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Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Finally Free" (Heath Lambert)

TITLE: Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
AUTHOR: Heath Lambert
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (176 pages).

There are many books that have been written about the dangers of pornography, the statistics, the horrible stories, and all kinds of information that can wow the reader but do little to stem the tide of this major cultural temptation. There are also lots of resources that talk about the do's and don'ts of pornography. Yet, the number of people addicted to pornography seems to rise unabated. Recognizing this, based on his many personal encounters from his ministry, Heath Lambert states right from the start that people do not need more information about pornography. Instead, what they need is something better. The power of Christ to free them from this addiction. For the Apostle Paul, even when he condemns a sin, chooses to move toward confidence in God, and faith in Jesus. Instead of creating guilt in the consciences of people and prevent them from pornography, Heath hopes to help free people toward grace that will drive people toward purity and desiring holiness. For the power of God is deeper and wider than obeying a set of rules or don's and don'ts. Based on the foundation of grace, one needs to come under the auspices of forgiving grace, and then to be embraced in transforming grace. From this, grace can be unleashed through eight ways to be finally free from pornography.

First, there needs to be a genuine sorrow about the sin and regret. It is no good to just say it. One must also mean it. He compares worldly sorrow with godly sorrow and makes a case for the latter providing six marks of true godly sorrow. The marks of earnestness; eagerness to be cleansed; indignation about the sin; genuine alarm; longing for restoration; and desire for justice.

Second, there needs to be accountability when fighting pornography. Through the biblical passages of how brothers need to be accountable to one another, Heath gives seven principles to build accountability structures.

Third, radical measures need to be adopted in the fight against pornography because of its formidable power over the human heart. It is as radical as plucking out the eye when the eye lusts after another woman. The three radical measures work on the basis of thought life, Word focus, and seeking for outside help. Other radical measures include how we use time; knowing our weaknesses enough to chop off passages that will cause us to stumble; and take whatever legitimate steps necessary to buffer us from temptation.

Four, confession is a major step when fighting pornography, especially confessing to the ones who are hurt the most. It is acknowledging we need help from above. It blesses and restores the relationship. It releases the channels of mercy and grace. More importantly, it brings about humility and healing. Heath highlights six critical guidelines on how to make a helpful confession.

Five, instead of focusing on the bad, start focusing on the good. This is the principle behind "using your spouse" to fight pornography. While the title of this chapter badly needs revising, it definitely grabs attention. Heath uses Proverbs 5 to warn us against letting temptation turns to threat. Instead, turn away from danger toward delight in our own spouses. Three suggestions are given on how to do that. Heath also makes a case that Proverbs 5 can also be applied to those who are single too. Point to Jesus.

Six, humility attacks one of the major weaknesses of people who "love to be first." Arrogant people look at pornography. They struggle against pride so much that sometimes, they prefer to take the easy way out to hide away and fantasize in their pornographic activities. The key is to let humility reign. Let arrogance go.

Seven, gratitude is an important way to fight pornography. This is because immorality, lack of self-control, and greed, can be arrested with pure thankfulness. Gratitude results in gladness that will free us to appreciate what God has given us, instead of eyeing on things that God has not given us.

Eight, dynamic relationships, healthy fellowship, and community living is a powerful weapon against pornography. Like seeking bread from heaven, we learn to cultivate a dependence on God for our daily needs. Only when our relationship with Jesus is bigger than everything else, will we stand a chance against the tentacles of pornography. In other words, do not consume porn. Consume Christ.

So What?

The book has given eight ways that grace can empower us toward holy living and godly intent to refuse to view or to entertain thoughts of pornography. The main weapon in the fight against pornography is not locks and chains that tie us down in terms of what to do or what not to do. Instead, the arsenal of spiritual warfare is grace. For it is by grace through faith in Jesus that we are saved, it is also by grace through God's help that we are continually rescued from the clutches of temptations, especially pornography. I find the book heavily aimed at the male population. In this sense, it is quite lob-sided, though I understand the reason Heath has done so. The thing is, pornography affects both male and female, albeit in different ways. Maybe, Heath can have a co-writer who can present a female perspective to this very important topic. After all, women's porn does exist. So, in order to reach out to a wider audience, the book will need to be written with both genders in mind.

Having said that, I applaud the author for this approach that begins with grace. That is most Christian. Most people will already know that pornography is bad. Otherwise, why do hotels try to do a favour to guests who view adult movies, by saying that whatever they watch will not be recorded? Or why is there a sense of lingering guilt whenever X-rated movies are viewed? Freedom is for us, but first we need to surrender to the grace of God. Surrender our pride. Surrender our weaknesses. Surrender any warped or deceiving rationalizations that project any need for visual stimulation or satisfaction. No. Pornography is like visual heroin. Once addicted, it is very hard to escape it. This book is a strong antidote to prevent the problem from happening.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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