Book Review: Finally Free, by Heath Lambert
With both Satan and the world bent on sexual temptation, what hope do we have to live a life of holiness and sexual purity? In Finally Free, Heath Lambert seeks to answer that question by pointing to our only source of hope: the pardoning and transforming grace of God. With a pastoral heart and years of experience as a biblical counselor, Lambert unpacks the centrality of grace in the fight against pornography while giving eight strategies to pursue purity that are both eminently practical and shot through with gospel promises. These grace-empowered tools in the fight for purity are sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, your spouse (or singleness), humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus.
Lambert’s opening chapter focuses on grace as the foundation of our fight against pornography. This chapter is important and worth more than the price of the book. He highlights that God’s grace in Christ not only provides us with forgiveness of sin; it also transforms us and breaks our bondage to sin. We should rightly celebrate God’s forgiving grace, but we also need God’s transforming, Spirit-empowered grace to become like our Savior. The grace of the gospel must empower and undergird all other strategies or we won’t see lasting change in our pursuit of purity.
Lambert then unpacks the essential steps of repentance according to the acronym “CAR”: confession, affirming God’s forgiveness, and requesting grace to change. This acronym has served me well not only in counseling those who struggle with pornography but more generally in pastoral ministry and in my own pursuit of personal holiness.
Lambert’s discussion of the differences between godly and worldly sorrow in chapter 2 is immensely helpful—reminding us that our sin is ultimately against God and that Spirit-wrought repentance involves far more than feeling bad, but a willingness to change no matter the cost. In chapter 3, Lambert challenges ineffective accountability groups where members gather mainly to confess failure. Instead, he argues that accountability should focus more on having brothers and sisters in arms who encourage faithfulness by reminding one another of biblical truth and of the gospel. Lambert also challenges his readers to take radical measures in their pursuit of holiness—particularly by cutting off all access to pornography. As he reminds his readers, these radical measures are never convenient and are always costly, but the truly repentant will be willing to take them.
Lambert also helpfully focuses on utilizing confession to fight pornography. He challenges lone-ranger tendencies among evangelicals and the impulse to hide our shame when we sin with pornography. Emphasizing the replacement principle of “putting off” old thoughts and “putting on” new ones, he spends a chapter comparing the forbidden woman of Proverbs with the gift of a godly wife. Lambert also argues that the pursuit of temporary sexual pleasure outside of the marriage covenant is ultimately rooted in our pride, selfishness, and greed. When we focus our lives on ourselves, instead of on God and others, we’re functionally operating as if we’re the center of the universe. We must then kill our pride and our urges to possess what’s not rightfully ours by lifting our eyes to God’s greatness and to the undeserved grace bestowed on us. Reflecting on God’s character and his glorious work of salvation humbles us and recalibrates our desires to accord with his will.
The arguments in Finally Free are rooted in Scripture and built on the foundation of God’s transforming grace. The promise of porn (and any other sin) is that it will satisfy our desires. But nothing God has made will satisfy us more than God. Strategies and accountability groups aren’t enough to overcome hard hearts and seared consciences. We need the grace of God in Christ’s finished work to be applied to us by the Holy Spirit. We need forgiveness and transformation. Lambert’s thoughtful exegesis, practical strategies, and focus on the gospel will help many people discover the grace they need to overcome sin and temptation.
I do wish Lambert would have spent more time addressing those who are single and struggle with pornography. Certainly the book’s content can be easily applied to any life circumstance, but most of the examples and illustrations throughout the book focus on married people and their spouses. This criticism, however, is minor.
I pastor in a rural context. While our church members love Jesus, few of them love to read. If I’m going to recommend a book, I’ve got to make it count. Perhaps, then, the best commendation I can give for this book is that I regularly give it away to my church members and use it in discipleship groups and in counseling. With helpful discussion questions at the end of each chapter, Lambert helps readers move beyond information and into personal application. I’ve also found that the gospel-focus and grace empowered strategies Lambert employs helps Christians not only fight against pornography, but also empowers them to pursue holiness in the rest of their life.