Day 31: The Blindfold of Pride
In the previous lesson we talked about our hearts and attitudes in times of failure; specifically, how it can feel as though we’re starting over time and time again. Today we’re going to look at the other end of the spectrum - pride. Perhaps at this point you’re experiencing victory, and you’re starting to feel confident that this victory will last. The natural inclination at this point is to ease up on the good habits you've been developing. If you're not careful about maintaining the changes, you'll slowly compromise and find yourself back into old habits. Falling out of the good habits we've developed rarely happens all at once. Instead it's a slow process where we compromise in small ways. Over time these small compromises add up, and we find ourselves right back into old routines. I've seen it happen in my own life dozens of times before. So many times I'd convince myself that it was okay because, "I am strong enough." Pride is often the reason we break from our good habits:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
In the past I’ve foolishly given into the temptation of allowing myself credit after a period of freedom from stumbling sexually. Often slipping away into our old lifestyle of habitual sin is subtle, manifesting itself in the form of innocent thoughts. We must never forget what Christ has done for us: the darkness he pulled us out of when we had no strength of our own and the sacrifice he made when we were completely without hope. Our salvation, our victory, and our eternal destiny are not accomplished of our own merit, but God's. It has nothing to do with our works, but has everything to do with God’s works.
Do any of us disagree that we, as humans, tend to be forgetful? Without reminders, our memories slip away from us like dust in the wind. It was extremely easy for me to lose sight of the pit that God pulled me out of. When I was caught in a seemingly endless loop of sin, it felt so exhausting. The momentary pleasure of giving in was nothing compared to the guilt that followed. Like the Israelites in the desert, I had forgotten the miracles that God performed to rescue me from slavery. This lesson serves as just another reminder that we were once in darkness, desperately longing to be free, with no hope of finding it on our own, when the Lord intervened. God did all the work, paid the ultimate price, and died a gruesome death to ransom us from captivity.
...he was wounded for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that made us whole was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. -Isaiah 53:5
Attempting to heal from sexual sin on our own only gets us halfway, and never grants lasting freedom. While it is important that we gain accountability and radically amputate sources of temptation, it is equally important that we recognize who Christ is in our lives. When we operate under our own prideful striving and refuse to allow Christ's work to be accomplished in our lives, we can never conquer the waves of trouble that life has for us. The moment we take our eyes off of him is the moment we begin sinking. What we experience in our hearts is something that the disciple Peter experienced physically:
And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!”
Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” -Matthew 14:25-30 (AMP)
Peter saw what was coming, and fear overwhelmed him. What we experience in our hearts is very similar to what Peter experienced physically: The moment we take our eyes off of Jesus is the moment we begin sinking. Our fear, pride, and insecurities will take our eyes off of Christ and demand our attention. As soon as we refocus back onto him, he reaches out and rescues us in an instant:
HEREIN LIES THE RUB
To dispel pride from our hearts, do the following:
- Pray for forgiveness when convicted
It’s amazing the power in a simple prayer. Praying to God for forgiveness when you realize you've sinned is a great reminder of what He’s done for us. It also helps us to grow in our intimacy with God, as we invite him into our messiness. Sometimes a sin doesn't have to be obvious. It could be the sin of omission, neglecting to do something we should (such as pray, read the bible, or worship God).
- Don’t count your victories
The moment you begin to keep track of “how good you’re doing” is the moment that you take the focus off of God. It’s not about how long you have gone without stumbling in this area, it’s about the magnitude of God’s grace that sets you free. Give the glory back to Him.
- Get uncomfortable
The Holy Spirit is described as The Comforter; yet how many of us in America describe our lives as uncomfortable? Why do we need comfort from the Holy Spirit if we think that we’re holding it all together? The reality is we can’t hold it all together, and we need to continually remind ourselves of our need for the Holy Spirit. When we're uncomfortable, it's hard to be filled with pride. This is because we're in an environment where we don't know exactly what the road ahead looks like. Good habits are a wonderful thing, but too often they become second nature and routine for us to the point where we stop recognizing their power. Maintain good habits regularly, but mix it up enough that you aren't getting used to them.
Day 31 Application
Have you felt pride in the past for victory over this sin?
How will you lay down your pride today, ensuring that it doesn't become a stumbling block?
How does pride impede our intimacy with God? Is life about "having it all together"? Why, or why not? 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?