Category Archives: Equipping the Man of God!

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.

Tools of Freedom: Biblical Models of Change For those who Battle Sexual Bondage (Part 2)

This is the second part of our 5-part study on battling sexual bondage, written a brother of BeFreeinChrist.  If you would like to review part 1, please click here.

Model #2 – Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind (Romans 12:2)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In my own struggle for sexual purity, this has been a key and crucial step.  My sexual sanity and health seem to be directly correlated to the amount of time I commit to seeking the mind of Christ through his word, not just in the general sense of Bible study, but specifically by using my sexual brokenness as a gridwork or framework to explore, or perhaps re-explore, what God has to say about sin, repentance, love, forgiveness and sanctifying grace.

When this whole approach to Bible study was first suggested to me, I was reluctant to do it.  It seemed sort of fatalistic- that I would be somehow reinforcing my identity as a sexual sinner by filtering all that I read and studied through that particular set of problems.

But as I committed myself to a season of doing precisely that exercise, I made an exciting discovery:  even though I was continually using my brokenness in this one area as a sort of jumping off place for study and meditation, I found it to be sort of a key to unlocking all sorts of areas where the Lord had apparently been just waiting to speak into my life.

For example;

I began seeing, for the first time in my life, what an angry person I can be, and am.  I had sort of this mild-mannered, laid-back peacemaker/negotiator image that I guess I thought  I was projecting.

But down there in my deceptive heart, just like Jeremiah (9:10) said I would, I discovered a virtual cauldron of bitterness, resentment, arrogant self-righteousness and internal violence.  There was a season I went through, where it seemed like I was doing nothing but confessing bitterness and anger, 24:7, around the clock.  And much of that suppressed, “hidden” anger was directed at those I profess to be closest to and love the most- my wife, my kids, my church family and my closest professional colleagues.

I found out that the reason, or at least a major reason, that my anger and resentment had been suppressed and distorted into sexual obsession was that I’m also a very fearful person.  I was not only afraid of being discovered and exposed as a sexual sinner, but of being really known in any significant sort of way.  Very rarely would I let anybody in, even my wife, to the inner chambers of my life.  I had some friends who knew me well enough to know about the sexual difficulties.

But I would never have told you about the anger.  Or the deep sense of being a phony, a failure and a worthless hypocrite.  Or the gnawing fear that I wasn’t a very effective husband and father.

This process of self-discovery is much like pulling back the layers of an onion.  On the outside are the addictive-compulsive sexual behaviors.  On the inside are the real issues of the heart—the anger and fear, the bitterness and hiding, the failure of faith- refusal to submit to God’s rule and depend on Him to meet my real needs.

It is and has been often scary, sometimes incredibly painful, but also an exhilarating adventure.

Before I move on, I should mention that this process of mind-renewal for me at least, has had four essential components:

(1)     Study of Scripture – this should be obvious.

(2)    Reading the Literature on Sexual Addiction – reading up on what Christian counselors and therapists have been learning in their search  for practical and effective answers in this area.  Chances are you can find several good books in this area at you local Christian bookstore.  Or write to New Man for a bibliography.

(3)    Journaling – writing down what I was learning, what I was experiencing and feeling, noting my times of progress and times of failure and trying to analyze the inner environment.

(4)     Counseling and/or personal accountability – meeting with a trusted man with whom I could share my inner life and who could guide me with probing questions.

Tools of Freedom: Biblical Models of Change For those who Battle Sexual Bondage

BeFreeinChrist is posting this message on battling sexual bondage in 5-parts. It is an article written by a brother of BFiC from a presentation he made at a conference on Sexual Brokenness several years ago. This was back when he was in our predecessor group, New Life Ministries (NLM).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s becoming a more and more common scene. Your heart aches for the broken brother sitting across the table from you. His head hung, the hands trembling, he takes a deep sigh and begins. Maybe a tear escapes as he speaks.

“I’m back at it again. I swore I’d never look at those web sites anymore, never put my wife through more pain, never allow my mind to be so polluted. But sometimes when I’m feeling down or lonely or frustrated, the pull of pornography just seem so strong…” His voice trails off.

What do you tell him? How can you help? How do you give him hope? Maybe YOU’RE that hurting brother right now. I know I’ve been him.

I used to be guilty of a kind of “magical thinking” in this area. There just had to be some prayer of deliverance I could pray, some understanding of scripture that would one day explode in my heart, some experience of brokenness at the altar that would forever remove this baffling and sometimes terrifying battle against sexual temptation from my experience.

I don’t think that way anymore. Granted, God deals with us as individuals and if you’ve experienced that kind of supernatural, one-step deliverance from this problem, praise Jesus!! But I believe that lots of us Christian guys who struggle in this area, maybe most of us, need to be reminded of this: Christ’s provision for His people is multi-dimensional, and every part of His provision is important to the process of overcoming in the battle for sexual holiness.

What I’d like to do here is review what I call Biblical models of life-change and how they work together to produce change, holiness and increasing freedom from sexual bondage.

But we should define our terms. What do we mean when we talk about sexual bondage? That’s a term that can be defined in a lot of different ways, but for here and now let’s define it as either an individual sexual behavior or an array of behaviors that in some way violates God’s design for sexuality- that is, it falls short in some way as an expression of love and commitment and mutual service within a marriage- and has become a significant struggle and source of spiritual and emotional conflict within the life of an individual.

So while we could perhaps debate whether or not a husband taking a furtive glance at Miss February or a fleeting romantic daydream on the part of a wife as she watches a “chick movie” is sin, that’s NOT what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about something that’s become at some level addictive- that is to say, sex has become the drug of choice for medicating out the pain of living in a fallen world.

I think it’s important from the get-go that we affirm or reaffirm the biblical truth that sex, sexuality and sexual behavior are part of God’s design for humanity and are therefore inherently good and intended for the blessing of God’s people. The reason that’s an important affirmation is that people who struggle with sexual conflicts for long periods of time can come to view their very sexuality, their very maleness or femaleness as a curse and try to suppress or deny or somehow kill off altogether a very significant, wonderful part of their humanity.

This area is one in which I have struggled for a good part of my adult life. In fact, I came to faith in Christ in the early 70’s as a result of a life crisis that involved an arrest for improper sexual behavior-that of being a peeping tom. I’ve long since given up my nighttime prowling, but God has continued, graciously, kindly, to hammer away at the underlying attitudes, assumptions and heart conditions that led to that crisis. Unfortunately, our current cultural climate affords all sorts of “legal” opportunities to engage in voyeuristic behavior, from suggestive billboards to popular “men’s” magazines to lounges featuring so-called “exotic dancing” to internet pornography that can be viewed in the privacy of one’s own home. I’m not proud to admit that I have succumbed to any and all of these at various times over the years, but I think it’s important that you understand that I’m offering my observations her from the perspective of one who’s fought this battle for sexual holiness himself and hasn’t always won. But I haven’t given up, and I’m still learning. It’s in that spirit, of one who’s still in process in this very area, that I want to explore the concept of….

II. Biblical Models of Change

The key question: How do you help a person escape a life-dominating sexual pattern or habit that’s enslaved him or her? This isn’t just a theoretical question. For almost all of us, it’s just a matter of time before we’ll wrestle with that question in the context of a real relationship- a real, flesh and blood friend who needs our encouragement. For some of you, it’s happened already. For others, like myself, this type of battle may been a real and painful part of your own life.

Here’s my bottom line: I believe that for most Christian men, the snare of sin, including sexual sin, is a multi-dimensional problem, requiring a multidimensional solution–that is to say, nothing less than every aspect of Christ’s provision for His people at the cross.

But that’s still abstract. Let me break it down by discussing what I call Biblical Models of Change. Put in another way, how does the Bible answer the question, how do I change? That’s a question every Christian, including Christians struggling with their sexuality, is going to ask sooner or later.

There’s not one answer, except in the sense that the grace and power of God is one answer. But we experience that grace and power in several ways. So let’s look at some of them.

Model #1 – Confess….and be Healed

In Psalm 32, David wrote,

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

The starting point of all spiritual life, as well as all genuine change, is humility, brokenness and emptying. This involves an honest acknowledgement that while the sexually broken and addicted person is where he is as a result of his own choices and his own unwise responses to the pain of living in a fallen world, he can’t get out on his own. He (or she) has experienced the bitter reality of Romans 6:16: Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Sexual bondage flourishes in an environment of shame and isolation. Honest confession to the Lord and to another human being of where the sexually broken person has been, what he or she has done and what the inner environment of the thought life has been like is the first crucial step of braking the vicious cycle of

PAIN ———>>ACTING OUT ———>>SHAME AND GUILT

Confession lines up with the admonition of James 5:16:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

It is consistent with “walking in the light” of truth as set forth in the 1st chapter of I John.

And it is the foundation for Steps 4 and 5 of the Twelve Step Models first articulated by Alcoholics Anonymous:

4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Confession is an act of humility. God promises over and over in countless scriptures that He’s FOR the humble and will help them. There’s something freeing and healing about confession, as the Apostle James observes in the text above. And confession to another human being breaks the wall of shame and isolation.

Lots of us have studied and memorized 1 Cor. 10:13. The reality is that the idea that “no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man” can remain an abstraction until we’ve taken the painful but absolutely essential step of sharing our story with another human being. But something wonderful happens once that step is taken. We find we’re not alone. It’s not essential that the listener has personally struggled with our particular brand of sin. The point is that we’re all struggling somewhere, somehow, and when the root issues of anger and fear and unbelief and God-playing are exposed, we’re still more alike than we are different. And in discovering acceptance from another person, not of the sin, but of our personality, of our stature as God’s image-bearers, broken and fallen as we are, a glimmer of hope arises.

If Your Right Hand Causes You to Sin: Ten Biblical Reflections on Masturbation

by Jason DeRouchie | Dec 22, 2016

Sexual intimacy within marriage is a beautiful gift from God. It’s an outlet for play and passion, and it nurtures closeness with your spouse, supplying a unique context for giving and receiving love. But as with all God’s good gifts (1 Timothy 4:4), the devil seeks “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). His perversions are deeply grieving, and the scars can be lasting.

What does God say about masturbation? Here are ten reasons to resist the temptation with all your might.

  1. Raising up godly offspring is a primary way to make disciples. Masturbation belittles God’s passion for global praise.
  2. God purposed that all righteous forms of sexual expression be for the marriage bed. Masturbation removes sexual expression from its only God-intended context.
  3. Preserving sexual expression for the marriage bed nurtures intimacy and a heart of service for one’s spouse. Masturbation undermines both.
  4. Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife points to the love between Christ and his church. Those who substitute masturbation for marital intimacy undervalue God’s glory.
  5. Masturbation outside the marriage bed does not glorify God because evil desire always fuels it.
  6. Jesus urged his followers to guard themselves from lustful masturbation, and Paul called Christians to control their sexual parts in holiness and honor.
  7. Paul declares that the answer to sexual desire is either the marriage bed or self-control, not masturbation.
  8. Masturbation outside the marriage bed witnesses a lack of self-control and is therefore sin.
  9. Forsaking the sin of masturbating can nurture greater God-dependence.
  10. One’s thoughts and actions display what one treasures. It’s impossible to say, “Follow me in masturbation as I follow Christ.”

To read the entire post, http://jasonderouchie.com/if-your-right-hand-causes-you-to-sin/

By Jason S. DeRouchie © 2016 www.jasonderouchie.com