How to Minister to the Sex Addict
As my wife Rose and I have traveled around this country and internationally, we are continually confronted with the sad reality that sexual sin is a spreading cancer in the Church that so often goes undetected. Even when it is recognized, the life threatening prognosis is disregarded.
The fact is, at one time or another, nearly all of us encounter situations where the consequences of sexual sin is wreaking havoc on a person, a marriage, or an entire family. For this reason, we need to be equipped to minister hope and change in such situations.
The root of all sexual sin, no matter the degree, goes much deeper than most who are involved in it understand. Sexual sin is the natural outcome of a divided heart. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) At its core, sexual sin is a worship issue.
The starting place is always the same. The person trapped in sin desperately needs to find true biblical repentance. This repentance will only come when a person’s heart has changed. Those in sexual addiction desperately needed to see their “struggle” the way God does, as rebellion and sin. This is essential because a person will only quit his destructive behavior when he has truly repented of it in his heart. “Godly sorrow” that “produces a repentance without regret,” (2 Corinthians 7:10) will occur only when the person realizes the error of his ways and surrenders to change.
Lead them to Repentance
In his book, Counseling the Sexual Addict, Steve Gallagher breaks down this process of repentance into four basic components:
- Poverty of spirit: seeing one’s need to change and coming to the realization that he cannot accomplish this change without the power of God.
- Mourning over sin: as the person begins to face the ugliness of his behavior, he becomes broken over it.
- Submission to God: as the sin in one’s heart is exposed, true repentance occurs. Self-will is replaced by submission to God’s authority.
- Fruits of repentance: as God is allowed to conquer the man’s heart, a change occurs which becomes evident in the way he lives his life.
Steve goes on to advise counselors, “It is vital that you, as a counselor, lead an individual out of habitual sin and into this kind of genuine repentance. He cannot conjure up this experience for himself. He must seek God for it. The counselor’s role is helping the counselee see his need for a radical inward transformation and praying that he receives it.”
Join them in Discipleship
Once true repentance has occurred and the person is ready to submit his will to God’s, he (or she) must then be taught what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. A mature saint must come alongside and lead the way in how to live a life of self-denial and how to walk in the Spirit. We are told in God’s Word to, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) This is a very practical thing and is about making biblical choices instead of allowing the flesh to dictate our actions.
This kind of walk with God doesn’t just happen but has to be cultivated. It begins with learning how to spend quality time in His Word and His presence. Yes, excelling in our relationship with God always starts with a rich devotional life. Finding contentment and satisfaction in Christ alone is the key that will unlock the prison door of sexual sin in a person’s heart. Jesus must become our first love and be more desirable than anything this world has to offer, including sex.
Paul describes this process in Ephesians 4:22-24, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” The sex addict who continually sought his satisfaction from “deceitful lust” should not expect to be able to “put off the old man” without replacing it with the new man, who draws his joy and fulfillment from God. His mind, his entire way of thinking, must be cleansed and “renewed” by reading, studying, meditating and praying over God’s Word.
Furthermore, there must be a radical amputation of every allurement the enemy has used to influence and enslave him to sin. (John 8:34) For most, this means getting rid of or limiting TV, internet, social networking, video games, entertainment, worldly music, and such. In effect, the Devil’s ability to control him must be minimized, and the Lord’s ability to draw and renew him must be maximized. In deciding what to remove or change, an important question must be asked: “Does this bring me closer to God or does it cause spiritual compromise?”
God considers obedience and walking in His way to be the highest form of worship, especially in an area that had been ridden with selfishness and rebellion.
As the sex addict turns away from idols and worships God alone, he will begin to experience the joy and satisfaction of an undivided heart. Only contentment in God will smother the flames of lust.
Jesus has made it all possible through the work of the Cross. It is there we must lead those who are bound in the fetters of sexual sin, and it’s only there where they will find true freedom and victory.
Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He held various positions during his 22 years with Pure Life Ministries. Jeff holds an MDiv and BA in Biblical Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity. He recently branched out on his own, launching Lighthouse Biblical Counseling Center in Dry Ridge, Kentucky.
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