One of the hardest parts of sexual sin is dealing with the consequences. They often come in the form of shame, regret, self-hatred, embarrassment, disgust, and hopelessness. They aren’t always internal feelings either, they can be about the way your sin affects others – hurt loved ones, divorce, loss of a job, loss of trust or loss of respect from others. Why then do we still continue to fall into temptation when we know how bad the end result will be?
I once read an author talk about the time he had to tell his wife that he had been unfaithful. His addiction to pornography had led him all the way to hiring prostitutes, something he had already confessed to others and started working through with a program. She had known about the pornography use, but one night she asked him point blank if he had ever had sex with anyone else since they had been married. He told her the truth and had to give the details of these accounts in response to her pain-filled questions. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been for him to stand there and lay out the ugly truths of his sin to his wife (and how much harder it would have been for her to hear them). Why don’t we consider the consequences before we act? I doubt this husband ran through the future conversation with his wife before he hired the prostitutes. As he went about his sin I doubt he tried to picture her face as she reacted to his disgusting details of what he was doing.
One of the problems with porn addiction is it causes a person to be very myopic or shortsighted. Temptation hits, and we become self-centered to the extreme. We care about nothing other than those feelings we will experience in a few moments. I can remember times when the feelings of temptation became so intense that I wanted nothing other than to give in… so I did. After giving in, the feelings of shame and regret come almost instantly, and I find myself lying on my bed hating my life. Temptation, self-gratification, a moment of release, guilt and self-hatred – all within minutes. I’m certainly not lying there before hand thinking “things are going pretty well for me right now, I wonder if I how quickly I can derail myself. I would sure love to feel some disgust and hopelessness”. No, instead I am thinking about how great it will be to look at pornography.
One of the tricks I’ve discovered is to get myself to actually consider and feel the consequences BEFORE I act, rather than after. Not many people like the feelings of having to confess sin or and dealing with the many repercussions of it. What if in the time of temptation, you imagined what it would be like to have the conversation with your wife where you tell her what you did? What if she wanted to know all of the details – what you looked at and what you thought about when you did it? What if you thought about telling your kids? What if you thought about your boss catching you using your work computer? What if your parents walked in on you?
If you’re like me, than your lowest moments come right after you have acted out. There is never a moment you feel worse about yourself than in that moment. What if you wrote yourself a letter after stumbling? Write to the “tempted you” explaining your feelings, and talking about the consequences from giving into temptation. If you confess your sin to an accountability partner, or a wife or parent, write another letter after you’ve exposed yourself to them. Explain each consequence to the future you who will struggle once again with temptation. Convince them to consider the consequences.
If you are married, what if you had your wife write a letter about how she feels about your pornography use – how it affects her life, and how it makes her feel about herself.
Then put these letters in a place where you can easily access them when you are tempted. Write them out as emails and send them to yourself so that they are accessible from any computer.
When you are starting to feel even a little bit tempted, pull out the letters and read them. Do it early in your temptation before you get to the point where you don’t care about anything except the rush of pornography flooding your mind. Try to feel the consequences of what you are about to do. Remember how you felt the last time and how others felt you confessed.
Most of us know the story of King David committing adultery with Bathsheba. King David sent his people off to war (where he should have been), saw a beautiful woman bathing (Bathsheba), sent for her, slept with her and she bore a child. David then tried to cover it up, and when he wasn’t able to do that, he had Bathsheba’s husband killed. All in all not the highest point of morality in David’s life.
When he saw her bathing on her roof, David sent for her and they ended up sleeping together. While I don’t imagine his first intentions were to commit adultery when he went on to the roof, one temptation led to another, and soon he found himself in terrible situation.
We later see David responding to this sin by crying out to God saying
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion block out my transgressions. Wash all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1,2
When David called for her, he wasn’t thinking of the consequences of what he was doing. He wasn’t thinking about how Bathsheba was a married woman or that she could get pregnant and that he would go to great lengths to try to cover up his mistake. He wasn’t thinking about that what he was about to do would later cause him to cry out to God begging him to “save him from blood guilt” (psalm 51:14)
James 1:15 says that “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Here we clearly see the progression of sin, and the initial desire will always lead to death if we do not stop. Death will always be the consequence. It may not always mean a literal death, but it may lead to the death of your spiritual life, the death of your ministry, the death of your marriage, etc… These are consequences we need to be focusing on BEFORE we ever take that step into sin.
The bible is clear. There are consequences, and in the end they will always cost us so much more than we will ever gain through sin.