March 21, 2016
I honestly do not know how to say this but my spiritual life has been in constant battles of ups and downs, especially with lustful thoughts and addiction to pornography! I pray for forgiveness all times even with tears a times, but it keeps coming. I don't want to miss the Rapture with this kind of life, what do I do?
I have been thinking and praying about your letter for a number of weeks now. No one is free of sin. But at some point in our Christian walk we need to take a stand that we are not going to engage in what I would call: chronic lifestyle sins. Everyone has sins that we will need to deal with until the day we die or the day we are taken out in the Rapture.
But chronic lifestyle sins are especially very dangerous; we can fall into real trouble spiritually and on every other level. As believers we must decide if we are going to keep one foot in the world or make a total commitment to the Lord. Are we going to play games with God, ourselves and others, continuing to compromise the way we live to the point of misery and self-destruction? Or get intensely serious about our faith?
“And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6b).
Once we have entered into a born-again relationship with the Lord, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, everything changes. But because God has given us each free will, the tendency can be to live a life of spiritual compromise, grieving the Holy Spirit—until we realize that life as a true Christian is not one where we can compartmentalize worldly things and at the same time try to fit in Jesus and His teachings when and where it is convenient.
After we are saved, the things that bring the unsaved sinful pleasure—bring heartache to true believers (just as you are experiencing). If you were a professing Christian but living a chronic lifestyle of sin and not bothered by it, I would be worried about you to the point that you might not really be saved. But since you accepted Christ, as your Savior and you are feeling very remorseful and miserable -- you are closer to letting go of living a compromised life than you may think.
God loves you so much! He is holding onto you trying to show you that the things you think are giving you momentary fleshly “pleasure,” keep you from Him and from living the kind of life He wants for you. Have you ever noticed how some professing Christians use the grace argument to continue to deliberately partake in the ways of the world, continuing to do things that clearly go against biblical teachings? It does not sound like you are doing that. It sounds like you are willing to, and trying to stop the spiritual and emotional bleeding.
Yes, we are saved by grace through faith and by Christ and Christ alone but we must also consider what is written in the book of James. Once we are saved, faith without works is dead. And that means what we do and how we live our lives should be a reflection of our inner commitment to Him -- by operating in ways that are not of this world. And that means letting go of habitual lifestyle sins.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22, 25).
I am always amazed to observe professing believers who chug down bottles of wine when out to dinner or at small gatherings saying, “Jesus drank wine.” And use any excuse to do things their way -- to gorge themselves in alcohol or whatever the godless habit is. Apparently they missed the Scripture that says, “Do not be drunk with wine.” And also the Scriptures that are filled with many admonitions to live holy lives and seek after godly wisdom and not worldly destruction.
Several years ago a young soldier wrote and was plagued with the same issues you are struggling with. He felt tortured within, and to make it even worse he was engaged to be married and his fiancé had no clue about what he was doing. In the Bible the Lord tells us if a person even looks at a woman with lust for her has committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).
Whatever the vice is (the sin) the remedy is the same. Until we are willing to let go of the things that are driving us into despair and grieving the Holy Spirit, we cannot live a joyous life in the Lord. It is a choice. Who will we serve—God or self? And without the Holy Spirit in control it will be an endless battle with the flesh.
“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Christ must become the center focus of our daily lives, not fleshly habits that take us away from Him. You probably already know this in your head. But until you make a one-hundred-percent honest heart commitment to stop engaging in things that the Lord has spelled out in His Word—that are offensive to Him, and very debilitating to you morally and spiritually, you are going to continue feeling the crushing weight of despair.
If you want to increase you own sense of self-worth and the Lord’s joy, then you must get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit take over your life. It is thorough Christ that we are made whole and in Him we are totally sufficient and do not need external strokes from the world.
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
When we truly walk in the Spirit we cannot continue to happily partake in behavior that fulfils the lust of the flesh. Our love for the Lord must surpass all distractions. We must die to self:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:14-17).
One of the greatest weapons Satan uses against Christians is to try to make us believe that we cannot be free of tormenting vices. In our own strength we cannot get to a point of true peace over some issues. But Scripture screams, “I can do ALL things through Christ WHO STRENGTHENS me.”
Only through Christ and His redemptive power can we walk away from harmful habits designed to destroy us. Immerse yourself in the Word of God and realize Jesus is what life is all about not worldly distractions. The Word of God is alive and powerful:
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:10-14).
Tom, please understand we are living in an extremely dangerous world. We are living in enemy territory. Satan’s objective is to trip up every person he can and make their lives miserable. You need no longer be a victim of your own self-destructive lifestyle choices and Satan’s stronghold on you.
Claim your rightful place as a warrior for Christ and do everything necessary to stop compromising yourself. If you have to move, get a different job, let go of “friends” who are a bad influence, do it. We are living in the last of these last days and your concern about the Rapture is valid.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
If we cannot include Jesus in whatever we are doing—then it is wrong.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8-14).
In the book of Romans the apostle Paul wrote of his never-ending struggle with sin. He was caught in a battle between his old nature and new nature in Christ. He realized he could not win the battle with self—that he had to rely totally on Christ to deliver him from his own fleshly desires.
It is not until we came to the realization that only through the power of the Holy Spirit (abiding within) that our lives can change. What we cannot do for ourselves God will do for us. We get the victory but God gets the glory.
Tom, you are not alone. God is right there ready to pull you out of your broken-condition. Cry out like never before:
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
It is Christ who will deliver you. Unless we place Christ first in our lives first and truly ABIDE in Him, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over again and again. But through Him we can overcome even the most difficult challenges. Christ is the Vine and we are the branches and we must rely totally on Him to bear good fruit. This principle applies to whatever it is in our lives that is causing separation from Christ.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:1-8).
Tom, it is time to decide if you will continue to live by the ways of this morally bankrupt world or take up the cross daily and follow Christ. The Lord is separating the wheat from the chaff in these last days. Go before the Lord in prayer and confess your sin, repent and He will wipe the slate clean.
Pornography or whatever the issue—is only a symptom of the real problem. The problem is your disconnected condition with the Lord, not having an ongoing authentic daily relationship with Him and a lukewarm commitment. You have to intensely get into the Word of God and fill your mind with His truth.
Please rededicate your life to Christ and stay away from those who would pull you away from Him.
Even Christian television is laced with bad apples, the same goes for some Christian Internet videos/shows. Much of what is marketed as Christian is greatly compromised filling the minds of viewers with false doctrines. So many convoluted teachings are running rampant these days that one can be led astray if not grounded strongly in the Word of God.
Too many professing Christians buy into doctrines that are simply wrong. They rely on being spoon fed by others instead of taking self-responsibility, neglecting serious Bible study so they can have the discernment necessary to authentically walk with the Lord, and identify self-appointed “experts” who cannot be trusted.
Too many people rely on men (women) for their so-called Christian walk—those who they prop up on pedestals instead of the only One who deserves adulation, our blessed Savior, who should be given all the glory. The merchandising of Jesus is a huge problem and some do it so cleverly that massive numbers of people are fooled.
The Lord has commanded us to thoroughly study our Bibles and not base biblical truth of the musings of men and women that parrot one another. We are to become disciples. That will never happen if we are tuning in searching for the latest “whatever” on TV, etc. Instead, start a Bible study with others. Get together a team of like-minded believers and begin an outreach program and go share the gospel with great zeal.
Satan is an expert at creating tiny little openings that eventually lead to destruction.
Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). Seek God’s wisdom, abide in Christ and soon you will not even want to partake of the things that are corrupting you. Tom, surely you are not going to allow Satan to outsmart you. You have the King of the universe to fight on your behalf.
We all have weak moments but that does not mean we have to act on them. We are surrounded by temptations everywhere, especially through electronic media. We can’t get away from all gateways to potential trouble completely—so change must come as your inner spirit-man totally surrenders to the Lord.
When we think about how intensely Christ willingly suffered so we could be saved from the horrors of eternal torment and regain fellowship with Him, and how He was tortured and brutalized to the point that He could not even be recognized—the least we can do is be faithful to our calling and resolve to let go of the world’s entrapments.
A good Scripture to quote when you find yourself getting pulled into the sordid temptations of the world is this one:
“Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Luke 4a, b).
“But don’t get into a conversation with the devil. Only communicate with God and use Scripture when dealing in spiritual warfare, just as Jesus did. He never got into a conversation with the devil. He always quoted Scripture.
If you know of a strong Christian man who you can be accountable to and spend time with, that would be a good support for you, someone who you can trust. Choose your friends carefully and surround yourself with true dedicated believers whenever possible. Decide that you are no longer going to live like a lukewarm Christian -- but a man who is on fire for the Lord and lives to serve Him.
Time is short. Give the Lord everything within you. You won’t regret it. Remember Tom, eternity is a very, very long time. Don’t take chances living in a manner that could whittle away at your faith all together. It can happen and has happened to many people.
Consider the Hollywood celebrities who were once professing Christians and now they are strung out on the occult and drugs. Say good-bye to the ways of the world and rededicate your life, your entire being to the One who created you and loves you.
You already have the victory in Christ. Now go for it. Give the Lord your best.
In God’s love,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).