Day 3 : Motivation


THE WORLD THAT REVOLVES AROUND US

Man once looked on the earth in wonder, dwelling on her endless oceans, limitless valleys and soaring peaks. Only a few hundred years ago, for the people of Europe, northern Africa and the middle east, our world was largely unknown. Below is the world as it was known from 1400-1499:

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Even before this time, countless civilizations had come and gone, many counting their empires as infinitely great, immune to destruction. Unfortunately for these nations, it takes more than armies, influence and power to stand the test of time:

  • In 1000 BC, Egyptian influence began to fade as neighboring nations grew familiar with navigating the natural barriers to Egypt [1]
  • In 371 BC, the once vast empire of Greece was largely extinguished as Philip II of Macedon conquered nearly all of its territories [2]
  • The British Empire controlled 25% of the world's land surface in 1920. By the end of the second world war, the empire largely ceased because several of the colonies it controlled were no longer undeveloped, thus did not rely as heavily on an over-arching empire. Additionally as Britain struggled to pay the debts from two world wars, much of it gave way to independence among its controlled territories. [1]

Empires have come and gone, but the world has by-in-large remained separated by geographical location. Today however, our world is connected like never before, many of her mysteries all but washed away.

With a few keystrokes, we have access to all the comings and goings of earth. In March 2012, Netcraft (a worldwide internet servicing company, est. 1995 to monitor and gather internet data) reported that there were 644 million websites on the Internet. Unsurprisingly, of these websites 25% of them contained erotic material. Just as the earth is at our fingertips, so are uninhibited sexual experiences. Here is what that looks like on paper:

  • 83% of Boys & 57% of Girls under the age of 18 have viewed group sex online [3]
  • 53% of all divorce cases involve one party being addicted to pornography [3]
  • 53% of men who watch porn admit to doing so because "It inspires them" [3]
  • The average American will see 15,000 sexual references per year [3]

In a world that should be so connected and that offers us unlimited access to all of our fantasies, should we not feel fulfilled? Should marriages not be stronger instead of weaker? Instead we see the opposite. The porn addicts out there know this truth all too well - we are lonelier, more broken, more hurting, and more unsatisfied than ever. For this, the approach of "it's all about me," seems laughable. It doesn't work. If we're being honest, even our pursuit of sexual purity is self-centered. We are deeply concerned with fixing ourselves for the sake of being better people, or appearing stronger, or having a better marriage, or feeling like a superhero (that is to say, without weakness). Maybe it's to improve our self-esteem, reduce guilt, or heal our broken hearts. It's not that these are bad motives in and of themselves, they are just the wrong ones.

The problem with pornography, masturbation, and lust are that they focus entirely on self-centered motives. This makes sense coming from a society that bombards us with the latest fads on how to find happiness, be fulfilled, look better, eat better, and feel better. Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. To be great, according to the world, is to be in control. Much like how you're in control when giving into sexual desires.

I know that during my years of slavery to pornography, I would try one method after another, one book or support group after another, always seeking that knowledge which would free me so that I would feel better, so that others would see that I was some spiritual giant, or that I would have a better self-image. But, looking back, I see that these motives were all wrong; it was all about me. It was for my own glory, and that’s why it never lasted. -Mike Cleveland

A NEW MOTIVE

God calls us to be men and women who choose to do the right thing, things beneficial to mankind (Proverbs 21:3). He also calls us to dwell on that which is true, honorable, and worthy of respect (Philippians 4:8). Sexual sin comes from a place motivated by self-gain, pleasure, obsession, and desire. We are instead called to be motivated by the godly things mentioned in Philippians 4:8:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. -Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

So according to the text, we are to focus on being honorable people. In fact, Jesus Christ was once asked about what our number one focus in life ought to be. This question came to Him during a time where people were motivated by obeying the many laws in Judaic culture. It stopped being about the heart and instead became about following rules. There were hundreds of Judaic laws, many so specific that a person might not even know they were breaking them. The response of Christ turned the culture upside down:Put simply, we should be motivated by the desire to move the world closer to heaven.

Jesus replied: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Jesus just summed up life in a few sentences. If we were to heed the words above, what would our lives look like? What does it look like to love God and our neighbors? Would we spend our time plunging into every bodily instinct, or would we choose to stand up and walk the narrow path of victory?

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THE RIGHT MOTIVATION

To find freedom, our focus needs to be off of ourselves and instead on the glory of God. We must go further and challenge the things that the world says will satisfy us (and yet have not despite years of trying for some of us). If you only desire lasting freedom from your struggle but it stops there, you're trading one selfish act for another. Instead of selfishly giving into sexual temptation, you're desiring freedom to be a better Christian, improve your marriage, or feel better about yourself. These aren't necessarily bad things, but the right thing done for the wrong reasons can be destructive. We need to go beyond our own desires and instead focus on the desires of God and His glory.

And by the way, it's worth noting at this point that we don't do this because we think that being good people will please God or get us into heaven. We will talk about this in later lessons, but the bottom line is this - for the Christian, Jesus Christ paid the debt for all of our sin at the cross. This has become cliche in Christian culture, so you ought to take a few minutes and let that really sink in (even if you're not a Christian). According to the Bible, Jesus died once for all sins, for all time. That means God is not surprised by the sin you may commit ten years from now. This is wildly unpopular, because rules and regulations are a great way to control the mob. Perhaps this is why Jesus saved his harshest words for the pious and religious. The way to God is not by being a better person (which is impossible). The way is by grace, which comes through faith. Do not buy into the lie that God has somehow had enough with you, as if in His eternal patience he could get fed up. As the good parent who loves their child in the midst of their growth and mistakes, so does God love you in and through the process. Don't be fooled by the wide road of prosperity preaching, which says "if you just do this, then God will do this." Take instead the narrow road, who's foundation is faith in Jesus Christ as the mediator for our sins.

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If we have purpose in our hearts (to glorify God), we are working in tandem with God. This allows us to see things in a different light, because we recognize that God isn't in love with a future version of us. He is in love with us each and every step of the way. For some, freedom will come easy and fast. For others, perhaps we've been given a thorn in the flesh to keep us humble. In either case, God is glorified every time we say, "No" to temptation. However, He is also glorified when we lean into Him for grace and mercy. In my own story, the times I leaned into Him the most were usually after I stumbled. My reliance on His grace became a part of my testimony when I spoke with people. Do you see it? When the glory of God is our motive, the enemy loses no matter what we do.

CHANGING DIRECTION

To redirect your motivation for freedom, do the following:

  • Pray

Confess to God that you've had wrong motives in the past. Ask Him to aid you in moving forward with Him at the focal-point. By praying in this way, you are showing God that this is a turning point in your life. You are no longer here to bring focus and attention to yourself. Instead you want to live the rest of your days glorifying and worshiping Him alone.

  • Amputation

Cut off all direct sources of temptation (pornographic magazine, videos, etc.). This is covered further in lesson 5, but it is just as important today. Temptations come in many ways, from many different places. Some of them are unavoidable, but many of them are avoidable. We are not suggesting that this in and of itself will set you free, but if there are things in your life which are obviously and directly causing you to have a harder go in this fight, perhaps it's time they be gouged out.

  • Accountability

Find a person you trust, let them know your struggle and have them ask you tough questions regularly. This is covered more in Lesson 8, but essentially we want to call our brothers and sisters to our side. It is easy to forget why we need to find freedom from these sins. Our accountability partners are there to remind us of our proper motive and to encourage us.

Day 3 Application

What has been your motivation in the past for seeking freedom from sexual sin?

How does the wrong motivation affect our ability to actually find freedom?

What can you do to change your motivation for seeking freedom?

Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?