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In my last blog, The Renewing of My Mind—Part 2, we talked about the first five of ten fundamental truths that remain key to my ongoing sexual recovery. Let me now share with you the remaining five of these transforming principles for living, each rooted and grounded upon the Word of God, that were and continue to be key to my deliverance from my addictions to sexual sins.
“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NLT)
The biblical story of how Joseph responded to the come-on of Potiphar’s wife is an excellent example for us all. (Genesis 39:1-23).
Joseph was a slave in Egypt and worked in the household of Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharoah, ruler of Egypt. God blessed Joseph’s work such that Potiphar made him overseer of his house and put all he owned in his charge. After a while, Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph and desired him.
Day after day, she pressed him to sleep with her, but Joseph refused. One day, Joseph was carrying out his duties in the house when none of the men of the household was there in the house. On that day, Potiphar’s wife caught Joseph by his garment and demanded he lie with her. Joseph refused, left his garment in her hand, and ran from the house.
I no longer linger or tarry with sexual sin. I make haste and run from it. Period. End of story. If I play with sexual sin, flirt with sexual sin, get close to sexual sin, I just might get caught up in sexual sin again. I don’t want that!
I’m taking my cue from the Word of God: flee from sexual sin. And equally important, I build hedges around my life to keep sexual sin out of my life. (Romans 13:14).
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:13, NLT)
There was a time in my life when I would carry out my sins behind closed doors, as if God didn’t know what I was doing. And, often, I would come up with some rationalization to presumably excuse my sins. Worse yet, it was typically days, or weeks, or longer before I would acknowledge my wrong, confess my sins, and genuinely seek to change.
I have learned that it is essential to be honest with myself and honest with God, and to confess and repent of my sins when the Holy Spirit convicts me of my wrongs. I don’t play games with God anymore. I’m honest with him about who I am and what I’m thinking, feeling, desiring, deciding, and doing. (Psalm 139:1–7; 1 John 1:5–10).
God wants to make me a “new creation” And part of the way he transforms me is to reveal my imperfections and sins, like peeling back the layers of an onion, which when I surrender to the influence of the Holy Spirit I progressively grow and change (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16-25).
“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (John 10:9–11, NLT)
Jesus Christ most definitely came to save me from my sins. Hallelujah!!!
But Jesus is interested in more than just my spiritual well-being. He’s interested in my whole-person well-being.
The reality is that over the course of my life, I have experienced both good and bad. And the bad has left behind hurts, wounds, regrets, and a damaged mind/spirit/heart (e.g., “emotional baggage”).
By completing my past, I mean doing the work that’s needed to heal from past wounds, make amends where I can for my past wrongs and sins, and empty out emotional baggage I’ve collected over the years.
Am I suggesting being consumed by or obsessing over the past? Absolutely not!
But I am suggesting an honest assessment of the past in order to live well in the present and the future ahead. The overall goal of completing my past is to effectively deal with the me from my past that’s blocking me from experiencing a better me in my present and from pursuing the best me God desires for my future.
When I entered counseling back in 1994, my intention was to get help to break free from my sexual additions. But as I worked with my counselor, I discovered that there was more from my past that needed attention. And those issues had to be addressed as part of breaking free from my sexual addictions. Moreover, those issues had to be addressed if I wanted to experience whole-person health—spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. And God is onboard with such an agenda.
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2, NASB95)
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” (Romans 12:4–5, NLT)
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7, NLT)
The disciples/followers of Jesus Christ are likened to a human body where all are working together for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:1-27). God’s design is not that I journey through life solo, but instead that I journey through life with my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ—each one of us helping each other.
I have been significantly helped by others on my journey through life, and I seek to help others on their journey. For example, I’m part of a core men’s prayer partners’ group and we typically meet virtually via videoconference once each week. We study together, praise together, and pray together. We keep each other updated on what’s going on in our lives, and we exhort, counsel, encourage, and support each other. We are honest and real with one another, and we have each voluntarily given permission to hold each other accountable. There are few major decisions in my life these days that I make without first consulting with and praying with my prayer partners.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NLT)
“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” (Proverbs 15:22, NLT)
That’s just one example of how I join with others on my journey through life. I could give you many other examples, but I don’t want this blog to get too much longer. It’s already longer than the norm for blogs. So, let me move on and share just one final principle for living.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NLT)
I liken my life to a journey. And all along my journey, I’m literally engaged in spiritual warfare—the struggle against forces of evil. Day-by-day, I face temptations, tests, trials, and tribulations. In the midst of these, God calls me to persevere and stand firm.
How do I do that?
First, I choose to stay close to God, put on the armor he has provided for me, and resist the devil.
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. … Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” (Ephesians 6:10–13, NLT)
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:7–8, NLT)
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)
Second, I put my hope in the future God has planned for me.
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:2–3, NLT)
“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13, NLT)
This world is not the end of the story of my life. I’m counting on the better future God has planned and is planning for me. And that helps me to “stay the course” on my journey through life.
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In my last blog, The Renewing of My Mind—Part 1, we talked about the power of the mind and how it guides how we think, reason, feel, desire, decide, and act. Let me share with you now ten principles for living, rooted and grounded upon the word of God, that helped free me from my sexual addiction—five in this blog and five in the next.
Rarely do I go from reading the word of God to living by the word of God in a single reading or even in a single day. For me, it’s a process—sometimes taking days or weeks or longer. It involves reading, studying, praying; discussing with prayer partners; trying to live it out and at first failing; and trying again and continuing until it becomes embedded in my mind/heart/spirit and evolves to a pattern for living in my life.
Here are the first five principles for living that continue to be key to my ongoing sexual recovery. I’ll share the remaining five in my next blog, The Renewing of My Mind—Part 3.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32, NLT)
The Bible is a treasure trove of wisdom for living. But to be of value to me, I must proactively search for it and make it my own. (Matthew 7:7–8; Matthew 13:44).
Living by this principle means setting aside time in the Word of God. I do this by reading, listening to, meditating upon, and studying the Bible, and asking the Holy Spirit to guide my time in the Word of God so that it becomes a part of who I am and how I live. (John 14:26; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14; James 1:22).
The principles that follow are examples of truths from the Word of God that have become part of who I am and how I live. Each one is truth of its own. But in my life, these truths work together to set me free and keep me free. It’s the combined impact of all ten that’s making a difference.
“But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”” (Joshua 24:15, NLT)
I tried living life my way. For a period, I walked away from God and the church and “did my own thing,” as the saying goes. But my own thing did not bring me the life I really wanted or needed. That’s not a hypothetical or theoretical statement. That’s an honest assessment of my past life apart from God. (Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 3:5-6).
I tried living life Satan’s way. There were decades of my life when I just pursued worldly passions and lusts. Oh, there were indeed moments of pleasure. But eventually, my life was empty, and I was alone and lonely. The outcomes I experienced were not what I wanted. But unfortunately, it took me a while to figure out that Satan has no interest in my well-being. He was trying to destroy me, and still is. (1 Peter 5:8).
I finally realized that my way and Satan’s way took me to Nowheresvillle, and that God is my best option for experiencing a meaningful life here and now, and the inheritance of a better/best life to come at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Satan is 100% against me. God is 100% for me. Nothing can beat God’s love for me. (John 3:16; John 10:7-11; Romans 5:10; Romans 8:26-39; Galatians 4:4–5; Revelation 21:1-8).
There are only two options, only two paths, only two choices—ever: to follow God and live by his ways, or to follow Satan and live by his ways. For more on the conflict between God and Satan, read What In The World Is Going On—Part 1 and What In The World Is Going On—Part 2.
I choose to follow God. Every day and throughout each day, I ask God to work in me, with me, for me, and through me to choose him in every decision I make in every dimension of my life.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NLT)
I have learned the hard way that I cannot afford the price of sin. It is far better to accept God’s warnings against sin and follow His ways, than to learn by personal experience that consequences will follow sin, sooner or later—ultimately up to eternal death. (Revelation 20:1-15).
Remember the story of King David in the Old Testament. David committed adultery with another man’s wife, Bathsheba, and had her husband, Uriah, killed to cover up that she became pregnant from their affair. (2 Samuel 11:1—12:23).
Although God forgave David when he confessed his sin and remained with David throughout the remainder of his life, nevertheless David experienced serious consequences for his sins as did others in his family. (2 Samuel 12:7–15).
Like David, before my decision to follow God at age 46, I also got a woman I was dating pregnant, and we proceeded to get an abortion. And like David, although God forgave me for the death of that unborn child and continues to love me with his grace and mercy, nevertheless, I cannot go back and undo that abortion.
Since then, I am keenly aware of the consequences my sins can have on me, on others, and on my legacy—the one I’m living and the one I will leave behind me. Sin can be pleasurable; but it’s always only temporary and the consequences to me and others can be considerable. Here’s the bottom line: the price of sin is too high, and I don’t want to pay it.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. … Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:16–25, NLT)
The original sin of Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, and sin is now part of the human condition. “For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5, NLT)
And so, my natural, inborn tendency will be to sin. Despite what I know about Satan, and what I’ve seen him do to me and to others, I WILL choose Satan and his ways if left alone to my inherent nature.
My only solution is to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit working in me to live in a way that pleases God. Here’s the promise I claim daily: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13, NLT) I pray continually asking God to fulfill this promise in my life every day. (Luke 11:13).
“Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers.” (Proverbs 4:14, NLT)
“Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:14, NLT)
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, NLT)
I live in a world where the opportunity to sin and the influences of sin are all around me AND inside me—temptations are part of the daily reality of my life. If I’m not careful, I will allow myself to be drawn into sin.
I have discovered that what I see (e.g., movies), hear (e.g., songs), taste (e.g., food & beverages), smell (e.g., aromas), and touch (e.g., when interacting with others, especially a woman I’m dating) can either move me closer to God or move me closer to Satan.
I know myself well enough from personal experiences to know that I must deliberately and intentionally make decisions and take actions to starve my flesh (avoid ways of thinking, reasoning, feeling, desiring deciding, acting that indulge my natural, evil desires) and feed my spirit (engage in ways of thinking, reasoning, feeling, desiring, deciding, and acting that give control of my life to the Holy Spirit).
Space does not permit a detailed description of all the lifestyle choices I’ve made and continue to make to starve my flesh and feed my spirit. Suffice it to say that, so far as is possible with me, I carefully guard the avenues to my mind/spirit/heart, especially through my five senses.
More in our next blog, The Renewing of My Mind—Part 3.
Once, during an appointment with my counselor, she made the point that I could repeat a text from the Bible from memory but had no real understanding of what it meant or how to live by it. As we explored this further in future counseling sessions, I came to realize that I had a lot of biblical information in my head, but that wasn’t really doing me much good because they were just words in my mind and not principles I lived by. Truly, I didn’t understand what it meant, why it was relevant to me, nor how to apply it to my life.
Yes, as I was seeking to break free from my sex addiction, I sought help from a professional counselor. And I was blessed that while she most definitely brought all the skills of a licensed mental health professional to her work with me, she was also a Christian who brought God into her counseling. It was as if she and God were working together as partners to help me—literally, not figuratively. And it was in counseling with her that I was awakened to the transforming power of the “Word of God.”
The mind/spirit, sometimes referred to as the heart, is the part of a person that thinks, reasons, feels, desires, and wills (to choose or make decisions). It is the “immaterial” part of a person which is the actuating cause of an individual life—reason a person acts in a certain way; a fundamental activating principle determining one’s character. Consider this:
What’s in my mind/spirit/heart is key to what I think, how I reason, how I feel, what I desire, as well as what decisions I make and what actions I take—it’s fundamental to who I am and how live.
Am I suggesting that other factors, such as my anatomy/physiology, have no influence on my life? No, not at all. But what I am saying is that the mind/spirit/heart is key to determining the me who shows up and lives from day-to-day.
My counselor told me that if I wanted to gain victory over my sexual addiction, I had to do more that focus on my sex organ. I had to win the battle in my mind/spirit/heart.
An important part of winning the battle in my mind/spirit/heart is to search diligently for the truth and then live by it. When I find the truth, then I adopt a principle for living based upon that truth and commit it to my mind/spirit/heart to live by.
When principles for living, rooted and grounded in the truth of God, become part of my mind/spirit/heart, it helps me in this way.
In my next two blogs, The Renewing of My Mind—Part 2 and The Renewing of My Mind—Part 3, I will share with you ten principles for living that helped free me from my sexual addiction and are key to my sexual recovery.
"So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!"
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