It was the lying that troubled me most. I admitted to my wife early on that I had a problem with the TV sometimes, and the computer. She knew I had a weakness and she preferred not to talk about it. Sometimes I would lie to her that I wasn’t viewing pornography when in fact I had. I didn’t want to hurt her. But yes, I lied.
That bothered me. In other areas of my life, I tried to be scrupulously honest. I even avoided exaggerating. So this blotted my conscience. Was I really saved? I had an inner assurance of salvation and the Presence of the Holy Spirit most of the time. And God used me in various ways. But liars finish up in the Lake of Fire.
Shameful vices make us hide. They breed deceit.
I didn’t know where I really stood with God. We could have an interesting theological discussion about it. All I knew was, I had to do something. But what?
Three boxes arrived in our hallway. A pentecostal church near us was having a clearout of its library. The pastor knew me well, and clearly they had decided I would like to have their books. So I began to sift through them. I have thrown out half of them and I have only read about a quarter of the rest.
It took me a couple of years before I got to ‘The Revival in Indonesia’ by Kurt Koch. It was written in the early 1970s. It was a bit like reading a JRR Tolkein book. It describes a world similar in one sense, but also unlike the one we live in. I have never read a book before written in such a cool, matter-of-fact way about such radical stuff. The miracles range from physical healings to water-into-wine. Indonesia abounds with witchcraft and sorcery, and there are many and varied cases of people confessing to occult involvement and being delivered from demons as part of their conversion to Christ.
So how does this relate to my journey thus far? Well, the book opened my eyes to something. My experience of church life is limited. The miraculous exists. Unclean spirits are around. I did not see this book as a solution to my problems at this stage, but it set me thinking a little differently.
I heard them. I sought them on the internet and sat through them.
They didn’t work. I just felt bad. Am I just a bad person, beyond redemption because I cross the line and don’t seem to have the willpower to overcome?
I was beginning to think my life would have to be planned around this. I could spend a week or two, maybe the odd month without lapsing, walking close to God, just accepting I was going to get back into the porn every so often. Maybe I am just so evil, my conscience so dulled that I am beyond help. I despaired.
In most areas I am self-disciplined. I get up early, I read my Bible and pray pretty consistently. I try to keep up with all the jobs I need to do. But it simply didn’t work in this area. The addictions simply seemed stronger than my sense of duty and routine.
I asked some people if I could be accountable to them over this. I found out that you have to be careful here. Some people were embarrassed and simply couldn’t handle it, or didn’t want to know. But I did find someone. It helped. But it still didn’t solve the root issue! I would ask a friend to ask me occasionally how I was doing in this area. I would set up an accountability program showing which suspect websites I had visited.
The root issue was still there. I would still manage to find websites that bypassed the software. I would still let myself and my brother down. Now you know why I despaired over this. Maybe I’m just a very bad person who can never get over this.
All the way through this process I was dealing with surface issues. Chopping the top off a weed makes the garden clean again for a time, but the weed is still there because the root is still in the ground. The root of the problem had not been solved.
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up… Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Mark 4:3-4, 7, 18-19
Was this me? Were the weeds of temptation going to take over eventually and choke me to death? How can I actually uproot the issue? Completely pull the weeds out by the root?
I despaired of ever finding an answer, but I kept praying.