Day 14 — Rescuing Your Desire

In the thirteenth century, Saint Thomas Aquinas famously noted, “Every sinful behavior is rooted in a legitimate god-given appetite.” A bold claim, but how could that possibly be true when our sinful desires seem so contrary to God’s will? Today, we seek to find the answer to that question. To get there, we need to look past unwanted sinful behavior and examine the needs and wants that propel us forward, often without our even knowing it. 

Most Christians who struggle with pornography feel they have a problem with their sexual desire—and that they must therefore crush that desire or somehow hold it down and manage it the best they can. In some sense, it often comes as a relief to realize that struggles with pornography typically do not stem from having too strong a desire for sex, but instead, in the sexualization of deeper desires of the heart that are not overtly sexual. This is important because if we think our problem is sexual, we will try to bring a sexual solution to the table. But if we realize that our problem is that we are trying to use sex to meet deeper longings, we will be one step closer to bringing the root of our struggle into the light and exposing it. 

In his groundbreaking book, “Surfing For God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath the Sexual Struggle,” author and counselor Michael John Cusick lays out seven god-given desires that we try to meet through porn and other forms of compulsive sexual behavior. He does not offer this as a comprehensive list, but rather as a helpful tool to get you started in the direction of identifying the god-given desires that can be the driving force behind your struggles. Some of these desires are:

  • Attention — the longing to be noticed and liked
  • Affection — the longing to be enjoyed and delighted in
  • Affirmation — the longing for the validation and blessing of others
  • Acceptance — the longing to belong and to be desired
  • Satisfaction — the longing for a sense of fullness and well-being
  • Significance — the longing to matter and to be powerful
  • Security — the longing to know your needs will be cared for and met

There are of course more desires that we could list, and you’ll have the chance to do just that later in today’s freedom work—but there is something here you need to notice. Take a good look at that list. Now ask yourself—is it sinful to want and desire any of those things? Each of these longings is simply a different way that we experience being loved. Who put those desires in your heart? Did they come from God or the enemy?

When you realize that the core desire and need is not the problem—but the way you go about meeting those desires and needs, it can be a turning point in your battle for freedom. For each one of the appetites on the above list, there are plenty of healthy ways to get those needs met through your relationship with God and the people He’s placed in your life. The problems begin when we become convinced that we know better than God does how best to pursue getting our needs and desires met. This leads us to take matters into our own hands. At this point, our behaviors can quickly become compulsive and destructive. 

The apostle James does not mince words addressing this. 

“Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14–15 ESV)

You don’t need to kill the desires of your heart. You need to learn what they are and then learn healthy ways to pursue getting your desires fulfilled—through God and the people he’s placed in your life. Yes, this will definitely involve disconnecting your desire from the sins you’ve come to depend on and even love in some ways—but this is not a killing of desire, but a rescuing of it. 

Do you know the desires that lie beneath your struggles with porn or other compulsive sin? Discovering these desires can be half the battle in getting free. Naming these core desires and then redirecting them toward something healthy is a major step in your journey toward freedom and a key aspect of learning to fill your life with the right things. Remember, freedom isn’t just about what you remove from your life, but about what you put in. When you begin learning to get the core longings of your heart met in healthy, god-ordained ways, you will find yourself well on the way to a more free, more fulfilling life.


Day 14 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read John 5-7, taking careful notes about what they say about desires and the longings/thirsts of your heart. 

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:

  • From the list of core longings outlined above in this lesson, which three do you connect with the most? How have you tried to get these desires met through porn? Has it worked?
  • What are one or two other core longings not on the above list that you feel drive your struggle with porn or other sins? Are these desires good or bad? Is the way you’ve tried to get these desires fulfilled good or bad?
  • It may be difficult to remember, but as best you can, try to come up with a few instances in your life where you felt you were able to get your core longings met in healthy ways. Whether you can think of many examples or only a few, what are some ways you can be more intentional about getting these needs met in healthy ways going forward rather than relying on porn which leaves you empty and broken? (If you have a hard time coming up with answers here, this would be a good question to process through with a trusted friend/ally.)

Prayer — Father, I thank you that you have filled my heart with legitimate appetites for good things. I have taken these longings and pursued them in many ways that have been contrary to your Word and your ways—and for that, I repent. I see that after all of my attempts to get my needs met with porn, I am still thirsty. I long for something more that truly satisfies. Thank you that I do not have to kill my desires—but to simply bring them to you. Show me how to drink deeply of your Spirit. I want to drink the living water you offer rather than keep trying to draw water from wells that do not satisfy. Amen.

Tax Information

Messenger International is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Your contribution over and above the fair market value of any goods or services received is tax deductible as allowed by law in the United States.

© 1992-2021 Messenger International

Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”