The Covenant Eyes Podcast

Overcoming Sexual Sin and Finding Freedom | Jonathan Pokluda

February 16, 2024 Covenant Eyes / Jonathan Pokluda Season 3 Episode 10
The Covenant Eyes Podcast
Overcoming Sexual Sin and Finding Freedom | Jonathan Pokluda
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of The Covenant Eyes Podcast, Karen Potter and Rob Stoddard engage in a powerful conversation with Jonathan ‘JP’ Pokluda, lead pastor at Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and bestselling author.

The focus is on the journey of overcoming sexual sin and addiction through the power of faith and spiritual renewal. The host and guests share personal experiences and insights into the challenges of battling lustful desires and the destructive cycle of addiction. They emphasize the importance of self-control, confession, and seeking support from a community of believers.

The conversation jumps into the spiritual warfare aspect of dealing with temptation, highlighting the need for vigilance and reliance on God's strength to resist the allure of sinful behaviors.

Courageous confession is also emphasized as a pivotal step towards healing and restoration, as individuals open up about their struggles in a safe and supportive environment. Through the lens of Christian teachings, the episode explores the path to finding freedom in Christ and embracing life-giving virtues that lead to a transformed and fulfilling life.

00:00 - Introduction: Welcome Back to The Covenant Eyes Podcast
00:45 - Guest Introduction: Meet Jonathan ‘JP’ Pokluda
03:14  - The War for Your Soul: JP's Sermon at Auburn University
05:50 - Finding Healing and Recovery: JP's Personal Journey
07:25 - The Importance of Confession and Prayer: Overcoming Sexual Sin
09:50 - Addressing Taboo Topics: Why Pastors Must Speak Up
13:32 - Exploring JP's Book "Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want to Do?"
15:46 - Pursuing Virtue: Self-Control and Humility
16:06 - Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Enemy's Tactics
18:44 - The Path to Freedom: Sharing Your Story
21:46 - Connecting with JP: Resources and Contact Information

Throughout our conversation, JP shares practical insights, biblical wisdom, and personal anecdotes that inspire hope and empower listeners to embrace the journey of restoration and freedom. Tune in to discover how you can break free from the bondage of sin and step into a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Instagram: @jpokluda

Jonathan's latest book: "Why Do I Do What I Don't Want to Do? Replace Deadly Vices with Life-Giving Virtues"

🎙️ Subscribe to "The Covenant Eyes Podcast" for more impactful conversations on faith, freedom, and overcoming challenges.

#JonathanPokluda #SexualFreedom #AddictionRecovery #ChristianLiving #CovenantEyes #GospelTransformation #CourageousConfession #FreedomInChrist #AbundantLife #PodcastInterview #SexualSin #AddictionRecovery #SelfControl #OvercomingTemptation #SpiritualWarfare #FreedomInChrist #ConfessionAndHealing #CourageousConfession #LifeGivingVirtues #ChristianPodcast

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Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Covenant I's podcast. So glad to have you back with us. It's Karen. He's Rob. Hey, Rob. How's it going? Hey, I'm doing good except for the snow outside. But other than that, doing well. Yeah. But Michigan. Michigan won, so, you know, you'll be. Happy. I'm happy. I'm a State girl. But, you know, for this kind of circumstance, I'll I'll lean into Michigan. Everybody likes a winner, right? That's right. Awesome. Are you excited for today's show? We've got an old friend joining us again to to talk with us a little bit about a lot of great things going on. So do you want to get an introduction going, Rob? I do. I'm excited for. For our next guest here. Our guest today is Jonathan ‘JP’ Pokluda. Jonathan is a lead pastor at Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and he's also a bestselling author and podcaster and all around great guy. So, Jonathan, welcome to the podcast. I'm glad to be here all around. Great guy. I'll take it. And Rob, why do you hate Snow? That's what I'm sitting here wondering. I'm like this. What's the what's the what do you have against the. the winters. Just get a little long here in Michigan. sure. Well, you you come to come to Texas for the summer, and I think you're full of that, too, so no good. Well, hey, JP, tell us for our listeners just a little bit about your background and what you're doing now and some of the things you've got going on. Yeah, So I well, ministry wise, I would I led a ministry in Dallas for about 12 years called The Porch was a young adult gathering there in Dallas. And then that was at Watermark Community Church where I got the pastor there, the Dallas campus. And I was there for 12 years, as I said. And then five years ago, the Lord called our family to Waco, Texas, to get to serve with a 150 year old Baptist church in the country outside of Waco. And so we've been here. And yeah, like you said, I've had the privilege of writing some books and just really have a heart to help people. I am a guy who's made a ton of mistakes along the way, bumped my head on a lot of ceilings and paid a lot of dummy tax and just kind of said, all right, you know, learn you can learn from your mistakes or you can learn from mine and try and help people learn from my mistakes, trying to redeem some of those mistakes along the way. So I think that's why we're here. Absolutely. Well, we're in good company because I think we've all been down that road. We've made lots of mistakes. But, you know, it's it's amazing. You know, it was funny in preparation for the interview, I was just kind of checking out some of your recent sermons because I'm a big fan. I don't know if you can say fan of a pastor, but I love your sermons. They are inspiring and they really speak and they speak to, you know, all demographics. But my my kids, my younger 20 somethings love listening to your sermons. They are home churches. But on the weekends, you know, when we're in the car, we're driving around. Or if I'm visiting them, you know, we can listen to those and get inspired. But one particular sermon that you had, I think it was back in September, it was titled The War for Your Soul. You had a really interesting segment segment in there talking about a trip that you took to a college campus where they asked you to come speak. And it was really profound to me because it really speaks to the state of our young people right now. And I was wondering if we could dive into that a little bit and just talk about that experience when you went to that college and kind of how that went. Yes, I was invited to Auburn University and didn't really know exactly what I was was getting into, but they had asked me to speak on sexual sin and specifically a passage in First Thessalonians chapter four. And this was a sermon that they had heard that I did like eight years ago. And so I didn't even remember the sermon, but I went back and tried to get my my heart around the passage and, you know, prepared to teach. And it's a tough passage because, you know, it ends with, you know, God is the avenger of such things and talking about sexual sin. And so I, you know, went there. Preached that message that ended up being 6000 college students that came, we felt, you know, God filled an arena there at Auburn University. And afterwards 200 students wanted to get baptized and over 200. And it wasn't you know, I wasn't the only one speaking Passion led worship. Jenny Allen spoke as well, gave an amazing message. But what I heard in that in that pond was, you know, students say I just want to be clean. I just want to be clean. So there wasn't like we were just like rapid dunking a bunch of college students. There really was 200 gospel conversations in the water because I kept saying, Hey, this water's not going to clean you. You know, this is dirty water. It's got mud in it and fish in it. And it was here last week and it's going to be here next week. And and and honestly, you're going to be dirtier when you get out of this water. It won't clean you, but but only the blood of Jesus. And so we really were clarifying the gospel and making sure they had an understanding of the work that Jesus did on the cross and the empty tomb before they went in. And so it's just this beautiful encounter with the Holy Spirit, and it was all a vision from a friend of mine, Tanya Pruitt, who is the wife of the assistant basketball coach there. Then she just had this vision for, you know, wanting to see God move in this way, specifically because she was encountering so many stories of people in bondage to sexual sin. And so she was like, Hey, this is what you need to speak on. And, you know, I had my doubts as far as the topic goes, but God seemed to move in and through that. And that's a big part of my story. You know, I didn't back up that much, but I was raised in the church, didn't go to church in college. And really I thought, God is the sheriff in this guy that just wants to get me, you know, for doing wrong. Well, college was this concentration of sexual sin. I mean, really just treating sexual addiction in way of pornography and serial dating and all of, you know, strip clubs, everything. And and I had just when I came out of college was really just a mess of of perversion in in my thought life and my thinking and and then my my own addiction. And so I when I became a Christian shortly thereafter, I was at a club. Someone invited me to church. I went hung over. Long story short, surrendered my life to Jesus. And then and then found recovery began to have people confess and have people pray for me and found healing. And so God has really grown a ministry out of that that mess. Or at least he's given me a message out of that mess. Wow. That's that's excellent. One of the things that stuck out to me in that sermon that you delivered there at Auburn was was an analogy you used about how college students are really drowning in, you know, their sexual sins and in pornography. Then you talked about somebody who you know, a young person who maybe fell into a pool and was about to drown, but yet they wouldn't call out for help. Can you kind of share that a little bit? Yeah. I told the story of of you know, we we had a pool in Dallas and and my daughter fell in when before, you know, before she could swim and and just like the the flailing if you know, the horrific image mental image, but just her flailing and screaming for help. And I said, you know, it would it would be crazy. And then as a loving father, right. I'm I'm not sitting there thinking about what to do. I'm like, man, I've got my iPhone in my pocket. I really don't want to get wet. You know, It's just like I'm just rushing to her as fast as I possibly can. And and it would be crazy if she was like, All right, I'm I'm going to try to pretend like I'm not drowning. I don't want anyone to know. That's really embarrassing. You know, it's really embarrassing to to be drowning is I don't want people to know I can't swim. So how can I drown silently? And I see so many people do that with pornography and sexual sin as they think. You know, I need to manage perception. I don't want anyone to know how I'm struggling. How do I do this? This privately and quietly? And and really what you're missing out on is is grace like the grace of the gospel, the grace of God that we have a father. That when we say, I need help, help, can you help me? That he he doesn't think about it is rushing toward us. He's jumping in that pool He's he's pushing us to the side and to safety. He's breathing life into us and giving us CPR. And so, yeah, I mean, that that's the mental image that I think about is just like, if you're here this and you're stuck in sexual sin, you've got to tell people, you know, tell someone until they help you. And it's like and the other thing that that young people do, they're like, I did tell someone who was like, Presley, if someone did walk by our fence and thought, maybe she's just playing, you know, I'm not going to help her. It's not like she would give up in that moment and be like, All right, well then I'm going to stop yelling for help. It's like, No, you're going to yell for help until someone rescues you or you die. And in the same way, it's like we need to we need to ask for help until someone comes alongside us and says, All right, let me walk alongside you in recovery. Until you're safe, until you're free. That's so good. And I think there's there's so much to be taken from that. But, you know, a lot of people aren't in a place yet where they're ready to even ask for help. Yeah. And as a pastor, I mean, you preach you preach quite frequently on this topic, which is amazing because a lot of pastors won't touch this topic with a ten foot pole. They're they're afraid to kind of go too deep into this topic. And I'm not sure why. So how do you use that the pulpit to really reach people to to help, you know, inspire them and hopefully the Holy Spirit moving in them to really invite them of their sin and address it? Yeah. Let me just say this. You don't you're not going to be ready. And so, like, if you wait until you're ready, you're going to wait for a long time. And, you know, I find a lot of I say that a lot in ministry because it's not just about sexual sin. I mean, sometimes it's about dealing with conflict. Am I ready to have the conversation? I think we have a false concept of what it means to be ready. Often we think, well, if it's if it when it's comfortable, when it doesn't feel awkward, when it's not hard. When it's not difficult, then then I will. That's that's a that's a far it's a it's a false idea. It's false thinking. We always have to take courageous steps before we're ready. If if we were ready, it wouldn't require any courage. And so I think to to live out.

James 5:

16, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you might be healed for the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. I don't think James. I think James is calling us to courageous confession. Not only do it when you're ready, so let me just like, start with that. I also want to highlight in James that he's saying that there is a healing that only takes place with confession and prayer. And so for that person who is continually stuck in this, like they feel like like a dog to his vomit, the Proverb says they continue to fall into sexual sin, trip up in sexual sin to that in they're like, Hey, I can't get well, I don't know what's wrong. I would just say this. Listen, there's scriptures telling you that there is a there is a sin that you won't be free of. You will not be healed from without prayer and confession. And so just like no, that may be the only path is prayer in confession toward recovery. And you have to do it frequency frequently, rather. And then just in regards to talking about it as a pastor, it's like, listen, there's a lot of ways to make money today, okay? Lots of jobs out there, you know, and and lots of things that I could do vocationally. I went into ministry because I want to help people. And so the way that I help people today is by speaking the truth and love to them. And and I don't want what I don't I'm not an entertainer. I'm not a comedian or a magician and or, you know, just someone up there giving a monologue like I am teaching the very words of God and expounding upon executing expository the words of God. And and so the Scripture has a lot to say about sexual sin and addiction and lust. And and so as I teach the full wisdom of God, like, I've got to address these things that the Scripture teaches and it's like, why would we not? And I and I'm baffled that we would be afraid or reserve or from from doing that when it is a path to freedom. And so I just yeah, I think it's necessary. So, Jonathan, I want to you've written a few different books, I think three or four, but your most recent Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want to Do?, I believe is the most recent. Tell us a little bit about why you wrote that and what that's all about. Yeah, you know, so the title's plagiarized from the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 You know, why do I do what I don't want to do? And just so many people can resonate with that. Like, why do I do what There's this things I can tell you right now. I don't want to do them. And yet I continue to return to them. I know there's there's death there and I continue to pursue it. But the book is really separated and in vices and virtues. And so vices are these addictions, these sins that we continue to find us in ourselves in. And then virtue is the counterpart of those. And the easiest one to kind of highlight is is pride and humility. And so you would think you could say, I'm going to try to not be prideful and then you're on defense. You're constantly thinking, okay, how do I not be prideful? How do I not be prideful? How do I not be prideful? The the case that I'm making with this book is if you would pursue your humility, you would say, rather than trying not to do this, I'm going to do this. I'm going to go on offense and I'm going to seek to be humble, truly humble, and to live a humble life and to pursue humility. Then then pride is going to die. It's going to die off. And so rather than just trying not to be prideful, you can actually there's something that you can do offensively to find freedom. Well, on the topic at hand with lust, you know, the counterpart is chapter five in the book is self-control. So if I if rather than I'm going to try not to let someone try not to love somebody, try not to lust, then I find myself where I'm staying on defense. But if I say, you know what, I'm going to practice self-control and actively pursue self-control, what does that look like to pursue self-control That might that might start at the at the soda fountain, you know, hey, I'm not going to have five, you know, five refills. I'm not going to eat dessert. Now I'm practicing self-control. And as I do that, what I find is that overcoming lust becomes easier because I'm conditioning myself. It's like I'm exercising in this way. And so that's a that's a little bit the premise of why do I do what I don't want to do? Sounds like a really good read for our listeners out there. How do they get their hands on the book? Yeah, it's available everywhere books are sold, you know, Amazon, your local bookstore. If they don't have it, ask them to carry it. But, but I've, I found that most of them, you know Barnes Noble's and whatnot the do carry carry the book so the the subtitle is Replace Deadly Vices with Life-Giving Virtues. And so I think it's just like the enemy.

John 10:

10, The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus says, I've come so that they might have life and have it to the fullest. And I think sometimes we're trying to not to, you know, fall into what the devil uses to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus is like, no, there's an abundant life that you can pursue that's available to you right now. What does it look like for you to pursue that abundant life? Do you think there's a reason why it's so hard for us as Christians to really, you know, get into good patterns with self-discipline and self-control, those types of things? Like why is it so hard for us? Yeah, that's another book. The book I'm writing on working on right now. So I'm really excited about the the working title. And this the first time I've ever said this out loud, I think, is is is Your Story Has a Villian, and and it's really a book on spiritual warfare. I think a lot of times as Christians, we overlook this reality that we are in a war, that we have an enemy. And I tell you what, like his a primary weapon that they use today, when I say they it's weird. I'm talking about the demonic realm. I'm talking fallen angels. I'm talking like the prince of evil on Earth. A primary weapon that they use is is sexual sin pornography. I don't I don't think we realize, like, these things date back to, you know, rituals in in ancient in the ancient world and that that God gave us sex as a gift for the purpose of procreating, like literally bringing life into the world and to bond a husband, to to his wife and a wife to her husband. And what what the enemies done is, is he said, hey, I want to take that, you know, just the same trick he used there in Genesis 3. And he's saying God is trying to keep pleasure from you. And he's saying, Hey, you can only experience this in the context of marriage. And I'm saying, no, no, no, no. You can have that pleasure right now. It's available to you. And if it's not available to you in the form of a person, you can just look at this two dimensional image or you can watch this video or this reel or, you know, go over here, experience this, or go to this adult bookstore, walk into a strip club or or purchase a prostitute, a time with a prostitute. And it's like it's like that's that's the devil perverting and corrupting the things of God so that we might become prisoner to it. And then what happens is you, as you eat that fruit, if you will, talking, thrown back to the Garden of Eden, then you become a slave to it. What I'm trying to tell you right now and experientially, I've lived this is that Jesus Christ, comes, He shows up and he unlocks that cage and he says, You're free to get out. You don't have to stay in that cage anymore. And you're like, No, no, I can't. Like, I can't stop looking at porn. I can't stop. No, no, no. He's like, No, you can. You can. I've defeated death. I've overcome the grave. I've the, you know, the the lame walk the blind, see the deaf, hear the mute speak. I can heal you. The doors open, walk out. And as you trust him and you walk out of that cage, he hands you a key. And that key is your story. I mean, it's like what I'm doing right now. This is. I'm using my key. Like I'm using my story because I've been there. I mean, I have called in sick to work, to binge on porn before I was in ministry, before I was a believer, I was in corporate America and I would call in sick just so I could stay home and binge on porn all day. And so I have found freedom and I have this story. And so what happens is you lift your eyes and you look up and you just see all of these people in cages. They're in cages just like the one you were in. And now you have this story that you can walk up to that cage and you can share your story and share the gospel and you can open that door just like Jesus did for you. And you can say, Hey, come out of there. You don't have to stay in that cage. And you can tell them that they have a story and then they share their story and then more people are set free. And that's that's what's happening is as we're we're defeating darkness, we're on the front lines against the prince of evil who who is using sexual sin. And even like some of it for for our listeners, it's not something you did. It was something that was done to you. Maybe you're a victim of something that you think you can never speak out loud. Maybe your addiction to pornography is rooted in something that happened to you when you were little or or, you know, something that you participated in early in life or as a teenager. I don't know what what your story is, but I am telling you there is freedom. And when you say I'm committed to taking this with me to my grave, to not talking about it, you are really saying I'm committed to staying a slave. I'm committed to staying a prisoner. And I don't mean to use such harsh words, but I just don't have a lot of time with you. And I'm calling you to freedom. And I'm telling you, you're not going to surprise me. There's not a single person listening to this right now that's going to tell me anything that I haven't heard. I've heard the craziest, most insane perversion, saddest, crippling stories you can imagine. And I have seen those people that God's taken their mess and made it their message and even their ministry. And he does it all the time. And it does require you taking a courageous step, a step that you're not ready to take candidly. You're not going to feel ready. It's not going to feel safe. It's going to be so uncomfortable. But as you begin to take that step, you're going to experience a freedom that's going to give you a life that you didn't even know was possible. And that's that's what I would would call you, too. That's why I think the scriptures call you to. Well, amen, preach it, preach it. That's good. That's good. So, Pastor, if our listeners want to hear more of this, if they want to hear some of your sermons or your podcast or get in touch with you, where would they do that? And so every Friday I do something called Friday Q&A. And you can ask anything like there's nothing off limits and stuff that, you know, people aren't typically comfortable asking a pastor. And so that's via Instagram. It's @jpokluda, Pokluda is my last name. So @jpokluda . is it's probably the easiest to remember our most messages are archived at, which is where I have the privilege of serving today. But those are just some ideas. The books are out there in the world anywhere. Like I said, books are sold. But yeah, my heart I don't I'm not in this to sell books. I'm not in this to to try and make money or, you know, build a kingdom. For myself, I'm a human and I'm sure my motive is mixed in ways I'm not even aware of. But I hope my heart is primarily to help people come to know the grace of the gospel and to walk as disciples. Followers of Jesus Christ. That’s amazing. Your authenticity just shines through. And it's beautiful that you have such a heart to serve people, especially in this tough topic, you know, because it is such an intimate, deep sin, you know, that so many of us have walked, you know, and carried with us. So thank you for all that you're doing to help people. The Q&A. That sounds amazing. And wow, like that, you must get all sorts of questions. What is you know, some something kind of interesting that's happened in that Q&A session that you want to share with our listeners that's been kind of unusual or fun or different for you. Yes. So I get about 2000 questions every Friday. So that that means I've received over half a million questions I've answered. I'll answer anywhere from 50 to 100 every Friday. And, you know, there's always the the repeat. I say there on your faith, finances, friendship, the future, dating relationships, Gen Z, millennials, sex, dating, all the things. And so you know, the interesting ones gosh, I'm trying to think what would be an interesting one to share every now and then there's one. I'm like, Wow, I've never been asked that before, but it's escaping me right now. But they're typically like around I mean, just stuff that people are like, Hey, I don't know where I can ask this. Like, is this kind of sex okay? Is this okay in marriage? Is this okay? You know, how far is too far? Like all of that? Those are the the ones that people are usually surprised are like, I can't believe you answered that. Like what? They don't have anywhere else to go, you know, where are they going to go and ask these questions? So Friday Q&A has become the safe place to do that. That's amazing and so good and so needed because you're right, if they don't get answers from their pastor, they're going to go seek them out online. And Lord knows what's out there. We don't need people looking for the answers out there for sure. That's great. Well, you know, we're bringing today's episode to a close and we just want to thank you for joining us. JP, This has been a great conversation and we appreciate all the work that you're doing. And in closing, is there anything you want to just leave our listeners with before we sign out for the day? Yeah, I just think you know, in a in a message like that and some of the things we're talking about, I know that the enemy, you know, he can come alongside you and just, you know, say things like you're worthless, you're never going to get well, you've tried this before. You know God's mad at you. He's far, and always makes us feel like we're far from God. What I, what I read in the Bible is that there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

It’s Romans 8:

1, it says in 1 Corinthians that that God is no longer counting your sins against you. So the way that you live in this reality, that God is not counting your sins against you is is if He's paid for all of those sins on his son Jesus Christ on the cross. And so I could leave you with anything. It would be to if you haven't to trust fully in the death of Jesus Christ as a payment for your sins and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as your hope for the future, and to ask His Holy Spirit to live inside of you and with you to to help you find a healing and a life that you didn't know was even possible or available to you. And so that's that's what I see in the Scripture that we can believe upon the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And nobody gets to heaven because they were good. Nobody gets to heaven because they tried hard. Nobody gets to heaven because they went to church or they lived, you know, they did the right things. The only person who goes to heaven is the person who's been forgiven of their sins because they trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And so that's what I would invite you into if you if you stayed with us this far, if you're still listening, if you haven't surrendered your life to Jesus, I'm telling you your biggest problem is not that you're a porn addict. Your biggest problem is not your sexual addiction. Your biggest problem is not your past. Your biggest problem is that you haven't received the grace of God through his son, Jesus Christ. And that's available to you right now. You don't have to go anywhere. You want to do anything, you know, to be somewhere special. You can receive that right now simply by believing on his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins. Well, J.P., again, thank you for joining us today. That's been a great message of great words. And to our listeners, thank you for joining in. And it hit like on this and we'll be back here again next week with with another guest. But Jonathan, again, thank you for your work and we'll look forward to seeing seeing you again sometime. Absolutely. Guys, Thank you. Thanks for. Having me. All right. Thank you. God bless.