I’ve struggled with “sex stuff” on and off since the age of 16. I remember those initial desires and how they’ve ebbed and flowed over the years. As a teenager struggling to fight my urges and save myself for marriage, I let myself believe that masturbation wasn’t a sin since it wasn’t with anyone else.
Later in my teen years, I began having intercourse with a few people because I gave in to the lie that my purity didn’t matter. And even though my husband and I waited for marriage to sleep with each other, I discovered that my private habit didn’t just magically end after I got married. I masturbate when I get so stressed out and feel that I need release.
I was introduced many years ago to the gospel model of Lord-Sin-Savior-Faith, which has become a vibrant way of helping me grapple with my decades-long sins.
Lord of all creation
The root of my sin struggles is a lordship problem, and I forget that Jesus is my Lord. Though my same old sin feels oftentimes like it’s on repeat, I am comforted by the authority, rule, and supremacy of Christ. I can trust and believe that things aren’t random and that God is aware of my struggle.
This struggle won’t own me or define me. Thankfully, He is the same God who existed before the creation of the earth, my Lord and Savior through all. Though he is unchanging and all-knowing, he is merciful to me.
Sin that spills over
I have not guarded my mind and imagination as I interact with tv, movies, books, or the internet. Sin has desensitized me to a culture that portrays sexuality differently than what the Bible teaches. In regards to darkness (sin) and light (righteousness), Matthew 6:22-23 says: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
After much prayer, discussions with trusted believers, and digging through the Bible, I believe that my core issue is that I tend to view myself as the “master” of my life in every way — I am controlling, habitual, selfish, lustful. Basically, I want what I want, when I want it — and it’s usually immediately, because I’m impatient.
When I masturbate, I’m wanting to relieve anxiety right away. But the help that sexual release gives is very temporary. After the temporary release, not only am I still anxious, but I also feel guilty on top of that. I also want comfort, but the comfort it gives is only temporary.
My struggle is so isolating. There’s no fellowship in masturbating. It isolates me from God and from my husband.
Freedom through Christ
This passage from 1 John 1:5-10 is meaningful to me:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
God is forgiving! After I confess to God, I know he’s forgiven me because the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin. I don’t have that burden on me anymore. In the past I felt like all my sins accumulated against me (like he hadn’t forgiven me). I’m now trusting that He really has forgiven me for every sin. This gives me hope! I simply confess the sins of today, rather than the sins of the past two decades.
And God is faithful. Unlike people, I can trust that He isn’t going to leave me. He knows me and despite the ways He could hold that against me, He chose me as his child. So if I’m His child, He’s going to forgive me when I ask Him.
The comfort I’m looking for is found in Christ. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
Christ is my shepherd. He makes me feel safe and comforted.
Surrender at the cross
I have begun applying this gospel message and am happy to say that I am filled with hope. I’m asking better questions, searching for real root causes, and thinking about my sin in regards to my identity in Christ.
As I struggle with sin, I know I’m under the Lordship of Christ and saved by God’s grace. Through faith and with obedience, I can make the daily decision to surrender my sins (including those uncomfortable-to-share sexual ones) at the foot of the cross. I can do this by going to God and confessing my sin to Him, and I know He will forgive me. And even though it’s hard, I can go to my husband and ask for his forgiveness. Also, I can plan ahead of time by thinking through, “When am I most likely to be doing this?” For example, when I’m at a point of anxiousness I can go to God and say, “Lord, I’m really struggling with the way my brain is swirling. I want to go to you for comfort. Help me.”
Through this struggle I’m learning a lot about who God is and how He uses my struggles to bring me to Him. I don’t like to talk about how I fail, but at least my weaknesses have purpose to show Him glory. I want to show him glory! 2 Corinthians 12:9 states, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I praise God that He gives me so many victories over my sin battles. I see progression in my journey as I actively pursue a life of holiness. My God is gracious to forgive me when I fail. Jesus’s gift on the cross allows me to stand pure in front of a holy God. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
*Author’s name has been changed.