Day 33: Avoiding Isolation
WHO IS BUILDING YOU UP?
Being alone when struggling with sin is a dangerous thing, particularly sexual sin. As brothers and sisters, we’re called to hold one another accountable, to constantly encourage and pray for one another. God’s Word goes out of its way to tell us the importance of having fellowship around us.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. -Galatians 6:1-5 (NIV)
At this point you need to have an accountability partner, someone who you are talking with on a daily basis at least. The importance of accountability and fellowship is invaluable, for sin loves to dwell in the darkness, and the longer we keep it there, the larger it grows.
PARTNERS IN CHRIST
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire… -Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)
It was really difficult for me to find an accountability partner at first. For the vast majority of my life I felt alone and isolated. I remember wishing that I had a group of close friends, not even for accountability, but just for fellowship. That prayer was eventually answered, but I found that having close friends by itself is not enough. It took quite a bit longer for me to open up about my struggles with those friends. There are many excuses that I gave...perhaps you’ll recognize some of these:
- I’m almost free, I really don’t need an accountability partner at this point.
- I don’t know anybody who will actually hold me accountable.
- I’m too ashamed to admit my sin.
- I will tell someone, but I don’t have to talk with them every day.
- I’ll hold myself accountable.
Another one that is common, “I only need God to hold me accountable.” It is true that we should confess and pray first and foremost to God. Let us not forget that fellowship with the body of Christ is of great influence in our walk with Christ:
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. -Luke 17:3 (ESV)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. -Romans 12:15 (ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. -James 5:16 (ESV)
On accountability, one student put it like this:
The thought I most often wrestle with in dealing with accountability goes something like: "I don't need to tell them about how I've been tempted, I haven't done anything wrong yet." and "You shouldn't tell them, you might give in later too." and "This isn't important enough to bother them. They're too busy for this."
SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Avoiding isolation is only the half of it. We also need the right people around us to lift us up and show us how we've gone astray. One of our mentors, who is also a counselor, put it like this:
In my experience counseling men who are struggling with sexual sin, the sin very rarely started with the individual on their own. I've heard of brothers, friends, and even family like a parent or aunt/uncle exposing the individual to sexual content. It is absolutely crucial to surround ourselves with the right kind of people. I recall living in the dorms my freshman year, I would walk down the hall and in almost any room that I went to my "friends" would be talking about getting laid, how they got laid, would be right then and there having sex, showing a picture of a pornstar that we "just had to see," or would in some other fashion be objectifying women. And, if you chose not to look, that somehow made you gay. Again, yes, it's important that we avoid isolation. But it is just as important (if not more so), that we surround ourselves with others who aren't engaging in debauchary and can be trustworthy to hold us to be accountable.
Would a recovering alcoholic frequent bars? Not if they wanted to avoid obvious temptations. In the same way, when we surround ourselves with the wrong people, we tend to pick up on their habits, language, and worldview. Sadly, many people even profess to be Christians yet act like they are still part of the world. The Bible tells us to stay far away from these people:
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. -1 Corinthians 5:11 (NIV)
Day 33 Application
Why is it important that we not be alone in our struggle with sin?
Are you or have you associated yourself with people that only fuel your sexual struggles? How are we told in scripture to handle this situation?
Why are human relationships integral to our relationship with God? How does having an accountability partner function in this respect?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?