BCC Staff Note: Today’s review was also posted at Nate Claiborne’s site and is re-posted by the BCC with Nate’s permission. You can also read the original post here. Also, you can read our BCC Author Interview Q/A with Heath Lambert on Finally Free here.
A Well-Qualified, Much Sought-After Author
Heath Lambert is the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly National Association of Nouthetic Counselors). He also serves as Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as Associate Dean of Applied Studies and Chairman of the Department of Biblical Counseling at their undergrad institution (Boyce College). He is the author of The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams and co-editor of Counseling the Hard Cases. The moral of this short story is that he knows a good bit about biblical counseling, and so his wisdom on the topic of purity in Finally Free: Fighting For Purity With The Power of Grace is much sought after.
Right from the get-go, Lambert clarifies that this is not a book about pornography. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive if you read the table of contents before you read the introduction. There you will notice that each chapter includes the word “pornography” in its title. “Yet somehow,” you ask, “This isn’t a book about pornography?”
Well, yes and no. As Lambert explains, he is nixing the discussion of the details of the porn industry (the stats part of many books helping people deal with porn), as well as discussions about the damage porn does (both to the makers and consumers). He is also leaving out the discussion about how bad porn is, how it re-wires your brain, and how it undermines just about everything important. While books that do that have a noble goal according to Lambert (p. 12), his goal is to tell you “about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.” Or, as he reiterates in the next sentence, “I want to share with you the amazing depth and effect of Christ’s power to eradicate pornography from your life” (p. 12).
Accordingly, Lambert sees grace as the foundation from which the fight proceeds on several fronts. He spends chapter 1 explaining in more detail the foundation of grace. From that base of operations, Lambert teases out several “weapons” that can be used in the fight:
- Godly sorrow (chapter 2)
- Accountability (chapter 3)
- Radical measures (chapter 4)
- Confession (chapter 5)
- Your spouse or singleness (chapter 6)
- Humility (chapter 7)
- Gratitude (chapter 8)
- A dynamic relationship with Christ (chapter 9)
The concluding call to holiness in all of life is followed by a helpful appendix specifically for families and friends of those struggling with pornography. Much more could be said about that particular issue, but it is not the focus of Lambert’s book.
The Outworking of Grace Gripping the Heart
Lambert is offering readers a textbook case of how to pursue mortification, specifically as it applies to lust and its most frequent outworking, porn addiction. Much of what he offers readers will also help them grow in fighting sin in other areas of their life, some of which might not seem immediately connected (e.g. pride). Several of the chapters include “weapons” that I think we’ve all employed (accountability, confession, radical measures). But as you notice, some of them don’t seem to be directly connected to dealing with pornography. The two that stood out to me were the chapters on humility and gratitude. I’ve yet to talk to a student who struggles with porn but is also genuinely overflowing with gratitude for everything God has given to them. Not saying it’s not possible, but often I’ll follow a similar track as Lambert (grace in Christ first, then gratitude in response to that grace second) because it generally hasn’t occurred to many people that there’s a connection between ingratitude and struggling with lust.
Additionally, I don’t think it has occurred to many people that all of these weapons work together and are the outworking of grace gripping a person’s heart. I think it’s fair to say each chapter is offering a different perspective on what grace looks like in a person’s life. As you grow in Christ, you’ll grow in your ability to employ each of these weapons in tandem, rather than in isolated strikes. This is especially true if readers put the action items to use at the end of each chapter and think over the questions offered.
These questions at the end of each chapter make this book an ideal tool for a counselor to use in helping someone work through a sexual addiction. While many other factors could contribute to the actual counseling process, this little book provides a very solid biblical foundation of grace that will undergird everything else that is eventually utilized. Ideally, it would be read and digested over several weeks, with intensive discussions following the action items being put into place. Using it this way would also work well in a leader facilitated small group of high school or college guys.
A Fresh, Grace-Filled Perspective
While there are many books out there on dealing with lust and the struggle with pornography, Lambert’s book is now at the top of my list of books I’ll give to a student who wants to grow and change. Part of this is the accessibility of the writing style (short, to the point, and laced with illustrations) and the other part is the track record Lambert has in applying this material. Another part would be how Christ-centered the whole book is, which on the whole is what makes it a book about fighting pornography that’s not really about pornography. It is a fresh, grace-filled perspective on the fight against lust and offers the culmination of years of biblical wisdom that will point readers to the grace Christ offers and its power to defeat indwelling sin.