If you have a hard time believing God wants to forgive you; again and again – This episode is for you.
If you notice you’re trying to raise yourself up, reducing what you’ve done to receive mercy – This episode is for you.
Let’s appreciate God’s gift of mercy as a GIFT, freely and generously given, for you right where you are.
It can feel difficult to separate the anger you feel with yourself about your own condition and how God feels about you.
1 Corinthians 6:18 “Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
We have two responses when we feel frustrated with ourselves and/or the cycle we battle:
1. Start to downplay the seriousness of what we’ve done by justifying it or spiritualize it. This avoids the significance of what we’ve done and to avoid our own fears and difficulties accepting God’s forgiveness.
2. Turn on grace. We approach God for grace but in such a way that tries to lift us up and make us worthy in some way of receiving Gods mercy.
When you begin to pay attention to the deeper waters of your soul; acting out sexually, moving towards any kind of sin is really seeking to repair something, seeking to medicate something, seeking to reverse something that we’ve experienced.
Gods gifts of grace and mercy and forgiveness and love are gifts.
When we try to lower our need or elevate our worth; we are trying to earn those gifts.
A gift cannot be earned.
Ephesians 2:8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
Do you trust the gift? Do you trust the gift giver?
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“Mercy flows to the lowest places.”
– Andrew Comiskey
Open yourself to the reality of where you are and what you’ve done. Be clear in your confession then ask God to give you mercy there.
Shift your posture from you to God. Remember, the measure of mercy you’re able to receive is not dependent on you or from you.
Transcription of this episode.
This Episode’s Transcription
I know, I know, I know, God is forgiving. But he’s really going to forgive me again, after I’ve asked him so many times, and I keep going back to the same sin over and over again. This question is a theological one. But it’s also a heartfelt one that I think a lot of us experience. I know, in the years that I wrestled with sexual sin. There’s so many times that I just had a hard time believing not in my head, but in my heart and my gut, the guy who would really forgive me again, especially in light of the fact that this was nowhere near the first time I had done this over and over and over again, I looked at porn again and again and again. I had masturbated again. And again and again. This was something I’d return to over and over even after I’d asked God for forgiveness, even after I promised him, I wouldn’t do it anymore, even after I promised that I would do better even after I knew how to do better. And I kept going back to these things. So the idea that God would forgive me again, just seemed, well, it seemed unlikely. It didn’t make sense. And I think, as I reflected on it, some of what was happening for me at that time was it was hard for me to separate how angry I felt at myself how frustrated I felt about my own condition. And how God felt about me, I was frustrated that I was going back to those old behaviors over and over and over again, I was frustrated that I was doing things that I felt ashamed of that, that I was, in essence treating myself this way, and treating others inappropriately, after even when I knew better. So how could God not be frustrated with me, given that he’s perfect, and I’m the one doing it, given that he’s holy. And I’m the one who’s not given the fact that he can do better that he has made a way for me to do better given that he is he went to the cross for me and gave me his Holy Spirit so that I could do better. How could he have mercy on me? How could he be gracious towards me? Even when I felt like I didn’t deserve it? Does that make sense? Can you relate? No, maybe for you. It’s not overtly sexual stuff. I know. For me, there are other areas, certainly, the way that I lose my temper with my kids, the way that I procrastinate on things that I want to do better on the way that I lose myself to my screens, the ways that I dive into food. So I know that this is not unique to those of us who have wrestled with sexual sin or who do wrestle sexual sin. But I think for those who do wrestle with sexual sin, it has a specific kind of poignancy to it. Because we’re sitting in our bodies, we’re sitting against our bodies, and there’s something unique about the way that kind of sits in us with us on us. Paul says something about this in First Corinthians six when he says, every other sin you sin you do is outside the body, but he’s sin sexually sins against his own body. And I don’t claim to understand fully what that means. But I do just experientially, I can say that there’s something about sexual sin that seems to kind of just sit on us in a heavier way, a way that shames us more. So I think we have two responses. Typically, when we feel frustrated ourselves, or when we’ve, when we’re wrestling with some type of sin over and over and over again, two typical responses in relationship to God. One is that we start to downplay the seriousness of what we’ve done. And we may do this in one of one of a couple ways, we may justify it kind of like everybody does this. It’s not that big a deal, or at least it wasn’t, you know, doing this and this and that it was only this. The other thing I think we can do is we can say, Well, God forgives me anyway. And so we kind of spiritualize it, and just kind of paint over it with this kind of spiritual veneer of like, Well, God, you know, God forgives, He knows I’m only human, blah, blah, blah. But I think that’s really an attempt to avoid the significance of what we’ve done and to avoid our own fears and our own difficulty receiving God’s forgiveness. And I know that sounds ironic. How can how can just kind of assuming that God forgives me in painting, you know, just kind of painting over with a broad brush? How can that be avoiding it? Isn’t that accepting God’s grace? Isn’t that accepting His mercy and forgiveness? And that suggest? I don’t know that it is and I think you’ll understand more as you listen on. The other direction we can go as we wrestle with God’s forgiveness, wrestled to receive it is is a subtle kind of turn on Grace, where we we approach God for grace, we approach Him for His mercy and forgiveness. But we do it in such a way that tries to lift us up and make us worthy in some way of receiving God’s mercy. Hey, friends, if you have something we should be talking about on the show? Let us know. Send us an email at podcast at regeneration ministries dot O R G. In the meantime, please be sure to review rate subscribe and share this podcast the back to the show.
I know as I listened to men and women confess sin come in and share with me how they’re doing. And in some of our support groups or programs or one on one coaching when somebody’s specifically trying to, to overcome habitual unwanted sexual behavior, part of what we’ll do in a coaching session or in a group is have a time of just, you know, just check in tell me, how’s that been going for you? It’s not all we talked about. But it’s one thing just how’s the last week or two, Ben in regards to your own sexual acting out, talking about the victories and talking about any temptations and falls. And when people talk about their falls, they often kind of put a almost a protective coating around them, either to make them sound not not as bad, or to explain what happened. And let me just take a kind of a sidestep here that might be helpful for some of you, too. One of the one of the things that we find so so helpful in helping people overcome unwanted sexual behavior is to help them dig under the surface as to what they were really looking for. And what prompted the the acting out behavior. And so for a lot of us, it just seems to come out of nowhere, it just, you know, hit me out of the blue, I was tempted and so act it out. But the truth is, when you begin to pay attention to the deeper waters of your soul, acting out sexually moving towards any kind of sin is really seeking to repair something seeking to medicate something, seeking to reverse something that we’ve experienced. And this podcast, not about that, so I won’t go into it. But, but even as we begin to understand that, so a simple example, what we’re gonna understand is, I was feeling stressed. And so I acted out sexually, it helped me feel more relaxed. That’s very basic one, but I think you can relate. And so when someone can confess, one of the ways they tried to kind of Prop themselves up and feel a little bit more worthy of forgiveness, is by talking about how stressed they were, this is why I did it. That’s a helpful thing to understand is you’re seeking them away from it. But it’s not a helpful thing in regards to confession. All of these attempts, all of these attempts are our way of trying to mitigate in some way to reduce in some way, the severity of what we’ve done, or to raise us up to be more worthy. And whether we’re trying to reduce the severity of what we’ve done, or raise ourselves up to be more worthy. The end goal is to try to get more of God’s forgiveness, mercy, grace and love. But the problem with that, either of those approaches, is that when we do that, we’re actually shutting ourselves down from receiving more of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. We’re actually posturing ourselves to to be able to receive less of what we need most and what we desire most in those moments from God. And here’s why. God’s gifts to us, His gifts of grace, His gifts of mercy, His gifts of forgiveness, his gifts of love, our gifts. And when we try to lower our need, or we try to elevate our worth, we are in essence, trying to earn a gift. And a gift, by definition cannot be earned. If God only gives gifts, does not, does not provide what we need based on what we’re earning, but rather, based on on what he has provided for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. If we are saved by grace, through faith and not by our works, as Paul puts it in Romans, then that means that the only way to receive God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love is as gift. And the reality of when we try to decrease the severity of what we’ve done or increase our worthiness is it’s our expression of the fact that we do not trust the gift. And we do not trust the gift giver. We we believe and we attribute to the gift giver and to the gift that it’s not going to come to me if what I’ve done is so bad, and I don’t deserve the gift. When we are living in in those things and posturing yourself that way. We don’t open the gift. We don’t receive the gift. We’re looking for a price tag, we’re looking for ways that we can pay back. I remember years ago, coming to a mentor of mine who was helping me overcome unwanted sexual behaviors. And he was listening me sharing So Josh, why don’t we go to a time of confession and just tell you tell Jesus, what you’ve done, just confess to him. And so I started praying and pouring out my heart and in those subtle ways, saying things that were me trying to convince God to forgive me. Lord, I want to do better forgive me for this, I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I will do better. I’m going to work on this. And all these kinds of things to try to kind of convince God to forgive me. And my mentor, God bless him. He stopped me and it was actually a kind of abrupt it. It shocked me when he did it. He has some mental praying and he says, Josh, stop, stop. Tell God what you did.
In essence, he was saying just remove The commentary took out you did. And so I recognize what he was doing. And I began just to state my sins plainly before the Lord. And it was exposing it was vulnerable. Because I felt in front of the Lord, I felt without adding anything or trying to make myself feel better. Anyway, I felt like man, I just I felt that the significance and the truth that I do not deserve what I’m asking for right now. Lord, I knew better and I opened up the the browser, my computer, I looked at pornography, and I lusted after women that you’ve created. And you love them and know them, but I lusted after them. I treated them as objects for my sexual gratification. And Lord, I did this and this and this. And I just kind of walk through it not beating myself up, not self flagellation. Because again, that’s a way of trying to earn something from God, but just stating the truth, the hard truth of what I’ve done, and trying to use words even, that are sin, you know, like, I think sometimes, like, you know, it’s to say, I looked at pornography. Like, honestly, like, if you get technical, that’s not even a sin like, you know, looking is never a sin. What’s the sin? It’s lusting? That’s the sin. It’s treating someone as an object, that’s the sin. So again, not to get scrupulous not to get technical, not to be self. flagellating, not being you know, beating yourself up, but simply to state the truth. And then after I did that confession, my mentor just prayed a simple prayer of me of you, I think he might even quoted First John one, nine, Joshua, you’ve confessed your sin, God is faithful, and just and he forgives you your sin and cleanses you from all unrighteousness. And what that posture did with the difference that made was it, it set the focus of the forgiveness on God’s great love, His mercy on the cross of Jesus on all his action and all his character. And then from that place, I was able to receive as I experienced that, I was able to receive more deeply the magnitude of His mercy. And I don’t know if you’re following that equation there. But but but if I try to raise myself up, then I’m, and let’s say, just to psychologically, or emotionally I do that, then the amount of Mercy I’m receiving only meets me to the place where I’ve raised myself up to. But the truth is, I raised I raised myself up with my own thinking about what I’d done. And so the Mercy didn’t go as deep as I needed it. Because I met you know, I tried to meet mercy kind of halfway so to speak. And likewise, if I downplay the severity of what I’ve done, that I haven’t lowered myself enough, and mercy comes to meet me where I am, but I am not in the truth, not living in the truth of the reality of, of how deep the darkness that I’ve, I’ve, I’ve done is. And so instead, what we want to do is we want to open ourselves up to the reality of where we are what we’ve done, without excuse, without justification without trying to lift ourselves up. And, and invite God to give us mercy there. And as we do that, I think the measure of mercy that we are able to receive, I mean, God’s always lavishing mercy on us. But I think it’s, it’s more Arlen posture. So we open ourselves to receive the magnitude of mercy that we need. Andrew Comiskey has put it this way. He says, he says mercy flows to the lowest spot. It’s like water, it flows to the lowest, the lowest place. And so why don’t we try to elevate ourselves we do we need less mercy. No, we need more than we know. So let’s not try to raise ourselves up, or minimize what we’ve done to so that we receive less mercy, let’s be honest about the truth of our sin, sexual or otherwise. So we can receive just huge drafts, huge waves of God’s abundant, loving mercy. Lord, apart from you, we we are sinful and we have sinned. And Lord, there’s nothing that we can do that justifies us even remotely. And so would you grant us your mercy. And Lord, for anyone listening today who’s just thirsty for mercy, or help them to lay down the ways they’ve tried to earn it, or reduce their need for it, and help them instead, Lord to simply confess to you and receive the love, forgiveness, mercy and grace you have for them to pray these things, and even the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
Lastly, if Becoming Whole has been a blessing in your walk with God, would you consider making a donation to our ministry?