Pastor Miles invited Craig to speak to us this weekend about his ministry, XXX Church. This ministry shines light into the darkness of the sex industry and provides a safe haven online where people can come when they are struggling with pornography.
The service started out with a special drama. Watch it here.
Pornography is everywhere. In fact, with the technology available today, one doesn't have to work to find pornography - one has to work to avoid it. Pornography devalues people, builds false expectations, and destroys relationships, even within the church.
Some facts about pornography:
- Pornography is a $70 billion/year industry
- Marriott Hotels sell more pornography than food & beverages
- 11 is the average age that people first see pornography
- 1/3 of those viewing pornography are women
- There are over 400 million porn websites on internet
- 76% of people who view porn do so alone and have never told anyone
Being addicted to pornography has serious consequences. No other sin affects us this way. 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 says, Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own
The XXX Church ministry was launched when Craig and his wife attended a Las Vegas porn convention with the intention to share God's love with the people there - no bullhorns, condemnation, arguments, or picketing. Their goal was simply to show people trapped in the sex industry that there really is a God out there who loves them. They had no idea what God was going to do, but they discovered many opportunities and the ministry has grown. In the last seven years, they have represented Christ at 29 pornography shows, handing out free Bibles and sharing God's love. They have seen amazing fruit from this: people leaving their sex industry jobs and sin struggles, and turning to live for the Lord.
Paul describes his own sin struggle in Romans 7:17-25 (The Message)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Are you under the power of pornography and failing in your struggle with sin? In light of God's love and power, Craig challenged us to make three changes:
1. Know that the answer can only be found in Jesus.
You can't hide your sin from God. He knows, just as He knows each hair on your head. He understands it and he has something better for you. The Holy Spirit is at your disposal, not to remove your struggle or temptation, but to guide and direct your path. You need only to be willing to confess, turn in the opposite direction, and give up trying to carry the burden on your own.
2. Talk to somebody else.
Be clear that you can't overcome this type of sin struggle on your own. You need accountability. Take the opportunity now to bring a friend alongside you; don't wait until you get caught in your sin and face worse consequences.
Numbers 32:23b ...you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
Craig's ministry offers software called x3watch, which provides a free and easy way to build accountability against viewing pornography. You can download it on your computer and provide the email addresses of two trusted friends with whom you have confessed your struggle. Every two weeks it sends them a list of any questionable websites you have visited. The software is free, but accountability must cost you something: you have to give permission for the people love and care for you to call on your sin.
3) Decide to clean it up.
Proverbs 26:11 says, As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. However, the dog doesn't return to its vomit if it has been cleaned up and removed.
In the same way, you can't simply return to all the places that tempt you with pornography if you have made no changes to safeguard yourself against sin. You must be willing to make some sacrifices. For example, if you look at porn on your cell phone, get a cell phone that doesn't have that feature. If you look at porn on your computer, don't go back to using your computer until you have built in accountability for the sites you visit.
The bottom line: don't let your past determine your future. You don't have to go on believing that struggles with sexual purity are simply your lot in life. Know that God loves you and has a better plan for you.