John Piper – Lust is as Powerful as Drunkenness

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From SoundCloud Ask Pastor John:

Pastor John, in a previous podcast, you expressed how important deep and rich theology is in the fight against porn addiction and lust. (That was the theme in podcast #18), and I want to revisit this and look more closely at how Christian men can serve each other. What would you say to a man, who has friends committed to helping him win, in the battle against lust and porn addiction?


I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about Paul’s text in 1 Corinthians 9, where it says he pummels his own body. The word is literally ‘gives his body a black eye’. He says, „I don’t box beating the air, in other words, I know where to land my punches. And he’s talking about the sins in his life that need to be punched out, that need to be put to death. And so, he’s talking about a kind of self denial, and a kind of self opposition, that stands up and pokes himself, and I think he’s just extending Jesus’s words, where he says, „If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.” Well, that’s a pretty good punch, you know, to the eye, taking your eye out. And, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Now, we know that’s not meant to be literal, because he says, „If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out. Well, you’ve got your left eye left over, and you can see the naked woman just as well with your left eye, as your right eye. So, we know that the literal tearing out of the right eye wouldn’t solve the problem. He means, ‘Be as vigilant and as forceful in your opposition of sin as you need to be, in order to kill it in your life.

Noe, here’s my new wondering. Why, why does lust, with seeing- I am thinking mainly men, but not just men.. Why does seeing have such a force, to draw us to click on pornography, or to linger over some bathing suit issue of Sports Illustrated, or to linger over some ad for a movie. What is it about us? And, as I’ve tried to analyze my own body, over the years, I’ve got this phrase, that I use: psychoerotic euphoria. I made that up. Psychoerotic euphoria. What I mean is, I don’t know what it is, or where it is, somewhere localized in the body- it can get localized, but it isn’t localized usually.

But, it’s just like power, in your body, that makes you so pleased by the erotic, by the visual, that you are moving toward it visually with such force, that it starts to nullify moral conviction, and puts you out of touch with all the arguments you had before to be pure, and moves you into behavior that, then, later you are going to disapprove of. What in the world is that like? And my answer is: It’s like drunkenness.

If you go into a bar, supposing, I’m just making this up. Suppose you go to a bar with a buddy, „We’re gonna witness for Jesus tonight,” at the bar. And you’re just sitting there, and this guy that you’re with starts drinking. Then he drinks too much and he gets drunk. And you say, „Well, this is obviously not working, we’ll never win anybody for Jesus. We just disobeyed Jesus by getting drunk, so we’re gonna go out of here,” and he grabs his arm, and, „We’re leaving.” And he’s the one who drove tonight. And so, he wants to drive, and go down and watch a movie downtown, while he’s drunk. And you say, „You’re not driving, I’m not gonna let you drive. I’m driving, I’m gonna drive this car. You bend his arm behind his back and throw him in the back seat, and grab his key, and since he’s your friend, he doesn’t hit you. And you drive him home and you throw him in bed. That’s a lot of manhandling, for a drunken guy. Is that right? Should we do that? And, I think most people would say, „Yeah! Yeah, you should do that. I mean, he was drunk, he was gonna kill himself.”

And, my question is: Is there something like that, that we should do for each other? If this psychoerotic euphoria is as powerful as drunkenness, and I think it is, do we need people in our lives to break our arm? Not just… Paul says, „I pummel my own body..” I’m saying, „You should pummel me.” You know, we often talk about accountability relationships. And a lot of people get all bent out of shape about legalism, and „You’re supposed to love Jesus from your heart, and you should not have to be constrained.” Look! If you’re drunk, and you’re about to kill yourself, you better be glad somebody’s in your life, to throw you in the back seat of a car, and later on, when you wake up, you be glad they did. And then, you can pray yourself into some kind of appropriate stance, where you obey freely from your heart.

But, this lust thing is much more like drunkenness, than it is like anything else, and so we may need this kind of personal accountability, where we have some kind of connection, some kind of special number on our cell phone, some way to push a button and say, „Knock me out, if you have to, in the next half hour, because I’m about to lose it because of this psychoerotic euphoria, that’s come over me like drunkenness. So, I’m just throwing that out there to guys. I’m saying: Compare it in your life, analyze your own soul, to see whether the sheer physical, erotic, psycho nature of this power is enough like drunkenness, where you would put a thing in your life like „drive this home”.

Yeah, I can see how this would apply to a brother, stumbling in sin in our presence, so much of pornography and lust however, is a private struggle in the darkness of isolation. How does this principle work out there?

Piper:I’m saying, when Hebrews 3:13 says, „Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief.” You would extend that out and say, „Perhaps, throw one another in a cold shower, every now and then, so that there won’t be an acted out heart of an inebriated psychoerotic drunkenness in a person’s life. If a guy is fighting a losing battle, and most of the guys, or gals, know who they are. „I know I’m supposed to fight this, I’m supposed to win this, but, I’m regularly losing this battle.” If they know that, they need to say that to their small group. And then, one idea would be, „I’m gonna put your number at the top of my favorites on my iPhone. It will take one punch, and I want you to give my number a special ringer on your phone.” And, the only time he ever hits that number is when he needs me to intervene. And so, you get on the phone, and you say, „Stand up, go outside in the snow.” Or, I’m coming over right now.” You just have it worked out, just the way you would if he were an alcoholic, and he would say, „You know, I’m just moving towards this bottle on my wall. I don’t know what it is. I want you to come smash my bottle for me.” I mean, it’s that weird,

Why else would Jesus say things like, „Cut your eye out.” I mean, that’s just wild. Oh, if someone says, „Oh, putting a special number on the phone, that’s wild.” Really? (As wild as) Take a screwdriver and poke it in your face? That’s not wild? So, I’m saying, When Hebrew 3:13 says, „But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief.” You would extend that out and say, „Perhaps, throw one another in a cold shower, so that there won’t be an acted out heart of inebriated psychoerotic drunkenness person’s life.

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