Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blind-Sided

This past summer, I made great personal sacrifices to make myself available for the Jews for Jesus summer evangelism campaign in New York. I never knew the opposition I would face there. Not from the Jews, I expected that; in fact, I expected much more hostility than we ultimately faced. What I did not understand, was that Satan would continue to use my sin nature against me right after the campaign was over.

I struggled mightily with lust while on the campaign, being a single young man who wants to put God first and marriage in God's timing. It was an exhausting fight, which I honestly thought was over at the end of my stay. I missed the telltale signs that I was still fighting, because I mistakenly believed that Satan only wanted me to harm one person, and that person was not around anymore. I forgot how Satan works: he tempts us to sin at all times, for the sole purpose of dishonoring God's name in front of those around us.

Over the past six weeks since I've been back, I've learned something new about Satan, that should have been obvious before: The stronger my resistance to the sin, the stronger he comes to tempt me to do it. It does not have to be a flagrant sin, it can be a small sin or a wicked hidden sin, but fiercely insisted upon. Mine? Pornography.

True, I has seen some before, but I had overcome that level of lust through prayer and reading my Bible. Honestly, the same formula of prayer and diligent Bible study would have protected me this time, too (an idle mind is indeed the devil's workshop), but I was relaxing from a gruelling, trying time in New York. I thought I deserved a break.

Well, I have no doubt that I needed rest, but resting in the Spirit, and being idly minded are two very different things. If my idea of relaxation is reviewing the Bible verses that have kept me back from sin so many times, then my guard is always strong enough to defeat the temptations that come my way. But, if not, then I let my guard down, and once Satan starts jumping over the top of it, it is hard to get him back out of the castle of my mind.

It's been six weeks of struggle and lies, as I have sought not to reveal my addiction for pride's sake. I finally told my pastor this morning, and now I feel free to share this with you. Prayer and Bible study are the best resting and relaxation techniques you can ever employ. If I fall asleep while actually reading my Bible, I sleep with the comfort of those words filling my mind and awaking me in the morning. If I fill my mind with pornography, I disturb my spirit greatly. It's the reason that I have not slept well for the past three or four days. It is the advantage that I have given the flesh in its war against the Spirit by not strengthening my spirit with the Word of God. How foolish of me.

Honestly, it doesn't matter much what you read, unless the Holy Spirit specifically takes you to a certain place in Scripture and says to read it. Almost any chapter, especially the ones you have never read before, will show you something about God and His holiness that will strengthen your spirit in its war against the flesh. And you will win that battle. I guarantee it. I know I did.

Think of the Christian life as a boxing tournament. You have to meet and defeat opponents at every level. But as you defeat each one, you face a stronger opponent. (If you lose, you have to keep fighting the same opponent until you win, so that really isn't a very good option, either.) In such a case, it would be foolish for the "boxer" not to eat everyday before he enters the tournament and after his day is over--he would need the nourishment. S0 also it is foolish for a Christian to skip a few "meals" of the Word for any reason.

Now to get back to the very things that led me to victory so faithfully every time.

3 comments:

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causa nostra laetitiae said...

The closer you are to Christ, and the more good you do for His Kingdom, the more flack you will attract from the Enemy. It's a good test to see if your ministry is being effective. You were very wise to confess to your pastor before your pride got the better of you.
As a Catholic, I need the Sacrament of Confession to keep me humble and admitting my sins, and to receive God's grace and forgiveness.

JOSHUA S BLACK said...

You know, it doesn't really matter what religion you profess: Confessing to a human being doesn't really do anything but show how humble you are before them. There is only One Man that can forgive sins. "For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 2:5).

My reason for confessing to my pastor was so that I would have an intercessor and so that someone else would know about my sin. You see, you can deceive yourself into continuing in sin if other people don't know about it. You can say that no one is affected. But when you tell someone, then that person can hold you accountable and can help you to stay out of temptation.

My pastor is one of my best friends. That is why I told him. I wanted someone whom I know cares for me to be able to help me keep my mind pure toward God.

And I have told my readership lest they mistakenly believe that I am some sort of "super saint." I have sins and weaknesses like as everyone else. But I am saved by Jesus' blood and righteousness. That's what makes me a saint. But by no means a super saint.

But my confession of sin is only to Jesus. He is the Only One who is authorized to forgive sins. The Only One.