April 2013: 15 Principles for Freedom
Our Western Culture likes programs, lists, and steps. “Just tell me what to do, I’ll work at it, and bingo! No more sin.” Yeah, right. If there’s more faith in the process than in God, something’s missing. Rather than presenting you with a one-size-fits-all program; following are 15 principles for discovering and maintaining freedom from sexual sin.
1. We must face the truth that there’s nothing good inside of us, and we desperately need God (Isaiah 64:6). Modern man likes his theology positive and encouraging; “God doesn’t make bad people; you’re a good person at heart” they say. From God’s perspective that which is inside of us is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Our losing battle with lust teaches us that fighting sin with our flesh is insane. The more desperate we are for God, the better, for it is the desperate who are more apt to lean on, seek, and obey Him.
2. Justification, compromise and deceit have become a way of life, and must be abandoned. The choice to sin sexually is not our spouse’s fault; stressful times do not entitle us to “a little porn.” If we’re serious about freedom, we can no longer play games with lust; we have to choose between God and lust, and follow hard after the one we want (Matthew 6:24).
3. Lust feeds on isolation. The only way to break this stronghold is to confess our sins to others on a regular basis. (James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13).
4. We must learn to rely on God’s strength. Those who know the searing pain of their brokenness and are desperate for God will refuse to rely on their flesh to overcome lust (Philippians 3:3). They move from relying on self to trusting in and obeying God, which is where healing comes from.
5. God’s standard for sexual purity begins in the mind (Matthew 5:28). When a lust-thought first enters the mind it is not sin; dancing with those thoughts and playing with sexual fantasy is. Compromise with lust-thoughts leads to external acts of sexual immorality; we must learn to quench each temptation when it sparks. If we’re honest we must confess we cannot clean up our mind—which brings us back to a place of being desperate for God to do what we cannot.
6. We don’t fight the mental battles with lust-thoughts by wrestling with them or trying to shut them off, but by turning to the Lord, praying, allowing Him to fight the battle, and, if necessary, asking others to pray for us. We focus on God, not on fighting lust.
7. We must cut off anything within our control that causes us to stumble (Matthew 5:29-30). Compromise spells defeat; many men continue to live in bondage because they refuse to adopt a take-no-prisoners approach here.
8. Lust inflates a man’s pride to epic proportions; he’s self-absorbed to the hilt. Pride also blinds him to the extent of his oversized ego and how he’s hurting others. Throughout the recovery process, he must crucify his pride by putting others first; serving must become his new way of life. His strives to learn humility and incorporate it into his character (James 4:6).
9. Those who are married and have committed sexual sin have betrayed, lied to, and abused their spouse. Since the man and wife are one flesh, the sexual addict must make his spouse’s healing as much a priority as his own. The process begins by rebuilding trust, which can only happen if he stops all lying and hiding. He must then take the actions that will prove to his wife that she is his biggest priority, second only to God (Ephesians 5:25).
10. True freedom from sexual sin comes from the heart; white knuckling to control the externals doesn’t work for long. The core beliefs of the heart must be examined and exposed to the light of the truth, and any wounds needs to be healed. Stuffing or denial of emotions keeps a man in bondage (Proverbs 4:23)
11. Bitterness is poison that saturates the heart with evil, making it more prone to lust or other sins. All grudges against others must be dealt with by providing complete forgiveness, whether the offending party asks for it or not (Mark 11:25).
12. One lie can drive a man to despair, anger, or apathy, which intensifies the pull to sexual sin. “I can’t be loved as I am, I’m worthless, I can’t get it right or please others, Lust is the best love I can hope for” are examples. Then there are the lies from the other side: “I deserve a little porn to celebrate today… my wife won’t have sex with me, so it’s okay if I take matters into my own hands.” God knows the depths of our heart, and can reveal that which we need to face in order to be free.
13. “If you seek Me with all of your heart you will find Me” Jeremiah 29:13. We must launch out into the grand adventure of seeking God alone, with the same intensity as we’ve gone after other things. It is when we find Him and are filled with His peace, joy, and love that lust will cease to be attractive to us. If grace doesn’t go from the head to the heart, we remain empty.
14. When God sets us free, we must keep our guard up. Many have fallen after allowing their pride to convince them of the lie that they’re too strong to fall again (1 Peter 5:8).
15. We must continue to grow in the grace of God with humility, obedience, seeking Him, staying out of isolation, and serving others (2 Peter 3:18).
Porn in the News
There is a new page up on the Blazing Grace website that tracks news and issues regarding porn in the USA. Most of today’s news articles bear proof of how deeply entrenched porn is in every corner of American society, the church included, and the wreckage it’s causing. In spite of the long trail of destroyed lives, porn continues to take new ground.
You can see what I mean at Porn in the News.
On a Personal Note
I used to think that the Lord only spoke to Christians with a certain gift, or, if He did speak, it was very rare. Now I see that God speaks to us through many different avenues, including prayer, His word, His voice, circumstances, and other people. He’s faithful to speak to us when we consistently go after Him and wait for the answer.
The challenge may not be in hearing from him, but what we do afterwards. Lately God has challenged me in several different areas; one that involved taking a financial risk and another about giving a material item I wanted to keep to others. In both cases I was faced with a direct challenge of whether I would obey and trust Him, or whether I would do what I wanted to do.
Obedience may be the hardest part of the Christian walk. The New Testament has several examples where Christ challenged a man to let something go, such as material things (Mark 10), or a relationship (Luke 9), regardless of the cost, and follow Him. He didn’t plead with them to obey Him, nor did he obsess about the outcome. They had free will to choose whether to obey or walk away, which, it appears, some did.
The Christian walk involves a relationship between Lord and servant which goes beyond Bible reading and prayer. It involves listening to the Creator of the Universe, hearing Him, and obeying.
My flesh screams when God tells me to do something I don’t want to do. I have an ingrained rebellious streak that wants to live life my way. In both cases above I ended up doing what I believed God was calling me to do, but there was a process of churning and resistance I went through before I finally gave in. There was a process involved. I kept praying for the Lord to confirm His will and, by His grace, He did. Once the pieces of clarification had fallen in place, I knew I had to obey. There would be no peace otherwise, and I would risk a hardened heart.
Seeking the Lord and reading His word does us little good if we don’t do what He’s tells us to do. Knowledge without action and obedience can be dangerous.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
More Reading & Newsletter Archives
March 2013: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!
February 2013: Adultery
January 2013: Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening
December 2012: Healing the Wounds of Rejection
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.
AW Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken, encourage believers to draw closer to God, and encourage the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
Please feel free to forward this newsletter.
Content from the Blazing Grace Newsletter may be posted on websites or otherwise reprinted for ministry purposes. (Please show the correct byline, and add a link to www.blazinggrace.org when posting any material electronically.) Publication for commercial use is prohibited without written permission.
I enjoy reading your feedback.
May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2013 Mike Genung