Of the seven deadly sins, why did I start with Lust? Quite simply because it was the sin that most defined what was pervasive in my life. Does my use of past tense mean that lust is no longer a part of my life? Hardly. It is a daily struggle. It is part of my world…our world. It is an addiction. Addictions are never really cured; they are only avoided, replaced, or distracted, or we remove ourselves from them…but they are always there. Lust is always there waiting to tempt you into whatever form it may take in your life.
Lust is highly likely what drew you to this blog today. What is the nature of your lust? Mine was sexual in nature, and at the same time it was perverted by a lust for power and the need to feed my ego. I suppose I should throw idolatry into the mix as well because I worshipped the success, I achieved in my pursuit of sustaining my addiction. For many, pornography gets tagged as the addiction. I see pornography as a symptom – a visible manifestation of the sin of sexually driven lust.
My lust went beyond porn. Sure, I checked it out, but it did not take long before I began to see through the sex to the individuals trapped in the perversion of it all. That is why I say my lust went beyond pornography; I needed a more intellectual connection. My lust involved a more intellectual connection with others. I needed to know I was getting into the heads and hearts of other people, and I needed them to validate me, feed my ego.
So I used my gift. I authored stories. I wrote erotica. I wrote a lot of erotica. My website had hundreds of hours of short stories and poetry. I had traffic coming to my site at a rate of hundreds every day, and it was growing. I had affiliate relationships with the very porn sites I despised to create revenue sharing to a degree that would cover my website fees. In my lust I could justify anything. Momentum was building, and it began to look like I could potentially make a living in my lustful pursuits.
At the pinnacle of my worldly success, I had arrived as an established erotica author. My pseudonym attracted hits on Google. I had seventeen e-books available through a dozen or more smut sites. I had an 80,000-word novel within a chapter or two of being a published book. I was only months away from being on the erotic fiction shelf in Barnes & Noble. That’s about where I took that look in the mirror and saw what I had become.
That moment of reflection happened several years ago, after I had gained notoriety…and after I had lost everything else that should have been important. Despite the huge investment of years of hard work, I had arrived at a crossroads, and I had to make a choice. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and to help me put my life back on track. He did forgive me, and I truly died to this world.
I blew up everything. Blew the website away. Deleted thousands of hours of work from over ten years of writing. The costs along the way had been huge, and sadly, mostly unfelt to me. The impacts were absorbed by others; my family, and the families that I may have actually destroyed by what I encouraged through my writing. I did not see it; none of it. Not until that day I really looked behind my own eyes to the man I had become. I cried. I cried for forgiveness.
I not only lived a life of sin in my lust, but I also created stories about immoral sexuality, I promoted it to others. As I think back to those years, there was something I read in the bible that kicked me right in the gut…convicted me into surrendering to my Savior.
They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed.
2 Peter 2:12-14
I called myself a Christian, and I lived peacefully among Christians, but I also lived a secret life. I counted myself as a good provider for my wife and kids, was a highly rated and respected professional in my work field. Those things were in one life, and I split time with them and my secret life. My “deceptions” were a blind spot because I justified everything. I justified with the prowess of a practiced addict.
What was so bad if I was not acting on anything related to my website and my storytelling? But someone did act…and then I acted in response, and it ultimately cost me my family. I justified that too. I fed my ego and idolized the recognition I received for my writing. It was such a power rush to get fan mail that described how amazing my stories made someone else feel. That kind of validation sustained me, or so I thought. The more I received the more I needed. Fan mail was my drug…my high. It is just that way with addictions. Lust is, in my opinion, one of the worst of sins, and the worst of addictions. Mine addiction was private, a private addiction. It was separate. Secret. Paul had a few things to say about that…
And this is the message I proclaim – that the Day of Judgment is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.
And it got worse…the conviction, I mean…as I continued to read in Second Peter…
They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.
2 Peter 2:18-19
I was a “slave” to the powerful sin of lust. And I was not just a slave; I was actively luring other people into it with me through my writing. I contributed to the moral corruption of others. How many marriages besides my own were destroyed by my words? I did not care. The pride of my success sedated any sense of conscience. My heart had been hardened, and God was not going to do anything to stop me…
So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies…That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other.
Romans 1:24, 26-27
That scripture is a favorite for gay bashing. I am not gay, but I had shameful things coming from my heart. That scripture bashed me…convicted me. I wrote about all of those things…with a heart blazing with lust, and kudos were coming in right and left to validate my sin. I am certain Satan was quite proud of me. I never considered it at the time, but he may even have been my muse.
As I look back at the depths of lust and sexual addiction that lived inside of me, sustained through the actions in my secret life, I can only feel shame. The last thing I want to do is re-live my past and dwelling on it is a source of acute pain, but I choose to re-live it now because of the urgency I feel to write about it. Remembering it all is an ugly period in my life, and it is an embarrassment. My mission now is to remember and write. If I refuse to do this, I am not sharing the danger of this addiction for anyone else.
I will be judged for the things I have done, and when I think about forgiveness, I wonder if I would be as gracious as God to forgive a wretch like me. But I am forgiven. Christ buried my sins when I died to this world. These sins have been washed away. If you are wondering about the addiction, I can tell you this, it is still there. It will continue to be there as long as the enemy walks this earth. Satan’s tools of temptation are everywhere, and his favorite enticement is lust.
Turn on the television. Log into something as vanilla as AOL or MSN and even Facebook; there will be something tucked away along the side frames where plugging in your zip code will give you a list of people who are searching for sex. The enemy is alive and well armed on the internet. Porn revenues rival the likes of Google, Microsoft, and IBM and an awfully long list of others…all combined. The US is the largest source of porn on the planet. Over 40% of young adults 18-24 feel that pornography is acceptable. Lust is as easily satisfied as drawing a breath.
And to think I was a part of that. Even scarier, I realize that I am but a single distraction, a single weak moment from losing my focus on God…a single temptation offered up by Satan…to satisfy any lust that may lay in waiting in this world of sin. Satan’s promise is powerful in its deception and feeds the pleasure hungry searching to fill that hole in their lives. The deck is stacked against us. The reach of the enemy is bigger than me and you and all the rest of us. We are bombarded with temptation. So be it. That is the way of this world, but…know this – it is only one way.
The Other Way is the Truth and the Light, and we do have a choice. But we cannot fight the power of evil alone. We must know God, reach to Him for protection, and put on His whole armor…
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil.
Closing thoughts –
Why did I open this blog? Why did I expose myself to the world to be ridiculed and most likely judged by many who read these words? Why would I risk everything to share the confession of my sin? The answer lies right there in that last question – “Why risk everything?” Quite simply because, “Everything is at risk.” If I do not sound the alarm for others, I am headed back to my selfish ways. What I have chosen to do here is not easy. Some might say risky. But what did Christ do for me? What did He put at risk? He laid down His life so that I could sit here in comfort and ask to be forgiven…and actually BE forgiven. It cannot stop there.
My salvation hinges on not only accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior but in my taking that relationship back into a broken world He saved me from and making an attempt to shine His light through my words so that others know that there is something even stronger than the addiction of sexual lust. There IS a way out. Trust me in that. I am not sure how much deeper I could have gone, but He brought me out, and through the grace of God through Christ I was forgiven. And knowing that, I fight, and I win with a Power more consuming than that of lust.
Being a believer of Jesus Christ is not enough. I am called to be a Follower – a disciple – and spread His Gospel however I can. So here I am, Gary Wise, and this is my confession on Lust.
What follows are many of the same words I prayed to Jesus when I asked Him into my life. I have refined them a bit because the prayer needed to go beyond just asking. The prayer contains a request for Jesus not to just forgive our sins, but to empower us with His Holy Spirit to take our salvation and share the Good News with others so that they might also become courageous warriors in the spread of His Holy Kingdom here on earth. Pray this prayer right now for that new beginning in a new life in Christ…and become part of our great spiritual re-awakening.
My father in heaven, you are the only Source of forgiveness for my life. I know that you are already familiar with just how deeply my sin goes, and I confess before you that I am broken. I also confess that I cannot do this alone, and though undeserving of your grace, I ask for your forgiveness. I ask for your Son Jesus to become my Lord and Savior, and through my undying belief that only through his life, suffering, death, and resurrection, that His blood was spilled to wash my sins away. I ask for your Holy Spirit to come into my heart…and to bring all your mighty armor to protect me from the evil one. Empower me that I become a mighty, emboldened, courageous warrior in the spread of your Holy Gospel in your Kingdom here on earth. Thank you, God, for hearing my prayer.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask that you accept me into your Kingdom! Amen.
What is your next step? Read the Word of God and learn the power in the Holy Gospel…and then…share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone else…encourage them to share the Good News!
In the courageous love of Christ,