Category Archives: Equipping the Man of God!

The Character of a Godly Man

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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The first step to becoming a godly man is to follow the Lord’s guidance, as outlined in Scripture. Then we should seek out relationships with Christ-like men—men whose wisdom comes from understanding the Word of God. They are uniquely equipped to refresh and encourage us so that we can succeed in every aspect of life. How can you actively grow your faith and build relationships that will help you become a godly man? You can start by being committed in your daily walk with Christ.

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The following resources are graciously provided by Dr. Stanley and InTouch Ministries. 

The Character of a Godly Man (Sermon)

The Character of a Godly Man (Study)

BeFreeinChrist would like to thank both Dr. Stanley and InTouch Ministries for their dedication to leading people worldwide into a  growing relationship with Jesus Christ!

Temptation, Temptation, Temptation…

By BeFreeinChrist

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All day long we are attacked! Everyone deals with temptation and they come at us from every direction. Even our Lord dealt with temptation.

Luke 4:13 – when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.

Where do temptations come from?

It might come in the form of a billboard on the highway with a picture of a greasy hamburger that will ruin your diet. Or perhaps it may be that car parked in the dealership along the side of the road that is way beyond our budget.
We can be tempted by the desire for praise for something we feel we have done particularly well.
And of course, it could be in the form of an attractive woman, we want to take a second or prolonged look at.

Temptations are not necessarily a bad thing, nor are they a sign of weakness, but it is wrong when we give into those temptations which are outside the will of God. And if we choose to give into temptation, guilt and shame are certain to follow. Satan knows where our weaknesses lie and is constantly trying to trap us. But if we handle temptations correctly/Biblically, we will grow in faith!

God’s Word provides ample ammunition to warn us against the attacks of Satan.

Matthew 6:13 – lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

1 Timothy 6:9 – those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

How do we combat temptation?

The Bible also is filled with verses to guide us in order that we can defend against temptations.

2 Timothy 2:22 – Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

1 Corinthians 7:2 – because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Matthew 26:41 – Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 9:43 – If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

Perhaps most importantly, God’s gives us encouragement in this constant struggle with temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Luke 11:4 – forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.

The greatest Biblical encouragement however, is God’s promise of forgiveness and that He will never hold sin against those who have accepted salvation through Christ.

Psalm 103:12 – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

So, in closing, we know from scripture that temptations will most certainly come, it is unavoidable. God tells us what we need to do to defeat Satan’s attempts to draw us into sin. We need to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and allow Him to strengthen us. And when we ask Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, He washes away the stain of our sins and never holds them against us.

Tools of Freedom: Biblical Models of Change For those who Battle Sexual Bondage (Part 5)

This is the final part of our 5-part study on battling sexual bondage, written a brother of Be Free in Christ.  If you would like to review previous parts, please click here.

Model # 5 – Living in Biblical Hope

Sooner or later, all of us will have to answer a question that sounds like this:

“Are you willing to face the possibility that you may continue to struggle, at some level, with your sexuality (or finances, or health problems physical limitations, or..)  for the rest of your life down here,  and to continue to rejoice and not give up”?

In other words, are you willing to say with Job: [Job 19:25-27]

25      I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the     earth.

26      And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

27      I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns   within me!

Are you willing to say with David: [Psalm 61]

1        Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

2        From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3        For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

4        I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

5        For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.

6        Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.

7        He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may reserve him.

8        So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.

And with Habakkuk: [Hab 3:17-19]

17        Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

18        yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19        The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments. 

And with Paul [II Cor 4:7-11, 16-18]

7        But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

8        We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;

9        persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

10      We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

11      For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. ………

16      Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

17      For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

18      So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Sexually broken people need the same hope that all broken people do–that is to say, that all people do.

We need to be reminded of the kind of God we serve.

  • He’s the God of resurrection.
  • He’s the God who can take what looks like death and what IS death and turn it into life.
  • He can take our very weaknesses and struggles and transform them into stepping stones to service, ministry, worship, praise and overflowing hope.

We need to be reminded that He is Emmanuel– God with us, and that the calling of Christ is not to a sprint but to a marathon as it were – to what one Christian writer appropriately called “a long obedience in the same direction.

We need to be reminded to keep our eyes on the prize.

Conclusion:

Francis Schaeffer, Malcom Muggeridge, historians Will and Ariel Durant, the Apostle Paul and many other observers of history and culture, I’m sure, have observed that when a society’s view and practice of sexuality seems to erupt out of control, that culture is probably in the death throes.

Looking at current events, at what’s been on the news both nationally and locally, against the backdrop of those kinds of observations might seem at first blush (no pun intended) to be cause for despair.

But for us as believers, there is cause for great hope, because God in His mercy and kindness has entrusted to us the keys to unlock the cell doors and release the captives.

Whether America or even western civilization can survive much longer is a matter of debate.  But God hasn’t called us to save America or western civilization or democratic capitalism.  He’s called us to faithfully hold out the Bread of Life to hungry, hurting lonely, weary people, one heart at a time- one life at a time.

Sexual bondage and brokenness may lead people to bizarre, strange and even dangerous behavior.  But beneath the surface, it’s the same old stuff.  It’s what all of us are wrestling with in our inner lives –  the fear, the anger, the broken cisterns, the legalism, the manipulation.

And the solutions are the same, too.

God’s amazing justifying grace plus nothing = right standing with God.

The Lamb of God conquering our lonely rebel hearts by love.

May God bless, strength and encourage each of you as the battle continues.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books:

[1] Mark Laaser, Ph.D,, Fathful & True, Sexual Integrity in a Fallen World , Zondervan, 1996 (previously published as The Secret Sin).

[2] Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., Don’t Call It Love, Bantam Books, 1991.

[3] Carnes, Contrary to Love, Minneapolis, CompCare Pubs., 1989.

[4] Carnes, Out of the Shadows, Minneapolis, CompCare Pubs., 1983.

[5] Ralph Earle and Gregory Crowe, Lonely All the Time, New York, Pocket Books,     1989.

[6] Juhn White, Eros Defiled, the Christian and Sexual Sin, Intervarsity Press, 1977.

[7] Charles Mylander, Running the Red Lights, Putting the Brakes on Sexual   Tempatation, Regal Books, 1986 (now out of print).

Tapes:

[1] Pastor to Pastor: Overcoming Sexual Addiction, Focus on the Family; Stephen Arterburn; audio cassettes (also includes a booklet of resources); 1994; describes the various types of sexual addiction as well as the common causes; offers a biblical approach to overcoming the complex problem; $10.00.

WebSites:

http://www.ncsac.org/   -National Council on Sexual Addiction and Recovery

http://www.christians-in-recovery.com/links/linkchri/sexadd.html – Links to a bunch of Christian websites and ministries related to vaious type of sexual brokenness [see sheets headed “Christian Resources”.]

Tools of Freedom: Biblical Models of Change For those who Battle Sexual Bondage (Part 4)

This is the fourth part of our 5-part study on battling sexual bondage, written a brother of Be Free in Christ.  If you would like to review previous parts, please click here.

Model #4 – Stand Up and Fight

Any balanced approach to dealing with addiction and life-dominating sin is going to also include a component of teaching and discipleship on the topic of spiritual warfare.  As bizarre as it sometimes seems to 20th century Christians, who’ve often had our brains stewed in the pot of a materialistic philosophy and culture, the scriptures make it abundantly clear that our struggles are not just with flesh (our own and others), and just against our fluctuating emotions and physical appetites, but against an unseen, personal enemy who hates us.

What do people in sexual bondage need to be reminded of about Satan?  At the very minimum, they (we) need to be reminded that:

1) he has characteristic strategies that the scriptures discuss and warn us about, and

2) God, in His love for us, has given us tools, or weapons, if you will, which are both protective and aggressive, offensive and defensive in nature and which are to be used against him.

The primary strategies that Satan employs against God’s people, according to the biblical data, are:

  • Deception
  • Temptation
  • Accusation and Condemnation

As deceiver, Satans’s strategy is to lure people into making wrong choices based on a distorted view of reality.  He seeks, first and foremost, to distort and corrupt our view of the character of God Himself.  He tries to convince us that God’s not good, that His laws don’t proceed out of a heart that has our best interests in mind, and that He won’t meet our needs when we trust Him.  Satan also seeks to deceive us regarding what our true needs are.

 

Satan offers us  broken cisterns- broken cisterns that can’t hold any water (see Jeremiah 2)- ways of quenching the deepest hungers and thirsts of our souls that don’t originate with God. We need to remind people that the Deceiver constantly whispers to us, “You’re different.  This doesn’t apply to you.  You can dig a cistern that will hold water.  You can find satisfaction and wholeness somewhere outside of God Himself!!”

So the sexual sinner hears: “You must have this sexual practice or this relationship to survive.   Your life will be too painful and too lonely and too empty without it for you to bear.”

or:      “How about one for the road?  Just one more experience, one more night, one more encounter.  Then you can put this behind you forever.”

or:      “You might as well give in.  Experience has taught you that you can’t change”.

Perhaps some of you are sitting there saying, “wait a minute.  I thought the lies come from within our own hearts because they’re deceptive and wicked”.  Well, that’s true, too.  Either way, whether you view the source of deception as internal or external, sexually broken people need to learn to listen for the lies in their lives, to pull them up into the light and to analyze them.

The second characteristic of Satan that needs to be discussed is that he is the tempter.  That is to say, he knows when to offer us his bogus answer to life.  Hell strategizes.  Satan didn’t come to Jesus with his stones-to bread proposition at the beginning of the 40-day fast.     

This is one of the reasons I think a journal is such an important tool for somebody who’s struggling with a habit or bondage or addiction, sexual or otherwise.  It allows him or her to begin to look at those preconditions to failure.  What was I doing?  What was I thinking?  What was my physical condition like?

The purpose of tracking and looking at the feeding factors is NOT to develop a strategy for avoiding the preconditions.  That’s just not realistic.  We can’t go through life avoiding being Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, like in the AA acronym HALT.   Rather, one use of a journal (and it’s not the only use or event the most important use, but it is one) is to develop a sort of early warning system, where we learn to run to the throne of grace to find help, and to call someone, like a prayer partner or accountability partner and say “hey, I see a window of vulnerability up ahead.  Let’s talk.  Let’s pray together.”

Finally, Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  He specializes in demoralizing and discouraging struggling believers by heaping on condemnation, shame and despair.  He seeks to cut us off from one another and from our conscious experience of the love and grace of the Father by amplifying our shame and sense of failure.

I believe sexual sinners are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack, and therefore the exhortation of James 5:16 is particularly important, as we’ve already touched on.  That’s why support/accountability groups like those organized by Set Free and Exodus and Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) are often very helpful.

One reason I believe the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians was to put our individual struggles with issues and relationships into a cosmic context- that God has an eternal plan, set in motion before the foundation of the world to bring all things and all people under one head- that is Christ.   And that God has set the Church, including individual members of Christ’s Body, in the center of that eternal plan.

And that God wants His people healthy and free for the purpose of fully and joyfully participating in the execution of that plan..

So to sort of liberally paraphrase Paul in Ephesians 6:12, the struggles of sexually broken people aren’t just against habits and urges, lifestyles and wounds and bitter memories, but against principalities and powers arrayed against God and His people in a war for control of this planet.

Broken, struggling Christians need to hear:

  • there’s a war going on
  • you’re part of the army of God
  • You matter to the war effort.
  • God himself is committed to getting you in fighting shape
  • and one more thing—the back of the Book says we win!!

Tools of Freedom: Biblical Models of Change For those who Battle Sexual Bondage (Part 3)

This is the third part of our 5-part study on battling sexual bondage, written a brother of BeFreeinChrist.  If you would like to review previous parts, please click here.

Model #3 – Serve and Be Healed

As Christian counseling pioneer Dr. Jay Adams articulated so well in much of his work, repentance and biblical change has two sides to it:

–         a positive and a negative

–         a putting off and a putting on

–         a turning from and a turning to

In Ephesians 4, Paul urges growing believers not JUST to “put off” tho old man and the works of the flesh, but to “put on” the new life of humility, servanthood and love that’s our inheritance in Christ.

An old testament parallel to the “put offs” and “put ons” in Ephesians 4 can be found in Isaiah 58.  In Isaiah 58, which could properly be entitled “God’s Chosen Fast”, the Lord confronts His people with the problem of false or incomplete repentance.  There was a sense in which Israel knew she had a big spiritual problem during this era because there was a flood of religious activity:

–         fasting and prayer

–         sackcloth and ashes

–         daily activity in the temple.

And God’s quite blunt with them.  He says, in effect “I’m not impressed!  And I WON’T be impressed until I see some movement in the quality of your interpersonal relationships.

When are you gonna quit beating each other up?  And oppressing and exploiting one another? And ignoring one another’s needs – especially the needs of your own families??     

Start serving one another, God says, and the healing and restoration you seek will come speedily.

Sexual bondage and addiction is, at a very basic and fundamental level, an obsessive preoccupation with getting our own perceived needs met.  As such, the underlying issues that feed our unwanted behaviours will never be adequately addressed without a confrontation with the paradoxes of life that Christ taught in His earthly ministry.

Try to save your life and you’ll lose it.

Give your life away, and you’ll find it.

Do you want to truly live??     Die!!

Do you want to lead??  Serve!!

Do you want to be filled?? Empty yourself!!

 Giving one’s self away in service to others has tremendous healing and liberating power.

Sinners, including sexual sinners, who profess Christ are part of the Body of Christ and have a function and role in the Body of Christ.

While it’s certainly appropriate, depending on the strength and nature of the problem for people in leadership roles in the church, as I was, to step out those roles for a season or even permanently if that leadership role has been used as a cover for the sexual exploitation of others, – that doesn’t mean that Christian sexual sinners aren’t part of the Body, with a continued call to participate in the life and ministry of the Kingdom.

Because of the deep shame and sense of isolation associated with this type of sin, as has already been discussed, there is a tremendous potential, I believe, for sexually broken people to say with the unhappy soul in I Cor. 12, “because I am not an eye or a hand, I’m not part of the Body.”

THEREFORE— any program or strategy for helping sexually broken people, to be fully effective, needs to include a component of building or rebuilding an ethic of Christian service, including

–         exploring and discovering spiritual giftedness

–         developing a personal ministry of intercession

–         designing of practical projects wherein the individual can learn (or relearn) the joy of giving himself or herself away in Christian service.

An area of service I’ve gotten involved personally with in the past year is called New Life Ministries.  NLM is an on-line fellowship of Christian men who are all in various stages of recovery from sexual addiction who correspond via E-mail for the purpose of accountability, confession, exhortation and encouragement, and the sharing of information and resources.   I probably receive an average of 4-5 E-ails a day from fellows around the country, and, as the Lord leads, I’ll respond with a note of encouragement.  Or if I’m going through a season of temptation, I’ll fire off a request for prayer and input.

 

New Life Ministries was the predecessor of BeFreeinChrist.