Anyone who has ever been a slave to sexual sin knows how impossible it feels to ever truly break free from it. But if you want to know how to overcome sex addiction, I’ve got good news for you. As someone who has been there myself and has half a decade of sobriety under my belt, I want to reassure you, it CAN be done! So let me share with you the five steps that I think are the most critical in the quest to overcome sex addiction.
How to Overcome Sex Addiction Step One – GET RIGHT WITH GOD
What this addiction boils down to is really just sin. Plain and simple. We make a lot of excuses and blame a lot of things, but really it’s just rebellion against God. No more, no less. But let’s face it, rebellion against God is no small thing.
Romans 8:5-8 – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
If we go on letting our sin control us it is going to lead to death. That’s the path we’re on when we are slaves to sexual sin. But the good news is there is hope. The Bible tells us that if we belong to God, then He offers us freedom, and that includes the power to overcome sex addiction.
Romans 8:11-16 – The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living in you.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
So the obvious question is, how do I know if I am a child of God and have access to this freedom He offers? The answer is simple.
- The Bible teaches that we must believe what it says about Jesus (John 1:12, John 3:16-18) – that He, being God, came to earth as a human man, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay our sin debt. Then, He arose in victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:1-9) and ascended to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father until the day He will return to judge the world.
- The Bible teaches that if we believe what the Bible says about Jesus, we will repent of our sins (Acts 3:19, Luke 13:3) and accept that sacrifice He made for us. Repentance means that we agree with God about our sin, surrender it to Him, and turn away from that sin and begin living in obedience to Him instead(1 John 1:9)
The Holy Spirit does everything else. We simply have to begin walking in obedience to His leading. I love the example of David’s repentance. What a great picture for us of what it looks like to truly be broken over our sin and get right with God. I recommend reading Psalm 51, and Psalm 32 to see David’s prayers of repentance.
How to Overcome Sex Addiction Step Two – CONFESS IT ALL
If you’ve spent any time on this site, you’re probably getting tired of hearing us beat this drum. But this is the step just about every sex addict I’ve ever talked to seems to want to fight. I did too. But it really is one of the biggest keys to unlocking the shackles that bind us to this sin.
If you really want to know how to overcome sex addiction, then just give it a try. Resolve to tell the WHOLE TRUTH about your sin. All of it. Confess every last thing. Do it more than once. Your spouse needs to know everything, but so does someone else. A pastor or accountability partner, or even a support group.
Like I said, we’ve already spent a lot of time on this point so I’ll just point you to those articles instead of taking up more space here.
- Why is Confession Important? Because the Truth Will Set You Free
- Addiction, Lies, and Relationships
- 4 Roadblocks to Recovery from Sex Addiction
How to Overcome Sex Addiction Step Three – REWIRE YOUR BRAIN
If you thought those first two steps were tough, now it’s time to start talking about some of the really difficult steps to overcome sex addiction. It’s time to talk about detox.
We all know how important it is for a drug addict or an alcoholic to detox. There’s no hope of lasting sobriety if the chemical dependence to these substances is not broken. But did you know the same is true with sexual addictions?
Whether it’s porn, or masturbation, or sex outside of your marriage, these unholy indulgences release a very specific concoction of neurochemical stimulants in the brain. Over time, the body becomes dependent on these chemicals. Scientific studies have shown that the pathways in the brain are actually rewritten to need these stimuli.
If you really want to know how to overcome sex addiction, you’re going to have to be willing to do the hard things. And this is going to be tough! You have to give your brain time to heal. That means absolutely no sexual release at all (not even with your wife) for a period of time. Experts say anywhere from 60 to 90 days. We recommend 90.
During that time, we believe it’s imperative to take the opportunity to replace that space in your brain with the truth of Scripture. In fact, we recommend you take a whole year and spend it diving deep into the Word of God. Let it re-write your thinking. You’ll be amazed how much God can change in just that one year!
How to Overcome Sex Addiction Step Four – BE ACCOUNTABLE
We all want to be able to overcome sex addiction on our own, but it just isn’t going to happen. It’s shameful to admit our depravity to another person, but the truth is, that is exactly why it’s so important to do it anyway. There is great power in humility!
Once again, we’ve already written a whole article on this point, so instead of taking up space here, we’ll just direct you to it. You can learn a lot more about what it looks like to be accountable in this article: What does the Bible Say About Accountability? How to Hold Yourself Accountable in 5 Steps.
James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
How to Overcome Sex Addiction Step Five – LIVE SELFLESSLY
You know, this is not a step we see on a lot of other lists, but I really believe it is an important part of learning how to overcome sex addiction.
Sex addiction is all about ourselves. It is about self-gratification and self-indulgence. The Bible teaches a concept in Ephesians 4 that we like to call “put off and put on.” It lists specific sins and talks about the process of breaking free from each. As it does, it talks about putting off the sinful behavior and putting on a righteous behavior in its place.
You see, it’s not enough to simply quit sinning. It almost never works. We have to replace the sin with something holy. In sex addiction, the root sin is selfishness, so the thing that needs to replace it is selflessness.
We should look for opportunities to be selfless in all of life, but the most effective will be in the areas that stand in stark contrast to the selfishness we previously were enslaved to. So if we were selfish in our sexuality, we must learn to be selfless in our sexuality. Make sex all about your wife, and not about you.
Do everything you can to give her whatever it is she needs to heal from this devastating betrayal. If it’s space, selflessly give her space. If it’s comfort she needs, do your best to comfort her while simultaneously pointing her to the only source of true comfort – God. If she needs answers give her answers, if it’s patience give her patience, if tenderness will sooth her broken heart then be tender.
Just spend your life living for others, not yourself. And ultimately, do it all for the glory of God. If you make that your goal, you can and will overcome your sex addiction. I promise you that!