Reviewed by Dustin Butts
For this is the will of god, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality – 1 Thessalonians 4:3
“Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many…” Those words were penned by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1996. Two decades later, the prevalence and accessibility of indecent material has grown, and continues to grow exponentially.
In our hyper-sexualized culture, the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica have never been more needed. Sexual immorality is everywhere in our culture, and sadly it seems to be gaining a stronger and stronger foothold in the church. The strongest of those strongholds appears to be the use of pornography by Christians. For many in the church, this reality is not just alarming, it’s personal. Many Christians either struggle with pornography themselves or know someone who does. Recognizing this, Heath Lambert has written Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace in order to help believers who struggle with pornography pursue the will of God for their lives—to help them fight for sexual purity.
In the introduction, Lambert explains his intention in writing the book: “In this book, I want to share with you the amazing depth and effect of Christ’s power to eradicate pornography from your life” (12).
After reading the book, I can confidently say that Lambert accomplishes his goal in a clear and incredibly practical manner. Lambert begins Finally Free with a short introduction focused on the purpose of the book. There, he notes that Finally Free is not a book about pornography, it is “a book about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography” (12). This is one of the many things that sets Finally Free apart from the other books on purity and pornography that you might find on the bookshelf of your local Christian bookstore. Lambert labors to keep the book pure and focused on the gospel, desiring to write something that his children would be able to read without embarrassment or the temptation to further impurity.
Chapter one begins with the foundation of grace. Lambert, rightly, sees this as the only foundation from which to develop and suggest practical principles for fighting for purity. He explains that God’s grace not only forgives, it transforms. This forgiving and transforming grace can only be grasped through true repentance, which is the focus of the rest of the chapter.
With the foundation of grace laid, Lambert provides readers with “eight practical elements of God’s transforming grace that he delights to grant to his loved ones who ask” (28). The eight elements are sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, your spouse or singleness, humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus. Each element forms a chapter of the book.
Some of the most helpful material in the “practical strategies” chapters is found in the chapters on sorrow and accountability. In chapter 2, “Using Sorrow to Fight Pornography,” Lambert differentiates between godly and worldly sorrow. He explains, “The focus of worldly sorrow is the world. People experiencing worldly sorrow are distressed because they are losing (or fear losing) things the world has to offer” (34). Worldly sorrow is self-centered and sinful. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, “is pained over the break in relationship with God. It is heartbroken that God has been grieved and offended” (35).
In the chapter on accountability, Lambert exposes a common error that Christians make when pursuing accountability. We often reduce accountability to an opportunity for a delayed confession of sin. Lambert warns that this pattern of accountability does not produce the kind of change that leads to freedom from pornography. “You will not experience dramatic change in your struggle as long as you use accountability to describe your sins instead of declaring your need for help in the midst of temptation” (49). He also points out that the effectiveness of accountability depends just as much on the honesty and initiation of person seeking accountability as it does on the commitment and maturity of the person providing that accountability.
Those are just some of the many helpful insights found in the “practical strategies” chapters. In every chapter, Lambert returns to the foundation of grace and reminds his readers that it is only by God’s grace that they will be able to effectively implement the strategies suggested.
The final chapter of Finally Free is “A Call to Holiness and Hope.” In it, Lambert calls readers to fight for holiness and uses the example of his own life and struggles with pornography to show readers that there is hope. Here the emphasis is the same as it is has been throughout the rest of the book. The focus is not on Lambert’s ability to transform himself, but on the transforming grace of God.
As someone who has read a number of books on sexual purity, I cannot recommend a better book than Finally Free. The book is everything Lambert intended.
It is clean, practical, and centered on the transforming power of the gospel.
In the short time since it’s publication in 2013, I have used it to counsel those struggling with pornography, and those seeking to help others. I’ve even used it in a men’s small group.
I would recommend the book to anyone struggling with pornography, and to anyone seeking to help someone who is struggling with pornography. If you are in the former group, I would highly recommend finding a mature brother or sister (yes, this is something women struggle with as well) to read the book with. If you are in the latter group of those seeking to help someone in their struggle, you will find the appendix, “Help for Families and Friends of Men Struggling with Pornography,” particularly helpful.
Even if you are not in one of the categories of people I mentioned, I would commend Finally Free to you. There is much practical knowledge in Finally Free that translates to dealing biblically with all sin, not just the sin of sexual immorality. And, we all need help to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).