Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is)

Around four months ago I mentioned this new book by Joshua Harris that was soon to become available for purchase. I thought I would pass on this recent review by mega-blogger Tim Challies. There have been a lot of popular books that have come out in the last several years on the issue of sexual sin (particularly as it relates to men). The one book I read on the issue was effective in shocking people (women particularly) into a stronger awareness of the problem. It also provided a clear strategy for attaining victory over sexual sin. The only problem I have with strategy driven programs is they tend to make the process of healing “man centered” which often translates into a short-term or ineffective fix. No matter how you slice it, sexual sin is a heart issue and consequently finds ultimate healing through spiritual transformation. This is what encouraged me by Tim’s review. I have yet to read the book, but expect to eventually (my reading list is rather long right now).

If you are a guy or gal who is struggling with sexual sin or are married to someone in this category, then this book may be a good resource for you. Below is an excerpt from the review. To read the entire review go here.

- - - -

Harris goes on to discuss the gospel. And this is what I love most about this book. Rather than moving from identifying the problem to planning out the solution, Harris pauses at the gospel--he pauses at the source of the solution. In a couple of chapters that seem they could as easily have been written by C.J. Mahaney or Jerry Bridges, he celebrates the gospel and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. "We can't save ourselves and we can't change ourselves. Only faith in Christ can rescue us from the prison of our sin. And only the Spirit can transform us. Our job is to invite His work, participate with it, and submit more and more of our thoughts, actions, and desires to Him."

Harris then wades into the thick of the battle, discussing the issues and offering strategies for long-term change. He discusses the types of issues we would expect him to tackle: masturbation, media, accountability and so on. The best and clearest solution offered, though surely the one that seems least attractive to the carnal mind, is memorizing Scripture passages most relevant to our particular temptations. A chapter at the end briefly discusses the Internet and tips for fighting against succumbing to the temptations of Internet pornography. Through it all, Harris speaks honestly and candidly, even holding out events and experiences from his life that must cause him a good bit of embarrassment. He is willing to admit his own weaknesses and failures in order to help others tackle theirs.

Ultimately, this book leads to the biblical (but still surprising) conclusion that, despite the allure of lust and the pleasures it seems to offer, there is far greater pleasure to be found in holiness. The pleasure and freedom of holiness is so much greater, so much truer, than carnal delights. "Remember," Harris says, "God doesn't call you to sacrifice as an end in itself. He calls you through it. On the other side of sacrifice is unspeakable beauty and indescribable joy. It's not easy, but it's worth every minute." He holds out no easy, magical solution to defeat lust. Rather, lust's power will decrease as we relentlessly pursue holiness.

No comments: