If you struggle with unwanted sexual thoughts or behaviors, I have an important question for you:
What do those struggles lead you to believe about yourself? Do Lies of a faulty identity ring true?
Everybody I know who has a history of habitual sexual sin has their own unique list of negative words, ideas, and images they are tempted to believe about themselves: Perhaps dirty, defective, different. Maybe perverted, tainted, unwanted, or unlovable. What words or images come to mind about you?
Recently, I was talking with a good friend who for years has experienced temptation in the area of same-sex attraction. He loves Jesus and has a powerful ministry in the lives of other men, but when he notices a man’s genitals, he is immediately filled with shame and self-reproach. Simply noticing another man’s penis sends him into intense doubt about his worth as a leader, a minister, and a man.
As I was talking with him the other day, I felt like the Lord gave me a word of insight applicable to not only him, but to all of us who wrestle with believing negative things about ourselves based on recurring areas of struggle.
When Jesus was crucified, Pilate hung an inscription over his head that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19). The words were true, but the sentiment was mockery. Pilate was mocking both Jesus and the Jews. In essence, he was saying, “This defeated, dying man is what a king of this defeated people looks like.”
When my friend notices another man’s genitals, the enemy mocks him, calling him all manner of things to try to convince him that his noticing means something about his identity. The enemy mocks him to try to convince him he is already defeated. Why? Because he wants my friend to embrace a faulty identity so he will in turn give up, give in, and accept sin, defeat, and death are his inevitable course.
What about you? What has the enemy inscribed over you?
Maybe you have a long history of falling into sin and it feels so familiar and good to you that you can’t imagine living without it. What is the enemy telling you this means about you?
Maybe you’ve been making great progress but you’ve had a recent fall. What is the enemy nailing up over your head in response?
Maybe you’ve been doing really well and making great strides, but you still feel a lot of temptation. What is the enemy chiseling into the sign he wants to place over your head?
Whatever they are, no matter how true they may sound or feel to you, the enemy’s sentiment is mockery and his intent is to persuade you to accept that you are who he says you are, and defeat is inevitable.
Friends, his words are not God’s words for you. God the Father’s words to Jesus weren’t “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” they were, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17). I wonder if Jesus held to these words.
Whatever the words of mockery are that the enemy nails up over your head, don’t be afraid of them, even if they point to something that’s been true of you. You need not run anymore. Come to Jesus in prayer. Bring Him the mocking inscription, and ask Him to bear it into His body on the cross. Watch as those words are assumed into the sign that hung over His head.
Then ask Him to open your ears to the words the Father is speaking over you. If you’re having difficulty, find a discerning pastor, friend or spiritual coach who can help you.
Question: Can you relate with the experience of the enemy trying to get you to believe something false about you because of your habitual sin struggles or temptations? What is the Father saying to you today?
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Isaiah 49:16.