Grammy-nominated worship leader and songwriter Cory Asbury is opening up about his past struggle with sexual sin in an upcoming devotional book.
The “Reckless Love” artist, who serves as worship pastor of Radiant Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is part of the Bethel Artist Collective based in Redding, California, admits in the book , which debuts in January, that he was exposed to pornography at around 12 years old.
He even dealt with a compulsion toward pornography after becoming a full-time worship minister — a position that led Asbury to feel he “couldn’t confess” his struggle “to anyone,” which fed “a perpetual cycle of guilt and shame.”
“I was in a genuine Romans 7 quandary: the things I didn’t want to do, I did; but the things I wanted to do, I couldn’t do (vv. 14–20),” he wrote. “I found myself completely and utterly stuck.”
He then figured that, after getting married at 21 years old, his struggle would disappear. But that wasn’t the case.
Asbury’s addiction continued.
“Getting married doesn’t magically fix all the problems in your life, especially the ones entrenched through years of habitual sin,” he admitted. “The shame I felt from my struggle with pornography before marriage was nothing compared to what I experienced after. On top of hurting God’s heart with my sin, I now mourned breaking my wife’s heart as well — a double-whammy of heartache. This burden was too much to bear.”
To deal with his sin, which he kept hidden, Asbury would berate and belittle himself, constantly condemning himself as “the most repulsive human” whose music would “never” be anointed and pleasing to God, often calling himself “a fake.”
While the negative self-talk would keep his sin at bay for a short time, the cycle would soon repeat itself, because never was Asbury finding true restoration through the grace and mercy of Jesus. Instead, he was wallowing in secret shame and self-condemnation. It wasn’t until he truly pored over the life of David from the Old Testament that Asbury began to see the path toward redemption and reconciliation with God.
Asbury said reading about David’s “public mess ups,” particularly his extramarital affair with Bathsheba, “resonated” with him and gave him “solace.”
“If he could still be called a worshiper and a man after God’s heart, surely I could as well,” the worship pastor wrote. “While pornography wasn’t rampant in David’s day the way it is in ours, the root problem, lust, still caused him to stumble into sexual sin a time or two.”
The lightbulb illuminated for Asbury when he realized David, when he stumbled, didn’t beat himself up. Instead, “he threw himself wholly on the mercy of God, knowing that God wasn’t after sacrifice and offering, but a broken and contrite heart.”
At perhaps the lowest point in David’s life, he penned Psalm 51 :
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
“David didn’t let his failure define him; He allowed his Father to do that. And as we know, the words bestowed upon David were enviable: a man with a heart like God’s,” wrote Asbury. “David severed the head of the giant of shame in one decisive blow by boldly running to the throne of grace even though he knew he deserved the gallows of death.”
“He defied religious logic to create a new and better way, moving from a sacrifice wrought with mess and blood to a sacrifice of the heart offered in purity,” he added.
If you are fighting sexual sin or a compulsion toward pornography, Faithwire has a seven-week video e-course — Set Free — designed to equip you with the spiritual and practical tools you need to eliminate it from your life. If you would like more information about the study, or if you’re interested in enrolling, click here .