STONE 3: FORGIVENESS



In this stride toward the freedom from porn and a life of purity it's necessary to start and end with a list.

Pull out your journal, scrap paper, notes on your device, etc., and write down the names of all the people you feel who may have been harmed by your life of impurity.  

ASSIGNMENT #1:

Spend a few minutes (or however long it takes) to list all of the names of people who were actually harmed by your decisions. Include the people whom you may have harmed indirectly.

Those names are the people who didn't get the best of you. For example, the co-workers, employers, family members who struggled to understand your moody behavior or difficult attitude.

When you feel the list is complete for now - return to this spot.

  • Your list may not be 100% complete at this point, but God will continue to reveal names and faces who may have been impacted by your decisions.
     
  • The first person you want to find on the list is: YOU. Are you on the list?  If not, add your name at the very top.  

The act of forgiveness has incredible power which can unlock the door to freedom from shame.  Forgiveness addresses the stronghold of shame, but doesn't always remove the price to pay from being guilty. 

First, we need to understand the difference between guilt and shame. 

GUILT:  is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for the offense, wrong, etc., Confessing and repenting will not remove the guilt you posess for the actions you've taken. If you have broken a law or a covenent or trust - then guilt is a consequence. 

SHAME: is the painful feeling arising from your awareness of the actions you've taken against yourself and against others who care deeply about you - including God. 

As you seek forgivenss in this process, it's necessary to address both guilt and shame. Saying you are sorry doesn't make you less guilty of the offense. You can be forgiven and still find it necessary to face the consequences. 

When you find deep forgiveness for your shame, then healing begins. The consequences of guilt are far easier - if not welcomed - to handle. 

 When looking to overcome this feeling of shame or feeling "less than", you must look to God and His method of forgiveness to fully receive the freedom that awaits. 

The real grip of evil on the addicted mind comes after we've been made aware of our problems and the people we may have injured.

The intent of evil is to continually whisper in your ear how undeserving you are of God's grace and forgiveness.  Meanwhile, God is looking into your eyes and your soul with love, kindness, firmness, and truth about his unconditional forgiveness and grace. 

Take a look at God's definition of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go,” as when a person does not demand payment for a debt.

Jesus used this comparison when he taught his followers to pray: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4) Likewise, in his parable of the unmerciful slave, Jesus equated forgiveness with canceling a debt.—Matthew 18:23-35.

You forgive yourself when you let go of the shame felt for the impure life you've been living. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness, since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.  

If God is unselfish and promises to "let go" of the sin you've confessed and repented, then who are you to hang on to that debt?  What gives you the authority to override God's love with your selfish desire to nurse your injuries?  

Until you are able to forgive yourself, the shame will keep you locked in chains and unable to completely free yourself. 

The point can't be stated strongly enough - until you are able to forgive yourself for the shame you've heaped upon your shoulders - lasting freedom isn't available to you. The people you've harmed will not find a free man, but the same man hidden in shame.


Today, a decision must be made.  You pick:

  • I will keep the shame and remain broken.  (stop here - no need to proceed until you address this)
    God does not forgive people who are guilty of willful, malicious sin and who refuse to acknowledge their mistakes, change their ways, and apologize to those whom they have hurt.
    • (Proverbs 28:13; Acts 26:20; Hebrews 10:26) 
       
  • I will forgive myself and go toward freedom. (It's time to continue forward!)
    Forgiving yourself doesn't mean that you condone what you've done. The Bible actually condemns those who claim that bad actions are harmless or acceptable.—Isaiah 5:20.  
    • There is no gain in pretending the offense never happened. God forgave King David of serious sins, but he did not shield David from the consequences of his actions. 
    • You can also take comfort in knowing that God will bring a time when we will no longer feel the deep pain or hurt that may burden us now.—Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:4.

So, you've made the decision to forgive yourself!!  Yes!!  What does that mean and how do you make that happen?

  • Remember what forgiveness involves. You are not condoning the wrong or acting as if it never happened—you are simply letting it go.
  • Give yourself a little grace. None of us are perfect. (James 3:2) 
  • Be reasonable. Getting to this place of shame took time and effort. Forgiving yourself will not magically make the feeling disappear, but will fade in time. 
  • Act quickly.  Don't allow the shame to continue it's unforgiving voice. When the feeling of being "less than" begins to get louder, look into the eyes of Jesus Christ and tell him how grateful you are for loving you just like you are. 

FORGIVING THE CAUSE:

(NOTICE: This step could be difficult and destructive if practiced alone. This is the time to reach out to your friend who has agreed to walk with you through this process. Remember, that most friends aren't equipped to handle the heavy baggage we can bring to the table, proceed with caution. Ask them to simply listen to your answers and pray with you.)

ASSIGNMENT #2:

  • Get out your list of names we identified in the beginning.  Add the following answers: 
    • Why did you turn to porn in the first place?
    • How old were you?
    • Who knew about 
    • What was the scene of your first encounter?
    • What was the scene of your most recent encounter?
    • How has the habit changed over time?

Shame often comes with deep roots. Porn, lust, sexual addictions, and deviant lifestyles are rarely the reason your impure life choices are made.

Some people deal with shame through drugs, work, pride, hate, anger, rage, etc.  Shame is the author of unhappy and discontent lives.  

Humans aren't perfect, but God is perfect. Humans are a terrible standard to measure your life against. God is the perfect standard through Jesus Christ by which you should measure your life. 

Shame has plagued us since the earliest break away from God.  Humankind became less than perfect and ushered in a life of deficiency. With sin alive within us the kind of shame we all experience comes with a feeling of failure and it's usually masked with pride.

Shame also enters the picture when we fail to live up to other people’s expectations.  This failure to meet those marks typically causes us to run away and hide our sin. 

Write down the following:

  • What expectations do you find hard to meet? 
  • Were you never given any expectations to meet?

Where have you been hiding? 

  • Hiding places like your home?  Rooms, offices, hobbies
  • Are you hiding at work?
  • Do you hide behind computers or your phone?
  • Do you hide in plain sight by not interacting or engaging with others? Earphones, Netflix, Sports, etc?

Breaking Shame’s Power through God's promises. Open your bible and look up the following scripture.

  •  Jesus’s death and resurrection is the only remedy for the shame we feel over our failures (Hebrews 9:26).
  • There is nowhere else to go with our sin; there is no other answer (Acts 4:12).
  • Jesus provides a complete cleansing (1 John 1:9).  
  • The grace that flows from these promises provide for all our other shameful weaknesses and failures (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

Shame pronounces us deficient or "less than".  It provides a definition for our life which does not point to God, but yourself.  

  • Jesus pronounces us guiltless and promises that his grace will be sufficient for us in all our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
  • Christ is all we need (Colossians 3:11).
  • As we trust Jesus as our righteousness (Philippians 3:9) and our provider of everything we need (Philippians 4:19), shame will lose its power over us.

BE FORGIVEN!

  1. Ask God to forgive you - and receive it.
  2. Forgive yourself as Christ has given you freedom.

On your journey, you may have discovered there are people in your life who sent you down the trail of pornography. A father, a family member, a friend, an abuser, etc. It's time to release them.

As a forgiven man, it's now necessary to forgive the person or persons you feel have created this problem. Your responsibility is to take action now and release them from the locked chamber in your heart, mind, and soul.  

I'm not asking you to confront these people, some may even be dead and gone. I am asking you to release their actions, the memories, and the hurt into God's care.

Their voice has been erased and the echoes of their words or actions have now faded and absorbed by Jesus Christ. 

You no longer hold unforgiveness in your heart.


ASSIGNMENT #3:

  • Find the names on your list from assignment #2 which have played a signficant role in your shame and life of porn. 
  • Pray earnestly for each person that they have peace and happiness in God's grace.
  • Scratch through the names.
  • Pray that God receive them as you give their actions away.

RESTORATION

Finally, you must move toward restoring those close, intimate relationships of those whom you've damaged with your actions.

 As you've begun to conquer your feelings of shame and disappointment, there may still be a lingering feeling of guilt.  Be careful not to transform that guilt into shame.  

As you face those who may choose to accuse you of wrongdoing, remember to accept the guilt for the consequence of your actions. 

Re-visit your list from Assignment #1 and find the names of those whom you've already confessed your impurity.  Most likley these are your wife or someone for whom you love deeply - intimate relationships.

Share with them your journey of shame and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Share the forgiveness you have offered to the person or circumstances which began your journey into porn.

Next, ask this person or persons to tell their story of how your actions hurt them. Listen to them. Do not talk. Be prepared for the process to take time and potentially contain anger or any other range of emotions. 

Finally, ask for their forgiveness.  Remember, it is their right to forgive or not forgive - you do not have control. Remain steady in your work to stay away from shame and remain confessed to God. 


 This process may take time and likely will continue.  Meanwhile, you should move on to STONE #4: Accountability