Why some people don't get free of sexual addictions

Not everyone who sets out to break sex addiction succeeds in getting free.  In fact, we hear from people everyday who have "tried everything" to get free and haven't succeeded.  In response to their requests for help, I've developed online studies such as Freedom Journey I to address the various areas that are key to removing the strongholds of sexual addiction. 

I've written this page with the assumption that a person has placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   I can not offer any assurance of freedom to those who are not following Jesus, because the very nature of sex addiction is spiritual (see non-Christian help).   Followers of Jesus have authority over every power of darkness and are therefore equipped to break free.  Even so, they will still need to apply that authority, exercise self-restraint, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and continue to diligently seek the Lord in order to achieve and maintain freedom.

With that in mind, here are some of the typical areas that hinder people from achieving complete freedom from sexual addiction:  

  1. Unconfessed sin:  Any sin that we have not confessed to God and repented from could serve as a foothold for the enemy to continue to oppress us.  Some strategic footholds include occult sin, unforgiveness, pride, lust, idolatry, family sin, and murder.  (see Deal with Sin)
  2. Oppression from evil spirits:  Sex sin is a common door evil spirits (demons) can use to gain influence over us.  Demons can block every step of our recovery efforts - even our confession and repentance from sin.   It is possible for people to exercise their authority in Christ and dispel the evil spirits that are troubling them, but it may require help from other believers who will pray and stand in faith with the person ("Deliverance" ministry).  We know from the Bible and personal experience, however, that evil spirits resist being cast out.  Even the disciples had difficulty in casting some types of evil spirits out (Mark 9:18,28-29).   See our study on deliverance for more info.  
  3. Failure to develop a relationship with God:  This is usually reflected in the lack of a daily meeting time with God.   The "quiet time" helps us to reload our mind with God's words from the Bible, to talk with God through prayer and to worship him (see Meet with God).  As we walk out of addiction, we should shift our attention, resources and energies to pursuing God and doing his work.  If we don't do this, the vacuum left by our addiction will certainly refill with trivial pursuits or a worse addiction.  The typical excuse used is being too busy.  If we can't make time with God a priority, our efforts toward freedom will be powerless.
  4. Lack of faith:  Faith is a common ingredient in many of the healings that occurred in the scriptures.  If we don't believe that we can be a new person in Christ with God's help, we won't.   Unfortunately, some theologies can weaken our faith by suggesting that God doesn't heal and/or that God wants to punish us by sending evil on us.  Jesus put it quite clearly, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:24 NKJV).
  5. Failure to die to sin and/or crucify the flesh:  These must be done daily in our walk with God and typically involve exercising control over our eyes and thoughts.  Unfortunately, many people never learn how to practice and develop these skills, which are essential for survival in our pornographic culture.  If we have been freed, yet fall back into our old habits, our condition will be worse than if we'd never been free (2 Peter 2:20-22).
  6. Emotional and spiritual wounds from past abuse/trauma:  The devil hates people regardless of age, but he especially loves to prey on children because the early years are strategic times for emotional and spiritual development.  Sex abuse, physical abuse, divorce, accidents and traumatic entertainment (bad movies) can all be sources of wounds that we need healing from.  If these wounds have never been dealt with in prayer, they are potentially serving as footholds for demonic oppression like sex addiction.   When we invite God to cleanse and heal those past wounds, the footholds for oppression are removed.   Healing prayer and Christian counseling are effective ways to work through these wounds (see cut free and pray for healing).
  7. Curses: Curses can act like demonic oppression in that they can block our healing and development of a relationship with God.  All curses can be broken in the name of Jesus Christ, but often they must be identified by name and specifically broken by the blood of Christ (Galatians 3:10-14).  Family sin is a common source of curses, but there are many additional possible sources, including:
  1. Failure to fight the battle with spiritual weapons:  The process of dismantling sex addiction strongholds is nothing short of spiritual warfare.  People who rely on the Lord for the strength, authority and discernment to fight the battles will be successful.  People who try to fight in their own strength and rely solely on help aids like accountability groups and filters will probably not succeed.  Self-denial and help aids are good, but they are not to be our power source for freedom.  
  2. Failure to internalize God's word: I believe this may be the biggest reason people fail to get free.   In the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15), Jesus explained the importance of properly hearing and applying God's word.  He identified three ways the word can be hindered from taking root in our hearts:

    Jesus explained that the people who would be fruitful in God's kingdom are those who hear the word with an honest and good heart, hold fast to it and bear fruit with perseverance (15).  This is the heart condition we must have to achieve and maintain freedom from sexual addictions.  The word is the foundation of truth that we need to dispel the lies packaged in the temptations we face. 

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