Day 70: Resisting the Yoke of Slavery
THE LOSS OF HOPE
So often in the struggle against lust, people will simply give in whenever they feel the pull of desire. If we continue to give in to it long enough, we can eventually succumb to a mentality where we give in with no resistance. We lose hope. Stories like the following are all too common:
I struggled with the impulse to watch pornography one day. I knew that I had other things to do - I needed to study and do my homework, I could have called my friends or family, or I could have gone and done something at the gym. Instead, I found myself giving in to the gut-wrenching pull to view pornography and masturbate. I knew the minutes were slipping by, but there wasn't anything I could do. I told myself, "Only one more video," but found myself unable to look away as hours passed. After I finally gave in, I felt a wave of shame, regret, and frustration come over me. I showered in an attempt to wash the stain of what I had done away, and I tried to make up for it by diving in to what I knew I should have been doing in the first place. I prayed and cried out for forgiveness. But, only moments later, the temptation returned and I was once again, agonizingly chained to the screen, watching video after video. I was unable to wrench myself free. My body was physically exhausted, and I felt I had no strength left to resist.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1
A slave has no control over his or her circumstances. A slave cannot simply “walk away”. We’ve looked at how Christ is our savior, he has broken into our prison and set us free. Today’s lesson is about standing firm in that truth. A prisoner who has been set free does not return to his cell after the decision has been made. It's been said, "The gate of hell are locked from the inside." In other words, we put ourselves there because we want to be there, not because we're forced to.
It's the same with being a slave to sexual sin. Nobody can make us a slave again except for ourselves. We have to walk back into that place of slavery and take hold of that old identity. Even the guards in this metaphorical prison wonder why we're still here. They ask, "Why come back to this place? You've been set free."
HOW TO CLAIM OUR NEW IDENTITY
As a follower of Christ, you have a new identity that you must stand firm in that truth or you will continue to struggle for years, as I did. Do not conform to your old self - following the pattern of your old thoughts and habits. Even when you succumb to temptation, you need to understand the difference between having setbacks (relapses) and turning completely around (giving up entirely). When we came to know Christ, we stopped running away from God and started running towards Him. Although we often stumble on the narrow path towards God, as His children, we never give up.
Instead of standing firm in our identity, many of us are wrestling with ourselves, trying to understand if what happened at the cross really was enough to cover our sins. Like a freed prisoner returning to the prison from which they were set free. At some level, we believe that we were worthy of our punishment and have difficulty understanding how we can possibly walk free. During such times, we ought to remember God's word, which reminds us that Christ took the punishment we deserved:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, -Romans 8:1
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6
Instead of stumbling around in the darkness, the word of God is a lamp unto our feet, capable of guiding us every step of the way:
Day 70 Application
Does your past life and struggle with sin meet the description of “a yoke of slavery”? Are you running towards or away from God? How do you know which direction you're running in? According to Romans 8:1, how much condemnation is there for you? If you fell into sin yesterday, then how much condemnation is there for you? We stand firm on the truth that we are a work in progress. If we weren’t then how can God “carry us on to completion”?
Part of our new identity is to build up those around us who are also struggling (Galatians 6:1). How would you follow up to someone like the example that I shared earlier? Not only is this important for you to consider for the lesson, but consider how you might start responding to others who are struggling with sexual sin. How would you respond to someone else whose struggle is similar to yours? Perhaps you're a bit further along in the healing process than they are, but can you apply what you've learned in this course so far to help others? How can you do this without feeling or being hypocritical?
How have you spent time with God today (prayer, reading the word, worship, etc.)? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?