The Beginning of the End of Lust’s Reign in My Life
By the summer of 1998, I had been in recovery programs and counseling for seven years, yet was still in bondage to lust. God set the stage for the ultimate breakthrough I would encounter a year later in several ways.
He began by hitting me with holy fear.
Alone on a business trip to Europe, I masturbated to porn in a hotel in Switzerland. Immediately afterward, the scalpel of God’s word began cutting me: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Although I considered myself a Christian, the truth was that I had been trying to have two gods – lust and the Lord. I was a “fornicator” and sexual idolater; I willfully gave myself to the false god of lust every time I indulged in it. The fear that I was playing games with a holy God hit hard and the terror of an eternity apart from Him swept over me.
There are some who say we should be attracted into giving up our sin because of the message of God’s love, but if this is so, why did Jesus speak more about Hell than Heaven? The New Testament would have only been one, big, soothing message of “God loves you and you can do whatever you want” if this was the truth.
Henry Blackaby wrote that “without the fear of the Lord, there is no fear of sin.” On that day in Europe, the Lord sparked the process to freedom by putting a holy fear into me that the game-playing had to stop.
Next, God showed me my heart.
After the trip to Switzerland I stopped masturbating… but still dabbled in porn. I thought I wouldn’t feel so bad if I didn’t masturbate, and besides, the 12 step program I was in told me I was still “sober” if as long as self-sex was avoided. The truth was that awful shame hangover was just as bad whether I masturbated or not.
At the end of 1998, after nearly eight years in recovery programs, I gave up. “God, you’re my only hope now. Either you’re the God You say You are who can set captives free, or this whole Christianity thing is a crock.”
In that moment, He showed me a picture of my heart. It was pitch black; pure darkness. There was nothing good in there; all was evil. I felt sick. I’d done a lot of good works and had seen God work through me; I thought there was at least a little good inside. Not even close. I now really had no hope unless the Lord worked a miracle, which, was exactly what He wanted me to see.
Then, I stopped playing games.
Some guys go to support groups so they can feel better; they haven’t really gone the distance in doing everything they can to sever lust from their lives. For the first time in my life, I went all out. No more compromise, even a fraction of an inch. I started praying as soon as a lust thought hit instead of letting it unwind in my mind. If I felt overwhelmed, I got on the phone. If this wasn’t enough, I asked a friend to meet me for lunch. Incoming TV channels were turned off. I asked my wife to call Victoria’s Secret and request that they quit sending their magazines to our house.
Within six months of God striking me with the fear of the Lord, making Him my only hope, and going all out to eradicate lust from my life, the miracle came.
Proverbs 9:10 calls the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom. Looking back, the Lord set me firmly on the path to freedom in that hotel in Switzerland when He pierced me with His word.
Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net.