An Overview of Sex Addiction Recovery 

Though sex addiction can be a complex and challenging stronghold of sin, there is still tremendous hope for recovery for those who trust in Jesus Christ.  The time it takes for someone to be healed of sex addiction will depend on several factors, including the person’s will, the strength and depth of the stronghold and the amount of intercession being done for the person.  We should remember that God can heal people through a variety of ways, and not every person’s journey to freedom will be the same. 

In this section I will summarize some of the key points along the road to healing and recovery that I have learned about.  These points are covered in more detail in my Freedom Journey studies at http://www.porn-free.org/online_courses.htm. Your familiarity with the healing process may help you better assist your spouse in his or her recovery.  

Believing for freedom and breaking secrecy
Breaking addiction is a healing process and faith for freedom is an important part.  Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23 NKJV). We exercise our faith when we believe in God's word and confess it with our mouths (Romans 10:10).  Recovering sex addicts will typically face circumstances that challenge their faith to believe that healing is occurring or even possible.  If the sex addict can resist doubt and cling to faith, he or she will have a very good chance of getting free.  Faith releases God's power in us to perform the impossible and bring the unseen into reality!   

With that in mind, freedom-seekers are wise to plug into as many sources as they can for encouragement in their faith, including:

·        Reading the Bible

·        Praying for healing and faith

·        Connecting with faith-filled friends

·        Attending a faith-filled church

Connecting to such faith sources will no doubt require breaking secrecy about the addiction.  Sex addicts typically try to hide their sin due to shame, fear or unwillingness to surrender their habits.  There are many problems with keeping sin secret.  One of the biggest problems is that secrecy enables a person to go deeper into bad habits.  It keeps the person under the power of fear; the fear of being caught, the fear of rejection, the fear of being fired, etc.  Ultimately, secrecy blocks the work of healing because it resists confession and repentance, the two critical ingredients for healing (1 John 1:9, James 5:15-16).   

Due to the embarrassing nature of sex addiction, a recovering addict will need trustworthy people to break secrecy with.  Hopefully such persons will include the spouse, pastor and committed Christian friends. Once the truth is divulged, the person can connect with these people for prayer and encouragement as he or she walks to freedom.

Recognize and repent from the sin
Sin is typically the primary root of sex addiction, as the temptations of the world often lure Christians into a life of “carnal Christianity” where they’ve placed faith in Christ, yet live as heathens.  Ironically, the bondage of sex addiction often drives people to seek help from God, when they might not have otherwise done so.  As they turn to God for help, the Holy Spirit helps them recognize their sin and convicts them to repent. This is in line with God’s desire for people to confess their sins and turn away from them permanently (Acts 3:19).  After this has been done, healing and deliverance can proceed unimpeded.  Our “Deal with Sin” section in Freedom Journey 1 helps people understand the typical sins involved with sex addiction and then offers appropriate prayers for confession and repentance.   

There is also typically a need to address other sin-related issues such as generational curses, soul ties, cherished memories and emotional wounds.  These all can be fortifying factors in a sex addiction stronghold.  We encourage people to specifically:

Clean House
Living as a new person in Christ is a challenge for anyone, but especially for recovering sex addicts.  Our sex-saturated society offers plenty of temptations to entice sex addicts to revert to their old habits.  It can help tremendously to have a place of refuge; a place substantially free from the reminders and temptations of former lusts.  The home should be that refuge. Sex addicts typically have all kinds of things in their homes that need to be thrown out or curtailed, such as all forms of pornography, unfiltered internet access, cable or satellite TV w/movie channels, sexually explicit videos (ex. R-rated movies) and sexually explicit video games.  To put it bluntly, if we tolerate such sin-traps in our home, we dishonor God and offer Satan open doors to influence the rest of the family. 

Think of this analogy. If you had a pet rattlesnake that still had its venom glands and fangs, would you keep it in the home without a cage?  Of course not!  You would keep it in a protective cage and be careful whenever handling it.  Dealing with temptation sources can be thought of in the same way.  It would be foolish to keep them in the home without some sort of restriction.  It would be better not to keep them in the home at all, wouldn’t it?  The sensible thing to do is to at least restrict the temptation sources in the home, if you can not remove them entirely.   

Just as critical as cleaning out the house, it is also important to fill the home with things that will point a person to God. Consider Colossians 3:1-2 NIV"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." We can bolster a "God-focused" heart and mindset by what we do in the home and keep in the home.  Examples of house fillers include:

·        Playing worship music

·        Reciting scripture aloud

·        Selecting wholesome entertainment

·        Anointing and praying over the house

·        Posting scriptures in key areas 

These things can literally alter the spiritual atmosphere in our homes, enhancing it as a place of refuge.     

Develop a daily relationship with Jesus

Perhaps the most important investment a person can make is in developing a daily relationship with God.  This is especially true for sex addicts, as they need the supernatural, transforming power of God to help them truly jettison the “old self” and put on the “new self” in Jesus Christ.  The most basic way to build a daily relationship with God is to spend time with him in a “Quiet Time” consisting of prayer, Bible Study and worship.  For whatever reason, making a Quiet Time top priority seems to be very difficult for people, but those who do so will grow closer to God, learn how to live as a new person and escape the corruption caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:4). 

Exercise godly habits

Living as the “new person” in Christ involves daily “spiritual exercise” toward godliness.  Paul instructed Timothy, “Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV).  As with physical exercise, exercising godliness is not easy.  Some people make the mistake of trying to be “good” by gutting it out and relying on their will power.  Will power might work for a little while, but sooner or later the temptations of sin will likely prevail. 

Thankfully, God has given the Christian the Holy Spirit to empower him or her to do this exercise.  With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can truly live transformed lives and overcome the seemingly irresistible temptations of past lusts.  The two critical areas for sex addicts that need exercise in godliness are the eyes and thoughts.

The eye is a very significant organ both physically and spiritually.  Jesus said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness." (Luke 11:34-35 NKJV). 

The eye is a powerful receptor that serves as a spiritual entry point for the whole being.  And so when a person looks at pornography, for example, their minds are filled with the images and associated fantasies.  As Jesus taught, we have the responsibility to ensure that the things we view fill us with light instead of darkness.  For the sex addict this will mean stopping the inflow of porn, but also it will require changing entertainment habits and retraining himself to honor God with his eye habits.  This is in harmony with cleaning out the house as discussed above.  As with any discipline, this takes time and practice to master.   

Controlling the “thoughtlife” is another important discipline to exercise.  The mind is the battlefield for spiritual warfare and sex addicts are typically accustomed to letting their thoughts run unrestricted in sexual fantasy.  One of the goals of recovery is to keep one’s thoughts from lust and sexual idolatry.  Paul described this discipline as taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and casting down every evil imagination (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).   As with eye habits, this discipline takes time and practice to master.  Relying on the Holy Spirit, people have the best chance of success in meeting the daily challenges of wandering eyes and unruly thoughts.    

As you consider the entertainment habits of your family and the potential sources of temptation in the home, what specific things can you do to help your spouse in their efforts to control their eyes and thoughts?

 

Live in love
Living in love is the final area of recovery, as well as the ultimate goal of living in Christ. Sex addiction caters heavily to lust and learning how to love, without lust, is an important milestone of healing.  Living in love involves focusing on loving God, one’s spouse and other people.   

How does a person love God?  Jesus explained, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21 NASB).  What are God’s commandments?  The Ten Commandments are a good starting place, yet there are many more.  Thankfully all of God’s commands have been summed up for us in this simple concept: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14 NKJV). 

Marital love is an area that needs a great deal of work for sex addicts, considering that their habits have corrupted or violated the relationship.  Often wives of sex addicts feel as though they are valued only for their sexual performance.  Some who have written us have mentioned feeling like prostitutes who are expected to perform per their husbands’ demands or expectations.  When they failed to measure up to the porn stars, they felt unloved, depressed and rejected.  It is quite possible that after catering to their addictions for years, the men may have forgotten (or never understood in the first place) how to love their wives apart from sexual expressions.  The challenge, therefore, for recovering sex addicts is to learn how to live in a less sex-saturated mindset and put a premium effort into showing non-sexual expressions of love for his wife.  Some men may be at a loss as to how to do this, and that is where wives can help by communicating what that looks like.     

Showing love to others is the final area of living in love.  Paul wrote, 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV).  To love others, we can attend to their needs and interests at least as much as we do our own, if not more.  By attending to the needs and interests of others, sex addicts may counter the selfishness that developed through the addiction.  Some example ways to exercise this kind of love are: volunteering to serve, using one’s spiritual gifts to serve the body of Christ, feeding the poor, visiting the sick, and investing time in building relationships.  Such activities will help a person shift the focus off himself and onto others.

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