They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. -Revelation 12:11
So, I need a place to share a testimony of what Jesus has done in me and for me. I hope this is the right place.
Since August 31, 2014, I am a completely new man. But before I share that testimony, I need to share another one.
God saved me about six years ago from death in drug abuse and porn addiction.
Two years before that, I spent 30 days in LA County Jail after taking a plea bargain to drop 4 felony counts to 1 count of grand theft. Jesus met me in the holding cell, and for the first time, I knew the meaning of the phrase “you don’t know God is all you need until God is all you have.” My new life started then, but sin deeply entangled me even after release, and soon I slipped back into old behavior.
Two years later, after a DUI which resulted in a felony probation violation, and a failed suicide attempt, I checked myself into a clinic. My grandfather is a 40-year veteran of Alcoholics Anonymous, who took me to my first meeting shortly after release. Jesus met me again and utterly changed my heart, and I began attending meetings up to three times a day.
My father passed shortly before then, tragically the result of alcoholism. I used the small inheritance he left me to pay for a 6-month inpatient substance abuse treatment in a nearby city.
The divine romance took over. I loved Jesus, both who he is and what he does, more every day. About 4 months into my treatment, I sat in the garage of the sober living environment, smoking my first cigarette of the day. I asked him what he wanted me to do. He said he wanted me to put the cigarettes down. So, by the grace of God, I did. I went through weeks of physically painful nicotine withdrawal, but all the while I kept the image in my mind of our suffering saviour on the cross bearing infinitely more pain. Somehow in his grace, I shared in his triumph and haven’t smoked since.
On my way home from an AA meeting, I chanced upon a computer repair shop and struck up a conversation with the owner, who gave me a job on the spot. I disclosed my past and remained open about it, which never once raised issue.
About two years into chemical sobriety, Jesus started talking to me about my other addiction: porn and masturbation. I had been doing that for a lot longer than drugs, alcohol and smoking, since I was about 8 years old. I knew they had no part in God’s plan for my life, but I didn’t feel free from them the way I felt free from drugs. I wanted to marry a wife and keep her as my standard of beauty, but I had no idea how to clear my head and heart from the filth that 15 years of porn leaves behind.
I got desperate and reached out to anyone. A counselor suggested that 90 days without masturbating would be a meaningful milestone that I should try for. By that time, I lived in a transitional living home with about 4 other men. We had a whiteboard in the living room, and on it I wrote how many days elapsed since I last masturbated. Somehow, Jesus saw me through to 90 and beyond. The pastors around me were helpful, but I didn’t feel like anyonetruly shared my suffering. I went so far as to join an online Sex Addicts Anonymous IRC chatroom meeting, just to share my struggle with others openly.
During this period of sobriety, I met my future wife in 2009 and married her in 2010. I hadn’t masturbated or looked at porn in over a year, and I openly shared my past with her.
Quickly I found that my hands may have stopped sinning, but my heart hadn’t. Even though I didn’t look at porn or masturbate, I wanted to. Jesus had yet to rescue me from my first, worst and most horrifying idol: sex.
Fast forward to August 2014. I have three beautiful daughters with my beloved wife. I co-lead a Men’s Pure Desire group at my church, helping other men break free from sexual bondage. My actions are purer than ever, but my heart is sicker than ever.
Nearly every sexual temptation trips me up, and I spend sometimes hours in fantasy, even though I never act out in porn or masturbation. I can’t go more than 2-3 days without sex, which causes my wife to feel like a prostitute (except who doesn’t get paid afterward). I’m living an increasingly double-life, but I have no idea how to stop. I’m doing all the right things, I’ve reached out in every way I can. I felt like I was headed for a wreck, but I had already pulled out all the stops. I reached a point of hopeless resignation somewhere deep down in my soul, knowing there was nothing I could do.
Then, on August 31, 2014, Jesus rescued me.
Many members of our church family go on a camp-out every Labor Day weekend. We arrived late Friday evening, and as a result, Saturday hit me hard. I fought temptation and frustration all day. By Sunday I calmed down enough to go into town. My wife made some impromptu plans to spend the day at an indoor waterpark with our three girls, her mom, and two girls in foster care. Normally I steer clear of anywhere with women in bikinis—probably the worst real-life temptation—but somehow I knew it would be alright.
On the car ride in, I started chatting with the two foster girls, and felt a strange fraternal connection to them. As one who never had sisters, I always cherished the thought of being an older brother to girls. I began feeling a new delight in what would normally not interest me. By the time we got to the waterpark, something had already changed—the background panic of being surrounded by scantily clad women had left, and I felt curiously peaceful and in control of myself like never before.
We spent over four hours swimming, going down the waterslide, and wading through the lazy river. We ran, we laughed, we talked. I will never forget the look of excited bewilderment on those girls’ faces…they had never done anything like that before in their entire lives. I knew nothing about their past, or how they got into foster care, but as the son of divorced parents, I felt like I knew on some level what that must be like.
Having the opportunity to be an older brother to younger sisters (in Christ) touched me to my deepest core. I could have never planned it or known how profoundly that would impact me. That was perhaps the first time in my life I’ve been able to look at a female in a truly, fully, pure way. Satan had hijacked my mind and heart long ago to see every female in some level of sexual context, which made true intimacy with them impossible.
I spent the whole day in that waterpark never once feeling tempted beyond what I could bear (1 Cor 10:13), and I left that place feeling whole in a way I never had before. Before then, Satan’s flaming arrows of temptation would hit their mark every time. After that, I feel like Neo stopping bullets with the palm of my hand. The chains are broken, all Glory to God.
In the weeks that have followed since then…
- I look at my wife different.
- I look at my kids different.
- I look at women different.
- Because I look at them different, I behave differently, and they react differently, all for the better.
- I enjoy new, deep and meaningful intimacy with my wife, which she has borne testimony to.
- I love spending time with my daughters like I never have. I want to “date” them and be the first man in their lives until I give them away to their husbands.
- I feel alive in places I only knew death.
- I feel like I am becoming a real man.
- I feel a growing, rightful confidence that God will finish the work he started in me.
- I feel emotion like I never did—not overcome by it, nor shutting it off, but in control of it—letting it out in appropriate times and places.
- I feel the warmth of God’s presence like never before, even when I was first saved.
- I enjoy waiting for the right timing for sex, and I don’t feel like I ever “need” it like I did. Now it’s about intimacy, and not just getting off.
- Temptations still come, but I easily overthrow them.
- Hardships have come, but I approach them in a new way that leads to victory instead of despair.
- I fear man less and fear (awe) God more.
- I have more energy and manage my time better.
- I have more grace for those I normally would feel bitterness toward.
- I no longer feel like I have the “old man” alive on the inside, sabotaging the work of the Spirit, letting Satan in when I work so hard to keep him out. Now my body is the temple of the Spirit.
- Life has taken on flavors and colors and a richness I never knew.
So, I just want to say openly and publicly, Thank you Jesus. Holy, holy holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and is and is to come.
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! -Romans 7:24,25
[LEAH] Wow, that is awesome and I am so blessed to read that and I am really happy for you. What a wonderful testimony.I am not sure when the day was that you put your trust on Jesus and believed on Him, though. When did you hear the gospel and believe on Jesus? You said 6 years ago but who gave you the gospel message?
ternarybit[S] I heard the gospel message at a very young age from my parents, but I didn’t put faith in him until about 6 years ago when I first got sober. I don’t know exactly the moment this happened. That was when I began bearing the fruit of the Spirit and showing evidence of a new heart.
My sanctification has progressed in phases since then, which, I guess, is what this testimony is about. It’s not just how God adopted me into the family, but how he has continued to conquer sin in me since then, which to me, is just as important.
[LEAH] I believe in sanctification but I also believe there is a certain moment where we decide to put our faith on Jesus. See Romans 10 and John 3.
Sure, sorry if I came across the wrong way 🙂 I’m just not sure how to split the hairs yet. Thinking back, I think that moment was in the holding cell. That was when I first surrendered and accepted Him as Lord of my life.
The struggles I shared after that moment are, I think, part of my sanctification as a believer.
Bless you too.