We fall into two categories when it comes to temptation: “Struggling” and “Not Struggling”. To dig a little deeper those who are classified as “Not Struggling” are either totally delivered from a situation OR have no desire to fight against the very thing that’s keeping them bound. For those of you who see no wrong in indulging in your vices, this post is not for you.
I’ve struggled. In some ways, I’m still struggling but I’m definitely not falling like I used to. So you’re in good company, and I won’t tell your secrets if you won’t tell mine. Here’s what I had to learn about myself in regards to my weak (read “sinful”) areas.
Lust brings forth sin and sin brings forth death. And lust, in this case, is not just a sexual term. Lust is any desire that takes you outside of God’s perfect plan for your life. It may be sexual, abuse of substances or people, cursing/cussing/complaining, gossip… fill in your blank.
So how do you tip the struggle scale to your favor? Start here.
READ YOUR BIBLE!!!
If I don’t offer any other steps, this piece alone is sufficient. Prayer does not work once you’re “in” the situation because your will is already compromised. The only way to stand in trying situations is to strengthen your spirit by reading the Word of God. As your spirit becomes stronger, your will becomes more aligned with God’s plan for your life and your desires start to change. You won’t see yourself or those shameful situations in the same light after some time. The Word is a lamp to show us where to go (and where not to go) and a light to make the truth evident. If you don’t read your Bible, you’re navigating your life in the dark!
Know your weakness & avoid it.
Remember God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Temptation comes from within us. For example, put a fine chocolate-y, muscle-y brother in front of me, and I might be tempted. Pour a glass of Crown Royal and dangle it before my eyes, and I won’t blink twice. My lust is not for alcohol, so I cannot be tempted by it. I plead the fifth on the former situation, however. So until I’m able to stand, I should not put myself in those situations. So many folk have criticized me by saying “Don’t you have any self-control?” Well, no, I don’t. And bless God, I’m honest with myself and therefore I can avoid trouble.
Check your fellowship.
Somewhere in the Bible it says that we should not fellowship with brethren that we know are fornicators (in the KJV) and acting against God’s ordinances (1 Corinthians 5:11). By brethren the Scripture refers to those who identify themselves as Christ-followers. There is a two-fold purpose here. We cannot condone the continual sin of a person who calls him or herself a Christ-follower, so they must be given some space to allow God to change their hearts. A STRONGER reason is that eating with a person (and fellowshipping in general) is a way in which soul ties are formed, and wherever there are soul ties spirits and desires will transfer. (Bad company corrupts good manners, don’t you know?) Though your friend may not be malicious, the enemy certainly is. You’ll have to limit your ties with such a person to preserve your own soul.
Love God MORE!
Who I am to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like? Feelings in and of themselves are not evil, but actions are what bring judgment. You might like to smoke a little “reefer” (that word makes me snicker), but you have to love God more to find your freedom. There are times in our walk when we find ourselves halfway between a place of sin and a place of prayer. Just choose to love God more, and He’ll handle the rest. Remember where sin abounds grace SUPERABOUNDS!!! (Romans 5:20– This is truly one of my favorite Bible verses.)
No one likes to do this, but nothing will break your nasty habits better than fasting and praying. I can fast for 3 days and see major changes in my most basic desires. Sometimes you have to literally starve your desires, and you do this by overruling your flesh with your spirit. BE HUNGRY FOR GOD!!! This also means that any influence that glorifies your lust issue should be cut off until you can handle it. Personal example… I haven’t watched music videos or listened to most secular music regularly in years because I cannot handle its content. It drives me want to sin, so it must go! A proper fast will bring about a lifestyle change ultimately transforming your desires so you don’t even want to do the same things anymore.
I think back to a certain relationship when the person kept wronging me in the same way over and over again. After some time, sorry didn’t mean anything to me because I realized he was making a choice to give in to temptation. How much more does God hurt when we continually choose our lustful desires over Him, knowing that in the end we’re still broken and unsatisfied?
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
Last night I practiced the technique from Will You Hear from God Part 2: How to Hear from God for YOURSELF!
The Lord took me on a bunny trail which began at 1 Peter 3, and ended with my meditating on the differences between condemnation and conviction. Hop down this trail with me a little ways.
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3: 14-17)
Every so often a mini-attack is launched my way, and it often comes through a believer. I’ve learned to deal with the person as gently as possible and to never to get into a debate, so the verses above really spoke to that situation. I often to ask the Lord why would a believer come so strongly against another, and He said “Because of their own heart issues.”
See… God points out our heart issues in one way, and that is through conviction. The enemy works in the heart of a believer (and nonbeliever) through condemnation. I didn’t get this in a sermon, you understand. He spoke this to me last night, so walk with me.
Imagine if you will, two packages. One is a ragged, misshapen box with outdated, torn wrapping paper. The other is neatly and attractively wrapped with a beautiful matching bow on top. Both boxes are handed to you.
Let’s take a look at the differences between the contents of the two boxes and their affect on our lives.
Condemnation does the following…
Conviction does the following…
If you struggle with condemnation (i.e. feeling cursed, incompetent, worthless, destined to fail) in your walk with Christ, you will not get far! You must send away the bad feelings and accept Christ’s love for your shortcomings. This is one of the MAIN reasons people do not even come to Christ in the first place! They don’t think they deserve to be forgiven of their sins, and so they won’t be. Let this unbelief not be among those of us who call ourselves Christ followers. Read Romans 8 until you get in your spirit that your walk in Christ is not all doom and gloom!
The message of the cross is heal, set free, deliver, proclaim good news… any doctrine outside of this is NOT the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we have to tighten up some areas of our lives to become free in our spirits but those things should never come through control or manipulation. As a last point, be careful who you allow to feed you spiritually. Many preachers in this time share their personal preferences and opinions which are NOT the Gospel of Christ. Don’t allow others to bind you up over their personal issues.
We all slip up from time to time. Which box do you choose?
The Father’s conviction which heals and delivers or the enemy’s condemnation which brings a curse?
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
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I don’t think it’s strange that the anniversary of my first blog post is on Good Friday, the day they crucified Your son. I was so discouraged this time last year and needed an outlet. For some reason Good Friday has always been full of sorrow and grief in my personal life. But, Lord, to write this… to tell THIS story almost seems You’re asking too much.
I don’t understand it, but I will obey. Because when I consider where I was two years ago today and four years ago today, I can’t help but thank You for keeping me.
Four years ago April 6, I made the choice to end my marriage. I knew things weren’t right. I wasn’t even emotional about it because I’d done so much crying before. Divorce was the only option because I didn’t want hate him. Even now, I know I made the right choice, but the journey from that place to where I am now has been…
Indescribable… but I will obey.
Two years ago, another promised that he loved me. I didn’t believe him. He was one of those guys that just played games. He wanted to do right, but his arrogance and jacked up experiences with women wouldn’t let him. Yet he pressed and pushed his way into my soul. And because I was lonely, I let him.
I remember going to church and hoping that the pastor would preach something profound and powerful enough to keep me from dating this guy again. We’d been at it before. I didn’t want to go back down that path, but I was still entangled. And that damned loneliness…
His tall and statuesque frame intrigued me. Straight lust… might as well call it what it is. His face… ehhh. Not particularly my type of guy, but all the other ladies loved him. So surely I should be glad he wanted me. By the world’s standards he was a good man, but something just wasn’t right for me.
Lord, I didn’t know my worth. I couldn’t comprehend that Your love for me exceeded what he could ever offer. He made me feel good. I can understand how David felt with Bathsheba. I think all of us have chosen someone or something over You at some point. The fact that I had grown so much, yet I still turned my back on You frightens me. I could mess up again… but I trust Your grace to cover me.
That night… he didn’t call. We’d made plans. He asked me to move with him. I’d said no, but he insisted that I must love him. He insisted that he loved me. I could’ve made it work with him. I certainly wouldn’t have had any concern for money. Do you remember my prayer that morning? I asked if he were the one for me. And if not, then show me.
You told me to get dressed. And I did. I got in the car and drove. You led me to drive and…
There it was.
His bright blue, tricked-out Chevy Malibu. At a hotel. I couldn’t have missed it if I tried.
I had a choice. To take the Jasmine Sullivan route, or to be patient and wait for answers. Either way it would be crazy. But I knew I had to stay. Because this would be the LAST time he’d force his way into my life. He needed to see that I was done. I prayed that whatever woman he was with had already left because I couldn’t handle a two against one battle. I was already weak.
So I called… cleverly left a message that I was headed to the gym which was conveniently located right next to the hotel where he’d lodged. And like roaches scatter in the light, he came scurrying out.
He saw my frustration. Saw my pain. Dropped his head. He refused to respond to my questions. Instead of listening to those raging voices in my head, I drove away.
I died that day. I was crucified by my own choices. My soul was cast down. I could not hope in You because I had turned my back on You.
And, Lord, I couldn’t hear You, feel You, discern You. My faith took a fatal blow and my spirit man had been all but torn asunder. Satan’s minion had taken his sharpest sword and nearly sliced my soul in two. His demons tormented me and consulted me to plunge from my bedroom window to the ground below.
I searched for You. You were there, but I couldn’t find you.
And, therein lies the problem with sin. I didn’t consider that when I got up from the bed of sin that Your presence had departed from my life. It didn’t occur to me that my faith had been so damaged that I wouldn’t be able to approach Your throne.
I watched the window for a good 20 minutes, even looked down. Lord, it must’ve been you that said “It won’t do the job.” I’d just end up with a broken bone or two… definitely not comparable to the death I felt inside. So I got back in the car and drove…
It was Sunday and usually I wouldn’t miss church, but the night before I had been tormented. Even more so now…
I was consumed with grief, self-hate, anger. You led me there, and Your people consoled me. They loved me and dried my tears. Oh, God! I remember how so many ran to my rescue. Some said it would be ok…I knew that wasn’t true. Lord, I knew that if I didn’t get this right in my life, I’d be condemned to hell here on earth and in the afterlife. Yet, I was thankful for their kindness and consolation.
I made it back home in pieces and rested. I did not eat for days. I read my Bible and listened to one song over and over. My soul, God, was thirsty for You. I could only fight to regain my peace in hopes that my faith would be restored. I needed to be in Your presence.
Your Word came. It was heavy and hard to receive. It discouraged me emotionally, but my spirit cleaved to it. Anyone who knows You understands that a rebuke from the Lord is like a feast compared to never hearing Your word at all. Just the fact that You spoke… I thank You.
How unsightly I must have been… to have known You and chosen something lesser that only intended to destroy me.
To have given myself to someone so undeserving. He didn’t even know You.
To presume that he could offer me a portion of what Your presence provides.
But looking back, Lord. I understand now that the rebuke you sent gave me a choice. The scripture says that You will not put on us more than we can bear. But I had put this on myself, and it was certainly more than I could carry. You gave me a choice, at that point, to face my brokenness and transform my own suffering into Your suffering. One would work a brighter future for me, while the other would render me helpless and hopeless.
…For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
I chose Your suffering. Because if I suffer with You, I’ll reign with You. That’s Your promise, and You’ve never lied.
And, so today, Good Friday, April 6, 2012, I can confidently say that I stood against each of his three advances since that time. I can say that I’m no longer on life support, but I’m living and loving. I can say that 2011 was the last year that April 6 would destroy me because I’ve discovered Your resurrection power. No longer am I entangled or even enticed by these lusts… My heart belongs to You.
I cannot imagine surviving this life without You. So many, Lord, are heart-broken and tormented daily. They cannot hear Your voice. And, it is my prayer that as I share my shame, someone who identifies with my pain will turn to You because You are surely there with them. Some have stories much worse than my own, and some feel there is no forgiveness for what they’ve done. I pray that they would come to know the truth!
With great joy and victory, I thank You! No longer am I heartbroken, sad, or lonely. You’ve filled my heart with promises, and my faith and peace in You grow everyday. I ask, Lord, that You do the same for my brothers and sisters, and for those who don’t yet know You.
Let this story, as unpleasant as it may be, bring glory to Your name because You are faithful…. You saved me. Thank You!
In Jesus’ name,