Day 14: I Have No Choice!
FEELING LIKE A SLAVE
In lesson 1 we talked about the neurological affects that pornography and self-gratification have on the brain and the heart. The brain, by design, wants to create habits as a means of running more efficiently. In light of this design we saw how addictive habits form and how difficult it can be to break free from them. In fact, at times we can feel as though we don't even have a choice at all. We feel like slaves, bound to the will of our master.
There are many self-help programs out that focus on the scientific truths and how we can become masters of them. Understanding these truths certainly helps in the recovery process, but it is only a small part of the road to freedom. In his article "The Life Cycle and Mechanics of Addition", Gary W. Smith looks at opposing views in the area of drug addiction and notes how recovery programs are limited in their effectiveness:
One school of thought advocates the "disease concept," which embraces the notion that addiction is an inherited disease, and that the individual is permanently ill at a genetic level, even for those experiencing long periods of sobriety.
Another philosophy argues that addiction is a dual problem consisting of a physical and mental dependency on chemicals, compounded by a pre-existing mental disorder (i.e. clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or some other mental illness), and that the mental disorder needs to be treated first as the primary cause of the addiction. A third philosophy subscribes to the idea that chemical dependency leads to "chemical imbalances" in the neurological system.
The fact remains that there is scientific research to support all of these concepts, but that none of these theories are absolute. Based on national averages we have a 16% to 20% recovery rate. The message is clear that we have a lot more to learn if we are to bring the national recovery rate to a more desirable level. 
This is not meant to cause resentment towards scientific recovery programs, as they have successfully helped many people (16-20% according to Smith). It is to say, however, that there is more to recovery than scientific procedures and 12 step recovery programs. Lasting and consistent freedom comes from one place:
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1 (NASB)
SLAVES OF TORMENT
Sexual sin of any kind feels like slavery at times. You fight day-in and day-out against temptations, gritting your teeth to push through, shouting to God in prayer. This often goes on for days, but the end result is a temptation that hits you just the right way at just the right time and you ask yourself, "What am I if not a slave to this torment?" If pornography is consuming your life and making you it's slave, then it's time to recognize it and make a change. That change is turning it all over to Christ and gaining a full understanding of the grace that sets us free.
Being a slave to sin is a debilitating experience, wreaking havoc on our walk with God and others. Our prayers feel weak, our ministry feels ineffective, and our hearts feel cold and dark. For years I wrestled and toiled against sin, thinking over and over, “Surely this is the last time I’ll fall.” Why was I so mistaken? What had I been missing after all this time?
Scripture takes our freedom in a serious tone, absolutely void of indifference. God paid a high price to set you and I free. Our freedom from sin was of such great concern to God that He sent Christ to die in our place. Now that we are in Christ, we are truly free, no questions asked. The trouble is we often believe lies. These lies comes from our enemy, constantly working against the perfect will of God. Although scripture declares us to be free in Christ Jesus, how many times have we doubted this?
When you began to follow Christ, sin lost all of its power over you. Death lost all of its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55). The enemy will lie to us about scripture and about who we are, distracting us from the truth of God’s word. The longer you’ve been a slave to sin instead of the authority of Christ, the harder it is to accept this truth.
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption there is a character named Brooks Hatlen. Brooks has been imprisoned for most of his life for a crime he hardly remembers. In his old age, much to his surprise, he's released from prison. Living a normal life outside of the prison's walls felt foreign for Brooks. His whole life was summed up in that prison, who he was, what he did, where he ate, where he slept - nothing made sense to him anymore. Sadly, Brooks had adapted to his life of imprisonment and ends up taking his own life, leaving the world as a defeated man.
Our response to Christ can be one of defeat if we allow the enemy in our heads.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. -2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
To find freedom, start with the following:
Take note of the verses mentioned in today's lesson. Post them on your phone, walls, computer, etc. Remember who you are in Christ and why you are free.
- Rebuke the lies!
Call out the lies of the devil. You are free in Christ - no amount of good works can set you free.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- -Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
Break the Mental Chains
This isn’t a self-help pep talk, this is the word of God. Does a freed prisoner walk around in fear that the guards will come find him and imprison him once again? Not quite. He was legally and legitimately set free. As is our freedom, we walk according to that freedom through Christ. This means rebuking lustful thoughts when they come into our mind. That first thought sets us on a dangerous course that becomes harder and harder to stray from. Break the chain early and often.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” -John 8:36 (NIV)
Day 14 Application
The bible tells us that sinning makes us a slave to sin. Why are those who believe in Jesus no longer slaves regardless of their past, present, or future sin?
How does this knowledge change the way you approach temptation?
How can you become more aware of God throughout your day? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?