Lasting obedience and conformity to God’s commands come when we realize that it isn’t by doing, but rather by believing that we truly grow. Daily i need to remember that at the root of all sin is a belief about that sin and unbelief in the promises and truth of God. To uncover both the belief in sin and the unbelief in the promises and truths of God and correct them with true faith in Christ is the fundamental struggle of the Christian life. Take the woman at the well in John 4. We learn that she has had “five husbands,” (4:18) and the one that she has now is not her husband. Inwardly she believes some lie about men. She may be thinking that by having men she gains true acceptance and comfort. Or she may have some sort of sexual addiction. The truth is, she has had five husbands, proving that this belief, whatever it is, is, in fact, a lie. Jesus doesn’t address this problem with saying, “stop marrying men!” He tells her that “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never be thirsty again,” (4:13). He hits her unbelief with a truth about Himself. He alone can satisfy! He alone can give her what she is looking for! In the same way, we must put our faith anew in Christ, including the promises and truths associated with Him, and only after we understand that life is found in Christ can we seek to effectively correct external behavior, or in the case of the Christian who is addicted to pornography; as the Christian puts up internet blockers and attempts to start loving people and not need them or exploit them, the Christian must fundamentally reorient his faith in Christ by uncovering the lie he believes about porn and sex and put his faith in the Christ who can satisfy. Only then can he repent of his unbelief and believe again! Only then will his actions of putting off and putting on be sustainable and acceptable before God, because then, his external actions are fueled by gratitude and love for God and others, not motivated by thinking salvation is in internet blockers or in simple outward conformity and obedience. Internet blockers are fantastic. But to the one who thinks that his/her problems will be solved by putting them up is only deceiving themselves. The true problem lies much deeper within. To miss the crucial role of faith in fighting sin is to attempt to cure cancer with a bandage (an effective cliche). The deep and foundational problem is not that we look at pornography, but that we believe in pornography. Sin is, at its core, believing a lie and not the truth. Our problem lies not in that we externally idolize certain things, but that we believe certain things about our idols. We think true life, true satisfaction, true joy, true salvation is not found in God, but in “x”. Faith, though, always takes the promises and truths of Christ and turns them into outward responses of gratitude and love. So then fighting our sin becomes a task of first uncovering the false beliefs we have about a particular sin, repenting of them, reorienting that faith in Christ, including the promises and truths associated with Him, and then out of a response to that truth, we are to put off that sin and put on godly deeds for the building up of others for the glory of God.
All of us, like the woman, are desperate, and yet we cannot find what we are looking for. Am i not tired of seeking worth in so many husbands? Has not the Great Husband come down to wed and save His bride?