If Jesus Promises Me Freedom, Why Does My Life Feel Out-of-Control?

10 Lies Men Believe about PornThis post has been adapted from the chapter, “Lie #7: God Can Set Others Free from Pornography Addiction, but Not Me,” in my new book, 10 Lies Men Believe about PornThis post is part 6 in an 8-week series on life-changing faith. If you would like to begin at part 1, you can do that here.

Doesn’t it sound strange to say that it’s a good thing to be dependent? Obviously, that assertion depends on the object of your dependence. Being dependent on alcohol is a big problem, but being dependent on Christ frees you from trying to maintain control, which will keep you from experiencing God’s rest and peace.

In order to fully trust God, though, you need to trust that He knows how to run your life better than you do. But more than that, you must submit to His leading and depend on Him for guidance. If you’re still trying to be the one in the driver’s seat, only seeing God as your co-pilot, it shows you don’t really believe He can lead you. You are still trusting in your own ability to drive.

Bob George has the perfect illustration to help us understand this concept:

Picture yourself in one of those old drivers-education cars. If you remember, these cars had two steering wheels, two gas pedals, two brakes, and so forth. Pretend you’re in one seat, and the Lord is in the other. He says to you, “My child, I have great plans for you. I will reveal Myself to you, shower you with My love and acceptance, set you free by renewing your mind with My truth, and conform you to My image as we go through life together. All you have to do is enjoy the ride and let Me drive. But notice that in front of you is your own set of driving controls. You have the capability and freedom of grabbing the steering wheel and taking things into your own hands. Only one of us can drive at a time, and the choice is yours. If you take control, I will take My hands off. I promise that, whatever you choose, I will never leave you or forsake you. But isn’t it far better to allow Me to drive? I love you. I have all wisdom, all power, and I am committed to your ultimate good. I ask you to trust Me, but you are always free to choose.”

You will always have the ability to seize control and call the shots in your own life. But if you trust that God knows everything—including the future—and is guiding you in a way that will lead you to what is best for you, why would you ever want to take over? If you knew everything He knew, wouldn’t you choose to do the exact same things He is asking you to do?

This can be really hard to wrap your brain around, especially when it comes to our sin. Because sometimes, even if you are trusting in Christ alone to set you free from your sin, you still sin. Why would God, who has all the power to make it so you never sin again, allow you the freedom to still sin on occasion? How can that be what’s best for you?

Look at what Paul had to say about a similar struggle in his life:

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

thornsWe don’t know for sure what the thorn in Paul’s flesh really was. Some people think it was a painful physical illness. Some say it was his continual struggle with a particular sin, like what we see him talking about at the end of Romans 8. What we do know for sure is that its source was demonic, yet God still used it for Paul’s good.

Paul pleaded multiple times for God to take this thorn away. But for some reason, God kept saying no. God knew that if He healed His servant from this particular struggle, he would become proud. With the thorn remaining, Paul had a constant reminder of his need for God’s power to overcome his weaknesses. It kept him from ever thinking he had “arrived” or becoming self-sufficient. By trusting that God was working for His good even if He didn’t answer his prayer in the way he was hoping for, Paul was able to recognize God’s grace and power at work in his life and respond with thankfulness.


I’m going to tell you something that may surprise you, being that I’m writing a book on overcoming pornography addiction. About once or twice a year, I still lose the battle. It’s my thorn in the flesh. I’ve asked God to free me from this completely, and His answer is still “Not yet.”

And I’m okay with that.

I know myself well enough to know that if I never sinned again, I would quickly forget what the struggle was like. I would become boastful and full of pride. I would lose any compassion or understanding for the men I’m trying to help and would dish out arrogant lectures about how they just need to try harder to be perfect like me.

That guy scares me.

Now, I’m not saying it’s okay to sin. I hate the fact that I don’t have this 100 percent nailed yet. I know God has promised to complete His work in me, but I also understand it won’t be finished until the day that Christ returns. Which means even though I’m getting better, I will never be perfect. At least not until I get to heaven. Even if God does bring me to a point where I never lose another battle with porn again, I’ll just struggle with something else.

So for now, I’ll trust that God has me on His schedule for sanctification, not mine. Maybe next time I’ll go a full year, and then two, and then five…But for reasons only He fully knows, He thinks once or twice a year is the best spot for me at this point.

A Little Clarification…

Some of you are completely freaking out right now about what you just read. I get that. I was in the same camp for many years. But understand me here. I’m not justifying my sin. There is nothing I would like more than to be rid of this completely. But if the apostle Paul, who is undoubtedly near the top of the Bible Hall of Fame, couldn’t reach a point of sinless perfection in this life, how can we ever expect to? Paul trusted God’s grace to cover his lack of perfection, so we can as well.

If perfection isn’t a possibility for you (and if you’re being honest with yourself, you know it’s the truth), then what do you do with your inevitable slipups? You can hide them, but that will lead to isolation. You can justify them, but that will harden your heart. You can try harder to overcome them, but that will keep you focused on the fulfilling the law rather than trusting grace. Any of those roads will cause you to miss Jesus.

Think it over. Does God’s grace really cover the sin that still surfaces in your life? And there is nothing wrong with asking Him to show you why He is allowing your thorn to remain. I trust that He will give you an answer, but it’s up to you whether you trust it or not.

Continue to Part 7: If Following Jesus is about Relationship, Why does He Seem so Distant?

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