all have a Missional Community/small group that we can walk with through this and any other issue. Specific issue support groups can also be helpful in dealing with sexual sin.
In some cases where the intensity of the struggle and the level of brokenness that has been experienced is greater it can be helpful to supplement the care you get from community with the care of a professional that is specially trained. The Austin Stone Counseling Center is a resource of the church that can help.
Learn more about how we approach counseling and schedule an appointment by going here.
4. Understanding Your Physical Body
Our God-given desire for sex builds up physical tension. It is important to think through and plan non-sinful ways to respond. By developing new patterns of responding to temptation we will retrain our brain to trust God for the intimacy we were created for with him and others. Read Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William Struthers.
5. Know Your Triggers
Being aware of what triggers sexual thoughts and temptation is critical in being able to overcome them by faith. Common triggers can be hunger, anger, loneliness, and being tired. Prayerfully consider where you need to fight the small battles so you don’t have to fight the big ones.
In Isaiah 58, God asks his people to reach out to other people: the poor, the afflicted, the heavily yoked. As His people make their lives acts of living worship, God says that their “healing shall spring up speedily.” One way to overcome any struggle with sin or dealing with the painful consequences of sin is to place our focus on others.
7. Develop a Personal Battle Plan for Purity
The world will not help you become more pure. Our flesh is weak. The devil will do whatever it takes to lie, accuse, and tempt you towards destruction. Everyone needs a gospel-centered plan to fight for purity. The best thing we can do is to develop a personal battle plan to 1) fight sexual sin, 2) develop a Biblical understanding of sex, and 3) to build true intimacy in marriage and relationships. Write it down and share it with your community so they can fight with you.
- Temptation Series, Matt Carter
- Singleness, Marriage, Sex, and Divorce, The Austin Stone
- How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause, John Piper
- Sex, Romance & Glory of God, CJ Mahaney
- Love, Lust and Liberation, Tim Keller
- Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships By Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg (helpful for both husband and wife)
- Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God By John Piper
- The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin By Kris Lundgaard
10. Take Practical Steps
Everything here sounds great but it doesn’t mean anything unless you actually do something. For some this means getting radical. Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt 5:29). No technological convenience is worth sinning against God and hurting those you love.
- Install Covenant Eyes accountability software on your computer and phone.
- Lock down your phone so you can’t access the internet without accountability.
- Be wise with your media input (books, television, movies).