Thoughts on overcoming pornography, increasing in spiritual strength

This is a draft post. These are thoughts I am collecting and adding to. It is not finished. 

Some of the Steps Necessary Overcoming Personal Weaknesses and Addictions, Including Pornography

1. Determine you will become worthy. Assert your agency and renounce the destroyer. Strip yourself of all uncleanness (Mormon 9:28). Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Your determination to become worthy occurs in the mind and heart. It comes from  careful pondering of the scriptures. It increases as you learn about the nature of Christ and strive to be like Him, avoiding “all ungodliness and every world lust” and keeping all of the commandments (Matthew 16:24 JST). You must develop a a conscious determination to deny yourself of all that is ungodly, lustful, or unworthy.  You must act without any hypocrisy or deception in your life, replacing dishonest and lustful thoughts and inappropriate actions and behaviors with sincerity and real intent as the motivating forces for all you think and do. You must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). (Read Matthew 16:24 (including the JST verse), Mormon 9:28, Alma 39:8, 2 Nephi 31:13, and D&C 121:37.)

As Elder Packer wrote, you must “assert [your] agency” and “renounce the destroyer” (“The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected,” October 2003 General Conference). Moses chapter 1 is a great example of how to do this (see above).

This assertion of agency, this determination to overcome, is expressed well in the following statement of Elder Robert D. Hales:

If, through our unrighteous choices, we have lost our footing on that path, we must remember the agency we were given, agency we may choose to exercise again. I speak especially to those overcome by the thick darkness of addiction. If you have fallen into destructive, addictive behaviors, you may feel that you are spiritually in a black hole. As with the real black holes in space, it may seem all but impossible for light to penetrate to where you are. How do you escape? I testify the only way is through the very agency you exercised so valiantly in your premortal life, the agency that the adversary cannot take away without your yielding it to him.

How do you reclaim that agency? How do you begin again to exercise it in the right way? You choose to act in faith and obedience. May I suggest a few basic choices that you can begin to make now—this very day.

Choose to accept—truly accept—that you are a child of God, that He loves you, and that He has the power to help you.

Choose to put everything—literally everything—on the altar before Him. Believing that you are His child, decide that your life belongs to Him and that you will use your agency to do His will. You may do this multiple times in your life, but never, never give up.

Choose to put yourself in a position to have experiences with the Spirit of God through prayer, in scripture study, at Church meetings, in your home, and through wholesome interactions with others. When you feel the influence of the Spirit, you are beginning to be cleansed and strengthened. The light is being turned on, and where that light shines, the darkness of evil cannot remain.

Choose to obey and keep your covenants, beginning with your baptismal covenant. Renew these covenants weekly by worthily partaking of the sacrament.

Choose to prepare to worthily attend the temple, make and renew sacred covenants, and receive all of the saving ordinances and blessings of the gospel. Finally, and most importantly, choose to believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Accept the Savior’s forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Because of His sacrifice for you, He has the power to “remember [your sins] no more.” You must do likewise. After you are on the path and are “free to choose” again, choose to reject feelings of shame for sins you have already repented of, refuse to be discouraged about the past, and rejoice in hope for the future. Remember, it is Satan who desires that we be “miserable like unto himself.” Let your desires be stronger than his. Be happy and confident about your life and about the opportunities and blessings that await you here and throughout eternity.

Finally, remember our agency is not only for us. We have the responsibility to use it in behalf of others, to lift and strengthen others in their trials and tribulations. Some of our brothers and sisters have lost the full use of their agency through unrighteous choices. Without exposing ourselves to temptation, we can and should invite others to receive the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through friendship and love, we may lead them along the path of obedience and encourage them to use their agency to make the right choices once again. Robert D. Hales, “To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency,” Ensign, May 2006, 4–8

Your determination to repent must be expressed in your commitment.

Commitment is an essential part of repentance. It is the act of obligating oneself to a course of action and then diligently following through on that decision. When people are genuinely committed, they have real intent, meaning that they fully intend to do what they have committed to do. They make an unwavering and earnest decision to change. They become devoted to Christ and dedicate themselves to His gospel. Keeping their commitment is how they “truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins” (D&C 20:37). When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent. – Preach My Gospel, p. 195

Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of the need for discipline:

In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it. Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline—moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. In Peter’s words, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9).  – D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Discipline,” October 2009 General Conference

Elder Richard G. Scott has said, “If you are ensnarled in pornography, make a total commitment to overcome it now. Find a quiet place; pray urgently for help and support. Be patient and obedient. Don’t give up” (“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” October 2009 General Conference).

President Thomas S. Monson said,

The battle for our souls is no less important that the battle fought by David. The enemy is no less formidable, the help of Almighty God no farther away. What will our action be? Like David of old, ‘our cause is just.’ We have been placed upon earth not to fail or fall victim to temptation’s snare, but rather to succeed. Our giant, our Goliath, must be conquered.  (Thomas S. Monson, “Meeting Your Goliath,” New Era, June 2008, 5)

As in all things, Christ has set the standard: “I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart” (3 Nephi 12:29). In order to break a habit of viewing pornography, this commandment must be kept.

2. Watch and pray always. The next step toward worthiness is to become completely honest with your Heavenly Father in prayer, and to express a sincere willingness to give away all that is ungodly and unworthy in your life. As Elder Packer has noted,  “There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his or her own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2010).

In confessing your sins before the Lord you open a door to His mercy and begin the process of transforming dishonest acts of the past into an open, honest and completely transparent relationship with our Father and God. President Kimball taught that we must hold nothing back from God, since He know our true condition:

Prayer must certainly be a confession of your sins to Heavenly Father and a petition to Heavenly Father to help you avoid that which is unworthy. It must also be a petition for an increase in the virtues and characteristics that replace unworthy thoughts and behaviors, lift you from sin, and help you increase in light and truth. Praying for greater faith, hope, patience, humility, discipline, steadiness, integrity and chastity will enhance your prayers and build your spiritual strength.

Prayers for an increase of such virtues must be accompanied by scripture study that seeks to understand them. This understanding will occur through pondering the scriptures related to these virtues and ……

Elder David A. Bednar has taught that our morning prayers can help us create the day ahead of us, just as the earth was created spiritually before it was created physically:

We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation. In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

• Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
• Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
• Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
• Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
• Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.

David A Bednar, “Pray Always,”  October 2008 General Conference

In your prayers you must plead for protection from the power of the adversary. This pattern was given by the Savior in the Lord’s Prayer: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (3 Nephi 13:12). In his famous sermon about prayer Amulek taught, “Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness” (Alma 34:22-23).

During His visit to the Nephites the Savior counseled, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him” (3 Nephi 18:15). Amulek echoed this counsel when he taught, “be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing” (Alma 34:39).

It is clear that we should pray always. But what should we “watch” for? King Benjamin’s sermons answers this question well:

if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)

Prayer becomes perhaps the most effective tool you have against the power of the tempter. Through it, you can “ask with a firmness unshaken that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).

3. “Give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. The Lord has given us a commandment (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-45) “to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light. . . .” Why is this important? “Light and truth forsake that evil one” (D&C 93:37). In explaining to his brothers the meaning of Lehi’s dream, Nephi told them that the rod of iron “was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24).

Helaman 3:29-30 teaches us that “whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked. . . .”

Clearly, the scriptures bring us spiritual power. President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)

Assignment: read, ponder and write about all of the scriptures in the Topical Guide under the heading Temptation.

4. Parents or good friends who will hold you accountable.

5. Fasting.

6. Increase righteousness in your life in order to crowd out that which is bad, so that “the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire” (Jacob 5:66).

7. Have hope! The Savior has overcome the world, and  opened the door for us to do the same. He will never forsake us. As President Monson has taught,

Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

This faith of which President Monson speaks is the faith mentioned by Paul, and restated in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 27, verse 17:

Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Joseph Smith was counseled, “you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:8).

Christ has promised us He will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18). He will not allow us to tempted above that which we can bear, and “will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated that “Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times. In the words of Elder Holland, “I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.”

It will take our best efforts to overcome our weaknesses. I like Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s statement: “Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see  Eph. 6:16;  1 Ne. 15:24;  D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” April 1997 General Conference).
8. Develop a personal rallying cry. (Add Pres. Eyring’s comments)
9. Utilize technological interventions: Open DNS, K9, etc.
Elder Holland recently said,
Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever. (2010 April General Conference, Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, Sat. Afternoon Session – Jeffrey R. Holland)
Filter and controls are not only wise, they are necessary.
10. Recognize that no weakness can be overcome without the grace provided us through the Atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ether 12:27.
Read Moses 1 and consider these insights:

Lessons from Moses 1

  1. Like Moses, experience God’s glory. Come to know His majesty as your Eternal Father. Trust Him as the source of all truth. Seek to be influenced by His righteous power. Draw close to Him and come to know of His love and light, which are endless.
  2. Learn your true identity as a son or daughter of God. With this knowledge, seek to develop a meaningful and personal relationship with Him and to be taught of His works and words.”You are literally a spirit [son or] daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make. . . . There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] ofGod, and joint-[heir] with Christ.” Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “To Young Women,” October 2005 General Conference).
  3. Trust that God has a work for you to do while you are here upon the earth. There is purpose in your life. Understanding that work will require you to come to better know God and His Son, Jesus Christ and to have them reveal to you the work you are to do during your earthly journey.
  4. Understanding the true nature of God and your own identity and purpose, learn to judge with certainty between darkness and light using the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5. When Satan comes tempting you, saying, “Worship me,” tell him, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.”
  6. Like Moses, overcoming your enemies will require you to a) choose to worship the God of glory, and not the adversary, the god of darkness, and b) to pray continually, calling upon God for strength.
  7. Satan will depart from you as you increase in faith, call upon God unceasingly, and consciously determine that you, like Moses, will worship “this one God only,” which is “the God of glory” (Moses 1:20).

The work the Lord had for Moses to do was lead His children out of the bondage. Trapped in Egypt, they were slaves to Pharaoh, and could not progress without their freedom. Moses became the Lord’s agent, performing mighty miracles in His name and causing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free.

Freeing those in bondage is the work of all priesthood holders and all members of the Church. We are to lead others to Christ, who has already purchased their freedom through the power of His redeeming sacrifice on their behalf. And the first person that must be freed is ourself. Each of us must come to Him and experience His redemption before we can lead others to believe they should do the same. Moses’ experience overcoming Satan and choosing to worship the God of glory is an example of the choice we must make to receive for ourselves and leader others to salvation and eternal life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s