John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin."
Masturbation makes us begin to live according to the dictates of the flesh and to become slaves to the "misdeeds of the body." Scripture warns us about this kind of activity, "For if you live according to the flesh (by giving in to its desires), you will die" and tells us how to stop, "but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). In reality, masturbation is an expression of self-gratification and of sexual self-idolatry. It is deceiving and enslaving.
"Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness." Romans 6:19-20
This verse teaches that offering leads to slavery. When we "offer the parts of our body" to sin, we become a slave to sin. Some say that masturbation "relieves the pressure" so that we can function normally apart from a spouse, or to keep us from committing worse sexual acts. Masturbation only "relieves the pressure" temporarily. The pressure will soon be back and masturbation will need to occur again, and again, and again. This is simply slavery to the flesh. But if we offer the parts of our body for righteousness, we will become slaves of righteousness. So, present your body a living sacrifice; offer the parts of your body to God and your slavery to Christ will produce freedom from self-gratification.
"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5
Masturbation fixes the mind on the desires of the flesh, and burns the image of nudity and sex into the mind. With each occurrence of masturbation, that image becomes clearer and more intense, and can become a tool of the devil to set up a thought-stronghold. (consider 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8
Here is the real problem of masturbation: If you are masturbating, you are pleasing only yourself. Your actions are displeasing to God because you are "in the flesh" and a slave to lust. You are offering the members of your body in slavery to impurity and your mind is set on what the flesh desires.
There is a way to be free from slavery to the flesh, and we should not rationalize it as "acceptable under certain conditions" or we are helping to promote the slavery of those who believe us.
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Galatians 5:16-17
Why is masturbation a sin? It is a sin because when we masturbate we "gratify the desires of the flesh," which we would not do if we were walking in and living by the Spirit. Let us make this point clear. If we are walking in the Spirit and living by faith, we will not gratify the lusts of the flesh.
Finally, let me finish with a testimony we received here at Setting Captives Free. It is from a gentleman in his last week of The Way of Purity course, and he is now set free from slavery to masturbation. He writes this testimony:
"My problems began when our youth pastor told me that the Bible does not mention masturbation, therefore God must not condemn it. He told us that as long as we were masturbating with thoughts of our future spouse then we were not sinning. My masturbation began slowly---only using it once a week or so. I felt guilty, like I was giving in to sin rather than denying the flesh, but my pastor said it was a helpful tool, and that it even prevented sex crimes when used correctly. Gullible as I was, I believed him. I soon began discovering that offering the parts of my body to self-gratification did not permanently decrease desire or relieve pressure--quite the opposite--the more I masturbated, the more I engaged in it.
I honestly do not know what happened--one day I had just finished masturbating along side a farm road, for the 3rd time that day, when it dawned on me that I was a slave to masturbation. What started innocently, and with the full approval of a religious authority, trapped me into a vice that completely choked out all spiritual life in me.
Oh how I wish that pastor had preached the Word correctly, even if it would have made him less popular. I wish he had explained to me that unless I denied myself (not indulged myself) and took up my cross daily I would not be worthy to be His disciple. I wish he had told me about the principle of slavery--that we are slaves to whatever we offer ourselves to. I wish he had told me, plain and simple, that it is so much easier to totally and completely refuse masturbation--that it is not even an option for a Christian--than to attempt to ‘control it’ and ‘only use it under certain circumstances.’ If only he had not used that worn-out phrase ‘the Bible doesn't mention it;’ and instead taught the principles of Scripture.
I am not blaming my former pastor; my own deceptive heart loved hearing what he preached, and I am responsible for my own actions. I just wish I would have had a man of God who could have helped me learn to deny and crucify, rather than rationalize and justify."
Another enrollment in The Way of Purity Course came in as we were completing this article. This 17-year-old young man writes:
"Every time I get the urge, I can't resist masturbation. I have tried to fight it for many years, and, although I have had a few temporary victories, I never completely defeated it. I desire to live all of my life for Christ, and this can't be done until I defeat this fiend. I also want to remain pure for my future wife, and if I continue down this path, I know that wish will not become true."
Masturbation is a doorway to slavery! May God grant this young man freedom in Christ.
Yes, it is possible to be free of this debilitating and sinful habit. Through God's grace, we can resist the devil and the pull of our own flesh. We can come to Jesus Christ and receive His powerful assistance, and we can cease stealing the love that is due to our spouse and instead learn to turn to our spouse, as the Scriptures teach, so that we might honor and glorify God with our bodies. Those who are single can likewise turn from self-pleasing to Christ, and find in Him powerful help in time of need. Through the power of Christ we can defeat the powers of darkness that seek to make us slaves. There is freedom in Jesus, real freedom, lasting freedom.
May God give us each grace to choose to please the Lord by offering our bodies a living sacrifice, and turning to our spouse if married, rather than pleasing ourselves through masturbation.
team member, SettingCaptivesFree.com
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