It was fascinating to listen to the sports talk shows during the whole Tiger Woods debacle last year. For the two or three of you in our country who don’t know what happened, famous golfer Woods got a divorce after it was discovered that he had multiple affairs with various asundry mistresses, some of whom he paid large amounts of money to keep quiet. Woods ended up in a sex addict clinic, and has been a shell of the man (and golfer) he once was since he returned to the public eye.

Out of obligation, most sports talk show guys tried to sound disappointed with him, but would often hesitate to take moral high ground, almost ending up with an “Attaboy!” attitude. Instead of questioning his sin, they’d question the wisdom of him ever getting married in the first place. I remember one dude contrasting him to Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, talking about how smart Jeter was not to get married, adding, “If Tiger wasn’t married and had all these women, we’d all be saying, ‘He’s the man!'”

This is certainly a comment on our culture, and how cheap sex has become, not to mention the degradation of women. It is odd, isn’t it, how much of a double standard our society has? Women demand to be treated with dignity and ask for men to stop seeing them as sex objects, yet our media is saturated with imagery that provokes exactly what women claim to despise.

I pray for men of a different spirit, who will rise above the din of the day, and believe in a Christ who delivers from sin. I cannot accept the faithless conclusion from defeated men who say they belong to Christ but claim that they can’t stop sinning.

This is not the confession of men who believe the gospel.

I hate to oversimplify this, but let’s do it anyway:

It really comes down to what you believe or don’t believe.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” (Luke 4:18). Notice Jesus didn’t say that He’d come to set prisoners free, but simply to proclaim their freedom. If you believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross, YOU ARE FREE RIGHT NOW. You need to begin to act like a free man. The one who doesn’t believe he is free will just stay in the cell and continue to bemoan his misery. It’s sort of like the chicken experiment. You’ve heard of that, right? If you tie a chicken’s feet and then cut the bands, the stupid thing will just lay there like it’s still bound.

Are you like that stupid chicken, laying around in bondage when Jesus has announced your freedom?

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

As followers of Christ, we don’t have to be slaves to sin. Through Christ, we are free from the slavery of our sin natures: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We may struggle, but sin is not our “master.”

This is more than wishful or positive thinking. It’s not like “mind over matter” or a psychological trick in a vain attempt to fool yourself out of bondage. This is the gospel. It has REAL POWER, real results, and gives you a very real victory. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Romans 1:16).

In Romans 6, several times Paul asks emphatically: “Don’t you know?” In other words, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you this? Aren’t you aware of these things? Aren’t you convinced of this yet?” I know there are many who know about the commands of God; many who know about religion; but do you know the gospel?

What are you supposed to know? Let’s start with a few basics:

1. There’s only one good man, and you’re not Him (Romans 7:18). Concede that you are not good or able to overcome your weakness, and can never be anything good without Christ in you. You’re no farther from God because you use porn than you were before you used porn. You’ve always needed grace. Now you can just see it.

2. You are forgiven through faith in the work of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:1). Learn to “get to the cross” fast when you stumble, and soon you’ll find yourself getting there before you sin. Don’t think that by carrying guilt for days or butchering yourself, you can gain forgiveness. That’s like penance. If you’re doing that, then you really don’t believe Christ’s cross was sufficient. You don’t really believe the gospel.

3. You are free in Christ (Romans 7:25). The gospel isn’t limited to forgiveness of sin, but is a message of freedom FROM sin. It’s the “double cure”: deliverance from the penalty and power of sin.

4. God will work all things for the good (Romans 8:28). God is sovereign and won’t waste any of your pain, your mistakes, or any your trials. He’ll use it all for His glory. Give Him your mess.

I know I’ve yet to give you any pointers about internet filters or accountability, and that’s because I want to show you that you will neither stand nor fall with these. You stand or fall with whether or not you believe the gospel. All the other conversations are really secondary, though helpful.

Chew on this stuff for a while. Next week I’ll talk about avoiding temptation.

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