Page 1

Emergency The Truth about Sexual Sin

By: Whitt madden

Acknowledgements I owe so much to these men for showing me what Truth is. They modeled it, and live it, and in every aspect of their lives pointed me to it. John Offutt, Brett Glover, and Chad Hicks Thank you for your obedience to the calling Christ has given you, and for pouring your lives into mine.

“True Character is who you are behind closed doors” - T.D. Benton

Beginnings.. “Where can I sign up for a study on porn addiction?� Every book has to start somewhere I guess.

Beginnings.. “How do you get men to sign up for a Bible study about sexual sin and pornography addiction?” That was the question I began asking God several years ago. Having struggled with both of these issues, I knew that I was not alone. It was the elephant in the room, the topic no one wanted to discuss. I remembered having conversations with a friend of mine who had struggled with many of the same things I too have battled. It’s the topic most churches don’t want to discuss, especially if you lived in the Bible-Belt part of the country. It was a topic that was for the most part ignored. We both knew it needed to be addressed but how?   How does one go about addressing this issue in the church? I spent 3 months working through the book Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and I was thoroughly convinced that we needed to work through this book in a small group setting, but how? What guy is going to sign up for a Men’s Bible study on sexual sin, especially with their wives waiting at the end of service for them to round up kids and head home? How would they explain signing up without admitting there is an issue there?   Pride is the deadly enemy of the Church. I believe pride has kept more men imprisoned by sexual sin, more than anything else. No guy is going to sign up for that! If they signed up, what would their wives say? What would the rest of the church think? You might as well just stamp PERVERT across the tops of their heads, and move on. So there was my dilemma. I knew that many of the guys that I fellowshipped with each week were dealing with secret sin in their lives, but had no idea how to reach them, or if they even wanted to be reached.   A year or so went by, and our Pastor approached me about doing something a little unorthodox for many churches. I was asked to participate in what they were calling “Cardboard confessions.” We were instructed to write down some of our biggest struggles on a huge piece of cardboard for the entire church to see at the end of service, and on the flip side write how God delivered us.   I was faced with a decision that I really didn’t want to make, but I knew what God was asking me to do.   PORN ADDICT ANGER CHEATING   Three words I wasn’t sure that I wanted our church to see, especially my mom who I knew was going to be there. I prayed about it, but God stood firm.   There were probably about 15 of us who made that walk one Sunday morning, baring our souls for all to see. I stood before the church and as I was walking out with my sign, I felt as though God reassured me. “This is My story, it’s about the work that I have done in your life. All you need to do is TRUST. Doors will open.”   Trust Him.   As I stepped out it was apparent Who delivered me. Christ set me free and now it was His time. He took something extremely personal and made it all about His glory. I was crying whenever I walked out, but it was tears of joy. Joy because of the work He was doing within me. Whatever fear I had felt, vanished without a trace. The only thing that was left.... His perfect peace.   After the service had ended I didn’t even make it out of the sanctuary before a very broken woman came to me. She told me about her husbands secret addiction, about how it had been controlling his life for the past 10 years.

Beginnings.. She asked me to pray for him, to reach out to him. We talked for a few minutes and I started out to go down the hallway, whenever another man stopped me, tears flowing down his cheeks. He too had struggled with sexual sin, and was still held hostage. We prayed together, he gave me his phone number, and I left church feeling very overwhelmed that day. God began to open doors and giving me an opportunity to share my story with boldness afterwards. Since that day, I have talked to many guys who are battling with secret sin. I talked with several young men in our Youth group who were all dealing with it to some extent. God revealed a very heartbreaking reality as I discovered more and more men in our churches were losing the battle for sexual purity. The burden of what needed to be done, never left my heart. Sexual sin was devastating the lives of men and their families.   Fast forward four years later....   God gave me an idea, a vision, for doing a study on the effects of sexual sin online. A 40 day study called  Emergency. If you look up the definition of the word, you will read this: Emergency - a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.   I had no idea at the time that God was birthing a ministry out of this study. This e-book is an extended version of the online study that took place. Over 500 men signed up to take part in this study. The response section was anonymous, which meant you could bare your soul, your struggles, your pain with complete anonymity.   There were some things that we discussed in the study that I felt we really needed to dig deeper into. After compiling all of the comments and emails, and sorting through them, this book is the finished result of the 40 day journey towards integrity.   It started with the explanation of the struggle we face as men. Guys we are facing an enemy who has enjoyed a good night’s sleep, a nice hearty breakfast, and even a personal escort to the most strategic position on the battlefield. Many of us don’t even realize that we are the ones providing those things.   This is the battle plan that most men are using. We are giving the enemy every opportunity to defeat us. Bad strategy on our part, but it is exactly the kind of strategy the enemy uses to defeat us by allowing sin to control us. The enemy has deceived us and we don’t even realize we are giving him the exact position he needs to fire a shot and fatally wound us. Imagine the enemy as a sniper. One clear shot is all he needs to take us down. We have not only placed him in our camp, but positioned him in for the kill, but Christ has given us everything that we need for victory. Men, it’s time to armor up, stand firm, and pray. (Ephesians 6:11-18)   This is a picture of the battle we are facing guys. I want to share some very startling statistics that I ran across from a recent study on the effects of pornography here in America. This is not for “shock value” or scare -tactics, nor intimidation, but I share these with you, so that you can get an accurate picture of what we are dealing with.   Every 30 minutes a porn film is made in the US   Every second, 30,000 people are viewing porn  The USA produces 89 % of all pornographic web pages.

Beginnings.. 42.7 % of internet users view porn (that’s 102,434,567 people). Porn is roughly a 13 billion dollar empire in the U.S. with revenues larger than Google or Microsoft. $97 Billion Worldwide.   The average age of initial exposure to pornography is age 11.   Average of 200,000 American are “porn addicts” spending 11 hrs or more per week looking at porn.   Approximately 70% of the pornographic magazines sold eventually end up in the hands of minors.   About 1.2 million children are annually exploited through child pornography and prostitution.   Nearly 900 theaters show X-rated films and more than 15,000 “adult” bookstores and video stores offer pornographic material, outnumbering McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. by a margin of at least three to one.   Number of hard core pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).   More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03).   A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.   51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).   57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).   (Statistics taken from,, Christianity Today, Internet Filter Review.)   Reading these statistics, it doesn’t take much to get overwhelmed. I wonder why, if in 2005 57% of pastors said that pornography addiction was the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation, why aren’t more churches talking about this? I also wonder what those statistics look like several years later.   Guys, we are losing the war on sexual integrity. This is indeed an emergency! I believe that the Church is facing this kind of situation. Judging from the statistics I believe that we are losing the war on integrity. Men all across this country, in our homes, leading our churches are facing an emergency. Men are being assaulted, and the effects of secret sin are destroying the men in our churches. The book “Every Man’s Challenge” refers to it as internal bleeding.   Take a few minutes after you read this and ask yourself if it sounds familiar. “Internal Bleeding” - We have all these happy friendly churches with happy-looking people happily doing work for God, and yet, beneath the surface, nothing is making sense. Husbands aren’t sacrificing for holiness and right living, wives are giving up, and behind every whitewashed wall are dead men’s bones.”

Beginnings.. Something is missing. I believe men are struggling out on the battlefield. Many of them are wounded, hurting, not even sure how to make it back to safety. The battle seems overwhelming, the struggle almost impossible to overcome. I have talked to dozens of guys who just don’t think that they can win this battle. Men who have all but given up, any hope of freedom or victory , but understand this.   In Christ, we have victory (1 Corinthians 15:57-58) we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and we can take comfort knowing that although we may face many struggles during our time here in this world, Christ has overcome (John 16:33). For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. (1 John 5:4).   This journey isn’t going to be easy. There are going to be days when you feel like giving up. There are going to be days when temptation seeks to devour you.   It’s time to armor up, stand firm, and pray.

Mission Statement Emergency exists to serve and encourage, to compel and empower men in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We exist to build up the body of Christ by seeking a community focused on honesty and integrity. We desire accountability and relationship with God and with others. The heart of this ministry is to build a community of men who are compelled to seek Him as their treasure, and empower them to walk in their identity found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Our Values We are committed to honoring our relationship with Jesus Christ and passionately pursue Him above all else. (Luke 5:11)   We are committed to seek Christ as our treasure. We believe that anyone can say they believe, but do they treasure Him? (Matthew 13:44)   We are committed to lives of honesty and integrity. We believe that the true character of a man is measured whenever no one else is looking. (Job 27:3-6)   We are committed to pursuing relationships with other men (Proverbs 27:17)   We are committed to loving our wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25)   We are committed to sacrifice our needs for the needs of our family and for the needs of others. (Philippians 2:6-8)   We are committed to discipleship and equipping men to be leaders in their homes, their churches, and in their communities. (Ephesians 4:12)

Introduction His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4) “Your commitment to obedience brings us halfway to victory. If we are committed to obey Christ, then we are halfway home, because God has provided us the rest of what we will need for victory” Stephen Arterburn

Introduction For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14) I spent a lot of time praying about what verse should start off this study. Whenever I came across this one, I knew that this was it. This was not only the verse, but it is a call to live a godly life and is something we should be pursuing with our every breath. This is such a powerful verse! Think about this: The grace of God teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. It teaches us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. Guys, this is where I want to be. Striving to live self-controlled, upright, and godly life. That should be the goal for all of us! John actually said it this way   We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:18-19)   I love how the Amplified version says it. “We know (absolutely) that anyone born of God does not (Deliberately and knowingly) practice committing sin.”   That doesn’t leave much room for debate does it? The problem is that sexual sin is so deep-rooted in most men, that they have either given up hope that they can ever get past it, or they are so deep in it, they don’t care. The majority of guys struggling with sexual purity fall into these 2 categories.   Many men don’t think that they can overcome this. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of defeat. I want to be very clear and very honest as we move forward over the next 40 days. On our own, guys we will never be able to overcome it. Only through Christ can we overcome anything. Like the verse we started with “it is the grace of God that is training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions” We can’t do this on our own. I tried everything for years on my own. I’d read books, done studies, but there was never any true freedom. I discovered (which seemed to be the hard way for me ) that freedom from such a thing can only be found in Christ.   These 40 days are a call to prayer, and self-examination. There will be a lot of questions. I wrestled with how much or how little to present to you each day. I didn’t want to overwhelm you, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. After much praying, I have decided to present to you truth based on Scripture, and leave much for you to think and pray about in your own life. Today for the introduction I want you think about the questions below. Have you ever made any of these statements?   “I’ll cut down how much time I’m doing this” “I will stop next week (next month, tomorrow,) after this last time” “I will control myself from now on” “I can stop any time I want to” “As soon as my wife starts meeting my needs, I will stop” “There’s nothing wrong with watching a little porn”   You can read this however works best for you. Originally each chapter was designed to be a one day at a time reading. Most of the chapters are short, for a reason. The idea with this study is for you to spend as much time in prayer as you need. The topics are generally geared towards pointing you to Truth, and leaving you to work


Introduction out what you need to with God. If you have ever been a part of a recovery group, the following will sound pretty familiar. There is a lot of Truth in this statement however that needs to be considered. There is something that we need to realize and focus on.   In order to give up control of your life to a compulsive behavior, you had to choose the path of least resistance, the easy way out, the decision that required the least amount of effort or emotional discomfort on your part. I can speak from personal experience to tell you that this is the option that I chose most of the time.   Whatever is going to bring the least amount of discomfort that is what I would choose, every time. Most of us want an easy fix. If you are anything like me you have probably prayed and prayed that God would remove this from your life, but it hasn’t happened yet. I want to challenge you over the next 40 days, or however you choose to read through this material – DO NOT CHOOSE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE.   If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those questions on the previous page, my prayer is that this study will help you. If anything at all my prayer for you is that if you have been giving up your life for a sexual sin, that you would consider giving up your life for Someone worth giving up your life for. Jesus Christ.   Throughout this book we will be building an arsenal of God’s Word to help you combat the lies of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Word. There will be questions throughout each day, and at the end of each day. Take as much time as you need to work through the material. I encourage you to journal through each day in a notebook.   Read this excerpt from Every Man’s Challenge:  

”Internal bleeding – We have all these happy friendly churches with happy-looking people happily doing work for God, and yet, beneath the surface, nothing is making sense. Husbands aren’t sacrificing for holiness and right living, wives are giving up, and behind every whitewashed wall are dead-men’s bones” – Page 16 of Every Man’s Challenge. Would this describe you? Would it describe your church? Today, I want you to think about what it is that you struggle with. What are you hoping to get out of this study? No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)   Remember, sometimes the way out is your own two feet.


Athletes Foot of the Mind Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:8-10) “It never goes away. It’s always asked to be scratched, promising relief. To scratch, however is to cause pain, and it only intensifies the itch.”

Athletes Foot of the Mind “It never goes away. It’s always asked to be scratched, promising relief. To scratch, however is to cause pain, and it only intensifies the itch.” – EMB page 29. I can’t think of a better description than this. Years of trying to describe to someone what it was like to struggle, was summed up for me 3 short sentences. It describes those same empty promises that you’ve told yourself, and probably even prayed.   “It’s the last time” “I’ll start fresh tomorrow” “If I just go finish this, it’ll go away, and I will do better next time.” Next time I’ll be stronger.” “One last time” Always finishing with “next time” or “tomorrow”, never goes away, and if you scratch it is only intensified.   Athletes foot is typically transmitted in areas where people walk barefoot, by a fungus. In most cases the foot is exposed. Such is the case for our minds. Athletes foot isn’t something that you usually just catch without being exposed. I think that’s why I can relate it to the mind so easily. You don’t just wake up one day and struggle with pornography and lust. It happens because it is something that you were exposed to.   For Day 1 we’re going to start the journey with some self examination about where it started. What I don’t want to do is glamorize any part of where it started, but I want us to be aware of where the battle begins. One of the questions I want you to ask yourself today, is “Where did it begin?”   I was in 8th grade whenever I was first exposed to pornography. I was actually at a friends house, who had brought the movies. We planned the get together around the knowledge of knowing that when his parents went to bed that night, we were going to watch the movie. I had no idea how that night would shape the next 20 years of my life. “Harmless, fun” they called it. 20 years later, and I can still recall many of the images from that night. I didn’t know that those images were forever burned into my mind. It’s actually kind of strange to think about it, now that I look back. 4 or 5 of us guys all in the same room, watching a porn movie. None of us had ever seen anything like that before. I didn’t even know much of what I saw was even possible. But I can recall almost every detail of that night 20 + years later.   Here’s the thing though. I don’t blame my struggles on that night. I used to, but in all honesty, I had a choice to make. In fact, over the years I have had many choices to make, yet I consistently chose the wrong ones. My eyes, my mind were exposed, and after repeated exposure, I developed Athletes foot of the mind.   I grew up in a pretty good home, and although my Dad was present, he was not exactly a positive role model in my life. My Mom was the one who took care of me and my sister. I remember my dad taking me to see the movie Psycho 2 whenever I was 10 or 11. The shower scene both terrified me and fascinated me.   Our thing together after that was renting horror movies every weekend. So after repeated exposure I connected some things in my teenage mind. Couples who get naked and start having sex are usually killed by a masked maniac. That was an obvious *Note to Self*. Eventually we ran through some hard core porn-like horror movies (yes they make those), and the violence got a little more abusive and extreme.   Yet again, I had no idea what kind of impact those movies would have on my mind. After repeated exposure, I began reading the backs of the boxes, seeing why the movies were rated ‘R’, and if there was any nudity in them. You didn’t have to worry about me accidentally stumbling across the wrong stuff, I was very intentionally looking for it.


Athletes Foot of the Mind In his book Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions, Mark Driscoll has this to say about pornography:

Most experts agree that there are four basic aspects to virtually all heterosexual pornography, which constitutes the majority of porn. The message is consistent that all women want sex from all men all the time in all kinds of bizarre ways and are essentially nymphomaniacs.   Women really enjoy whatever any man does to them sexually   Any woman who does not meet the stereotype of (1) and (2) above, can quickly be changed through a bit of force or intimidation   The woman is dominated and degraded by the man in a way that exploits her as essentially a tool for the pleasure of the man; she is not really a person but mere parts.

That is the picture that was painted for me as a teenager, and those lies stayed with me for the next 20 years. Those lies affected my every relationship with a woman, what I thought about them, and even how I pursued them. As the years went by technology became more advanced and the internet opened up a whole new world of perverseness, and I caught it – the athletes foot of the mind. I couldn’t get rid of it. Something about a mixture of the pain and the constant scratching felt good.   Looking back at the movies I watched, a mixture of horror and porn, I was already being numbed to the pain of scratching. Today in your prayer time, ask yourself - Where did it start for me? When were you first exposed? Did you ever think about the effect it would have on you today?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)


Purity Starts at Home Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3) “He who loves with purity considers not the gift of the lover, but the love of the giver.” Thomas Kempis

Purity Starts at Home The battle for sexual purity begins in our homes. This battle is lost many times between the four walls of our homes. I heard a friend of mine mention that he hated going out to the mall, because of the way girls dressed, and how it was a struggle to look the other direction sometimes. He said that not only was he distracted but he was also heartbroken over the fact that their parents let them go out dressed that way. The battle for sexual purity is being lost in our own homes!   What are we teaching our children?   You might be single, or you may not have any children yet. If that is the case, you have an awesome opportunity to get a head start!   Here is something that I think we do too often. We blame the media. That’s usually the first place we look to blame. I agree that the media paints a horrible picture for sexual purity. You can’t watch anything on television without seeing some skin, or suggestive content. It’s everywhere. They definitely play a role in this which we will cover on a different day. But this battle starts in our own homes.   If the media is an issue, are we allowing our children to watch things that we know they have no business viewing? Are we ourselves watching shows that can “set us off”?   Sexual purity is one of the hardest challenges facing us men. We are visual creatures and the enemy knows this. We are being constantly bombarded by sexuality. It has invaded our televisions shows, sporting events, the internet, even the workplace. Everywhere we turn, temptation is there waiting to see if we will take the bait, even if only for a glance. One glance is all it takes for that image to be burned into your mind. You can’t escape it, the media has sexualized everything, and they are teaching our daughters “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, and sadly…. most of them do.   Why are we allowing the unacceptable to become the standard? Why do we turn a blind eye to the way our daughters choose to dress, to the shows our children watch, and the music they listen to?   Where do we start?   I read an article not long ago that said this, and I promise I am not making this up… “Children who watched a lot of TV with sexual content were about twice as likely to start having intercourse earlier than those with little exposure to televised sex, researchers found.”   Really? Why is this news? To me that should fall under the category of common sense!  

Laura Berman, writing in USA Today said in an article “Adolescent culture is “laced with sexuality”. As she explains: “Teenage girls run around in halter tops and miniskirts with the words ‘juicy’ on their behinds. Oral-sex parties have replaced Spin the Bottle in some circles, and then there is the teen subculture of instant messaging in which sexual innuendo and invitations fly back and forth.” There are a lot of things that factor in here, but the question I want us to focus on today is this:   What standards have you set in your own home for purity?


Purity Starts at Home   A few years ago, I was very convicted about the kinds of movies I had in my home. My Pastor had taught on the kinds of influences we allow in our homes, and I left church that day, very heavy-hearted because God revealed to me the kinds of influences that I . Here is a story to help illustrate.   “A father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie: it had their favorite actors, everyone else was seeing it, even some church members said it was great, it was only rated PG13 because of the suggestion of sex-they never really showed it, the language was pretty good-they only used the Lord’s name in vain three times in the whole movie, the video effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed. Yes, there was the scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff, it wasn’t very bad. Even with all these explanations for the rating, the father wouldn’t give in. He didn’t even give them an explanation for saying, “No.” He just said “No.”   Later that evening, the father asked his kids if they would like some brownies he had prepared. He explained that he had taken the family’s favorite recipe and added something new. They asked what it was. He calmly replied that he had added dog poop. He stated that it was only a tiny bit and that all the other ingredients were gourmet quality. He had taken great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.   Even with all the explanations of the perfect attributes of the brownies, the kids would not take one. The father acted surprised. There was only a small amount of poop, so what could the problem be? He assured them that they would hardly notice it at all. But they all held firm and would not try the brownies.”   He then explained that the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Satan tries to enter our minds and our homes by deceiving us into believing that just a little bit of evil doesn’t matter. With the brownies, just a little bit makes all the difference between a great brownie something really gross. He explained that even though the smallest amount of dog poop makes the brownie totally unacceptable, they seemed to having no problem watching a movie of similar ingredients. The people who make movies and TV shows would have us believe their entertainment is acceptable for adults and youths; but they are no more so than dog poop brownies are good to eat!”   That afternoon my wife and I went through our movies and music this is the standard we set for our home. A friend of mine once said “If it isn’t suitable for the kids to watch or listen to, then it’s probably not suitable for the adults either.”   I found movies and music that to be honest, I was ashamed that I even owned. Things I would never ever ever let my children watch, yet there they were in the dvd rack for them to see. And then there were the movies that weren’t necessarily bad, but they had just a little bit of poop.... just enough to ruin it. I would begin to argue and debate keeping some of them for a moment, but I knew... it was time to let go. Time to take the trash out. And that is exactly what we did. Men, as leaders of your home, you are called to set the standard for what is acceptable in your homes. You have a choice to make, what you will choose.   That was the standard set. Today as movies grow increasingly worse and worse, you would think it would be easier, but it’s actually gotten harder to filter through these movies. The world’s standards are getting worse. What was not appropriate or acceptable in a children’s movie 15 years ago, is the standard of today.


Purity Starts at Home Author Randy Alcorn wrote an article a few years ago called “Protecting Purity in a Technological Corinth” and I want to draw attention to something very specific he said in regards to this topic. “A few years ago a man in our church was standing next to his son, who received a text message with a photo attached. He was looking over his son’s shoulder, and recognized a church girl who attends the same high school. She was naked. The boy said he didn’t know it was coming, and his friend just sent it to him. Maybe he was telling the truth. But all it takes is a cell phone. Christian parents would have been stunned if you had told them 25 years ago that today most kids would be carrying around a miniature television screen that would allow them access to pornography and on which they could receive images of naked people while the young person is doing homework or sitting in church.   We’re in a battle—big time. Tragically, most Christian homes are losing this battle. Scripture says that Satan goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and sadly, we are losing our daughters and our sons. It’s not just boys who are looking at pornography; young girls are too. And some of them are going to online chat rooms to be flirted with by strangers who are often not what they claim to be.   As a parent you might wonder, “Well, do I have the right to interfere? Isn’t that being nosey?” Your job is to interfere and to be nosey. Your job is to know what is going on in the life of your child and protect them, just as if you were standing next to a freeway and would feel an obligation to put your arms around your child and say, “Stay off that freeway.” That is your responsibility as a parent. This is a battle for our children with their lives and futures at stake.”

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; She does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. (Proverbs 5:1-6)


The Perfect Son Just two days into our study online, I was issued a huge wake-up call from a post by someone simply referring themselves as “The Perfect Son.� Their honesty is sobering and heart-wrenching. As you read his letter to parents consider your own situation. Think about your own family, your children. Many of the fears and concerns I have had as a parent in regards to what should and should not be allowed were met with his response. Prayerfully consider his words, and ask yourself some of the hard questions that go along with what they have shared.

The Perfect Son Dear Parents I am the teenager that has been given freedom to do whatever they want to do and I have some things I need to tell you. You’ve given me freedom to make my own decisions. You’ve let me watch and listen to the music I wanted to experience. I’ve been a good kid, even considered a role model in my church youth group.   Giving me my own laptop has given me free access to porn. I watch it almost every night at some point, usually after you have gone to bed. I’ve watched some very steamy movies and you’ve even sat down and talked to me while I’ve been watching them. You’ve given me freedom to make my own choices so many nights I have snuck out of the house and gotten high with some of my friends. I’ve even snuck into your cabinets and drank some of your wine. I’ve even slept with some of the girls that you let stay the night “as long as they sleep on the couch”.   I’m telling you this because I realized how empty I feel inside. I’m living a double life and it doesn’t make sense anymore. Your decision to give me my freedom has ruined my life. I don’t have anyone to hold me accountable and the laptop has become a prison for me. It sits in my room, and those websites are there waiting for me to click away.   I’m struggling every single day and you don’t have a clue. I can’t talk to you. You trust me way too much. Tonight I will probably go to church and play the part of the “good kid in youth” and after I get home I will probably get my laptop out and masturbate to the videos I’m watching.   Some days I feel like dying. I’m not really living anyway just existing.   I want you to read this so that you will get a clue. Dad, I learned most of this from you. I know that you’ve been looking at porn while mom’s not home. You don’t know how to clear your history.   Sincerely,   The “Perfect” teenage son


How Do You Define Sin? He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24) “The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.   In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.”  

How Do You Define Sin? Sin. It’s an ugly word isn’t it? I heard someone once say that the word sin is so ugly that most churches don’t even want to talk about it. The question I want us to think about today is this: Would you define sin the same way that God defines sin?   Our culture has blurred the between what is right and what is sin over the past few decades. That much is obvious. What used to be black and white, now has a lot of grey in between. What used to be unacceptable has now become the norm. 40-50 years ago if you had watched television you would have encountered a world where cussing was forbidden, women were dressed modestly, drug use was practically unheard of, the family mattered, and the dads of television were men of integrity.   Today, as you pretty well know, anything goes. Women are wearing a little as they can get away with, drugs, alcohol, foul language are now acceptable, and sex abounds! Where are the dads? The tv dads of this generation are either absent from the scene entirely, or have been labeled “family moron” while the kids dictate and run the households. What was once unacceptable is now the standard. The tolerance for sin has increased, and integrity seems to be a thing of the past.   So we come back to the question, do you and God believe the same things about sin?   What if you don’t call sin - sin?   This is where our culture has started to blur the lines, and we’ve made sin acceptable.   In 1953 the very first issue of Playboy was published. It was sold in a brown sack behind counters because of the offensive covers. Today, you can view one at just about any local bookstore, or the dozens of copycat magazines, in plain view. There are currently 30 international editions being sold across the world. Playboy set the stage for the downfall of many a man. Guys are visual creatures, Hugh Hefner knew exactly how to get our attention.   Playboy is still the largest selling “men’s magazine”, selling about 2.6 million a month in the U.S. In 1970, Playboy became the first gentleman’s magazine to be printed in braille. Really.   Scripture is very clear about where God stands on sexual sin. You might think that Playboy is harmless, or “not that bad” but Jesus had something very challenging to say about this.   But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)   Those are pretty strong words, for just one verse. Looking at a woman with lustful intent means you’ve committed adultery with her in your heart. Think about that verse as you recall every page that you’ve turned, and every image you’ve clicked onto on the internet. Let’s be honest about something as we ask ourselves this question:   Can we look at images of naked women without any hint of lust?   I don’t think it is possible. I think lust is the reason we are looking in the first place! Let’s take that verse and look at the last part of what Jesus says whenever he says they’ve committed adultery. Adultery in those days


How Do You Define Sin? was punishable by death. To put it bluntly, if you were caught cheating you were usually stoned. Remember the story about Jesus and the adulteress? What were they getting ready to do to her? What do we think about adultery today? Hasn’t it become acceptable by every standard that it’s “ok to cheat on your spouse?” There is a company out there that actually encourages it. This company promotes one night stands. Their slogan? “Life is Short. Have an affair.”   Divorce is another area where we do not call sin -sin. Both infidelity and divorce have been acceptable even in the church. We think, “Well divorce is ok, and in some cases, it can even be a good thing,” but that’s not how God thinks. God hates divorce. If you want scripture take a look at Malachi 2:16.   Jesus said it was never God’s intention to allow divorce, and the only reason people do it is because their hearts are hard (see Matthew 19:8-9). It’s not because we can’t love our spouses, it’s because we won’t love them.   There are many more examples of things that are now considered to be “socially acceptable sins” such as homosexuality, lying, drunkenness and many more. I read a news article just the other day that said over 51 % of people polled thought that some drugs such as marijuana should be made legal. 15 years ago, only 32 % believed that. Tomorrow we will discuss social sins a little more in depth. I believe that if you want to get down to the root of the problem it’s this really pretty simple. We are setting our standards according to what the world says instead of what God says. Scripture is very clear about how we are to approach this.   Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)   I think a really basic way to explain that verse is like this: Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.   Today I am asking you this:   What are some things that you have considered to be acceptable that God considers sin?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)


The Collision of God and Sin Am I really all that bad?

If you haven’t said those words, you’ve probably at least thought them, and with reason. You can always find a worse offender, someone who has violated God’s standards to a degree you’ve never approached. Fact is, there is probably a long list of sins you have never committed, never will, would never think to commit. But does God measure sin on a sliding scale? What are His expectations? What are His requirements--not just for your behavior but also your thoughts, whether or not you ever act on them?

THE COLLISION OF GOD AND SIN THE COLLISION OF GOD AND SIN By: Oswald Chambers Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.   The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.   The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.   The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.   The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened - but the crash is on the heart of God.


Personal Responsibility For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10) You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say� Martin Luther

Personal Responsibility I’m being very honest whenever I say that people in our culture do not like to accept responsibility for their actions. We like to blame others for our mistakes. We live in a culture and a time where personal responsibility for our actions is a thing of the past. If your life didn’t turn out the way you thought it would, all you have to do is blame your parents. Dysfunctional family is a term you hear about every day. We blame our families for our faults. “Is there such a thing as a normal family?” I’m sure we all ask that question from time to time. If you look back at the very first family, weren’t they also dysfunctional?   Think about this for a moment. Let’s look at the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden for a minute. There were many factors that contributed to their fall, but temptation was right there in the very beginning. Eve was tempted by the fruit and the idea that she could become like God. Temptation was there, the serpent knew what he was doing. Where was Adam during all of this? Right by her side. What was his response while his wife was under attack? He said and did nothing. He could have stepped in at this point and said no, but he allowed it to go on. After they had eaten the fruit, they knew that what they did was wrong. Sin entered the picture. They knew they were naked, they felt shame, and they hid. What did Adam do, whenever God asked him what they had done? He blamed not only his wife but God as well!   The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)   “the woman whom You gave to be with me” So he blames Eve for giving him the fruit, and God for giving him the woman. Do you see how easy it is to start the blame-game?   Next take a look at their kids, Cain and Abel. Talk about sibling rivalry! Cain rose up against his brother and killed him. Whenever God asked Cain where his brother was, what was Cain’s response? “I do not know, am I my brothers keeper?”   Ok, let’s stop there for a minute. You have just killed someone in your family, God knows this, and when He asks where that person is, how would you respond? Would you be as cold as Cain? Would you even think about talking to God like that?   God called him out on it, and then pronounced his judgment on Cain. He told him he would be cursed from the ground. It would no longer produce the fullness of what it once did. He would be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. There would be consequences for his sin.   In light of Cain’s initial response to God, it amazes me at his response to God’s punishment. He tells the Lord “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Cain obviously didn’t realize that there would be some harsh consequences to his actions. That seems to be the mind-set of the world we live in today as well. People in the world do not realize that there are going to be consequences for their actions. We live for the moment. We live like there is no tomorrow. We click on that link because we don’t think about the consequences of that can become of it. We talk to the cute girl at the office, or at the restaurant. We flirt whenever someone shows an interest. I don’t understand how we can do some of the things we do, and not realize that we will have to face the consequences for our bad choices.   One of the biggest issues facing our culture is the victim mentality that we have developed. We’ve got so many


Personal Responsibility paid professionals telling us that our circumstances are not our fault. They tell us that we are victims. They tell us that the only way that we will have peace is to search out and find the individual responsible for what has happened to us. They are always pointing us in a direction that is never pointed back at us. John MacArthur once said that “We live in a culture that encourages people to seek self-esteem, positive feelings, and personal dignity. Having moral responsibility has been replaced by a society of victims, blaming others for their personal failures and short-comings.”   What the Bible teaches us about the human depravity, guilt, sin, repentance, and humility are now too “old fashioned” to be relevant, and it goes against everything that our society teaches. It also goes against much of what the modern church teaches today.   I think that in order to feel accepted or to fit in, the church as a whole is more about building up self-esteem and creating a feel good message of the Gospel. What has gotten lost in this way of teaching is the fact that sin is the root of our issues. In our world today we have come up with terms that are not biblical - anger management issues, addictions, dysfunctional families, the child within, and many other words to disguise sin for something other than what it really is - sin.   The enemy is hard at work. He knows that if you remove the reality of sin, you take away the possibility of repentance. If there is no personal guilt, there is no need for a savior. Sin is a dirty word in our society. Even the church doesn’t like to use that word because it might be offensive to some. Many churches in our world today strive to be all inclusive to everyone and it is easier to sugar coat things in order to avoid conflict.   Today let’s ask ourselves these questions:   Am I a part of the blame game? Do I accept responsibility for my actions or do I blame my faults on someone or something else?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)


Personal Responsibility For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10) When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. (Proverbs 28:12)   Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10)   And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)   But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:48)   When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)   Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26)   for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)   The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)   For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)   “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46)


Reflect Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Ephesians 5:1-3)

Men should be what they seem - William Shakespeare

Reflect Growing up, my dad was present but never active, never encouraging, never really there for me and my sister growing up. My mom took the best care of us that she could. My sister was the athlete in the family, I was not. I always felt like I was a disappointment to my dad, perhaps I was, although he never mentioned it, neither did I. I ‘assumed’ that I disappointed him so I allowed those thoughts to dictate much of my response to him. I’m pretty sure that my dad had his own share of issues and struggles, in fact I know that he did. Growing up though, I think as a kid we see our dad’s as invincible, able to do anything, fix anything, and whenever he disappointed in those areas, over the years I started questioning a lot of things. As I grew up I started blaming my dad for my mistakes. I talked the other day about personal responsibility, and I never had that. He was the scapegoat for all of my issues. I’m not saying he was perfect, far from it, but then again as a dad myself, I am also far from perfect. I think that we try to do the best with what we have. I think about my 4 year old who has that same mentality that I had . He believes I can fix anything, I can do anything, he adores me. I know that as he grows older I will disappoint him, and I know I’ve disappointed others, but I want you to really pay attention to what I am going to say here. This is where the enemy wants to keep you. He wants you to dwell on the disappointments, and he will recall every failure you’ve ever made to keep you there. One thing I’ve seen missing from many of the comments is the exact same thing that was missing from my own life. - Joy.   My dad was not perfect. He made a lot of mistakes. So do I. I don’t blame him anymore for the mistakes that I made. However a few years ago God revealed something to me through a Bible study I did that really rocked my world. I want us to go there today and I want you to pray. I want you to pray and think about your own situations.   Knowing, or unknowingly I put all of my thoughts and beliefs about my earthly father all on my heavenly Father. I never measured up to my earthly father, so I believed I would never measure up to my Heavenly Father either. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right to please my own dad, and I unfairly felt the same way towards God. I saw God as a distant God who condemned, was disappointed, and I would never measure up to Him. God showed me during those weeks of study and prayer the truth about who He was, and let me share something with you. Your earthly dad may have hurt you and he may have disappointed you, but God… YOUR Heavenly Father is perfect, without compare. He loves You enough that He sent His Son to die on the cross in your place, for every sin that you ever have, had, or will commit.   God will never disappoint. His will is perfect, His love never ending. I don’t know what kind of relationship you have had with your dad, he may have been a great and godly man, and if that is the case then you should take time out today to praise Him and let your dad know how thankful you are that you have a godly father. Here is what I do know. People will always disappoint us. They will at times, let us down. They will make mistakes, just the same as you. God will never leave us, or forsake us, He is always there waiting for us to come to Him. His love for us is unfathomable. Try as we might we can’t comprehend it.   People can, will, and do hurt us. If it is someone in your family who has hurt you, I am so sorry. I truly am. I know what it is like to hurt. I also know what it is like to forgive. We’ll be discussing forgiveness more in depth in days to come.   Who has hurt you? Have you carried over your bitterness towards that person on God? Have you considered forgiving them? Maybe this person has hurt you in ways that most people can’t imagine, what is keeping you from forgiving them?


God Alone Can Rescue The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (Psalms 29:3-4) “You alone can rescue, You alone can save You alone can lift us from the grave. You came down to find us, led us out of death. To You alone belongs the highest praise.”

God Alone Can Rescue “God’s purpose is to save those who will repent of their sins and believe the Gospel. His purpose is not to work for the external corrections in a morally bankrupt culture” - John Piper Paul, in his letter to Timothy, wrote to him about some very hard to take truths. Things that we really don’t want to think about. Consider the times in which we live in as you read this.   You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)   But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)   Does this sound familiar? People will love only themselves and their money. Sounds much like the culture we live in today doesn’t it? Boastful, proud, scoffing at God, do those things sound familiar? Children disobeying their parents, acting ungrateful? It doesn’t take long to become heartbroken over the reality of this verse in my own life today.   They will consider nothing sacred. What about the church or how about marriage? Paul says nothing will be kept sacred. People will be unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, and cruel. People will act as if they are religious but they will reject the power that could make them godly. They will be puffed up with pride and love and pleasure instead of God.   If we were to stop there, it would be easy to give up. Thankfully though, there is hope.   Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (Matthew 16:18)   Whenever God builds a church it will stand. All the powers of hell will not conquer His church. As a part of the body of Christ this is an important Scripture to understand. As Christians we are the Church. It gets better!   No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)   This is one of those verses that every believer should hold onto. I want to encourage you today with the fact that God’s Word is truth. We should not have to be convinced to believe what He says is true. If it has come from God, then it’s true. These scriptures are the inspired word of God given to Paul. He says “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.”  Paul says “nothing can ever separate us from His love.” That includes your struggle with lust, pornography, and sexual sin. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. God hates sin, but NOTHING can separate


God Alone Can Rescue YOU from HIS LOVE. Do we deserve it? No, but that is one of the mysteries of God’s grace, that He would choose to love us anyway, and not only that, but He loves you too much to leave you this way. There is only One with life-changing power. His name is Jesus. He has saved us from ourselves, from sin, and most importantly from eternal separation from God. Is the Christian life hard? Yes. Is HE worth it? Without a doubt, YES. I am reminded of the lyrics to a song called You Alone Can Rescue by the artist Matt Redman. Sometimes we sing these songs to God, and we never take a moment to think about the words we are singing, because we are too busy just going through the motions. Whenever I stop and think about it, I find myself going through the motions all too often in life.  

Who, oh Lord, could save themselves, Their own soul could heal? Our shame was deeper than the sea Your grace is deeper still You alone can rescue, You alone can save You alone can lift us from the grave You came down to find us, led us out of death To You alone belongs the highest praise You, oh Lord, have made a way The great divide You heal For when our hearts were far away Your love went further still Yes, your love goes further still

He alone can rescue. He alone can save. Think about that for a moment. The Lord alone can rescue and save us from our sin. No matter how deep our shame is, His grace goes deeper than that! He alone should be our focus, the only thing we look to, but there are times when we have fixed our gaze elsewhere. We take our focus off of Christ, and put it on many other things - our shortcomings, our faults, our sin, our pursuit of money and power, and our pursuit of lust.   Today we have a choice. We choose what we want to focus on. You have a choice. Where is your focus today? What is consuming you? Is your sin controlling you? Many times we feel hopeless. Many times we feel as though our struggle is just something we can’t put behind us. Do you feel that way today?   There is hope. His name is Jesus. He alone can Rescue. He alone can save. Remember the verse today. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)   I want to encourage you today. Focus on this passage in Romans and spend some time in prayer over it today. In a few days we’ll be discussing this in a little more detail. Today, no matter what you are struggling with, know that there are people who are praying for you, who are there for you, who want to encourage you, and let you know that you are not alone. During the times whenever you are ready to give up, stop and hold on to this verse, this promise.


The Conversation You Hoped We Would Avoid But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

The Conversation You Hoped We Would Avoid Day 7 is exactly what the title suggests. So far we are 7 days into a study about sexual sin, lust, and pornography and so far 1 word has primarily been missing from the topics of this study. Until today. What about masturbation? Is it wrong? Nobody wants to talk about it, and I don’t see it mentioned in the Bible. It’s as though it falls under those “gray areas” you mentioned a few days ago. So is it ok or not?” That’s a great question. It may have been a question that you’ve been wondering about, but didn’t want to mention it. I have wondered about the topic of masturbation as well. I’ve seen arguments for it, and arguments against it. I will share with you my thoughts, on the topic from some studies I have read, and I would love for you to share your thoughts about it as well. Guys, we need to understand this, and if you are willing to open up and share, God can use that to help other guys who are struggling. First of all, I think we are asking the wrong question. Asking if it is ok or not is sounds like we are trying to justify reasons for doing it, in my opinion. For me, it is the very same thing as asking “How far can I go and sin and still be considered a Christian?” The topic of masturbation is a very debated subject online, yet this conversation probably won’t be heard in your typical Sunday morning church service. Instead of asking if masturbation is ok to do or not, let’s change the focus and look at it in a different light. This really put things into perspective for me, and my prayer is that it will do the same for you. The Bible does not condemn masturbation outright. The Bible’s silence on the matter should cause us to avoid calling something a sin that God does not. So we must examine the issue with the following questions: Can you masturbate without lusting? “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? (Job 31:1) Job actually made a covenant with his yes not to gaze on another woman. Can you masturbate without lusting? Be honest with yourself. My opinion is that lusting is what brings about that urge to start with. Can you masturbate in a way that builds oneness with your spouse? Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) I would take this question to mean that your spouse knows that you are masturbating and that it is drawing the two of you closer together by doing it. Is that the case? Can you masturbate without experiencing shame? And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25) Pretty self explanatory here I think. When you masturbate do you feel shame afterwards? How would you feel if you were caught doing this? Can you masturbate with a clear conscience? To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. (Titus 1:15) Do your actions come back to haunt you? Do you feel remorse after it’s all over and done with? If you struggle with guilt, shame, and your conscience is hammering you, take that as a warning sign.


The Conversation You Hoped We Would Avoid Can you masturbate without giving in to the cravings of your sinful desires and thoughts? among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3) I don’t see how that can be done personally. You might not find the word masturbation in your Bible, but you don’t have to look very hard to see what God has to say about the topic of sexual purity. Today take a look at these questions. What is your response? What are some other reasons that maybe God has shown you, or maybe even things that you have struggled with on this taboo topic? While we are on the topic, I want to share with you an article from John Piper on the subject, called Missions and Masturbation. Masturbation is the experience of sexual orgasm produced by self-stimulation. Virtually every man and almost as many women have tried it. It is a regular practice of most single men. One of the major forces preventing young people from obeying the call of God into vocational Christian service is defeat in the area of lust. A teenager hears a challenging call to throw himself into the cause of world evangelization. He feels the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He tastes the thrill of following the King of kings into battle. But he does not obey because he is masturbating regularly. He feels guilty. He can hardly imagine witnessing to a pretty girl about the eternal plight of her soul, because he has so habitually looked at girls naked in his imagination. So he feels unworthy and unable to obey the call of God. Masturbation becomes the enemy of missions. Is masturbation wrong? Let me address the issue mainly for men. I cannot imagine sexual orgasm in the loins without sexual image in the mind. I know there are nocturnal emissions, which I regard as innocent and helpful, but I doubt that they are ever orgasmic apart from a sexual dream that supplies the necessary image in the mind. Evidently God has constituted the connection between sexual orgasm and sexual thought in such a way that the force and pleasure of orgasm is dependent on the thought or images in our minds. Therefore in order to masturbate, it is necessary to get vivid and exciting thoughts or images into the mind. This can be done by pure imagination or by pictures or movies or stories or real persons. These images always involve women as sexual objects. I use the word “object” because in order for a women to be a true sexual “subject” in our imagination she must in reality be one with whom we are experiencing what we are imagining. This is not the case with masturbation. So I vote no on masturbation. There may be other reasons why it is wrong. For now I rest my vote on the inevitable sexual images which accompany masturbation and which turn women into sexual objects. The sexual thoughts that enable masturbation do not help any man to treat women with greater respect. Therefore masturbation produces real and legitimate guilt and stands in the way of obedience.


More Questions than Answers Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. C. S. Lewis

More Questions Than Answers As men we all know that there is a problem. We know that we struggle with sexual purity and that to the very core of who we are, there is sin, lurking, waiting, deceiving, and tempting us. At the end of the day we are left with more questions than we have answers. Men and women struggle with sexual sin and temptation. There’s no point in rehashing the details. We know it’s an issue and we want answers. We want to do whatever it takes to fix the problem. I have to ask you today if you are serious about this. Do you really want the answers? Are you prepared for what that might mean? Today I hope that this challenges and convicts you as much as it did me.

If the truth was to be exposed today, would you be sorry for what you have done or would you be sorry that you got caught? In other words lets say that you are involved in some form of sexual sin. Are you more concerned about getting caught than pursuing holiness? There are some pretty severe implications for both answers. Something I experienced personally and have seen in countless men who have ever struggled is that most of the time we are more concerned about getting caught than we are sorry about what we had done. I know a guy who got caught watching porn by his wife. He was sorry, for getting caught. He never sought help, he defended all of his reasons which probably sounded very good to him at the time. In the end, however he didn’t repent from it, but was only sorry he got found out. I know dozens upon dozens of stories that end that way. That’s how it started for me, as well. I got caught. No way out, my lies had caught up with me. Truth was exposed, and I was sorry. Sorry I got caught. Sorry that she found out. Sorry that I was embarrassed, but I was very callous. My heart was very hard. I wasn’t really sorry for what I had done, but I was definitely sorry that she found out. Now there was going to be consequences for my actions. We discussed this last week, that we don’t always think that there are consequences for our actions. When you get caught in these kinds of situations, there are consequences. I was defiant. Which looking back now, I wonder what was I ever thinking? I had hurt her in ways I had never conceived. Yet because of the hardness of my heart, I really wasn’t concerned. About her. I was more concerned about me. I wonder today where many of you are at. Are you sorry you got caught or sorry for what you have done. What if.... you haven’t been caught yet, which is what I suspect from several. If you were caught today what would your answer be? If the truth was to be exposed today would you be sorry for what you have done or would you be sorry that you got caught? It didn’t take long for me to realize the sinfulness of my actions. I was so heavy with guilt and shame for what I had done, not only to my wife, but to my relationship with God. I was sick and disgusted over my sin. I had reached a point of desperation in that I wanted to get rid of this secret sin that crept into so many corners of my life. Which brings a very crucial word to the table. Repentance..


More Questions Than Answers The dictionary defines repentance as this: To feel remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do; be contrite. What about the Biblical definition? Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. Should you turn from sin, yes absolutely! Is there more to it than this? Yes. I heard a Pastor echo this same definition just yesterday. I am not going to spend a lot of details the rest of this study on how it started, what you are struggling with and continue glossing over the different issues. Over the next few chapters, start evaluating ourselves, our motives, our actions, and our lives. We know that things are messed up in our lives. We know that without true repentance we keep going through the same struggles over and over again. We know that we need to change, and I believe that many of you desire to do this. If we don’t learn, we keep repeating the course. Have you ever heard that statement? Today, I want you to focus on the question revolving around repentance. Let’s be honest. Completely honest about this question. If the truth was to be exposed today would you be sorry for what you have done or would you be sorry that you got caught? The other question is this: Do you really want to change? Are you ready to give this up?


Wired “When we better understand the devastating spiritual, psychological, social and biological reality of how pornography violates our unique position in God’s creation, we will be better able to minister to hose who have been wounded by it.”

Wired Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture as been pornified, and it shapes our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the value of women and the nature of relationships. Countless Christian men struggle with the addictive power of porn. Wired for Intimacy is a book by William Struthers that takes on a different approach to men’s struggle with pornography. Russell Willigham (author of Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus ) says this about the book: “”Wired for Intimacy is a ground-breaking book on the brain chemistry of sexual addiction. Every man needs to understand how his sexual choices affect this crucial part of his humanity. It will be a great help toward sanctification for those who embrace its message.” Author, blogger Tim Challies shared a review about this book on his blog and he begins by telling a story that I’ve heard from another ministry. Challies says “I read recently of a researcher who wanted to study the effects of pornography on young adult males. He carefully built the structure for the study, determining how he would compare young men who had experienced pornography with a control group comprised of those who had never come into contact it. Tragically this researcher had to cancel his study. He found that he was unable to put together a control group; he could not find young men who had not discovered pornography. The experiment was impossible to conduct.” I was thinking tonight about the comparison we started out with Chapter 1 with Athletes Foot of the Mind and how that related to sexual sin and pornography addiction. Do you remember the quote “It never goes away. It’s always asked to be scratched, promising relief. To scratch, however is to cause pain, and it only intensifies the itch.” Thinking about this book Wired for Intimacy and how guys are wired got me to thinking about some other things as well. We are wired to worship God. We all have that void in our lives, that we try to fill, some have filled it with sexual sin, others material things, I believe it is different for each person. Our purpose here on this earth is to worship. We’ll be hitting this topic hard further into the study, but I want to bring to your attention the truth that we all worship something. We all have a throne in our heart and something is sitting there. Who or what that is varies depending on the person. Imagine with me if you will, Athletes foot of the mind applied to worship. The desire to worship God, that we would continue to scratch to get relief, but the more we scratch, the more we worship, the closer we get to God, we keep on scratching. Imagine if we desired to worship our King, our Savior in that way. Knowing that we would never be satisfied, but we continue to scratch so to speak. Guys, that is what I want for my own life. To seek Him above all else, beyond anything this world has to offer. To KNOW Him. To never be satisfied with where I am in our relationship, but to keep on pursuing (scratching). What can you expect going forward? Over the next few chapter we are going to be digging deep. This is what I am asking for us to do today. Pray. If the truth was to be exposed today would you be sorry for what you have done or would you be sorry that you got caught? Today I’d like for you to pray about your answer again, before we go any further. Are you committed to standing firm and being done with this once and for all? Are you ready to make some radical changes? Spend some time alone with God, and just be honest.


Slaves to Sin? We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Slaves to Sin? What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:1-23) I am always amazed when people say they agree with Grace, yet then undersell Grace as they fear that it will lead to someone having a “license to sin”. Some slanderously attacked Paul saying that he was teaching one could just keep on sinning. Paul of course makes light of this in chapter 3 verse 8. Of course this was just that, slander… and even today I find that there are those who say about me that I am also against “doctrine”, or do not teach “holy living”.. which if one understands Grace, and has realized their identity “in Christ” they will find they desire less and less the “sinful desires” of the flesh, and desire more and more to become “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) Here Paul states very clearly again, that are we to keep sinning in order that this grace abounds? Of course not! Paul points out that we are dead to sin and if that is true how can one dead to sin, still live in it? We have been baptized into Christ… now water baptism represents this spiritual truth. Just as we are placed in


Slaves to Sin? the water, then put under, they rise out again… which is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and that we to are now dead, buried and resurrected in Christ Jesus… With this imagery… we are “placed/immersed” into Jesus’ death, buried with Jesus and now resurrected as a New Creation. Paul goes on to show that since we have come to the end of ourselves, or our very death of trying to please God by our own works, in that we died. Since we can then identify with Christ in His death, we also can now identify with Him by His resurrection. If we die, we are free from sin. Think about that. A dead man is not subject to the sinful desires of the flesh, nor is a dead man out to do works to prove his own worthiness to God! He is dead. At that point it simply is too late to do anything to change that simple fact that dead is dead. So the logical flow is that since we died, so we also live in Christ. Notice this is not living our own life… but something has happened. We have exchanged our “free will” as far as it was free to choose good and bad, yet one was not able to sustain that choice without falling. This free will is not subject to Christ in our surrender to His works. Our “free will” has died! We are a New Creation, behold the old is gone! (2 Corinthians 5:17) So as we died in Christ, so now we Live in Christ through His resurrection. Jesus died once for all… some try to teach the false notion that “all” means “some”, yet in all my studies I have not seen “all” mean anything but “all”. Another debate for another time perhaps? Now, as one comes to understand more and more or the truth of this and one’s identity in Christ, they will find that being dead, sin as no more hold on us, nor is it employed by the body as it was. Since now death is not the enemy, but has become the Christians greatest friend, we seek to live out the truth “to live is Christ, to die is gain!” (Philippians 1: 21) We were at one time slaved to sin, so say a man was truly “free” though he had free will, misses that man was also a slave to sin. For we served sin no matter how hard we tried, and always fell short the Glory of God. Freedom was there, yet our own chains kept us bound to our own death. No matter how close we came to our own perfection, death still always won. Now, though as one is in Christ, sin has been conquered at the Cross. Death has no power over us as Jesus holds the keys to Death and Hades. Yet, even now for all our free will we are given the choice that we must lay it down and no longer pursue our own way, but come to that end of ourselves and in that Jesus breaks the chains of bondage and truly frees us… to be slaves to righteousness! As we walking in the Righteousness of Christ we are sanctified… this is not some “process” in the sense we get more and more “holy” as God has declared the believer as holy already. It does mean that we learn and grow as Jesus did. We learn to walk not in our own strength but in the Power of God… (I am not talking about that Benny Hinn type of “power”) This power is that of Love which has flipped the entire creation on its head. Paul’s greatest question/statement in this passage that should strike any believer, “So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death.” For all the pleasures we have encountered… all the riches we have collected, all the power this world has to offer… man still dies. Great or small, weak or strong… we all die… “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


What Would You Like To Do? “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.�

What Would You Like To Do? Or do you not know, brothers-for I am speaking to those who know the law-that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:1-25) Paul describes a frustration here that all Christians can relate to, and especially to those who are struggling in the area of sexual sin. The agony and frustration of realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to God’s Law. The very things that we as Christians despise we find ourselves doing. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our mind, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies. Paul said that he desires to serve God, he agrees with God’s law, he wants to do what is right, but his body will not respond. Do you have days like that? You know what is right, you want to do what is right, yet you do not. You started this study with the intention of arming yourself with ways to help combat the lustful urges, only to find yourself under attack and giving in, probably more than you did before starting this study. If that is you, don’t be discouraged, Paul actually experienced this very same thing!


What Would You Like To Do? How many times so far have you wanted to quit reading each day? How many times have you already felt like giving up? So Paul wants to do right, he knows what the right thing to do is, much like you and I, yet what happens? Have you ever the movie Ghost, with Patrick Swayze? There was that scene where he died, and his Spirit stood outside and he watched everything like he was in 3rd person perspective. I imagine Paul doing the same thing here, as he sees sin sending a signal to his body, and watching as his body responds. “What would you like to do?” Paul finds, as we do, that while our fleshly bodies refuse to obey God and do that which we desire and which delights God, they quickly and eagerly respond to the impulses and desires aroused by sin. What does Paul say in verse 24. His response to what is happening? “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Much like Paul we wrestle with this question. We try to live right, to do what is right, yet we fail. Yet as followers of Christ we do not give up. Why? The answer is in the person of Jesus Christ! Let’s think perspective here for a moment. If you were to dwell on your weakness, it would be pretty easy to get discouraged would it not? I’ll be honest when I tell you I have times when I struggle with my weaknesses, but let us follow Paul’s example here. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Every Man’s Battle, but the tagline for their study is “Winning the War Against Sexual Temptation, One Victory at a Time.” There are days when the battle is lost. Sin overtakes us, and though we know what the right thing to do is, we often fail in doing it. You have to be very careful here not to fall under condemnation when that happens. I would encourage you not to dwell on your failure. Paul does not dwell on the weakness of the flesh to discourage us. This is very important to understand. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem which prevents us as Christians from living the kind of lives God requires, and which we desire in our innermost parts. So why does he talk about the weakness of the flesh? He is preparing us. Paul exposes the weakness of the flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for godly living which you read in Romans 8. Guys let me tell you that the very fact that you have signed up for this study, the enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy any hope or joy that you may have. He wants to beat you down with your failures. He wants you to feel condemned for your shortcomings, and mistakes. The enemy does not want you to overcome sexual sin! He will stop at nothing to convince you that you are hopeless and that you will never be set free, but I am here to tell you that those are lies. Many of you have spent years, decades even believing that this is a losing battle. Many of you have given up. The reality of freedom from sexual sin, just seems like a myth to you. You’ve believed the lies of the enemy for so long, that they’ve disguised themselves as truth in your life. Don’t allow the enemy to deceive you any longer. You can overcome. Men have overcome this. Don’t be discouraged, don’t give up. Some of you may have Paul up on some kind of super-spiritual pedestal, but let me remind you of verse 15. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. “ Paul struggled. His struggle was deeply personal, and he hated it. Have you come to the place in your life when you hate your sin? Where are you at today? My prayer is that if today, you were discouraged and ready


What Would You Like To Do? to give up, that you will stand firm. You will hang in there. I am praying that you won’t give up. This battle can be won. I am encouraged by this scripture and I pray that you will be too. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14) The New Living Translation say “You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!” If you have found yourself today facing what you see as a losing battle, I want you to spend some time being still. Pray. Take it to God and let Him fight this battle for you.


Conviction or Condemnation “There is a fine line between conviction and condemnation, and if you don’t understand your identity in Christ, you will always lean towards condemnation.”

Conviction or Condemnation Romans 1-3 shows us that all have had some revelation of God which they have rejected. God has revealed Himself to all, yet He was still rejected. We cannot earn acceptance with God, it is impossible. However, God has provided righteousness through His Son, Jesus Christ, who died in the sinner’s place, and Who provides those of us who trust in Christ with a God-kind of righteousness. Because of that, a man is justified by faith. Although a godly life is absolutely necessary for the Christian, it is also impossible for him in the power of the flesh. This is something we must understand. Just as man could not please God as an unbeliever by trying to keep the Law, neither can he do so as a Christian. It is not the Law which is evil, but the flesh which is weak and overpowered by sin. What the Christian desperately desires to do, he does not; what he hates, he does. We discussed this in yesterday’s post whenever Paul explain one of his hardest struggles. The liberating message of Romans 8 is that God never intended for us to live the Christian life by his own efforts and in his own strength. I truly believe this is why so many struggle with being set free from the bondage of sin. We try everything within our own power to be set free, and it might last a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years, but we find ourselves back in the midst of it. We read self-help books, participate in men’s studies (much like this one) but we never truly submit to the Spirit’s leading and surrender completely and submit ourselves to God. So because of everything we discussed in Romans 7: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) No condemnation for those who are in Christ! If you feel condemned it does not come from God. Now, there is a difference between conviction and condemnation. It’s important to understand that. So for a moment let’s look at the definition of both conviction and condemnation. Conviction means “the act or process of convincing,” “the state of being convinced,” or “a fixed or strong belief.” Thus, by biblical conviction we mean convictions or beliefs derived from and based on a commitment to Scripture, the Bible. As God’s Holy Word, it is the absolute index for the whole of our lives—faith and practice. It is known as godly sorrow. God’s Word tells us that Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). When we think of a man of conviction, we also think in terms of action and direction. We think of a person whose convictions have a definite impact on how he lives, on what he does, says, and where he goes. By a man of biblical convictions we mean a man whose convictions are derived from Scripture and whose convictions affect him scripturally. Condemnation comes from Satan and is meant to tear you down. Condemnation continually points out what a failure you are, and how badly you’ve messed up. Condemnation is showing you the problem, but avoiding the solution. Jesus did NOT come to condemn the world (John 12:47). There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Satan on the other hand is KNOWN for accusing the brethren (Revelations 12:10).Why won’t you ever hear God telling you what a failure you are? Because Jesus said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47). Simply put - Conviction shows you the answer (the Blood of Jesus, which washes away sin), while condemnation shows you the problem (the sin, the past and your failures). Condemnation shows you the problem, but conviction shows you the answer. Let’s move on to the rest of this passage.


Conviction or Condemnation For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-4) God has made provision for the Christian to fulfill the requirements of the Law through the Holy Spirit’s power. “In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). What could never be accomplished in the power of the flesh—the meeting of the righteous standards of the Law—can be achieved in the power of the Spirit. Sometimes I have to break down scriptures in order to see it laid out for myself. The law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Basically God did what the law could not do, by sending Jesus to die for our sins, so that the requirement of the law might be completed in us. This changes everything! For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6) I used to read through Romans 8:1 and stop there. I would usually pick up again in the 30’s but missed everything God had to say in the middle of all of that. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on one thing – the flesh. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. I once read that the law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin. What Jesus did on the cross was the only thing that gave us deep healing. I know that every person here could use some deep healing today. I want us to pray through this section of scripture this week. Do you really believe this? Have you allowed the Truth of this to change your life? Don’t let this be just another great scripture to read through. Let’s understand this today: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:9-10) The flesh cannot please God for several reasons. (1) First of all, the flesh is hostile toward God. “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7).


Conviction or Condemnation (2) The flesh is incapable of producing righteousness. That is surely the conclusion we must draw from chapter 7. (3) The flesh can only produce death: “For the mind set on the flesh is death …” (Romans 8:6). The Spirit is the source of liberty and of life: “However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9) Paul says to the Christian, “If you are a true Christian, then the Holy Spirit indwells you.” The Holy Spirit that indwells us is a life-giving spirit. Do you believe this? He has power over death. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, if you are saved. This is truth. Here is what I want you to think about during your prayer time today. If you have the same Spirit living in you that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, don’t you agree that this Spirit should have power over sexual sin as well? Do you think that addiction to pornography is more powerful than the Spirit of God? You can say that you believe anything, but I want to challenge all of us, myself included with this: What do our actions show?


Slaves to What?

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Slaves to What? Romans 8:1 presents us with the glorious truth that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. This is good news. If you have the same Spirit living in you that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, don’t you agree that this Spirit should have power over sexual sin as well? Do you think that addiction to pornography is more powerful than the Spirit of God? You can say that you believe anything, but I want to challenge all of us, myself included with this: What do our actions show? My prayer has been that those questions would not only challenge but encourage. I want to share with you today an incredible passage of scripture. More could be said of this passage than I can put into words, but I want you to read it and we will dig in today to explore what this means for us. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:13-15) What does it mean to put to death the deeds of the body? Scripture is pretty clear that if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if by the power of the Spirit we put to death the deeds of our body we will live. What are the deeds of the body? They are not only evil actions, but evil desires, tempers, even evil thoughts. The KJV actually says that we are to mortify the deeds of the body which paints a very distinct picture for how we are to treat the actions of our flesh. The definition of mortify – to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of; to subdue or deaden; To deaden by religious or other discipline, as the carnal affections, bodily appetites, or worldly desires; to bring into subjection; to abase; to humble. This is what scripture is calling us to do to our flesh. Apply this to your sin. Destroy the strength, vitality, and functioning of it. We’ll be discussing this in detail later, but for now, I want you to start thinking about some things. Think about all of the ways the enemy sneaks in to attack. What guards do you have put up to keep sexual sin out of your life? Are there any? This is part of the battle plan we’ll be discussing towards the end of the study. Let’s look at the rest of this passage. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. This is key – You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons of God! Fear Fear is the controlling factor involved in sexual sin. Fear of getting caught. Fear of letting someone know about your struggle. Fear of what others will think. Fear of trusting God. Fear of giving up control. Fear of intimacy.


Slaves to What? You are being controlled by a spirit of fear. You have become a slave to it. Have you ever realized how many of your daily decisions and choices might be decided based on fear? This is across the board, not just with sexual sin, although it certainly applies. There was a time in my life, whenever my wife was rightfully fed up with me. She point blank, asked me “What is wrong with you? You’re scared of your own shadow. You’re paralyzed!” I was paralyzed by fear. I was a slave to it. Fear of making the wrong choices, but mostly I struggled with the fear of failure. I had allowed myself to be controlled by a spirit of fear. It affected every decision I made. It dictated how I responded or how I even refused to respond. Guys, after praying and seeking and praying some more and reading through your comments I believe that many of you are being controlled by a spirit of fear. This fear doesn’t come from God! As sons and daughters of God we have been given something much greater. Something far more valuable. We have been given the spirit of adoption as sons of God. We have been adopted into His family. We can cry out to Him as Abba Father! Many of you are probably in the same boat that I was in. You never related to your earthly father in this kind of way. Abba is another word for “papa” or “daddy” it is the dearest term used to describe our relationship with God. Yet because of the failures of our fathers and ourselves as fathers, we have trouble connecting to that. We discussed this last week, guys our earthly fathers may disappoint, but we have a perfect Heavenly Father who desires for us to come to Him, crawl up in His lap and hold us in His loving arms. He doesn’t want you to hurt anymore. For those of you who are parents, you know that when your children hurt, you hurt. You want to be able to fix what’s hurting don’t you? Some of you have also experienced the hurt of whenever that child doesn’t want your help anymore. Your heart breaks for their situation and you long for healing. This is how God feels for us. I told you at the beginning of this post that I couldn’t put into words all that this verse has to say for us, and I want to close today giving you these things to think about. Are you being controlled by fear right now? Are there situations going on in your life where the choices and decisions you are making are being responded to out of fear? What would happen if you stopped responding in fear? How would that affect the choices that you make? After I was writing these questions something else came to me that I feel we should also address. What are these things that cause you to respond in fear? We need to identify those things. We need to determine what those things are and why we respond in fear. That is my challenge for you today.


Our Hope Is In the Lord For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)

Our Hope Is In The Lord Do you consider the sufferings of this present time not even worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us? To be a son of God is to be an heir, and we have received that as adopted sons and daughters of God, if we are in Christ. I’m going to share something with you today that might be a shock to you. The Christian life is no bed of roses. It is a life of suffering, a life of struggle. See, I didn’t know this whenever I made a decision to follow Christ. I thought that becoming a Christian simply meant doing my best to be a nice guy and going to church on Sundays. No one told me that everything in my life was going to change. I had no idea that all of my wants, all of my desires were going to be different 5 years down the road. I didn’t know I was going to struggle. I believed somehow that this was going to make everything easier! The Christian life is tough. A friend of mine told me a few years ago, that becoming a Christian was the hardest decision he had ever made. I agree. Paul tells us however that these struggles are not to be compared with the glory that is to follow. We are not alone in this struggle and suffering. You see, when Adam fell, all of creation suffered in the wake of his sin. All of creation has been subjected to futility and frustration. All of creation groans and anxiously awaits the restoration of all things. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Hope for He assures us that great glory awaits us. “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. ” This passage speaks of a word that I see void in the lives of many Christians.

Hope. Do you have it? Hope and Joy should be the trademark of a Christian life. We should be known by those 2 things. We’ll be discussing joy later on in the study, but today let’s look at hope. Does this word define you? Can someone who doesn’t know Christ look at your life and see it in you? I want to share some biblical truths with you today about hope. As you go through this today, I want us to ask ourselves the question: Where does our hope come from? Hope defined by Scripture – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) Hope comes from God – Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalms 43:5) Hope is a gift of grace – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, (2 Thessalonians 2:16) Hope is a reasonable reality – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15) Hope is secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never


Our Hope Is In The Lord die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) and “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) Hope defends the Christian against Satan’s attacks – But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8) Hope is confirmed through trials – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5) Hope is a confident expectation that sustains us. Biblical hope is not an optimistic wish, but an inner confidence in God. God’s promises are certain (Hebrews 6:13-20). Hope faces forward, eagerly looking to the future. Abraham relied on hope, believing that God would give make him the father of many nations (Romans 4:1821). We hope for that which we cannot see, our eternal salvation . My question is do you believe this? Do you see it being made true in your life? Guys this is a great opportunity to allow God’s Word to be soaked up in our hearts. To meditate, focus, and pray through these scriptures. Do you know what God’s Word says about there being hope for us as believers? Titus 2:11-13 – we should look for “the blessed hope” and the appearing Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:6 – we hold fast to our hope firm until the end. Hebrews 6:11 – And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end Hebrews 10:23 – hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Psalm 199:116 – do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Psalm 130:5 – in His word do I hope. Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God gives you a future and a hope. Colossians 1:23 – established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel Colossians 1:27 – Christ in you, the hope of glory. 2 Corinthians 3:12 – our hope provides great boldness in our speech, Romans 15:13 – abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:18 – know what is the hope of His calling Ephesians 4:4 – you were called in one hope Romans 12:12 – rejoicing in hope Romans 5:2 – we exult in hope of the glory of God Psalm 71:14 – I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more 1 John 3:3 – everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself. This is what the word of God says about hope for us as believers! A few years ago, if you were to walk in my house, you’d probably have thought my wife and I had lost our minds. Taped, throughout our house were scriptures of God’s Word, little reminders of the Truth about what God says about our lives, our identity in Christ, and how we are to live. Come to think of it, we still have plenty of those still up, as He shows us Truth, we want to soak it in to every part of our lives. Print these out, put them where you can see them, where you can dwell on them. Let them be as reminders to you, the hope of God.


Our Hope Is In The Lord As we reflect on the Word of God today, we need to ask ourselves “Where does our hope come from?” “What are we placing our hope in?” Littered throughout the pages of Scripture we see where David’s hope came from. Psalm 31:24 – Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 38:15 – For I hope in Thee, O LORD; Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 39:7 – “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in Thee. Psalm 42:5 – Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. Psalm 42:11 – Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 71:5 – For Thou art my hope; O Lord GOD, Thou art my confidence from my youth. Psalm 131:3 – O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.


A Pathway to Victory Begins For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:24-28)

A Pathway To Victory Begins Who hopes for what he sees? This is a fantastic reminder to me, of where I put my hope. Is it in family? Friends? Even my spouse? Or is my hope in the things of this world? My stuff? The last chapter was a great place to start with the admission that my hope is in the Lord. Understanding where your hope comes from is crucial for us to fully understand our identity in Christ. The following passage of scripture is a pathway to victory in Christ. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:24-28) We are to hope for what we do not see. Paul says that we wait for it with patience. Patience is one of those words that we may not like to hear, but personally, it’s a word that I’ve heard most of my life, and I want us to look at what the definition of patience says. Patience - The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Reading that, I have to ask myself - how much capacity do I have to accept any kind of delay, or trouble, or even suffering without getting angry or even upset about it? I don’t know about you, but I am pretty challenged by that! But there is more! The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Guys, there are times whenever my heart is so heavy, I don’t even know what to pray! I struggle with even finding the words to say. I remember one morning several months ago, I got up early to spend time with God, and my heart was so heavy that morning, for several things going on in the lives of my church family, that I just sat there. I couldn’t utter a single word. This passage of scripture tells us that the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words! He who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God! If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. Have you found yourself without words as you go through this study? Is your heart heavy? I can’t count the number of times, I didn’t know what to pray. Situations that seem so big, so hopeless, so important, in my own eyes, I’ve just had to say “God, here you go! I don’t even know what to do with this!” God knows. He knows our heart. Psalm 44:21 says that God knows the secrets of the heart. There is no hiding it from Him. Psalm 94:11 says that He knows the thoughts of man. Psalm 139:3-4 says that “You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions. Even before I speak, you already know what I will say.” Hebrews 4:12-13 sheds some interesting light on this subject as well.


A Pathway To Victory Begins For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13) He knows our thoughts, our heart, our very actions. We will give an account to Him one day. Not only does the Lord know, but He also will test us. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) We can’t fool God with what is in our heart (Psalm 64:5-6). God has always been able to detect evil in the hearts of men (Proverbs 12:20). I am spending some time in this because there is another truth that I want you to understand. The Bible says that God knows the secrets of our heart (Psalms 44:22), and that he searches our heart (Psalms 139:23). Nowhere in scripture does it say that the enemy searches our heart or knows the secrets of our heart. Only God can do that. Secondly, only God is omniscient, or all-knowing. Satan is not all knowing. He does not know everything. And, neither do angels. Only God knows everything. Does that mean the devil doesn’t know what we are thinking? We have to be careful here, because Genesis 3:1 says that the serpent was more cunning and crafty than all the other beasts of the field. He is quite the strategist. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8) I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, (John 14:30) Satan can look at us, and see what were doing, and discern information from that just like the rest of us. But if he could know our thoughts, well, that borders on the all-knowing ability. Satan is not omniscient. Satan knows HOW we think, thus he knows how he can tempt us. But he does not know our inner thoughts. Think of Job, if Satan knew what Job’s innermost thoughts were, why would he bother to tempt him? Wouldn’t he know that Job would refuse to curse God and die? There is a verse in today’s focus that we haven’t covered yet, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” I want you to spend some time in prayer over this verse. I want you to think about some of those things in your life, that you don’t see how God could possibly use something like that to work for good. Ask God to reveal Truth about where your hope is anchored.


Having a ‘Chad’ In Your Life And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Having a ‘Chad’ In Your Life In this chapter we the question “Do all things really work together for good?” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28) John MacArthur said that “God orchestrates every even in life - even suffering, temptation, and sin - to accomplish both our temporary and eternal benefit.” Daniel Wallace sums up this verse like so “When we read Romans 8:28 in its context we can give a positive answer to the questions of pain and suffering in the world. We may see nothing good come of misery and disaster in this world, but this world is not all of reality. There is an ‘until’; there is a place beyond the horizon of what our senses can apprehend, and it is more real and more lasting than what we experience in this mortal shell. God is using the present, even the miserable present, to conform us to the image of his Son. If we define the good as only what we can see in this life, then we have missed the whole point of this text. For, as Paul said earlier in the same chapter, “For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Western Christians—especially American Christians—are prone to pervert texts such as Romans 8:28. If our lives are comfortable, if we have wealth, good health, that is fine and well. But it is not the good that Paul had in mind, and it is not the goal of the Christian life.” If you have ever struggled with sexual sin, or are still struggling, you might be asking yourself the question “How is God going to use this, for good?” There are a lot of answers to that question, but are we sure we want to know them? Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, (Ephesians 5:11-13) First He may expose our struggles. If you are hiding your sexual sin from your loved one, you are probably doing it for a couple of reasons. 1) You don’t want to hurt them 2) You don’t want to get caught. Getting caught probably isn’t something that is on your agenda, but it may be something that God uses to put an end to all of the secret guilt and shame that has been ruling your life. He could use that to bring healing, and ultimately draw you closer to Him. for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14) This verse was how I felt inside during the time whenever I was in bondage to sexual sin. I mentioned earlier that I got caught. God used that to give me a wake up call. Over the next few months I felt as though I had risen from the dead. Some of you today may be waiting, hoping even to get caught. You believe that if you could just hit rock bottom, then you would change. Some of you today are hoping that today might be your rock bottom. In the book Redemption by Mike Wilkerson, Mike quotes Tim Keller by saying “There’s a certain sense in which we spend our entire lives thinking we’ve reached the bottom of our hearts and finding it is a false bottom” There have been many situations in my own life and in the lives of friends and family where I have said to myself “This is rock bottom for them. Maybe this is what God will use to bring them out of this pit.” Ever said


Having a ‘Chad’ In Your Life something like that to yourself, only to see that their “rock bottom” is apparently deeper than we thought? The truth is, there is no rock bottom, but only a free fall into the bottomless pit of sin. The only way up is to reach out in faith to take God’s rescuing hand. The second answer to the question “How is God going to use this for good?” is a lot harder to see whenever you are caught up in the middle of it all. God can actually use your struggle to help someone else down the road. I want to take a minute today and tell you about Chad. Chad is a guy, like you and like me who has overcome many struggles in his life. He’s battled addictions, marital struggles, anger, among many of things, but to sum it up; his story seemed much like my own. I was up to my neck in secret sin, whenever I met Chad. I was a good “Sunday Christian” at the time (meaning I only appeared to be living for God on Sundays). Whenever my new marriage started falling apart, God used Chad to help me put the pieces back together. He kept me accountable by keeping me honest. Chad wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and get to the root of the problem. He prayed for me, probably more than I will ever know. He helped me combat the enemies lies with the Truth of God’s Word. This guy battled the same things I was facing, and he was not only my Sunday School teacher, but a marriage counselor as well. God took all of those hurts, those pains, the addictions, the anger, and the broken trust issues that plagued him, and He used them to help a lost guy like me. I was lost. I may have walked down the aisle one Sunday and said a prayer, but nothing in my life reflected Christ. God used Chad and all of the junk he probably wishes he never had, to save me. Chad continually pointed me to Christ. My prayer today is that you may have a Chad in your life. If you don’t have a Chad right now, I pray that God will send you one. I also pray that I may be a Chad to someone else. Today as we start processing through this 1 verse, I’d like for you to ask yourself some questions. How is God going to use this for good in your life? This answer depends on what you allow God to work in your life. Are you waiting for rock bottom? Guys realize that there is no rock bottom. If nothing else I said today makes any sense, I pray that God will reveal this to you. Do you have a Chad in your life?


Something to Ponder (From Redemption by Mike Wilkerson page 66)

Put yourself in the place of the Israelites when they first heard that God was about to deliver them (Exodus 4:30). How do you think you might have felt at that moment? What thoughts or questions might have come to mind? What in your life have you become cynical about (pessimistic, deeply distrustful)? When you feel like giving up, what specific behaviors do you tend towards? God heard his people’s cry for help (Exodus 2:23). When Pharaoh retaliated, they cried out to Pharaoh (5:15). In anger and desperation, they cried out against Moses and Aaron (5:21). Then Moses cried out to God (5:22-23). What do your cries sound like, and to whom do you cry out?

More Than Conquerors What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.� No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

More Than Conquerors No matter how far you think you’ve fallen, no matter how much you are struggling, we serve a God that is bigger and more powerful than any of the struggles we face here on this earth. He can handle whatever you throw at him. Many great worship songs have been formed from this passage of Scripture in Romans 8:31-39. If God is for us, who can be against us? There may be many of you today who believe that God is against you. Guys, that is exactly what Satan wants you to believe. He wants you to have a distorted view of God. My prayer is that we will seek Truth in the text we are reading today. Take a look at the next verse: God did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Let me put it to you this way: If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? Do we understand this? For the longest time I never fully grasped what it meant. To this day I still can’t wrap my head around that kind of love! If God is on our side how can we lose!!?? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies! Who is to condemn? Jesus Christ died in our place on that cross, who, more than that was raised from the dead! He is interceding for us. Do you know what that means? He is praying for you. Jesus Christ at the right hand of God prays on your behalf, He is standing in the gap for us in prayer! I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know what could possibly be more encouraging than that. I shared a little bit about this in an earlier post, but we are going to dig a little deeper today. If God is on our side, who could be against us? This is not to say that there is no one against us, for Satan is our adversary. But if God is for us, who is Satan to oppose us? If the sovereign God of the universe, the Creator of ALL is for us, then there is no enemy that can harm us. Do you believe this? If God’s power was sufficient to save us, if God’s love was strong enough to send His only Son to the cross, then there is nothing which He will not do for us as His sons. God, the sovereign judge of the universe, has declared us to be righteous through the work of His Son. Who, then, would dare to accuse us before God? Would anyone dare to condemn us before the God Who has given His only Son to save us? He took on all of our sins on the cross. There is no condemnation. Further, He is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. Can you imagine what that must look like, to know Jesus is there praying for you right next to God! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I think it’s mind-blowing to consider even asking that question after reading everything leading up to that verse. But just in case those confirmations weren’t enough, he goes further to explain it. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. I can assure you that if none of those things can separate us, you can apply these things to this verse as well. “Shall a pornography addiction, an affair, drug abuse, anger, secret sin, masturbation, sexual assaults, or being sexually assaulted separate you from the love of Christ? Guys, if death won’t separate, if angels, demons, or anything in all of creation won’t separate, your struggles won’t separate you from His love either. There has to


More Than Conquerors come a time and place in our lives where we realize this to be true. I hear many of these words, but it helps to paint a better picture for me, if I know what the words mean. Tribulation simply great affliction, trial, or distress; suffering. Doesn’t that accurately describe our struggles? “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” How does God see you? Does He see you as a failure? Does he see you as condemned? Does he keep track of all of your mistakes? If you are in Christ, He remembers your sin, no more (Hebrews 8:12) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. (Psalms 103:10-13) His Word says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. More than conquerors. There are days I struggle with believing that, do you? That’s what His word says. More than Conquerors. Nothing can separate us from His love. God has a lot to say about who we are in Christ. In Christ, He sees us much differently than we see ourselves. Tomorrow we’re going to start talking about our identity, what we think about ourselves and what the Word of God says about that. I want to leave you with the words of Pastor/Author David Platt as he talks about our “Scandalous God”. Platt said, “For God to be holy does not just mean He is without error. It means He is without equal. May it not be said of any one of us that there is not respect for the author of the universe. He is sovereign over all nature, over all nations and over every single one of our lives.” God’s holiness is starkly contrasted against our sinfully depraved nature, Platt said. People have a man-centered view of sin, looking at the measure of the sin, rather than recognizing the one who has been sinned against. “If you sin against an infinitely holy God, you are infinitely guilty and deserve infinite destruction.” However, Platt said we have a scandalously merciful savior, that though His wrath is justly directed at the depraved sinners, instead poured out His wrath on His son. “On the cross, we see a divine picture of the penalty of sin. But we can’t stop there – the picture here is deeper,” Platt said. “Yes, He will endure the penalty of sin, but in the place of sinners. He did this in our place, for us.” Platt said there is only one possible response to a God who says, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.” “Surely this kind of mercy evokes more than raising a hand and praying a prayer. Surely this evokes urgent surrender of our lives – no matter where He calls and no matter how tough it is.”


Identity Crisis “Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; We do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ.” - Blaise Pascal

Identity Crisis Whenever I was growing up I wanted to be a lot of different things. As a young boy I wanted to be a Jedi Knight, just like Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. As a young teenager, I wanted to be invisible. I wasn’t very well liked in high school, I wasn’t necessarily anti-social but I sure looked as though I was. I spent my entire high school life trying to create an identity for myself. Who I wanted to look like, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted others to think I was. It was exhausting. I never let very many people close to who I really was. Which in truth - at that point in my life I had no idea who I really was. I had created so many false identities, it was almost impossible to keep up with. Growing up I idolized rock stars and movie stars, just as kids do today. I remember the movie “Just Like Mike” where the boy wanted to be just like Michael Jordan. All of the trading places kind of movies where the parents and children would swap lives, and looking back I see where we have a fascinating with wanting to be like or follow someone or some thing. I believe that is a desire that God has put in our hearts, but because of our fallen nature we have followed all the wrong paths, all the wrong people to fulfill that desire. Imagine if we were all set on being like Christ. This isn’t a foreign idea or concept, it is laid out for us throughout Scripture that we are to conform to the image of Christ. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29) Paul labored with the Galatians “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). He told the Ephesians that our goal is “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). In Christ, we have a new identity and a new purpose for living. The new self is “to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). What a concept! We are to be like God not just in the resurrection, but even, to the extent possible, in this life. We are becoming like Jesus, who showed us what God is like when living in the flesh. We are not just hoping to be like Him in the next life, we are already to be like Him in this life. In our behavior and in our devotion to God, we are to be like Jesus Christ. From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. God announced this intention at creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image and likeness’ (Genesis 1:26). This is where I want us to direct our attention for the next few days. Your identity. If you had 1 word to describe yourself, not the church answer, not what you would say in Sunday School, but honestly looking at yourself, what word would you use to describe yourself? I’ve asked this question throughout a couple of studies that I have done and I want to share with you the responses that I was given. Disconnected. Alone. Confused. Blessed. Changed. Stuck. Complicated. Surviving. Fake. Forgiven. 10 guys all of which are Christians, most of those guys serve either in a ministry at their church or in their community. Which of those words would you have used to describe yourself? I saw 2 answers that had any kind of positive connotation to them, and I wonder if they went ahead with the “church answer” or if that is how they truly


Identity Crisis felt. I was heartbroken over the responses, but awakened to the reality that we struggle with their identity. As I grew older and got out of high school and into the workforce, all of the fake identities that I had conjured up, meant nothing. I started over from scratch. My identity quickly became “what I do” instead of “who I am”. People I would meet would ask me about myself, and I would always respond back with “My name is Whitt. I’m a (fill in the blank). I work at (fill in the blank). Yep. Been there for (fill in the blank). My identity was confused! It was all about what I did, and not who I was. Many Christians suffer from an identity crisis. It’s not much different in the church. I could have easily told someone this “My name is Whitt, I work in the Youth ministry, or I run the slides on the computer, or work in the audio ministry.” Does this kind of response sound familiar? What I discovered about that kind of response is this: I’m merely looking to impress other people, with all that I do. I’d become so focused on my identity being tied into what I did, that it was (unknowingly at the time) being used as a self-confidence booster. “I’ve worked at so-and-so for over 10 years.” “Wow, really? That’s great! People these days just don’t like to stick to their jobs anymore.” Awesome, I just received confirmation and a pat on the back at the same time! Sub-consciously that sticks. I’ll use that next time, it seemed to impress this person. It may not be that way for you, but that was what I saw going on in my own life. I had an identity crisis. Perhaps you can relate. Today I want to challenge you. 5-10 words to describe yourself. Be completely honest with your response. Write them down, submit them through the comment box, share with us today, 5 to 10 words that describe yourself. In the next chapter we will begin to look at some of the words that were submitted throughout our study online, and we will begin a journey towards discovering who you are in Christ.


Exchanging Truth For a Lie “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.� (Romans 1:25)

Exchanging Truth for a Lie I believe that the enemy is doing a wonderful job of giving us lies to exchange for the Truth that God has already given us. Paul said in Romans 1 that they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:25) That verse reminds me of how we often choose to believe lies about who we are instead of what God’s Word says about whose we are. After struggling with an identity crisis, I began to seek out what God had to say about the subject. I had believed so many different lies, that it really just came down to the fact that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know about my identity in Christ, because I had never searched it out in Scripture. I had been perfectly content believing what I had thought all my life. Yesterday I asked for your response - 5-10 words to describe how you honestly saw yourself. First I want to share with you what my responses have been over the past several years. Loser. Weird. Complicated. Cheater. Liar. Sick. Twisted. Hopeless. Angry. Bitter. Those were the words that defined who I was. Those are the words that I believed shaped my life - past, present, and future. I received a lot of responses in the study and would like to share them with you as well. Here are the words you used to describe yourself. Misunderstood, Disconnected, Seeking, Forgotten, Conflicted, Fearful,Alone, Hurting, Deceived, Bitter, Cheated, Cynical, Confused, Inconsistent, Ashamed, Depressed, Angry, Hopeless, Hurt, Liar, Sick, Desperate, Resentful, Lustful, Twisted, Fake, Alive, Existing, Waiting, Broken, Weak, Fortunate, Loved, Overwhelmed, Burnt Out Some of the words that I saw repeated yesterday - Alone, Hurting, Ashamed. Guys we can’t be exposed to those words repeatedly and not be affected. Those are the words that you used to define yourself. That’s how you see yourself? Over the years I have seen myself in almost all of those words. I want to take some time today, and tell you something. This is not how God sees you. Your identity is not in any of those things, or those words. Your identity is in Christ. That may not mean much to you right now, but my prayer is that God will take over, and reveal to you TRUTH based on the authority of His Word. I went through much of my younger life as living with the identity of “loser” and “weirdo”. Guess what happened? After being told that throughout middle school, I started believing I was weird. I started believing that I was a loser, that nothing I did had any significance, and that I would never amount to much of anything. I started acting it out, because after repeated exposure, if everyone was telling me this, I believed it must have been true. So I started acting out on the words that others used to describe me. In high school I was the weirdo, the loser who listened to heavy metal music. It wasn’t long before I was being called “devil-worshiper”. That was the image I then started to portray. I listened to the music, I was stereotyped, and then seeing the attention it brought, I started living it out. Because of that, I started seeking out music that was vulgar, offensive, and ultimately satanic. Repeated exposure led me to believe the lies I was being told, and repeated exposure to the music that was so anti-God I also became anti-God.


Exchanging Truth for a Lie The lyrics started taking root into my heart, and my mind was being polluted with images of sex and violence. It was the start of a self-destructive cycle that spiraled into many addictions over the years. I’d love to tell you that it got better once I got out of school, but it really didn’t. By that time, I had believed those lies, it wasn’t long before the enemy started feeding me more lies. I was alone, angry, and hurting. I was ashamed of all of the mistakes I had made, and instead of trying to get help or do something to fix them, I sunk further into despair. Over the next 10 years my life spiraled out of control. Addiction after addiction entered into my life and suddenly I was being controlled by them. I no longer had control over my life. It all started with believing the lies I was told. Those lies had become a big part of who I was, and why I responded the way that I did, and it affected every single area of my life.

Exchanging the Truth about God for a lie. Where are you at today? What lies do you believe about yourself? You may be as I was, and unable to forgive yourself for your mistakes. You’ve been living under condemnation for so long, that you don’t remember what it was like to experience any kind of victory in your life. I want to start today by sharing a small part of what God says about you. If you have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, here is what God says about you. God says You are redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:6-8). Do you believe this? Ask yourself, and be honest. If God has forgiven you, why haven’t you forgiven yourself? You are justified, you’ve been made righteous (Romans 5:1). Do you have peace in your life? You have eternal life (John 5:24) Jesus said that whoever believes in Him and hears His Word has eternal life. Are you living as though you believe this is true? You have died with Christ to the power of sin (Romans 6:1-6) We are nolonger slaves to sin, so why do we still let it control us? You are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1) Are you struggling with feeling condemned? You have received the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:12) Do you realize that you have the same power inside of you that raised Christ from the dead? You have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) In Christ, we have an understanding of things that the world does not possess! You have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) Quoting this verse is easy, but the implications of living this out are staggering. You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old has passed away. In Christ you are not who you once were.


Exchanging Truth for a Lie You have been made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5) You are a walking miracle. Once dead, now alive. You are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) You are His workmanship. He created you just the way that He wanted. God doesn’t make junk. It took me a long time to understand these truths. I was recently walking someone through some of these truths. I could read them, and think “Sounds great” and then I would simply move on. I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I made. I have given you 11 truths about how God sees you. Today, I want you to look at each one. Ask yourself some of the questions being presented after each truth. Do you believe that this is what God says about you? If not, why don’t you believe it? Write them down. Take a truth like Romans 8:1. You are free from condemnation. Do you believe that? Do your actions reflect that belief? If they don’t write down all of the ways that your actions show that you don’t believe it. Whenever I did this, some of my responses were: I beat myself up for my mistakes. I live in fear because of them. My fear of failure has paralyzed me. My focus was on only my failures. I had to go through each one, and be honest with God. I want you to do the same. It’s ok if you don’t believe these truths. I didn’t at first either. Repeated exposure to them however, little bit by little bit, day by day, I started to see a glimpse of hope. That hope grew stronger each day, until it started to become Truth. In the next chapter we are going to dig even deeper. I will be posting a lot of resources over the next few days, please take some time and read through them, I believe that God has a blessing for you within each one of them.


Our Identity in Christ He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God. Thomas a Kempis

Our Identity in Christ Redeemed, Forgiven, Justified, Righteous, Alive, Masterpiece, these are just a few of the words used to describe those who are in Christ. Does your life reflect those truths? Do those words describe how you feel about yourself? I’ve got to be honest with you. Many of the Christians I know are some of the most depressed, beat down, discouraged people I know. It breaks my heart to see how the enemy has beat them down with lies about their identity and who they are in Christ. Today I hope will be an encouragement and a blessing to you. I want to share with you Truth, not based on my ideas but on the Authority of the Word of God. In the last chapter I mentioned Romans 8:1 and that there is no condemnation in Christ. Do you live as though you believe this? You might consider this chapter to be a Bible study on Identity, but the Truth presented today is too overwhelming to dismiss. God sees you in light of what Jesus has done on the cross, not what you have done in your sin. This is hard for many to understand, and what I don’t want to do is to diminish the word sin in any way. Too many people in the world today want to share with you nothing but the grace of God, and sin is never mentioned. Too often we swing to the attribute of God that relate to, or like the most, without considering that our God is Holy God, that we cannot contain, nor describe with a simple word. It’s amazing to me to know how God sees me. How he sees you.

In Jesus, you have been redeemed by the blood (Revelations 5:9) set free from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1-2) set free from Satan’s control (Colossians 1:13) set free from Satan’s kingdom (Ephesians 2) chosen before foundation of world (Ephesians 1:4) predestined to be like Jesus (Ephesians 1:11) forgiven of all my trespasses (Colossians 2:13) washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelations 1:5) given a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) given the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22) adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15) justified freely by his grace (Romans 3:24) given all things pertaining to life (2 Peter 1:3) given great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4) given ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 1:22) authority over the power of enemy (Luke 10:19) access to God (Ephesians 3:12) been given wisdom (Ephesians 1:8) Through the blood of Jesus Christ you have been all of these things! Isn’t that incredible? This weekend, my challenge for you is to go through these scriptures, and put yourself in each one of these. Which ones do you struggle with believing? Why do you struggle believing it? How does it apply to your own life, and your own walk with God? Whenever I started going through these I was overwhelmed. This is what Scripture says about me? God thinks this? Growing up, and throughout much of my life, the God I had envisioned was JUDGE, He was an angry God waiting to punish all who defied Him. If I messed up, He was that much more angry with me. Guys, I told


Our Identity in Christ you before, that I believed that I never could please my earthly father, so I didn’t even bother trying to please my heavenly Father. I wasn’t going to measure up to my own dad, I certainly couldn’t measure up to His standards. This is what I believed, and it affected me. My relationship with my dad, affected my relationship with God more than I had ever realized. The enemies lies were thick, and the deception was almost impossible to differentiate from reality. Walking through a study I stumbled across 3 pages that changed everything. 3 pages that were almost bullet points, but the Truth of Scripture was there. Those 3 pages of scriptures about my identity in Christ overshadowed anything else that study had to offer. My prayer is that the truth of God’s Word will overshadow anything else this EMERGENCY study also has to offer. I’ve shared with you my identity crisis, and how I didn’t know who I was. My identity was tied up in the things that I do, the places that I work, and the acceptance of those who I loved. Jesus wrecked my world whenever He showed me who I am in Him. I am one with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17) But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. I am a light to the darkness (Matthew 5:14) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, I am chosen (Ephesians 1:4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love I am the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. I am not meant for this world (1 Peter 2:11) Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. I am hidden in Christ with God (Psalms 32:7) You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. He revealed to me all the things that I can do in Christ. Please understand it’s not anything I am doing, but it’s ALL because of HIM, and the Spirit that lives within me. Do you know what that means according to His Word? It means that

You CAN do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13) find mercy and grace to help (Hebrews 4:16) come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)


Our Identity in Christ quench all the fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16) tread on the serpent (Luke 10:19) declare liberty to captives (Isaiah 61:1) pray always and everywhere (Luke 21:36) defeat (overcome) the enemy (Revelations 12:11) tread Satan under foot Romans (16:20)

It means that You cannot be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39) be perish or be lost (John 10:28, John 3:16) be moved (Psalms 16:8) be taken out of my Father’s hand (John 10:29) be charged or accused (Romans 8:33) be condemned (1 Corinthians 11:32) What are you thinking right now? Are you overwhelmed? I was. I didn’t know any of these things. I was frantic, my heart was racing. God sees me like this??? That’s not all. As if these things weren’t enough, God showed me that in Christ

I am and you are complete in him (Colossians 2:10) free forever from sin’s power (Romans 6:14) sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11) loved eternally (1 Peter 1:5) eternally kept in the palm of his hand (John 10:29) kept from falling (Jude 1:24) kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5) not condemned (Romans 8:1-2) one with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17) on my way to heaven (John 14:6) quickened by his mighty power (Ephesians 2:1) seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14) candle in a dark place (Matthew 5:15) city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14) salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) His sheep (Psalm 23, Psalm 100:3, John 10:14) a citizen of heaven (1 Peter 2:11) hidden with Christ in God (Psalm 32:7) protected from the evil one (1 John 5:18) kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5) secure in Christ (John 10:28-29) set on a Rock (Psalms 40:2) more-than-a-conqueror (Romans 8:37) born again (1 Peter 1:23)


Our Identity in Christ a victor (1 John 5:4) healed by his stripes (Isaiah 53:6) covered by blood of Jesus (Revelations 12:11, 1 Peter 1:19) sheltered under his wing (Psalms 91:4) hidden in secret place of the Almighty (Psalms 91:1) You are not alone. You are not hopeless. You are so much more than you could ever imagine. You are loved. When you are ‘in Christ’ you also have a new identity and your relationship with God no longer is based on what you do, but on who you are: His child. God has given us our identity in order that His identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us.


Who We Are... When No One Is Looking If you want the truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world. it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old proverb, ‘a lie will go round the world while truth is putting its boots on. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Who We Are... When No One Is Looking True character is who we are when no one is looking. Depending on your situation, this can be encouraging or convicting. I believe that who we are when we are alone is what really matters the most. When no one else is looking, what are we doing? We can say what we want to say, but our actions whenever we are alone will speak to the truth. Our identity is in Christ, we covered that in the past chapter, but our flesh wants control! There is something else to consider as well. I’m not sure why we don’t think of this, but when we are alone, guys, this is when the enemy attacks! It’s not rocket science to figure out that most men surrender to temptation easier when they are alone, than when they are in the company of others.A couple of years ago, I signed up for Every Man’s Battle, not aware that a few days later, their anonymous confession submissions would start pouring into my inbox. At the end of the day, I would receive a heartbreaking summary post of all of the day’s submissions. Gut-wrenching honesty, heartbreaking situations, and after a few days, something became painfully obvious to me.There was no accountability for these guys, who had access to submit confessions, but nothing in place to keep them accountable. Repeated confessions over and over and over again, from many of the same men. Nothing in place to keep them accountable. So let’s just cut to the core of it shall we? Do we want to be held accountable? That’s where the battle is won or lost. Your response to that question, will determine the difference between your success and your failure. If you don’t want accountability, then you will find you have many more failures than you do successes. I know personally that whenever I am alone, I am most vulnerable for an attack. Because of that, it is important to take measures to protect ourselves whenever that moment comes. For me, that began with television. Men, we are visually stimulated creatures. It doesn’t take long watching television for something to appeal to our eyes. You can’t watch sports without seeing a lot of skin during the commercials. Prime time television which used to hold family standards now conforms to the “anything goes” standard. It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing something provocative on television, no matter what time of the day or night you watch it. I don’t watch television whenever I am alone. In fact, I rarely watch television at all, anymore. If it is a business trip, and I am out of town, the first thing I do whenever I get into a hotel room, is unplug the tv. It’s as simple as that. My mind cannot absorb such provocative images without being negatively affected, and I’m not interested in seeing how long I can resist such a strong temptation. Years ago, it would almost be like a game to me. I would have seen something, whether on tv or the internet, and my mind would dwell on it all day long. It would almost be like some sort of twisted challenge to see how long I could withstand the temptation. Let me tell you something.. I lost every time. If you find yourself playing that game, you too will lose. In our world today, we don’t have to go looking for flesh; it comes to us. There are many times whenever it’s not being pursued, it comes to us. I remember reading one of those Every Man’s Battle confessions last year, and the commenter wrote “ This is the 6th time I’ve slipped up this week!” Six times in a week? Did he not have any red flags or warning signs, say after number two?three?four?


Who We Are... When No One Is Looking Where is the accountability? Did this guy have anything set in place to guard his eyes, or his mind? Today, let’s be completely honest. How many times did you slip last week? Do you have anything in place to help keep you accountable? Before we get deep into this subject this week, we need to honestly ask ourselves the question: Do I want to be held accountable? You need to think about what saying yes to that question would look like in your life. The sad reality is that many have determined that the cost is too high, to give up their secret sin. They live life fully defeated because of the guilt, the shame, and the condemnation. You have a choice, right now, today, to respond. I am praying for you today, that you will not fall victim to the lies of the enemy any longer. May the Truth of God’s Word shine brightly in the dark corners of our hearts this week.


Accountability Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (cf. Romans 1:28). By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility, and guilt. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences. John MacArthur

Accountability Do you want to be held accountable? Is your heart truly set on taking this first step towards honesty and integrity? For many guys, the journey towards sexual purity ends there. Bring someone else into the picture and they don’t want any part in it. Accountability means responsibility. If you are struggling with sexual sin and have no accountability partner, why do you think that is? Pride perhaps? Is it your pride that is keeping you from reaching out to someone and saying “I need help?”. Guys we don’t really like to admit that we need help do we? We’ve got this messed up view of what it means to be a man! We don’t ask for directions, we won’t ask for help, “real men” don’t cry, it’s almost as believe that we are designed to be a well-oiled machine that is self-sufficient, only needing maintenance every 30,000 miles or so. We have to “appear” to have it all together, and quite frankly this image that we feel we need to portray is slowly choking the life out of us! It’s ok for us as men to cry. It’s very good that we do this! My wife will tell you that I cry. I’m a pretty emotional guy, most of the time. I am also directionally challenged, it’s no secret I need a lot of help whenever it comes to finding my way across the town I live in. I don’t have any issues asking for that help. I know a lot of guys who will keep on driving, lost for 30+ miles before they finally give in and stop to ask for help. We’re going to discuss pride in more details next week, but I want us to begin thinking about all of the ways that pride is running our lives. The question today still stands - Do you want to be held accountable? The second question today is Will you take the first step towards accountability and talk to someone? One of the biggest roadblocks I ran into, wasn’t finding someone who wasn’t struggling, it was finding someone was no longer struggling. All of the men I talked to, were in the same boat. It turned out many of the guys I had reached out to, were struggling with the same thing, and also had no one to keep them accountable. Men’s ministry, the very first seeds about this kind of study starting up, were being planted in my heart, even back then. I couldn’t find an accountability partner. I installed content filtering software on my computer that blocked any and all kinds of inappropriate websites. This software required a password in order to view any blocked site. I told my wife to come up with the password, something so complicated, that I would never guess what it was, because I didn’t trust myself on the computer. I told her not to use anything I could guess, because I wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t try to figure out what that password was. She agreed, and to this day, I don’t know what that password is. Guys, if you aren’t willing to be held accountable on the internet, you are fighting a losing battle with temptation. William Penn said “For as men in battle are continually in the way of shot, so we, in this world, are ever within the reach of Temptation.” X3Watch is a free accountability software from XXXChurch. It doesn’t block the websites that you visit, but it does send a report every 2 weeks to your accountability partner. If you have someone that you can trust, I highly recommend it. Being a member of Every Man’s Battle I have discovered that most guys don’t want accountability because that means that they are forced to change. In all honesty, many guys say they want help, but they enjoy their sexual sin


Accountability too much to give it up. Guys if you are on the internet, you need something in place to help. Inaction to do so, is simply giving the enemy an open door to walk through. I know a guy who got caught by his wife while watching porn. He told me that he was struggling with it, and asked for help. I pointed him to the X3Watch software, and told him I was more than willing to be his accountability partner. I sent him the link to the software, and didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. Whenever I saw him, he told me that he never got the email, so I re-sent it. Then he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t get the download to work. I burnt it to a cd and gave to him. He never installed it. He was sorry he got caught, but not sorry for what he was doing to his marriage. Being a man alone on the computer is a dangerous thing without accountability. If you were an alcoholic how safe do you think it would be to walk into a bar? Do you think that the alcoholic would get a drink? Guys it is no different for us on the internet. If you struggle with lust, pornography, masturbation, or any sexual sin, you don’t need to get on the internet without having some safeguards in place. Much like the alcoholic, you would be fooling yourself to think that you wouldn’t be tempted to drink. Covenant Eyes has internet filtering software to help take care of this. Does it cost money for the software? Yes. But what is costing you more? Is your marriage worth it? Absolutely! If you are single? Your future spouse is definitely worth it! If your spouse questions why you are spending money on software, you are simply investing in your marriage. Today, spend some time in prayer focusing on the 2 questions. Do you want to be held accountable? Will you take the first step towards accountability by installing accountability software?


Accountability X3Watch Free - X3watch is a free accountability software program helping with online integrity. Whenever you browse the Internet and access a site, which may contain questionable material, the program will record the site name, time, and date the site was visited. A person of your choice (an accountability partner) will receive an email containing all possible questionable sites you may have visited within the month. There is also a paid version which provides many more features and support. Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability Software - Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability differs from filtering in that it doesn’t block any websites you visit. Instead, it monitors all the sites you visit and sends a report to your Accountability Partner. Covenant Eyes Filtering Software - Free installation on up to 5 Windows computers. This means that you can have Filtering on all the computers in your home, keeping you and your family safe no matter which one you use. Covenant Eyes Mobile Solutions - Covenant Eyes offers an Internet browser for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, which you would use in place of Safari. This browser is not filtered, but simply monitors everywhere you go online, rating each Web address for mature content. This information is included in your regular Accountability Report. K9 Web Protection - K9 Web Protection is a free Internet filter and parental control software for your home Windows or Mac computer. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids. Net Nanny - Net Nanny can block not only pornography, but hate sites, questionable chat rooms and other dangers of the Internet. You can configure Net Nanny to block online game and gambling sites, and even make it so your children can only install and play computer games with parental ratings that you deem appropriate. Safe Eyes - Safe Eyes Parental Control Software Includes: Content Controls - Flexible content control allows you to select the types of website that are appropriate. Program Controls - Control Instant Messengers, P2P File Sharing, and other harmful programs. Time Controls - Control the amount of time spent online, and the times when the internet is available. Usage Logging - Create and review logs of websites visited, programs used on the Internet, and Instant Messaging Chats. Usage Alerts - Be notified instantly via email, text message, or phone call when someone visits inappropriate websites. 3Ag Cyber Patrol - The Internet can be a great resource for families, businesses and educators. Unfortunately, it also contains things that are inappropriate or even dangerous. Whether its offensive web sites, cyberbullies or maybe just ‘too much Internet’ CyberPatrol gives you the tools you need. We have led the way in Parental Controls software for fifteen years and continue to look for new and better ways to protect people online in the home, office, and school or library.


Counterfeit Confession “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Counterfeit Confession Over the next few chapters we will be putting together a plan of action. Before we move forward however, I want to make sure to address something so that there are no misconceptions about it. This “battle plan” is not what is going to save you. This war is not just a battle between flesh and blood, but this is a spiritual battle. A battle over your souls. You cannot win a spiritual battle with fleshly action. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can any victory be achieved. Jesus Christ is the only way. With that being said, I do believe that there is a call to responsibility on our part. We discussed this in much greater detail several chapters ago, but I think it is worth it to revisit some things in Romans Chapter 6. In Romans 6:1-7, Paul goes into great detail about this. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:1-7) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? Is that the answer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ. You are dead to sin and alive to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (Romans 6:11-12) If it seems as though we are hitting the book of Romans pretty hard throughout this study, there is a reason.Guys, Christ won the victory for us when He took our place on the cross. Someone told me once “Every time I sin it’s as though I’m saying that His death on the cross didn’t matter.” That comment really struck a chord with me. As I mentioned, this plan of action isn’t going to save you. It will however give you some practical things that you can do which I believe to be a responsible course of action. I mentioned yesterday the dangers of an alcoholic walking into a bar. This is no different. As we move forward in this series we are going to put together an “Emergency Evacuation Plan”. We’ve discussed accountability and the importance of having a “Chad” in your life. Someone who can help keep you on track. Last week we talked about our identity, who we are in Christ. Do you believe those truths? As we examine where we are at today, I believe we are all dealing with excess baggage. As you’ve gone through this study there have been many things that you’ve been convicted about, but you are still mulling it over. Not quite ready to take that first step of faith. I want to share with you one of the most convicting things that I’ve ever read. This made me stop and ask myself some very hard questions. In Mike Wilkerson’s book Redemption he talks about something called ‘Counterfeit Confessions’.


Counterfeit Confession A counterfeit confession is when you confess part of your sin, enough to sound like a genuine confession, but you leave out significant details, leading another to believe half-truths. Half-truth telling is a form of deception. Or suppose someone confronts you on your sin. You, in response, do not deny the sin outright; but you explain it, make a defense for it, or minimize it. Aaron did something like this in the Old Testament, whenever Moses confronted him about building the golden calf. Do you remember that story? “They gave me the gold; I just threw it into the fire, and out jumped this calf!” We must admit that our own hands have built the idols of our hearts. We have fashioned them with each indulgence of sin, and with each lie we’ve believed and told. We’ll be discussing idols as a part of the Emergency Preparedness Plan in a few days. Today let’s look at counterfeit confessions. How much of a role do they plan in your life?


Emergency Planning When the devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.

Emergency Planning You need a plan of action in case of an emergency. You want to be prepared before going into battle right? Temptation surrounds you every single day. The rest of this study is devoted to putting together a plan called EMERGENCY. I was obsessed growing up with war movies. The guns, the explosions, the violence, the tanks, all of it. Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, and Casualties of War were my personal favorites back then. Something you notice whenever you watch one of these movies is that these guys were prepared. They were prepared for the fight, for the possible sneak attacks, for the land mines. They were extremely cautious and for good reason! The wrong move could have had them or their entire team killed. You didn’t see these guys running out into enemy territory without a gun, or protection of some kind. They were ready at all times. Guys, we are in a battle. The cost is our souls. “Imagine you’re facing an enemy on the battlefield who enjoyed a good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast, and a personal escort to the most strategic position on the battlefield. And here’s the worst part—you provided all those things! Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? What kind of lunatic makes provision for his enemies and gives them that kind of advantage? ” You have got to admit that is a terrible strategy being used in a battle plan. Pampering the enemy, making sure that they have everything available to defeat you. It is a bad strategy on our part, but it is exactly the kind of strategy the enemy uses to defeat us by allowing sin to control us. The enemy has deceived us and we don’t even realize we are giving him the exact position he needs to fire a shot and fatally wound us. Whenever I put a visual to this, I imagine the enemy as a sniper. One clear shot is all he needs to take us down. We have place him in our camp. Positioned him in for the kill, and adjusted his scope so that he can get a clear shot at us. How many of us have placed the enemy in a strategic position to open fire in our lives? The majority of men I know have been wounded on the battlefield. Can you imagine trying to go through life, with a bullet in your side? Instead of going and having it removed, you put a band-aid over it. You’ve got this gaping wound in your side, still bleeding, and you’re trying to go about your day as though it wasn’t there. You put fresh band-aids on it every few hours and take a couple of aspirin. It sounds ridiculous, but that is exactly what we are doing. Guys walk around every day wounded by the enemy. Some of us have been carrying these wounds around with us for years, and yet we try to pretend they don’t exist. I’m not sure how men got to this point in their lives, maybe they watched too many John Wayne movies growing up? Honestly I think it goes a lot deeper than that, and if you were being honest with yourself, you’ve probably wondered why you feel the same way. Imagine the scene where soldiers are carrying a wounded comrade on a stretcher across the battlefield trying to make it back to safety. Here is where the reality of our situation comes in. The men who are carrying the stretcher are wounded, bullet in their side. They see a brother fallen who is perhaps more severely wounded, perhaps a limb has been severed. Imagine what it would be like carrying this man across the battlefield on a stretcher, dodging attacks from the enemy, and you yourself with a bullet wound. Sound painful? Does it sound difficult?


Emergency Planning What if you had to carry that man for miles to try and find safety? I want you to get an accurate idea of what our lives look like. We’ve got wounded guys who are out there bleeding to death, trying to carry more than we can bear. This is what we are trying to do, and sadly some of those guys don’t make it out of the battle field alive. All because they went into battle unprepared, or even worse, they invited the enemy into their homes to fire a clear shot. Guys the rest of this study is going to be tough. It’s going to be very challenging. We need a plan. The first steps of the plan we’ve already covered: You need accountability. You need an Emergency Plan. Before going into battle there is something vital that you will need for survival.

A shield. I’ve talked to several guys who are going into battle daily without their shield. To be honest, they are going to war without any protection at all. Shield. Definition: a device or part that serves as a protective cover or barrier. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:10-18) Your shield in this battle is also your Sword. Your shield needs to be a protective verse that you can reflect on and draw strength from even when you aren’t in the direct heat of battle. It may be just as important, if not even more than your sword, because it places temptation out of earshot. Every Man’s Battle suggests this verse as your shield. Flee from sexual immorality.... You are not your own; you were bought at a price. therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) A shield such as this will help you think rightly about the real issues involved as you face temptation in your fight for purity. Satan’s power of temptation lies in your supposed right to make decisions regarding Your


Emergency Planning behavior. If you didn’t believe you had that right, no tempting power could touch you. At the mall during Christmas time, there was a lady walking down the opposing side who was practically hanging out of her top. Believing I had a right to choose whether or not I should look, my mind started having a debate. Should I look? I began to think “What would it really hurt?” No one else is here with me, no one is watching to see if I look or not. I started weighing pros vs cons even. Guys whenever we start having this debate, we are opening ourselves up to the enemy’s counsel. Satan wants to be heard on this issue, trust me. The longer you debate, the further down the wrong path you are going to go. Just a few years ago, having that debate I would have lost. By the end of the conversation I would have convinced myself that it was not only ok to look, but that I should! That’s the power of temptation! This time however, my discussion got only as far as asking the question “should I?” whenever the verse from 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 popped into my head. Instead of the debate I was sure to lose, what I heard was this: Flee from sexual immorality. You’re not your own. You don’t have the right to look.


Walking Wounded “The triumphant Christian does not fight for victory; he celebrates a victory already won�

Walking Wounded Most of us were in battle without our shields. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of men who have ever struggled with sexual sin, are walking around like wounded soldiers on the battlefield. These wounds need to be healed. How much longer can you walk around with these wounds? We carry a lot don’t we? From anger to resentment, bitterness to shame, there are so many, but the one I believe that can be the most damaging in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is spiritual gangrene. Someone or something has hurt you and left you wounded. After a period of time, unforgiveness starts to set in and it starts spreading like gangrene. It permeates throughout your spirit. Unforgiveness left unattended can destroy you. It is the leading cause of so many other things to take root into your life. Something I have learned in ministry is that people hurt. People have been hurt and are dealing with things that I have never experienced. The pain is real, the hurt is real, and the situations you’re going through are devastating. A few years ago, God revealed to me all of the anger that was consuming me, all of the bitterness, the hate that boiled my blood all came down to one thing. Unforgiveness. Unforgiveness was the puppet master controlling it all. I want to share a few of the scriptures that truly opened my eyes to the unforgiveness that was so deep rooted in my heart. I’m sharing them in the Amplified Version because this is how I came across them, and it truly put things into perspective for me. For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and [giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) That really hit home to me. That day God seemed to be speaking directly to me with a megaphone. A little bit later on that day I came across this verse: Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18: 21-22) and then later.... “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35) That night I picked up a book that I had been reading, and guess what the topic of the chapter was called? Dealing With Your Unforgiveness. God was telling me that it was time for me to deal with my own unforgiveness. So I went back to the verse that started the domino effect of God’s Word speaking to me.


Walking Wounded For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins,leaving them, letting them go, and [giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) I love the amplified version of this passage, it really drives home the point of what it is that we are letting go. We all have experienced hurt in our lives from others. Chances are we are still harboring some bitterness, some anger, resentment, and unforgiveness towards someone for something that has happened to us. Many of you in this study right now are struggling with this very thing. There are several people in my own life that I have forgiven with my lips, but not in my heart. I’m not even sure why we want to hold on to that junk. All it does is keep us in bondage, and whether we realize it or not, that unforgiveness spills over into other relationships. If it was a trust that was broken, you are likely having a hard time trusting others. You are afraid of opening up to others because someone broke that trust with you in the past. You’ve probably said to yourself “Why would I want to risk opening up, and getting hurt again?” It might have been even a physical abuse that you’ve suffered in the past, perhaps someone hurt you physically, and you’ve kept it bottled up inside, holding on to that hurt, because nothing in you desires to forgive them for what they did to you. I understand, I’ve been there so many times! Whenever I choose not to forgive someone for something they’ve done to me, it doesn’t take long for God to remind me of what Jesus came to do on that cross. The hurt we’ve experienced in our lives drives us to say “they don’t deserve to be forgiven, for what they did to me.”, and honestly that is the point which we often miss whenever we consider what happened on that cross. None of us deserve forgiveness for our sins! I picture Jesus hanging on the cross, bloodied, beaten, shamed, with a crown of thorns pushed deep into his brow, near to death. I imagine what He must have been thinking at that moment. How difficult it must have been to forgive them for what they had done to Him, yet what were His words? “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Who am I that I cannot forgive the ones who have hurt me? I think one of the most difficult things about forgiveness, is that it begins with a choice that we have to make. We have to choose forgiveness, it’s definitely not something that comes natural. So here is what I want us to focus on over the next couple of days. Forgiving. We have a choice to forgive someone, right now, today. Is it easy? No, it’s not, but it is something we must do.


Radical Forgiveness “In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Radical Forgiveness “In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer This was one of the last things Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote before he was executed for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler. It is a word that we should all take to heart. As I spent much time this week praying about today’s post I wanted to share a story with you. It’s a story of forgiveness, one that has put so many things into perspective in my own life. The story is about a woman named Sabina, wife of Richard Wurmbrand founder of Voice of the Martyrs. When Romania entered the war on Germany’s side, a pogrom began in which many thousands of Jews were killed or deported. At Iasi alone 11,000 were massacred in a day. My wife, who shares my Protestant faith, is also of Jewish origin. We lived in Bucharest, from which the Jews were not deported, but her parents, one of her brothers, three sisters, and other relatives who lived in Bucovine were taken to Transmistria, a wild border province that the Romanians had captured from Russia. Jews who were not murdered at the end of this journey were left to starve, and there Sabina’s family died. Sometime later our landlord, a good Christian, told me sadly of a man who was staying in the house while on leave from the front. “I knew him before the war,” he said, “but he’s changed completely. He has become a brute who likes to boast of how he volunteered to exterminate Jews in Transmistria and killed hundreds with his own hands.” I went upstairs after supper to the landlord’s flat. Lounging in an armchair was a giant of a man whom the landlord introduced as Borila, the killer of Jews from Transmistria. When he rose he was even taller than I, and there seemed to be about him an aura of horror that was like a smell of blood. Soon he was telling us of his adventures in the war and of the Jews he had slaughtered. The murderer proved to be not only a murderer. Nobody is only one thing. He was a pleasant talker, and eventually it came out that he had a great love of music. He mentioned that while serving in the Ukraine he had been captivated by the songs there. “I wish I could hear them again,” he said. I knew some of these old songs. I thought to myself, looking at Borila, The fish has entered my net! “lf you’d like to hear some of them,” I told him, “come to my flat—I’m no pianist, but I can play a few Ukrainian melodies.” The landlord, his wife, and his daughter accompanied us. My wife was in bed. She was used to my playing softly at night and did not wake up. I played the folk songs, which are alive with feeling, and I could see that Borila was deeply moved. I remembered how, when King Saul was afflicted by an evil spirit, the boy David had played the harp before him. I stopped and turned to Borila. “l’ve something very important to say to you,” I told him. “Please speak,” he said.


Radical Forgiveness “If you look through that curtain you can see someone is asleep in the next room. It’s my wife, Sabina. Her parents, her sisters, and her twelve-year-old brother have been killed with the rest of the family. You told me that you had killed hundreds of Jews near Golta, and that is where they were taken.” Looking into his eyes, I added, “You yourself don’t know who you have shot, so we can assume that you are the murderer of her family.” He jumped up, his eyes blazing, looking as if he were about to strangle me. I held up my hand and said, “Now—let’s try an experiment. I shall wake my wife and tell her who you are, and what you have done. I can tell you what will happen. My wife will not speak one word of reproach! She’ll embrace you as if you were her brother. She’ll bring you supper, the best things she has in the house. “Now, if Sabina, who is a sinner like us all, can forgive and love like this, imagine how Jesus, who is perfect Love, can forgive and love you! Only turn to Him—and everything you have done will be forgiven!” Borila was not heartless: within, he was consumed by guilt and misery at what he had done, and he had shaken his brutal talk at us as a crab shakes its claws. One tap at his weak spot and his defenses crumbled. The music had already moved his heart, and now came—instead of the attack he expected—words of forgiveness. His reaction was amazing. He jumped up and tore at his collar with both hands, so that his shirt was rent apart. “Oh God, what shall I do, what shall I do?” he cried. He put his head in his hands and sobbed noisily as he rocked himself back and forth. “I’m a murderer, I’m soaked in blood, what shall I do?” Tears ran down his cheeks. I cried, “ln the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command the devil of hatred to go out of your soul!” Borila fell on his knees trembling, and we began to pray aloud. He knew no prayers; he simply asked again and again for forgiveness and said that he hoped and knew it would be granted. We were on our knees together for some time; then we stood up and embraced each other, and I said, “l promised to make an experiment. I shall keep my word.” I went into the other room and found my wife still sleeping calmly. She was very weak and exhausted at that time. I woke her gently and said, “There is a man here whom you must meet. We believe he has murdered your family, but he has repented, and now he is our brother.” She came out in her dressing gown and put out her arms to embrace him; then both began to weep and to kiss each other again and again. I have never seen bride and bridegroom kiss with such love and purity as this murderer and the survivor among his victims. Then, as I foretold, Sabina went to the kitchen to bring him food. - God’s Underground I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think my response would have been the same as hers. Forgiveness is such a power thing! What she did by embracing that man, meant that there is hope for me and there is hope for you. Several years ago I was reading a book on forgiveness and in it were some practical steps to help you to forgive. As I was reading through it, I thought to myself “this is ridiculous”, but I felt as though I needed to at least give it a shot and see what happens. I took an evening away from everyone and every thing, with this book, the Bible and a Notebook. Please consider doing the same.


Radical Forgivenes Write on a sheet of paper the names of the person who offended you. Describe in writing the specific wrongs you suffered. Face the hurt and the hate. Write down how you feel about these people and their offenses. Acknowledge the significance of the cross. It is the cross of Christ that makes forgiveness legally and morally right. Decide that you will bear the burden of each person’s sin (Galatians 6:1,2). Decide to forgive. Forgiveness is a crisis of the will, a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook and free yourself from the past. Take your list to God and pray the following: “I forgive (name) for (list the offenses).� Do not expect that your decision to forgive will result in major changes in the other persons. Try to understand the people you have forgiven. They are victims also. Expect positive results of forgiveness in you. Thank God for the lessons you have learned and the maturity you have gained as a result of the offenses and your decision to forgive the offenders. Be sure to accept your part of the blame for the offenses you suffered. Confess your failure to God and to others. As I went through this list, the names, faces, and situations came pouring into my mind. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people I was still holding grudges against, who I was still bitter towards. What seemed like a silly exercise at the time, brought about something in my life that I had never experienced before.

Freedom. My prayer today is that you will set aside a day and a time to do this exercise. I am praying for freedom in your own life.


Flee Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Flee Scripture is very clear how we are supposed to handle sexual immorality. Notice what it does not say here: It does not say to get as close to it as you can and try to resist. It doesn’t say toy around with the ideas in your head for an entire afternoon. And if definitely doesn’t say you can look but don’t touch. The Word of God is crystal clear on this issue. Flee from it. Get away as fast as you can. flee - To run away, as from trouble or danger. The danger of course is sexual immorality. This was my biggest struggle, and the cause of so much heartache in my own life. I wasn’t fleeing it, I was pursuing it! Guys, I am going to put it to you this way and you are fine to disagree if you wish, but I believe that if you are presented with sexual immorality and you are not running as fast as you can, then you are opening the way for the enemy to get a foothold into your life. You may not be “physically pursuing” but you will be mentally. Your mind will play tricks on you. Your mind will start to wonder about the girl down the hall, whenever she said hello to you earlier that morning at work, or you’ll start seeing her smile to mean more than a friendly gesture. Before long, you’ll start to entertain those conversations that “could happen” and end up thinking about them throughout your day. That is how an affair starts. I know, because I lived it many years ago. It’s a lot more difficult whenever you’re a single guy too. I know, I lived that life as well. Women were an object to possess for me for years of my life. It was all a game, a conquest for me. The word flee was not in my vocabulary. I’m reminded of the words to a very powerful song, a confession of a man who I could relate to. The words still echo in my head today “If only You’d wash me, ’cause I can’t see the stains. My God, I’m so scared, ’cause I’m fractured but I don’t feel the breaks. Have I loved too many daughters to ever be whole? I’m ashamed that You love me. Send grace for the hearts that I stole.” I thought about all of the women I had ever used, and the words to this song became my prayer. Guys scripture is very clear “Flee from sexual immorality.” Do you remember the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis? The coat of many colors, the brothers that wanted to get rid of him, so they dropped him in a pit, faked his death, and sold him into slavery? Joseph was a man of integrity. Once he was freed and in the house of Pharaoh, someone had their eyes on him .... Pharaoh’s wife! And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. (Genesis 39:7-12)


Flee Joseph was tempted with Pharaoh’s wife who we can assume was a beautiful woman being his wife, and she didn’t pull any punches. She said “lie with me”. Talk about being direct! But look at Joseph’s response. His concern? “How can he do this great wickedness and sin against God?” First and foremost guys this needs to be our response as well! Put yourself in his position for a minute. A beautiful woman who at this point was probably wearing little, if nothing, takes off your clothes and says “sleep with me” what would be your response? Joseph fled. He didn’t think about what it would be like to be with this woman. He fled. Could you do the same? Could I?


Know Your Weakness When we pray for the Spirit’s help ... we will simply fall down at the Lord’s feet in our weakness. There we will find the victory and power that comes from His love. - Andrew Murray

Know Your Weakness You don’t enter into a battle without a plan and you don’t go into the fight without knowing your weakness. The enemy has studied you for a few thousand years. He knows our habits, our mind-set, and he knows what we will do in just about any given situation because the enemy is prepared. He has studied our weaknesses. The big question today however is this: Do you know your weaknesses? One of the most crucial points in the book Every Man’s Battle was this Chapter called Victory With Your Eyes. On page 125 EMB says “To set up your first defense perimeter with your eyes, you want to employ the strategies of bouncing your eyes and starving your eyes”. The problem they say is that our eyes have always bounced towards the sexual, and that we’ve made no attempt to end this habit. I remember in high school whenever some girl would bend over wearing a loose top and the guys would call it a “freebie”. I’m not sure what they call it today, but I guarantee it still happens. EMB says that to combat this habit of always looking, we need to build a reflex action by training our eyes to immediately bounce away. Think of it like jerking your hand away from a hot stove. Immediately looking away. Guys, we’ve got to put this thing to death. EMB issued a challenge that said if you can train your eyes to do this for 6 weeks you can win this battle. I have to admit I didn’t believe them. First of all, I had to realize that I should look away immediately. I didn’t see what harm looking could do. Until I read this letter during my study and saw it from a different perspective. “My husband believes the lie that “all men look” because they are so visual. He says that it’s impossible for a real man not to look at some hot girl showing off her body. He said if I’m looking for a man who doesn’t look at other women, I’ll be looking for a very long time. He doesn’t care, and nothing breaks my heart more than watching him break his neck to turn his head just so he can get a glimpse of some younger, prettier girls behind.” Guys how many women could make that statement about you? I knew whenever I read it that I could have been that guy. How do we start bouncing our eyes? When you start bouncing your eyes, your body will fight against you in unexpected ways. Sexual sin has an addictive nature, your body will not want to give up on it’s pleasure easily. Know Your Weakness. How and where are you attacked most? What defense do you have for those times? What are the most obvious sources of sensual images? Where do you look most often? Where are you weakest?


Know Your Weakness Knowing your weakness is one of the first things you need to discover in the battle for sexual purity. On page 125 Every Mans Battle says “To set up your first defense perimeter with your eyes, you want to employ the strategies of bouncing your eyes and starving your eyes” The problem they say is that our eyes have always bounced towards the sexual, and that we’ve made no attempt to end this habit. In order to be able to change this, we’ve got to learn to bounce our eyes not to look whenever temptation comes our way. Know your weakness. How and where are you attacked most? What defense do you have for those times? What are the most obvious sources of sensual images? Where do you look most often? Where are you weakest? Here are some of the responses that were given during the online study: How and where are you attacked most? At home at bedtime particularly when I feel bad about myself in some manner. At home, alone. Bedtime at home. The Mall. browsing the internet on my phone What defense do you have for those times? Put the laptop away even though it doesn’t always happen. I don’t really have a defense that has worked. What are the most obvious sources of sensual images? The internet. Where do you look most often? The internet. Where are you weakest? At home when I’m by myself. By myself. When I’m alone. Many of the responses were all the same. Most attacked was at home by the overwhelming majority. No defense set up really for anyone. The Internet was the champion vote of the next 2 questions, which is not surprising considering the availability of internet, and porn on the internet. Everyone responded that they are weakest when they were alone. So with that being said, we have an action item that needs to be address before you go any further in this study.


Know Your Weakness This weekend I want you to make a list of all of your own greatest enemies. Know Your weakness by writing them down. How and where are you attacked most? What defense do you have for those times? What are the most obvious sources of sensual images? Where do you look most often? Where are you weakest? Are you ready to make a step towards sexual purity? Are you willing to take some drastic measures? Here is what it took for me. I found that simply trying to resist did not work. I failed miserably. I kept praying that God would deliver me, but that deliverance never came. Paul spoke about something very similar when he talked about his “thorn in the flesh”. Many speculate as to what that thorn was, but in doing so miss the point. Here is what Paul had to say “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) God didn’t remove Paul’s thorn, and the truth is He may not remove your either. I believe that we all have a “thorn” and it varies from person to person. I think pornography addiction, sexual sin, lust, are all great examples of having to trust in God and less in ourselves. Paul’s issue was pride, is it really any different from my struggle or your struggle? Isn’t pride pretty much the root of why so many men are stuck in sexual sin? Too prideful to admit they need help. Too prideful to admit it to other guys, who are probably struggling with the same thing! They don’t want to get caught, because if they did it would definitely hurt their pride! What I believe much of it boils down to is all a lack of trust in God. Even a lack of pride goes back to lack of trust in God. I had to make some very difficult and challenging decisions. Are you prepared to do the same? Next week I will share some pretty radical things that we need to consider if we are going to win this war for integrity. A huge wake-up call for my own life, was whenever a man by the name of T.D. Benton told me that true character is who we are when no one is looking. Who you are behind closed doors is who you really are. My list probably looks a lot like yours. I was most vulnerable at home, either when no one was home, or when they were in bed asleep. I saw what my true character really was, and for the first time, I saw it as something that was ugly and grotesque. I prayed, “God if this is the man I truly am, You’ve got to fix me, because I can’t live with myself any longer.” Guys in this battle for sexual purity a response is necessary. Action is needed. Prayer is your weapon.


Are You Willing? “Most guys are willing to talk about accountability, but there is no one there to hold them to it�

Are You Willing? Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. God’s Word has much to say about how we are to handle sexual immorality. This verse in 1 Corinthians says to flee from it. Last week, I spent a couple of days talking about knowing your weaknesses, and to make a list of those times whenever you are most vulnerable. The biggest response I’ve received is that you are most vulnerable when you are alone and on the internet. I’m going to challenge you today to do something drastic. Flee from sexual immorality. Don’t debate it, toy around with it, don’t even go near it. If it comes to you, flee from it. I’m going to share with you some things that might seem a little bit extreme to you on ways to handle this situation. In the book of Mark, Chapter 7 Jesus says “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Paul says in Galatians “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. God takes sexual sin seriously. The big question is: Are we? If God says that those who practice sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, among many other things, will not inherit the kingdom of God, then we’ve got to make some tough choices. Is our sexual sin really worth it? Is it worth losing everything for that few minutes of pleasure, that we all know to be followed by guilt, sorrow, condemnation and according to Jesus, much worse things? The internet whenever you are alone is a weak spot. We spent a few days talking about content filtering, accountability software, are you ready to do this? Have you been praying about having someone to help keep you accountable? We’ve talked about a lot of software available to help. I got a message last week from a guy who said he got rid of his computer at home. If he needs to get online, he goes to the library. Would you be willing to do something as radical as that? Would you get rid of it? For the guy who has stacks of Playboy magazines hidden away, would you trash them? Would you be willing to delete the hidden folders you have on your computer filled with porn videos and pictures? Would you be willing to go to bed with your wife and not stay up? It is very rare for my wife to go out of town, but she has on occasion done this. I remember asking her to take


Are You Willing? the power cord to the computer with her one day whenever she was going to be overnight at a friends out of town. She looked at me like I was crazy at first. I told her that was just how little I trusted myself to be alone with the computer. It was during a very hard time in my life, and I knew what I was capable of whenever I was alone. Are you aware of what you are capable of whenever you are alone? Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6) What are some ways in which you can put this to death?


There is a Cost “There is no way to peace along the way to safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture� - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There is a Cost “So train yourself to “bounce your eyes.” In other words, discipline your eyes to immediately look away from anything that might cause lust. The authors of Every Man’s Battle compare bouncing the eyes to yanking a hand away from a hot stove. “Not only did I train my eyes to bounce away from (sensual) ads, I also trained myself not to pick them up in the first place,” Fred Stoeker explains. Fred tells his story in the book Every Man’s Battle about his struggle with looking at girls in magazines. Fed up with constantly losing his battle for integrity, Fred cut out all of the provocative and suggestive ads in all of his magazines, newspapers, and books. I’ve heard stories about men who pull computers out of their homes, give up their cell phones, burn their magazine collections, all because they know it’s got to go. Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey wrote Every Man’s Battle to help Christian men fight against lust and pornography. “If we define lusting as staring open-mouthed until drool pools at your feet, then a glance isn’t the same as lusting,” they write. “But if we define lusting as any look that creates a chemical high, that little pop, then we have something a bit more difficult to measure.” As we’ve been discussing over the past several days, recognize the your weakness. The things that set you off. EMB called it “that little pop”. You know what those things are. If you want to get serious about winning this battle, you’ve got to discipline your eyes to immediately look away from anything that might cause lust. The authors of EMB say that if you can do that for 6 weeks, you can win the battle. When you start to do this, your mind will play tricks on you. As you walk through the mall and you see that girl with the low-cut top bending over, as you immediately cut your eyes away, your mind will not like this. You’ll start to think things like “Wait a second, I think I know her.” “Isn’t that (insert name of any ex-girlfriend).” “Just one glance, to make sure” “What if it’s (insert name). I’ve been meaning to talk to them and see how things are going.” Your mind will come up with an endless list of excuses why you should look, but you have a choice to make to look away. Some of you may be thinking that it’s impossible not to look. “Every guy looks” you say to excuse your behavior. Job didn’t. It says that Job made a covenant with his eyes not to even look at another woman lustfully. Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife while she was in the middle of tempting him to sleep with her right then and there! Neither of these guys were perfect, nor sinless. These guys knew the risk, however, and they knew they would be sinning against God if they were to pursue. That was enough for them to look away, to flee. In this chapter I want to share a lot of the sentiments of the book Every Man’s Battle. This book was a game changer for me. If you haven’t read it, get it. I want to end Day 30 with an excerpt from the book, as we begin to shift our focus towards the last 10 days of this study. What’s your aim? Are you aiming for obedience to Christ, or living the mixed standards of the world and church, where you can stop short of sexual integrity, but still look Christian enough? The book asks this question: What’s your Christian life costing you?


There is a Cost It costs something to learn about Christ. It costs a lot to live like Christ. It costs something to join a few thousand men at a conference to sing praises to God and learn how we should live; it costs a lot to come home and remain committed to the changes you said you’d make in your life. It costs something to avoid Playboy, or pornography on the internet. It costs a lot to control your eyes and mind daily. It costs something to send your child to a Christian school so others can teach your children about God; it costs a lot to have regular family devotions, complete with Dad leading worship and prayer. It costs something to insist that your kids dress modestly, it costs a lot to make them think modestly. So where do you stand? Are you comfortable? Do you have a broad tolerance for sin in your behavior? Do you live life by mixed standards? Are you willing to pay the price of true obedience, or are you just interested in appearing to look obedient? .


What Does God Think?

What Does God Think? . I am sharing the message with you in it’s entirety. This is a message that God used to begin a transformation in my own life. Please pray as you read through this, and ask yourself some of the hard questions that go along with this message. It’s a hard hitting look at sin, how we relate to it, and what God thinks of it. What Does God Think About Your Sin? If you refuse to see your sin as God does, you cannot escape His eternal judgment. If you want to deny your guilt or hide your own sinfulness, you’ll never discover the cure for sin. And if you try to justify your sin, you’ll forfeit the justification of God. Until you understand how offensive your sin is before God, you can never know Him. Sin is abominable to God-He hates it (cf. Deuteronomy 12:31). Sin is contrary to His nature (Isaiah 6:3; 1 John 1:5). It stains the soul and degrades humanity’s nobility. Scripture calls sin “filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12; Ezekiel 24:13; James 1:21) and likens it to a putrefying corpse-sinners are the tombs that contain stench and foulness (Matthew 23:27). The ultimate penalty-death-is the consequence of sin (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:3). The human race is in bad shape. God wants you to understand how bad sin is and how terrifying its consequences are. You dare not take sin lightly or dismiss your own guilt frivolously. Quite the contrary-you should hate sin. But sin tempts the best of saints, and even the godliest among us commit sin. David was a man who followed after God with all his heart (1 Kings 14:8); and yet he entered into temptation and committed unimaginable sinadultery, deception, betrayal, and murder. And until God confronted David through the prophet Nathan, David denied his sin. That’s the natural tendency of every fallen sinner. What Do You Think About Your Sin? If a man of David’s caliber can fall so terribly, where does that leave you and me? If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you sometimes love your sin, delight in it, and seek opportunities to act it out. You know instinctively you are guilty before a holy God, yet you inevitably attempt to camouflage or disavow your sinfulness. In a word, you deny it, just like David did. Like the rest of fallen humanity, your denial of sin falls into three general categories: you seek to cover it up, you try to justify yourself, and, most often, you are oblivious to your sin. First, you try to cover up. That’s what King David tried to do when he sinned against Uriah. He had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David first plotted to make it seem as if Uriah was the father of the baby (2 Samuel 11:5-13). When that didn’t work, he schemed to have Uriah killed (vv. 14-17). That only compounded his sin. For all the months of Bathsheba’s pregnancy, David continued to cover his sin (2 Samuel 11:27). Later, when David repented, he confessed, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). Second, you attempt to justify yourself. Adam blamed Eve, whom he described as “the woman whom You gave to be with me” (Genesis 3:12, emphasis added). In blaming Eve, Adam was blaming God too. God, he


What Does God Think? soned, was responsible for the woman who victimized him. You also try to excuse your wrongdoing by saying it’s someone else’s fault. Or you argue that you have a valid reason for sin. You convince yourself that it’s OK to return evil for evil (cf. Proverbs 24:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9). You can call sin a sickness, a mental condition, or a hormone imbalance; you can excuse yourself as a victim; you can even deny what you’ve done is really wrong. Your sinful heart is endlessly creative in finding ways to justify its own evil. Third, you can be oblivious to your own sin. Whether in ignorance or presumption, you sin, and you sin often. That’s why David prayed, “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins” (Psalm 19:12-13). It’s those “hidden faults” that God sees in plain daylight, and they are just as offensive to Him as the “presumptuous sins.” Because sin is so pervasive, you naturally tend to be insensitive to your own sin, just as a skunk is impervious to its own odor. What Are You Going to Do About Your Sin? Sin is a horrible malignancy for which there is no human cure. It is an incurable leprosy of the soul (Isaiah 1:46), and all humanity is sick with it from top to bottom, inside and out. As a sinner, you cannot improve your own condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Your tears and sorrow can’t atone for your sin. Your “good” deeds can’t make amends for your wrong against God. Your prayers and personal devotion can’t soften your guilt or cover it in any way. And don’t buy into the erroneous concept of purgatory-the fires of hell over a million lifetimes could never purify the soul from its own corruption or atone for its own sin. If you are looking for a do-it-yourself solution to the problem of sin, you only shackle yourself all the more securely to your guilt. But there has to be a solution to our problem; there must be a way God can satisfy His perfect righteousness and still display His rich mercy toward sinners. I’m delighted to tell you that there is a solution to the human sin problem-it’s called the Gospel. The cross of Christ provided the way to God by enabling the only acceptable Sacrifice to atone for human sin once for all. Our Lord, the sinless One, was the Lamb of God offered as a perfect sacrifice for sin (John 1:29)-it was the very purpose for which He came. “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Isaiah prophesied, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried...He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him” (Isaiah 53:4-5,). Jesus Christ “offered Himself without blemish to God” to cleanse our consciences (Hebrews 9:14). He paid the penalty to the fullest on our behalf. All the sins of everyone who believes are imputed to Christ, and He died for them. Jesus then rose from the dead to declare His victory over sin and death-”[He] was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). Furthermore, God reckons all believers righteous in Christ-He accounts Christ’s righteousness to the believer. That’s the truth taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”


What Does God Think? God redeems those who believe and makes them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you are a believer, you know what I’m talking about. God gave you an entirely new nature, including a love for righteousness and hatred for sin. If you’re unsure of your salvation, reading this should bring you to the point of despair. What can you possibly do to change your hopeless condition? Nothing. You are utterly dependent on God’s mercy. But if the cry of your heart is something akin to that of the Philippian jailer who said, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), take heart-the Spirit of God is already working in you! Here is Jesus’ clear and concise command to the troubled sinner: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). To repent is to “turn away from all your transgressions” (Ezekiel 18:30). It means confessing and forsaking your iniquities (Proverbs 28:13), and completely hating your sin (2 Corinthians 7:11). If repentance stresses turning away from sin and self, believing emphasizes what to turn toward- “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). You can’t lay hold of Christ while still clinging to your sin. Unless you pry your heart from the passing pleasures of sin, you’ll never see God. God’s salvation from the flames of an eternal hell involves a glorious liberation from the control of sin. That’s good news! You can be set free from sin’s dominion of your life. Take hold of Christ, and take this gospel offer seriously. .


Repent (or perish)

Repent Sin isn’t a topic people like to hear about because it makes them come to terms with the reality of what that looks like in their own life. Let’s be honest, nobody likes to think about their sinfulness right? Sin stains the soul, it darkens the mind. Sin is compared to vomit, and sinners are the dogs who lick it up (Proverbs 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22). The terrifying consequences of sin include hell, which Jesus said “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it away for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:30). There’s a lot of heated discussion today about the topic of hell, one which we don’t have a lot of time to go into, but I will at least say this. Scripture describes hell as a dreadful, hideous place where sinners are “tormented with fire and brimstone... and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest day and night.” (Revelations 14:10-11). Simply put, hell is not a nice place to be. “To repent is to “turn away from all your transgressions” (Ezekiel 18:30). It means confessing and forsaking your iniquities (Proverbs 28:13), and completely hating your sin (2 Corinthians 7:11). If repentance stresses turning away from sin and self, believing emphasizes what to turn toward- “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).” This was shared with you in yesterday’s post. The cross is proof of both the immense love of God and the profound wickedness of sin. The full wrath of God and the full love of God was displayed at it’s pinnacle on the cross. Nothing short of the shed blood of the eternal, beloved Son of God Himself could have atoned for sin. The weight of our guilt must have been infinitely indescribable to require such a sacrifice. And God’s love for us must also have been indescribable to have allowed it. I’m sharing all of this today, because I want us to realize the weight of our sin, and what Jesus Christ had to endure on the cross for that. To know that He died for my sins, past, present, and future, not only gives me hope, but it has created a very urgent message in my heart. Guys we are in a battle for our souls. The enemy has you in his clutches as sexual sin is tearing your life apart. You feel defeated, hurt, bitter, and hopeless. Any chance of hope that comes your way, is being snatched away because you’ve allowed this sexual sin to rule over you. Repent. I mentioned this word towards the beginning of the study, and today I am bringing back around to you. Repentance means you turn now and follow Jesus. Christ Himself has given you the invitation. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). He said “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.” (John 12:26). The call to repent is universal: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30) “The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Ezekiel says “Therefore, repent and live.” (18:32). You cannot follow Him halfheartedly. The full invitation of what it means to follow Christ is this: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Deny himself. When those urges come at you to lust, to watch porn, to masturbate, what is your response? Deny yourself? Jesus cautions you to count the cost carefully (Luke 14:28-33). “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul.” (Mark 8:3537).


Repent Believe. We “believe” a great deal of things in the world today, but how much of it is Biblical? Repentance and faith go hand in hand. If repentance calls us to turn away from sin and self, then believing is what turns our heart toward Christ. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31). “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. (Romans 10:9). Not only that, but if you are truly saved, your life will show it. One of the most convicting things that was ever told to me, was about 2 years after getting saved a guy who I saw every day sat down and we were talking about a lot of things, and he mentioned something he had read that I posted on the internet. He said these words that I will never forget. “I saw what you posted last night, I didn’t know you were a Christian. It’s like you’re 2 different people online and in person.” Ouch. Let’s ask ourselves this: If people didn’t see you at church on Sunday would they know that you are a Christian? Does your life reflect what you say you believe?


God Save Us From Our Good Intentions “Even water is poison if we breath it.”

God Save Us From Our Good Intentions Good intentions won’t save us. My prayer earlier this year was that God would save me from my good intentions. Doing a study like this one won’t save us either. “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). You must believe in the Christ of Scripture. He is both Savior and Lord. So many in our culture today have related this to simply meaning that we get a free ticket out of hell, but I want us to understand that is simply not the case. John Piper wrote in his book Desiring God that we have distorted what it means to “believe in the Lord Jesus”. He says that everyone may ‘say’ they “believe”. Drunks on the street say they believe in Jesus. Couples married for over 40 years but have never sought fellowship with the Lord, say they believe. Drug addicts say they believe. Piper argues that it does no good to tell people to ‘believe’. The term is taken so lightly, and so loosely in the world today, that becoming a Christian has become more about a social status, rather than a saving faith. Piper rephrases the question. “Do you receive Him as your treasure?” “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44). That changes everything. Anyone can say they believe, but can you say that Jesus is your treasure? God save us from our good intentions, that we would not just say that we believe. My prayer today is that we would not say “we believe” because of it’s social significance. My prayer is that we would ask ourselves this question today. Do we treasure our relationship with you above anything and everything else? “There is salvation in no one else.” We must lay hold of Christ by faith. Guys, you cannot lay hold of Christ while still clinging to your sin. Jesus came to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21). He did not come to offer heaven to sinners still reveling in their depravity. The salvation He offers is not merely an escape from the flames of hell, but it is a glorious liberation - freedom from the dominion of sin. Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said it like this. “Let me put it very plainly in this way: there is no point in our saying that we believe that Christ has died for us, and that we believe our sins are forgiven, unless we can also say that for us old things are passed away and that all things are becoming new; that our outlook towards the world and its method of living is entirely changed. It is not that we are sinless, nor that we are perfect, but that we have finished with that way of life. We have seen it for what it is, and we are new creatures for whom everything has become new.” Scripture recognizes that we are not perfect. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. Even the apostle Paul wrote “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14). Guys are you forgetting was lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead? We all fall short. Paul teaches us that our own imperfection should only spur us on toward the goal of complete Christ-likeness. We we begin to use our own faults as an excuse from guilt and sin, we walk on dangerous ground. We must continue to press on toward the goal. How many times have you slipped up this week? Have you allowed those times to keep you from pressing on toward the goal? Guys, this whole journey is a process, one that will not ever be complete this side of heaven. It’s a process called sanctification.


Sanctification Tell me not of your justification, unless you have also some marks of sanctification. Boast not of Christ’s work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit’s work in you. J.C. Ryle

Sanctification Paul wrote near the end of his ministry that he was not yet perfect (Philippians 3:12). He told the Romans to be constantly transformed by the renewing of their mind. He told the Galatians that we would labor with them until Christ was formed in them. Sanctification is a big “churchy” word that means this: It is a process by which God, working in believers through the Holy Spirit - gradually moves them toward being like Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are being set apart from sin. This transformation is gradual, not instant, and it will never be complete in this lifetime. This process will not end “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) Paul urged the Ephesians to stop being children, susceptible to error and trends. How? He wrote that they were “to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15). Peter also instructed believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18). The Bible clearly teaches that Christians can never attain sinless perfection in this life. “Who can say, I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). I don’t know about you, but I am not a very patient person. I see in Scripture where I should be, what I should be doing, yet find myself struggling. A few months ago one of the guys in my Youth group at church said it like this. “I get so angry with myself, because I’m not where I want to be. I know what I should be doing, and I get frustrated whenever I mess up.” Have you ever felt like that? I know I have. Daily. Paul said in Romans “We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). Those verses describe glorification, the immediate and instant completion of our sanctification. The problem that many of us have is a perfectionist view of sanctification. We think that since God saved us, we should have it all together, or if we’re not saved, that we have to have it all together before we can even come to Him. Guys that is simply not true. What is most discouraging is that this belief drives us further from God. We give up any pursuit of authentic biblical sanctification, because we see it as unattainable. To be sanctified is to be set apart from sin. Whenever you are saved, you have been disengaged from sin’s bondage. You have been released from the captivity of sin, and set apart for God. As you grow in Christ, you become more separated from sin and more devoted to God. Sexual sin is such a deceptive sin, because under the power of that sin, we don’t realize we have been set free. We are in bondage to sexual sin, even though Christ has already died for that on the cross. As a believer you must know that sexual sin has no power over you. A friend of mine explained it to me like this. “Imagine yourself in jail. You’re sitting there behind bars, but you never realize that the door to the jail cell is wide open. You can walk out any time. You’re set free. The problem is that you need to get up and walk out of the cell.” Many of us live our lives daily in an open prison cell, never realizing we are free to leave. As a follower of Christ, you are free to get up and walk out. Sin has no dominion over you! As you go through this process of sanctification you are becoming more and more like Christ. Romans 12:2 - Don’t conform to the world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The renewing of your mind is a daily ordeal that causes you to be less conformed to the world, and more to the image of Christ.


Sanctification Because we are being conformed to the image of Christ, there will be a change. Your life will start to look different. You cannot follow Christ and your life not be different. 3 words that describe this change are - regeneration, conversion, and sanctification. We are born again - regenerated given a new heart, a new spirit, and a new love for God (Ezekiel 36:26; 1 John 4:19-20). We become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4) We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) sin no longer defines our character. Many of you praying and have prayed that God will deliver you from the bondage of sexual sin. In Christ you have already been delivered. Yet, we still struggle. Guys, both Scripture and experience proves that all of us struggle with sin and we will continue this battle as long as we live. Much like Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ we also have a similar issue. What if your definition of being delivered isn’t what brings God the most glory? What if we struggle? What does that mean for us? For me, this brings about new revelations. I find myself having to depend more and more on the Holy Spirit, whenever I am tempted. I know that there is nothing good dwelling in me, and I am weak. I am not able to overcome this on my own, but relying solely on Christ am I able to do anything at all (Philippians 4:13). I prayed for years that God would “deliver me”. I had to really evaluate what that meant. Obviously it was going to be the easy way out. God would deliver me from sexual sin, I could move on, all would be well. That prayer was never answered. I didn’t understand it for the longest time, and I’ll admit even today I still struggle with it, but through the struggles, God is teaching me. He is teaching me what it means to live by the Spirit and not walk by the flesh. This too, is a part of sanctification. If you are frustrated because you keep messing up, I pray that the past few days have encouraged you. Over the past couple of years God continues to reveal to me how I am to approach sexual sin. Tomorrow I’ll be giving a very graphic demonstration of how to handle sexual sin, which leads us into closing this study. .


Kill Sin or Be Killed Let our hearts admit, “I am poor and weak. Satan is too subtle, too cunning, too powerful; he watches constantly for advantages over my soul. The world presses in upon me with all sorts of pressures, pleas, and pretences. My own corruption is violent, tumultuous, enticing, and entangling. As it conceives sin, it wars within me and against me. Occasions and opportunities for temptation are innumerable. No wonder I do not know how deeply involved I have been with sin. Therefore, on God alone will I rely for my keeping. I will continually look to Him. John Owen

Kill Sin or Be Killed For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13). I love how the KJV translates it to “mortifying” the deeds of the body”. We talked a little bit about this a few weeks ago, whenever we walked through Romans 8, and today we are revisiting in a little greater detail. What does it mean for the believer to mortify the deeds of the body? Puritan John Owen put it quite simply like this: “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” Romans 6 is one of the biggest resources for how we are to handle sin. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4). How can we who died to sin still live in it? How should we handle sin in our lives? Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14) Scripture says do not let sin reign in your body to make you obey its passions. Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, we are no longer at sin’s every beck and call! But do we live this way? In his book “The Mortification of Sin” John Owen explains it like this:

To mortify: “If you Put to death;” a metaphorical expression, taken from the putting of any living thing to death. To kill a man, or any other living thing, is to take away the principle of all his strength, vigor, and power, so that he cannot act or exert, or put forth any proper actings of his own; so it is in this case. Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called “the old man,” with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to death, mortified, -- that is, have its power, life, vigor, and strength, to produce its effects, taken away by the Spirit. It is, indeed, meritoriously, and by way of example, utterly mortified and slain by the cross of Christ; and the “old man” is thence said to be “crucified with Christ,” Romans 6:6, and ourselves to be “dead” with him, verse 8, and really initially in regeneration, Romans 6:3-5, when a principle contrary to it, and destructive of it, Gal. 5:17, is planted in our hearts; but the whole work is by degrees to be carried on towards the perfection all our days. Of this more in the process of our discourse. The intent of the apostle in this prescription of the duty mentioned is, -- that the mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh is the constant duty of believers. We are called to put sin to death. Owen asks the question “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work? Be always at it while you live. Do not cease a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” 1 Corinthians 9:27 “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, the NASB says “I make it my slave.”.


Kill Sin or Be Killed Guys, I think we’ve got it backwards most of the time don’t we? We are doing exactly the opposite of what Scripture tells us to do. Those who are ensnared by sin are slaves to it. Paul says that he disciplines his body, and makes it his slave! Why? So that he will not be disqualified after preaching to others. Sin is something we have to deal with until the day we die. It’s not only still in us, but is still acting, still laboring to bring forth the deeds of the flesh. When sin leaves us alone, we may leave it alone, but take caution. Sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be the most quiet. We are not only to be alert, but taking an active part in the killing of sin. Sin not only abides in me, but “the law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23). James 4:5 says Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17). Lust is still tempting and conceiving sin (James 1:14), in every moral action it is always either inclining to evil, or hindering from that which is good, or separating the spirit from communion with God. It inclines to evil. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:19). Owen says “6. It is our duty to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Corinthians 7:1); to be “growing in grace” every day, (1 Peter 2:3, 2 Peter 3:18;) to be “renewing our inward man day by day,” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” So where do we start? In the next chapter we’ll begin by looking at some familiar stories in the Old Testament.


Sunk By the Arrows of Sin

Sunk By The Arrows of Sin Saddam Hussein told the world “I’m not going to answer this so-called court, out of respect for the truth and the will of the Iraqi people. I’ve said what I’ve said, and I’m not guilty.” Many were appalled by his response. Many others questioned how he could even consider the possibility that he was innocent. If I can be completely real and honest with you guys today. I think most of us would agree that Saddam Hussein was not a very good man. The list of atrocities he committed against his people are more than could be mentioned in this post. I do want to share briefly about one such incident in the Anfal Campaign. In 1988 Saddam carried out a fight against the Kurdish population in northern Iraq to regain control over the area. It was estimated that up to 182,000 people were killed. The men were shot and buried in mass graves. The women, children, and elderly were taken to relocation camps where conditions were deplorable. In a few areas, especially areas that put up even a little resistance, everyone was killed. You have to wonder how someone like that could even be able to sleep at night, knowing what they’ve done. I would be completely devastated by the guilt of my actions. My conscience would not allow me to go through daily life without it being a constant thought in my mind. Saddam did not believe he was guilty of anything. Whenever I think about some of the things he has done, I think “How can he not know he is guilty??” For many guys who have struggled with sexual sin, this is where you find yourself. Guilty. Filled with guilt. Guilt over your sin. Guilt over hiding it, covering it up. Guilt has been controlling your thoughts, your actions, and it has been running you down. People see your walk with God on the outside, and inside you feel like you are falling apart. You’re exhausted over the charade you’ve been keeping up in front of everyone. You’re starting to get paranoid, waiting wondering if you’ll get caught. This isn’t just some deep spiritual insight, David in the Psalms expresses those very same things. If you’ve ever tried reading the Psalms it doesn’t take but a few chapters to get the idea that David might have some serious mood swings. But if you read them in the context of how the events of his life unfolded the bigger picture makes a lot more sense. Today we’re going to look at Psalm 38. Psalm 38 is filled with feelings of a guilty conscience. David has been where you’ve been and in many cases in much worse situations than we may ever have to face. It’s 22 verses, but I today I want us to read through this. A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes--it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot


Sunk By The Arrows of Sin slips!” For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (Psalms 38:1-22) In verse 2 David cries out “Your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh, no health in my bones because of my sin!” Ever had days when you felt like that? He goes on to say “that his sin is a heavy burden, too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness.” Does this sound like the beginnings of a guilty conscience? Do you think David is sorrowful over his sin? David said that he goes about all day long in mourning. If you continue to read through the rest of the Psalm, you start to feel the weight of this sin that David talks about. How his guilt and sorrow have affected him physically and spiritually. Humbleness goes a long way whenever God has convicted you of your sin. David felt this and he was nothing short of brutally honest about where his sin had taken him. “I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity, I am sorry for my sin.” Reading through Psalm 38 we see a picture of conviction over our sin, of sorrow, pain even over the consequences of our actions. We see how his sin plagued him, and ultimately, most importantly we see a genuine picture of repentance. David was truly repentant of his sin, he felt the weight of it bearing down on his soul and he was devastated because of it. I have come to truly love and appreciate David’s heart and his willingness to get right with God. Restoration is a truly wonderful thing. We see it as the underlying theme in the redemption of man, the story of the Bible, and in God’s faithfulness to restore us back into relationship with Him. Today I want you to read this verse: For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12) What a difference between what Paul writes and what David wrote! Ask yourself today, can you boast as Paul did about the testimony of your conscience? .


Stop It The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness. A.W. Pink

Stop It Ephesians Chapter Four gives us an outline on how we are to handle sin. It is not a series of steps, or recovery methods, it is a simply message simply saying “stop doing it.” Reading Ephesians 4:28 what does Scripture say to the man who finds himself guilty of stealing, to a man who sees something he likes and he takes it? What are we to tell someone doing such a thing? “Take it to Christ and ask Him to deliver you?” That sounds great but what does Paul say in this verse? Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4:28) Let the thief no longer steal. In other words.... Stop doing it. That’s it’s. It goes all the way back to Ephesians 4:1 that says we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” If it’s lustful thoughts, pornography, even adultery, just stop doing it. Paul doesn’t say “Go and pray for deliverance,” he says “You stop doing that, and you become children of God.” For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1) My pastor just reenforced last week to us the concept of what freedom truly is. It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Paul says “Don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery.” In other words don’t let sin rule over you. He tells them “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7) So many guys were running well. Sexual sin has you limping, you are falling behind. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Walk by the Spirit. Stop walking in the flesh. So you have to ask yourself the question, what does it mean to walk in the flesh? Perhaps most plainly it refers to that part of us that is alienated from God. It is the rebellious, unruly and obstinate part of our inner self that is operative all the time. It is that part of us that does not want to be told what to do. It is stubborn, refuses correction, and does not want to have a thing to do with God. It bristles at limits and rules. It recoils at anything that might cause me to be diminished or something less than the center of the universe. The flesh hates to be under authority or to have to yield to anything other than its own wishes and desires. The flesh often desires something simply because it is forbidden. The Protestants often call the flesh our “sin nature” which is not a bad term in summarizing what the flesh is. Guys as we close in on the last few days of this study, I want to encourage you. Stop doing it. Ephesians 4:28 is the most straightforward, obvious way of mortifying our sin. Too many men think they have to wait for some divine experience, a miracle from heaven, God’s intervention, a sign from the Lord. The rest are just waiting to hit the bottom of a bottomless pit of sin, never realizing there is no “rock bottom” whenever it comes to sin, you simply keep falling. Galatians 5:1 says it was for “freedom that Christ has set you free.” If you are in Christ, you are free from sin Stop doing it. You are dead to sin, now put to death the sin that remains.


Stop It How? “Abstain”. Realize you are dead to sin, and don’t do it anymore. James 4:7 says “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” How many times do you resist? Isn’t it so much easier to give in? Guys, until we learn this, we will continue to repeat the course. You cannot put it to death if you give into it every time. I believe it all goes back to our identity in Christ, which we covered in pretty good detail during the middle point of this study. If we truly believed who we are in Christ, it will change us. It will change everything.


Volunteering for Slavery If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one GO there UNWARNED and UNPRAYED for. - Charles Spurgeon

Volunteering for Slavery Make no provision for the flesh. In Romans 13:14 Paul writes “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regards to its lusts.” What does that mean exactly? I take it to mean that we are to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. We are to stop making provisions for sexual sin to be a part of our lives. If you have a problem with eating too much, don’t load up on junk food. If you have a problem drinking, don’t go to a liquor store. If it is sexual sin, don’t fill your mind with images that feed your lust. Refuse to feed your mind with the means to entertain evil thoughts. These images, these women on the internet have become something much greater than the means to entertain your lustful desires, they have become the idols in your heart in which you worship every time you give in to your lustful thoughts. The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! (Psalms 135:15-18) Guys, we need to fix our hearts and our eyes on Christ! The women of internet porn have become idols. For most men, if they are wanting to get their motor running, they usually recall those idols to mind. Whenever you think about that girl, that scene, you are worshiping it. Idol: A person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered. An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. Mark Driscoll shares in this post that pornography was one of his idols. “One of my personal idols was pornography. My attraction to it was not unlike religious devotion. To be sure, part of me hated pornography because it was so addicting and so controlling. But in reality, pornography was one of my gods.” There is a deception I want us to uncover today about the addiction to pornography and other sexual sins, and as we begin to close this study we are going to look at the story of a guy named David. For many years, David didn’t hate his dependence on pornography. He loved it. It was always there, it met his needs, and it accepted him. Even when he was finally married, he had ever intention of secretly bringing his obsession with him into the marriage. Even the week leading up to his wedding, and on every day he watched porn. Occasionally he fed his wife half-truths about his so-called struggles. But his main struggle was how to say it just right so that she didn’t suspect anything more. Eventually though, through some teaching at his church, he came to see pornography as sinful, so he decided to stop. Of course it wasn’t so simple. He found that he could not stop, and then he panicked. He would beat himself up “Why can’t you do this?” You’re self-disciplined, just stop it!” But the idol which had offered acceptance, pleasure, and relief for so many years demanded his loyalty, devotion, service, and trust. It would not release him. David was enslaved. Sin deceives (Hebrews 3:13). It whispers lies. “The idol takes care of you, God doesn’t. The idol gives you what you want, what you crave, it relieves your pain” (remember the athletes foot of the mind analogy in Day 1).


Volunteering for Slavery It’s volunteer slavery. In one way, we’ve been captured. In another sense, we want to give ourselves to our captors. Does that make any sense? Guys volunteering for slavery? Here’s the thing. It doesn’t always start out as slavery. It begins with making a clear-headed choice to indulge in a sinful desire. The deception starts whenever we feel like we control the power of the idol, simply because we choose it. That’s when the lie begins to take root. Later, some pain or temptation meets us again, and we run back to the idol. The lie is strengthened each time, and a kind of spiritual blindness sets in. Once you are blinded, you are enslaved. because you can no longer see your freedom. To deceive is to mislead, to speak in such a way as to avoid the truth. This happens by telling a lie something factually untrue, or by telling a truth with the intention to mislead. This is what David did when he told his wife about his “struggles.” It was true, but it was also deceiving because by it, he meant to keep her from knowing the whole truth. Self-deception is when you are both the deceived and the deceiver. It happens whenever you have both been deceived and are also unaware of the deception to start with. Pornography, sexual sin, masturbation, they become the idols we worship. Tim Keller writes “Whatever we worship we will serve, for worship and service are always inextricably bound together. We are ‘covenantal’ beings. We enter into covenant service with whatever most captures our imagination and heart. It ensnares us. So every human personality, community, thought-form, and culture will be based on some ultimate concern or some ultimate allegiance—either to God or to some God-substitute. Individually, we will ultimately look either to God or to success, romance, family, status, popularity, beauty or something else to make us feel personally significant and secure, and to guide our choices. Culturally we will ultimately look to either God or to the free market, the state, the elites, the will of the people, science and technology, military might, human reason, racial pride, or something else to make us corporately significant and secure, and to guide our choices. . . . “Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” In the next chapter we look at a story in the Old Testament we will find that God exposes these idols.


Intercessions Upon a life I did not live, upon a death I did not die; another’s life, another’s death, I stake my whole eternity.

Intercessions As Moses spoke with God on the mountain the people became restless. They went to Aaron and demanded he make them a god to worship. They didn’t know what had happened to Moses and they were certainly not waiting around to find out if he was returning or not. In verses 32-34 we see in Exodus 32 that Aaron takes all of the gold rings of the people and formed a golden calf for the people to worship. As Moses was speaking with God on the mountain, God saw everything. He told Moses: “Go down for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves... I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” (Exodus 32:7, 9-10). God not only exposed their foolishness but he also exposed Aaron’s self-deception. When Moses descended to rebuke the people, he first went to his brother Aaron and said “What did they do to you that made you build a golden calf!” (verse 21). We know the truth, what really happened. Aaron told the people to bring him all of their gold rings, and he made it into a calf. But Aaron responded “They gave the gold to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out cam this calf!” Shifting blame, Aaron made the people responsible for the gold collection, and the calf responsible for jumping out of the fire. But Aaron was the only one deceived here, for the story ends with these words “The LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one Aaron made.” (verse 35) Moses faced a dilemma. He knew the people deserved God’s wrath for their idolatry. He knew God would have been perfectly just to wipe them out. Surely Moses was weary of the Israelites grumbling and accusations. But Moses was patient with the people. Moses interceded for them, asking God to spare them for His name’s sake. Moses neither minimized their sin, nor accused God of being unjust . God honored Moses’ plea and relented (Exodus 32:11-14). Moses intercession prefigures Christ’s intercession for us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2) A key similarity between the intercessions of Moses and Jesus is that, in both cases, God’s glory and holy character are upheld while the sin of the people is exposed and condemned for the corruption and rebellion that it truly is. A key difference however, is that while Moses would have been spared God’s wrath as the Israelites were destroyed, Jesus took God’s wrath upon Himself so His people are saved. (He is the propitiation for our sin). I share all of that to say this... If it were not for this intercession on our behalf, we would not even have the opportunity to repent. Think about it: the intercessory conversation between Moses and God was up on the mountain, far from the people who were still sinning. They weren’t even there for the conversation. It happened for them, on their behalf, before they even knew they needed it. And “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)


Intercessions Guys, if you are struggling with pornography, your idols might be the images or the videos that you watch. You hold them close to your heart, locked away for no one else to see. But just as God saw what was going on while Moses was on the mountain, He sees what is going on in your heart. He knows about all of the secret compartments locked away from everyone else.


Extracted Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit I would desire to die practicing it. - Matthew Henry

Extracted God’s generous gift of forgiveness makes it possible to repent and because of that repentance, we can experience greater joy in Him. In order to get there however, you have to be convinced by the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word that you are guilty of sin. If you quickly dismiss this, and move too fast, you will quite possibly fall into self deception because you end up telling yourself and others that you are repenting of something that you aren’t even convinced is wrong. If we were truly repentant would we still continue to go back to the same sin repeatedly? If I can be completely honest with you, here is what I think is the case for many of us, especially men. We love looking repentant more that we actually want to love God or others. We somehow know that repentance is expected and we want to show that we can meet that expectation. Which leads us to the very deceptive counterfeit for repentance - worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is quite simply this: - fear of consequences, falling short of your own self image, or looking bad in the eyes of others. We are sorrow for what we have done, simply because of the consequences it has brought upon us. If it weren’t for those consequences where would you be? Our sin is always ultimately before God’s eyes, and that is where conviction must start. God must be at the center of our attention, and first and foremost we should be more concerned about what our sin looks like in His eyes. Most of us, if we are honest are more concerned about what would happen if someone found out. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10) Guys, if we do not allow conviction to lead us to godly sorrow over our sin, then our pain-filled cries to God will degenerate into mere begging that He would take away bad feelings instead of please for Him to show His grace and mercy and change our hearts. My experience dealing with guys who struggle with sexual sin show more worldly sorrow than godly repentance. They are sorry, but only because they got caught, or there was some other consequence for what they did. You must agree with God about your sin and name it as He names it, specifically. We don’t sin in general, we sin in specifics. So we must confess as specifically as we sin. True confession, consists in humbly telling the whole truth about our sin. Counterfeit confessions which we talked about a few weeks ago, mostly consist in pride and resistance to speaking the truth. (James 3:14). We must repent. We may promise to change. How many times have you either said this or been told this? “I’ll change, I promise”. You might beg for another chance. You may have someone begging for another chance. You might even be able to keep a good track record for a season, but guys, we will never know true and lasting change until we rip out the sin that’s rooted in the deep idols of our heart. In fact, it’s not enough to rip out the roots, something new must also be planted. A.W. Tozer said it like this: “This thing inside of us will not go out painlessly, it will not lie down and die in obedience to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil. Extracted out of our heart like a tooth from a jaw. Must be expelled from our hearts as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple.” Extracted out of our heart, like a tooth from a jaw. How’s that for a visual? But this is exactly how we should handle it. Thomas Chambers said “Deep idols must be pushed out by deep worship.”


Extracted Closer examination of these “addictions” actually prove to be something much deeper indeed. Guys we were designed, created by God to worship. These “addictions” end up becoming little idols, and what usually happens is we simply replace one idol for another. Every time you give in to those addictions you serve the idol you worship, what I discovered about my own idol, the further I began to dig was a much bigger idol than sexual sin, the root of all of those idols came down to the idol of being accepted. Being accepted was the root of the idols in my heart, and the basis for most of the decisions I would make for years. Fear of not being accepted, times whenever I was rejected, all of those things drove me further down this path of wanting to be accepted. On the internet, I fell into the self deception that these women, those images, and videos would never reject me. My identity was not in Christ, but in what others thought of me. Acceptance became my idol.


Closing Five minutes after you die you’ll know how you should have lived. - Leonard Ravenhill

Closing Many of us come out of a study re-charged, refocused, and ready to attack hell with a water pistol. No sooner than a couple of weeks pass, and we slip up, we fall, and the enemy of doubt and discouragement falls upon us. We feel like a failure, and we give up everything we “pledged” we would do just a few weeks prior. I know because I have been there, I done that. 2 years ago, I did a study on the Armor of God, and it was the absolute worst time in my life. I had taken everything that I had learned in those 7 weeks, and threw them out the window the moment I had stepped back into reality. So, as we end our 8 1/2 week journey, there are some things I want you to realize and understand. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to make mistakes. There will be days that you struggle. You will sin. We will never be without sin this side of heaven. That doesn’t mean that you give up. You persevere, pray, and stand firm. One of the most overlooked pieces of Every Man’s Battle was their tag line. Winning the War against sexual sin, one victory at a time. There will be always be victories and losses in battle. What we tend to lose focus on, however, is Who has already won the battle for us. Your identity is not tied up in what you do, your failures, your acceptance, your job, or your family. Your identity is in Christ. We spent several days covering that in these posts. Today I have a challenge for you. Download this sheet on Your Identity in Christ - and fill in the blanks with your name. Read and study this often. Ask yourself daily, weekly, monthly, do you believe this? Does your life reflect what you say you believe? Some of you have experienced some really deep hurts in your life. There is a ministry that I believe can help you with those. Pure Life Ministries has been involved in the battle of sexual sin for over 25 years. Please visit their website, listen to their podcasts, and get acquainted with this ministry. I have found them to be the most ‘God-centered’ ministry dealing with the issues of sexual sin. They offer support, and a rehabilitation program for sex-addicts. Check out their resource section and the book Intoxicated with Babylon by Steve Gallagher I want to leave you with a word of encouragement. I actually have this printed and taped inside my Bible and I have to go back and meditate and pray through this often. It says: We all have inherent weaknesses that make us vulnerable to particular kinds of sin, don’t we? That means something that’s a snare for one man may be completely harmless for another. But one thing we all have in common is that we each must accept responsibility for ourselves. That means you need to guard against anything that exploits our weaknesses and provides situations where it will be easy for you to stumble into sin. It’s a mistake to think that temptation only exists outside of us. Problems happen when things outside of us stir up and stimulate dispositions already resident within us. James 1:14-16 says, ‘Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled.’ Men, part of taking responsibility for your own sinful desires means you need to identify and avoid locations, situations, or people that trigger temptation. It’s not always easy. Often such things seem innocent enough, and sometimes they’re things in which we find comfort or escape. But as difficult as this may be, it’s essential that you know yourself and your weaknesses well enough to know what is dangerous, what is harmful, and what is simply a waste of your time and energy. You’ll avoid a lot of grief and pain simply by avoiding those things that provide the opportunity and occasion to stumble. My final word to you in this study would be this - Pursue God.


Closing Above anything or anyone else, pursue your relationship with Him. As we mentioned before don’t ask yourself if you believe in Him, ask yourself if He is your treasure. Say these words with Paul: But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-14)



A 40 day journey towards sexual purity. Emergency exists to serve and encourage, to compel and empower men in their relationship with Jesus...


A 40 day journey towards sexual purity. Emergency exists to serve and encourage, to compel and empower men in their relationship with Jesus...