The freedom question, then, is not whether we can do whatever we want, but whether we can do what we most deeply want.
What do you want?
~Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:38)
Chapter 8 in Surfing for God is about Your Good Heart. There's a great story at the start with Michael and Larry. Michael is faced with the reality that there really could be a passion for God inside him that runs deeper than his passion for porn and masturbation. It's worth the price of the book.
He then takes us through how our hearts are bent away from God so we need a heart transplant. Our hearts need to be bent towards God. He says this about the gospel, "The gospel--the good news-- is truly extraordinary news because it doesn't concern itself with just getting to heaven. It concerns itself with life now. We rarely hear preachers say that in addition to forgiveness and assurance of salvation, something crucial has been restored in us. God has worked in such a way that our hearts that were bent away from God (before Christ) are now bent toward God because of Christ."
He then shares 'a plan so radical that it would cost God everything,'
He was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD had laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:5-6)
Michael shares more of the gospel, God's 'rescue effort.' Then he says this,
I can't think of any more pertinent theological truth or exciting promise for hope to share with the man trapped in sexual compulsion than the idea of the new convenant. The truth is this: God has dealt with the sin in your heart. And having a new heart changes everything--including what you do with your eyes and hands and other body parts.
Read that part again. Sometimes we zoom over profound truth because we've heard something like it before. Let that settle into your soul like a slow rain into fertile soil.
Your good heart stems from faith in Christ. It is more deeply true than any of us generally dare to imagine. We still battle a sin nature, but what is most true about us is our good heart and the longings that emerge from it. Sometimes that good heart is tough to believe in when a part of us wants what we want and we want it now and we know it isn't what God has in mind. Who told you there wouldn't be a battle? There is an enemy that wants to keep you enslaved and his primary tactic is feeding you lies.
Michael provides these terrific words of guidance, "Following Jesus is not about not sinning; it's about releasing His life from within. Like turning on a faucet. The goal is not to turn off the faucet of lust, but to turn on the faucet of trust. Trusting that God has restored my heart, and that my heart is good. Slowly, I began to understand just how much energy I had spent on sin management, trying to repress the cesspool I imagined within and keep the sewage inside from spewing out. As I stopped putting my energy into shutting off the faucet from the cesspool, my real passions began rising to the surface. The pipes in my soul were getting unclogged, and something was starting to flow that I didn't know was there. I began experiencing what Jesus described as "a spring of water welling up to eternal life."" (John 4:14)
You are defined by who God says you are and what He has done inside of you. Michael wrote a poem, in the middle of his sexual addiction, on an evening where he turned into a great old church instead of heading to the porn shop.
I've got a very hungry heart
For attention and affection
But I'm tasting bitter fruit
To whet my appetite
I'm gazing at an image
To heal my wounded life
She's a beauty not my own
Someone else's wife.
I've got a very thirsty soul
To live with wild abandon
But I'm drawing from a well
Won't ever satisfy
Still I'm fighting with my passions
And promise Him each time
But temptation just consumes me
Through I try with all my might
In a quest for love I'm wandering
And presume another sunrise
I exhume a life of ancient lies
And bury all my dreams
But lately I've been pondering
And seeing with my blind eyes
His light that I'm defined by
And it's brighter that it seems.
He says, "Sitting in that cathedral, I began to realize that my desire for attention and affection was good. My longing for beauty was good. My thirst to live with freedom and wild abandon was good. The light and passion inside me was good. My heart was good. Of course it was--it was the heart of Jesus."