We are constantly at war spiritually and sometimes even physically. We can find ourselves losing some of these battles and falling into both spiritual and physical bondage.
One form of bondage is “addiction.” Having a “bad habit” can be difficult to break and can be thought of as a form of bondage as well. Check to see if you have any bad habits that you are struggling to overpower. If you do, then it is time to consider that you are battling intelligent spiritual opponents.
If we want to quit an addiction including pornography addiction, a key first step is to recognize your enemy and to find a cause that you’re willing to fight for.
If we are to win our most important battles, we must have a sufficient, motivating cause to fight daily. Does our cause motivate us sufficiently to stand our ground despite the strength and progress of our foe? Would we be willing to give our lives for that cause?
Without a clear, righteous cause, it can become extremely challenging to hold our ground when the enemy is unleashing his fury upon us. A righteous cause connects our hearts with God and unlocks the powers of heaven to come to our aid.
When we have a righteous cause, it can turn the tide of seemingly impossible situations to our favor. Consider how the righteous desires of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon motivated them to win despite what appeared to be imminent defeat:
45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
48 And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.– Alma 43:45-48
We have found that those who come to us for help and are about to lose opportunities to serve missions or their spouse and family as a result of addiction have developed a keen motivation to fight. The cost of defeat has become perilously high.
We have also observed that our addiction recovery programs are filled by the hundreds every year. In contrast, relatively few individuals trickle into our prevention program, which teaches the same tools and principles as the recovery programs. Can we find a motivation to fight before the stakes are so high?
Someone once said that God first uses a feather (still, small voice), then a hammer and then a Mack truck to get our attention. We can begin to notice God’s “feathers” early on and develop the strength to withstand the attacks of the adversary before losing so much ground and leaving so many casualties in the wake of our decisions.
But, even if we have neglected God’s voice and find ourselves trapped in the bondage of pornography addiction, it is never too late to escape.
Many who enlist in the cause of freedom, whether it be due to depression, anxiety, poor habits or addiction, still find themselves falling down over and over again. Some of their casualties are spouses, family members or close associates. This can feel challenging for everyone.
Long-term success requires that we bury all of the destructive weapons that are hurting us and our loved ones while arming ourselves with protective weapons. Burying destructive weapons may come at the cost of our own comfort.
It may require us to sacrifice our point of view. It may necessitate burying all of our ego and self-satisfying behaviors in order to give our complete care and devotion to another.
Let us not forget how intensely we will need to prepare and to fight our adversary in order to win. So many of the warriors I work with look at me with some confusion as I train them. They ask with their words or with their eyes, “Why are you pushing us so hard? Why do you take this battle so seriously? Why can’t you back off a little bit?”
This includes marriages that have been brutalized to the point of death or near death. If we don’t fight hard, and if we don’t train hard, marriages and families will be destroyed.
A popular idea for many years now has been to run away from temptation. While this may have been adequate in the past, the Book of Mormon tells us that when an enemy threatens to destroy us and/or put us in bondage, we need to be prepared with weapons of war as well as shields to defend.
One of the most powerful weapons available to each of us is to have a Definite Purpose for our life. Moroni and the Sons of Helaman in the Book of Mormon both exemplified lives of deep purpose. It was this purpose that protected them from both physical danger and Satan’s power. Consider again the description of Moroni:
11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
18 Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.– Alma 48:11-13, 17-18
Moroni demonstrated that when we hold fast to a definite purpose, Satan can have no power over us. It is only when we drift from that purpose or choose to float along through life with no purpose at all that Satan begins to gain ground over our lives.
To win this war, you will need to become “like unto” Moroni.
It may sound intimidating, but it need not be. If you were to ask Moroni how to become amazing like him, he most likely would describe a process similar to what President Nelson has been teaching: “Line upon line, grace for grace, just like Christ grew up as well.”
Do not be overwhelmed. You can do it. Keep learning from Moroni’s example and, line upon line, you will hold fast in your definite purpose.
There is a major difference between being “busy” and being “on purpose.” If we aren’t watchful, we can find our lives completely filled with busyness and distractions that actually prevent us from living our purpose.
Knowing where to focus our energy might feel challenging. Life is typically filled with a laundry list of tasks and demands that press upon us. Not all of them are critical to our success. Satan often uses shame to keep us in a place of feeling overwhelmed with all of the things that we “should” be doing.
Notice the energy of “should” versus the energy of “could.” When we shift our daily question from “What should I be doing today?” to “What could I do today that would enable me to focus on my most important purpose here on earth?” we can feel an entirely different connection to possibility.
We can more fully connect to the Spirit of God and be open to His whisperings.
When we connect to the Spirit, we will feel guided to the activities that enable us to fully partner with God. As a partner, we will find that we don’t have to be able to “do it all.”
We can offer our full gift and trust that God will accept it and multiply it.
There is an important key to knowing when the Spirit is guiding you in a certain direction of focus. Notice what you feel interested in pursuing. Our interests can be God’s breadcrumbs leading us to our purpose.
That being said, not all of our interests are God-given.
A God-given interest always meets three criteria:
1. It edifies,
2. It expands the mind and
3. It enlarges the Spirit. A God-given interest will usually lead us to activities centered around saving others’ lives.
Maintaining a definite purpose requires three key elements: Decision, Focus and Belief. We must clearly Decide what we want and make a choice to hold fast to that decision regardless of the price. We Focus our energy and efforts on our purpose, pushing aside anything that would distract us from it.
And, we continue stepping forward while utilizing all of our resources to achieve that purpose and holding a firm Belief in the power of God to help us succeed. We hold fast even when failure or death might seem imminent.
Consider the Sons of Helaman, who were miraculously protected time and time again from physical danger and death by the purpose which they firmly maintained:
16 But behold, it came to pass they had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies; therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites.
17 And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.– Alma 53:16-17
The Sons of Helaman held a purpose that was completely clear and definite. There was no turning back for them even if it meant death. Each of these young men chose to stay laser-focused on that purpose. And, they demonstrated an unwavering faith in God in every action they took.
Taking Upon a Name – Identity Anchoring
Finding a definite purpose for our lives requires a very key shift from reaction-based behavior to proactive living. Reaction-based behavior describes situations where you come to the conclusion that you did what you did because of what someone or something else did to you first.
- “I was passive aggressive, because my wife didn’t meet my needs.”
- “I was mean to him, because he didn’t talk to me.”
- “I didn’t finish my homework, because I don’t like the teacher.”
- “I am not going to become religious, because my parents would say ‘told you so’”.
- “I did not fight against the Lamanites because that would take up too much time and money.”
In contrast, proactive-based thinking requires that we take responsibility for our actions and choose how we will act based on the values that we hold.
There is a powerful way to become proactive. It’s called “Identity Anchoring.” Alma 46:15 demonstrates a form of Identity Anchoring:
15 And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.– Alma 46:15
Notice that the Nephites choose to anchor their identity with Jesus Christ. They remained faithful to that identity regardless of how others acted towards them.
We have human brains. And, we have an enemy who likes to sabotage us. We must be intentional, not reactional, about what we do and how we respond to what goes on around us. There are three key ways that we can be intentional:
- Discern that you are under attack.
- Initiate a pre-planned, pre-trained response.
- Dominate, don’t just survive.
You can become proactive and live with a definite purpose by choosing to anchor your identity to that of a warrior. Regularly return to that identity everyday. Pre-plan and practice your response with examples like these:
- “When my wife did not meet my needs, I made sure the family had dinner and cleaned up afterward.”
- “When ____ didn’t talk to me, I made a special effort to express kindness and gratitude to them.”
- I found myself not liking my teacher, so I took the time to get to know them better and found out they are stressed out about a child they have at home that has cancer.”
- “I was worried my parents would say ‘I told you so’, so because I decided to be a humble person, I went to them and thanked them for teaching me as a child so I knew what to turn to as I grew older.”
- “I decided I am a man who will do what it takes to protect my family, so I decided to take the time and invest the money needed to learn how to be a great modern-day warrior.”
Connecting Regularly to Our Definite Purpose
Throughout history, military leaders have needed to help their men elevate themselves from their day-to-day psychological functioning processes to a higher level needed to prepare for and engage in war.
Modern psychologists now consider this influencing method a key part of Motivational Interviewing. This repetitious listing of “reasons for fighting” can be done as an individual, but is usually most effective when done as a team.
If you are a warrior who is striving to align your behaviors in closer harmony with God, start by clarifying your primary battle right now. Describe what consists of a “win” to you, and on the flip side of the same coin, what you would consider a “lost battle.”
Now, list a half dozen reasons why you are fighting to win this battle. Create a system to review these reasons three or more times per day while making an effort to elevate your emotional investment each time.
Finding a definite purpose for which to fight and holding fast to that purpose is a key principle and tool in our addiction recovery trainings. It is one of the primary reasons that our programs are so powerful for thousands of people who have graduated from it.
If you would like to learn more about the principles and tools we teach to help individuals quit pornography addiction, download our free books, Like Dragons Did They Fight and Never a Happier Time, and begin to break free of bondage now.