This week we will be responding to a question from one our listeners. “How does someone deal with doubts about identity in Christ while struggling with sexual addiction?”
There is something about sin in general when it’s habitual and repetitive. When we experience in our bodies that conflict that we do what we don’t want to do, and we keep on doing it.
It’s hard to believe that we have a new identity in Jesus. Or in my case, there were worse sexual behaviors that I engaged in after I had a conversion and really started to follow Jesus.
So how could I trust that my conversion was real?
How can I trust that I have a new identity in Christ.
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This Episode’s Transcription
Hey friends, welcome back to this week’s podcast. Listen, we say right in the middle this podcast that if you got questions or topics you want us to address, please email them to us. And we can’t always answer every question but true to form did receive question I just felt compelled. I wanted to reply to this is a question from Samuel, he wrote in? How does someone deal with doubts about identity in Christ while struggling with sexual addiction? I tend to doubt and I have fear because of my constant failure and struggle. And first of all, Samuel, thank you for your question, your honesty, your vulnerability. And man, can I relate there is something about sin in general, that’s when it’s habitual when it’s repetitive, when we experience in our bodies, that conflict that we do what we don’t want to do, and we keep on doing it. And it’s hard to believe how can I actually trust that I have a new identity in Jesus, when I’m still doing the old things that I used to do? Or in my case, there were worse sexual behaviors that I engaged in after I had a conversion really started to follow Jesus, then behaviors I had done before I reached that point in my life. And so how could I trust that my conversion was real? How can I trust that I really wasn’t Christ that I really did have a new identity in him. sound about right. So Samuel, I can relate and I think that there are others listening who can relate to and I’m, that’s why when the reason I’m glad you wrote what you wrote. So here’s the thing. I there’s a lot of could say about your new identity in Christ and trying to encourage you. There’s so much Scripture and so much Christian teaching that centers around this, that’s so important, I want to address that really quickly. But I want to spend most of our time talking a little bit differently about it, because what you’re addressing, I’m guessing, is not so much a head issue, not so much a theology issue, not so much a Do I know the truth issue? As much as it’s a heart issue? Your head, probably already knows. I mean, even the fact that you’re, you’re asking about this new identity in Christ, suggests that you already have teaching around the fact that you are new in Christ. And yet, there’s something in your heart something in your experience is struggling to believe that and that’s worth paying attention to. So, you know, Romans eight is a great place to go in Scripture that speaks to this fact that you that you are new in Christ, Romans eight one, therefore, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There’s no condemnation for you. Yes, you still struggle with sin. Yes, it’s still ongoing. You’re trying to get better, but there’s no condemnation for you. I think also of Jesus’s words in in the famous sermon where he’s taught or the famous conversation he’s having with Nicodemus, where he says, forgot some of the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. And he goes on to say in verse 17, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. But in order that the world might be saved through Him, whoever believes in Him is not condemned. And you might even put your your own name in there, as you’re reading those to help move it from Head to Heart. It’s not just the ology, it’s also speaking to you specifically and personally. So, for example, I would say, for God to not send his Son into the world to condemn Josh. But in order that Josh might be saved through Him. If Josh believes in him, Josh is not condemned, spend some time helping to move that truth from your head to your heart in that way. And then I also think about Jesus in John eight, and his encounter with a woman who was caught in adultery. And this is so maybe especially important because this is a woman who is wrestling with sexual sin. She very well may be a serial adulterer, this may not be her first, her first dalliance with another woman’s husband, and I’m conjecturing here, but just based on the reality that the Pharisees knew where to find her. It’s possible they had set a trap because this is something that she had done before she had been unfaithful to her husband, or had had a sexual relationship with somebody else’s husband before. And Jesus has this this encounter where he defends her to her accusers, and then they end up all leaving. And then Jesus stands up and he says to her in verse in chapter eight, verse 10, he says, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one Lord. And Jesus says, Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more. It’s a beautiful manifestation of what He said in John three. He’s not joking around in John three, he means it for you. For those who really wrestle with sin, he did not condemn, He came to save, put your name in there, imagine yourself in that situation, see yourself in that scene, all those things can speak to your head and hopefully help to move some things to your heart. But let’s talk about your heart a little bit more. Because, again, I think that you’re not just wrestling with a, with a head issue. It’s not just a theology issue. It’s not just you haven’t been told Scripture before, that you haven’t had good teaching good Christian teaching about your new identity in Christ. There’s something where it’s not connecting for you. And I want to address that a little bit. And then I’m going to give you some recommendations at the end of the podcast to hopefully give you help you kind of to move more of the stuff from your head to your heart in a more significant way. So the first thing is just beginning to ask, what’s gotten in the way of you believing in your own value and worth to God? What’s gotten in the way? And in your question? And for many of us are, this happens to us we we have sexual sin in our lives, we keep going back to it or whatever the sin is the any sin that we keep going back to? And we start saying, well, that’s what’s gotten in the way, I’m asking the question because I keep returning to the sin. And I want to suggest to you, that that’s actually not the case, that the problem believing in your new identity in Christ did not start with your sexual sin. It did not start with habitual sin. It actually existed before that it existed before that, before you started wrestling with sexual sin, you had an issue with your identity, you struggled to believe your value and worth to God and probably to others as well. And I go so far as to say that your struggle with identity was actually probably part is probably part of the the root causes of your struggle with sexual sin, not the other way around. So let me say that differently. We often believe that we are experiencing shame, that deep, heartfelt sense that I am defective, different, dirty,
awful, whatever you fill in the blank, that deep, heartfelt sense that something seriously wrong with me. That’s shame. And it’s and it’s unique to you. I mean, that’s, you know, shame says, It’s not everybody, it’s you specifically, something’s wrong with you, you are set apart in this awful way. That’s what shame says, we often believe that shame is a result of the sin that we keep doing. The truth is that shame is actually much more likely the genesis of our sin. Why did we start turning to sin in the first place? So Samuel, for example, for you, and I’ll speak for myself? There are sins that I did that are associated with, like, how can I how can I do these things? Like, what is wrong with me? Well, let’s just turn that question right up on its head and say, What was I believing about myself? What were the bad things I was believing about myself in in the first place, that I would resort to those kinds of behaviors? You see what I mean? The shame preceded the sin. And scripturally, you can look here to Genesis three, we see that Adam and Eve, express shame, they, they, they kind of live out shame in a significant way after their sin, that’s when they cover themselves, hide from one another, hide from God, right? That’s those are very clear expressions of shame. But notice how the enemy is already attacking Eve’s identity, who she is, before she sent. He comes here and he says, in essence, if you read between the lines here, he says, Look, you know, you believe that God loves you. He doesn’t he’s holding out on you. He’s keeping the best from you. He you thought he was giving you the best. You thought you were all that. But no, no, no, he’s keeping you from this tree. And what is the tree do what is Satan say the tree is going to do? He says if you eat from this tree, you will be like God, that is an attack on her identity. Because in Genesis one, there’s only one creature and it’s not the serpent there’s only one creature created in God’s image and likeness. Who is it? It’s human beings, male and female. Eve is created in the likeness of God. And the serpent comes and he says to her, you need to eat from this tree in order to be like God. Now, that’s not justifying that she should have eaten from the tree, not at all. But it is to say, the enemy knew that the way to convince her to go and do these bad things to do this evil thing to rebel against God was to come against her view of God and her view of herself. And so Samuel and everybody else listening. This is this is the genesis of our of our worst sins, the enemy attacks who you are. And yes, once we sin, it also feeds the live feeds that shame. So shame is at the top of this of the cycle, in response to shame. We have been tempted and we buy into and move into sin to try to make ourselves feel better or to confirm that that says As bad as we are, and then once we do it, we feel worse and it feeds into the shame and it becomes this downward spiral this cycle. So all that to say, if we want to overcome this deep sense of shame, if we want to grow, to really behold and take hold of our identity in Christ, we need to recognize that it’s not our sexual sin that is keeping us from believing. It’s not primarily it’s not initially it’s not at the start our sexual sin that’s keeping us from believing who we are in Christ. There’s something that goes back further before our sexual sin that we need to address. Hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t let me know. So what can we do with that, then? What can we do? Well, first of all, we let’s go back, let’s go back to the genesis of our faulty beliefs. So let me give you let me give you just five things that you can do. First is, is received some listening healing prayer, and I say receive, find somebody who’s who is experienced in listening, healing prayer, someone who can sit with you, and come with the question with you asking the question, God, what do you think of me? What do you think of me? When you look at me? What do you see. And I say, don’t do this on your own, not because I think that you’re not able to, you can certainly do that on your own. But most likely, the shame that you experienced that initial attack on your identity did not happen on your own. It happened in relationship to other people, other people were attacking your identity, I can think back in my own life, to rejection, I experienced betrayal, I experienced bullying I experienced, that deeply attacked my sense of identity, and all that came way before the sexual sin that I indulged in. So since those initial attacks against your identity came in relationship, you want to move into relationship and be in a relational place, in order to hear the truth of your identity. Our sexual sin at its core is relational, which means it’s only going to be healed in the context of real relationships. So find somebody who’s experienced in healing, and listening prayer, and ask some of these questions with them, let them listen with you, you’ll be you’ll be amazed at some of the difference when when somebody else hears the same thing you do, or can say to you, looking you in the eye, something about your value and worth, it makes a big difference, as opposed to just looking in the mirror and not that you shouldn’t just look in the mirror, not that you shouldn’t tell yourself the truth, you should. But bring somebody else into that equation to let somebody else hear from the Lord on your behalf and speak those words to you. It’ll make a big difference. They’ll help you to move head knowledge to heart, because it’ll become experiential. And related to that is the second one, dare to receive it, dare to receive your new identity in Christ. And yes, dare to receive it when you least deserve it. Because remember, if if your if your faulty sense of identity came before your sin, or even let’s say it came from your sin, well, when did Christ die for you and give you the new identity? He came for you and gave you the new identity in the midst of your sin, not after you got cleaned up, but in the midst of it. So dare to believe the new identity even in spite of your sin? You know, I mean, stand up to your sins, stand up to the accusations, not in your own righteousness, but because of Jesus and say, Look, I don’t trust what I’ve done, to give me an identity, I trusting what Jesus has done, to give me an identity. So dare to receive that that also means go to receive the affirmations that you get in your life from other people dare to receive this podcast for you, dear to receive the attaboys that people share with you dare to receive the compliments. When somebody affirms you in some way. Dare to believe that it’s true that you that it’s true about you, even while you’re yet a sinner. You don’t deserve it. That’s okay. Dare take the risk to believe it. And what I’d say to this is where that feels like it’s insane to do because, you know, how could I dare receive it when I keep sending? How can I really take in the truth about who I am when I keep sending? Well, is your unwillingness to dare right now is your is your inability to risk right now is that helping you to leave your sin behind? It’s not, it’s not. So dare to believe these things and see if it doesn’t start to make a difference in leaving your sin behind, and beginning to loosen the grip of your sin in your life. Third, focus on what I call signs of spring, focus on signs of spring in your life. And this also comes from Romans eight. Later in Romans eight Paul writes about how we can see the first fruits of the Spirit, even while we are groaning along with creation for the revelation of the sons of of men and Sons of God. What do I mean by that? Well, I think what Paul is saying there is look creation is waiting for this kind of this veiled people you know that the people of God the sons and daughters of God to be revealed because looking around they don’t look like that much Don’t let that special creation is longing and groaning and waiting for them to be revealed for who they really are, for us to see that they are in fact like Christ. Well, in your own life, you too are groaning. Paul says you’re you’re growing to see that too. And Samuel and your question, I can hear it, you’re groaning to know yourself as, as a son of God as somebody who has a new identity in Christ. And so as your groaning, look, look for the for those first fruits that Paul talks about. That means you look for the evidence that you are, in fact, a new creation. Look for little bits of progress, little successes, little victories. Look at your desire, the fact that you keep coming back that you keep trying, where does that come from? Where does your, your your continuing efforts to try to grow come from? Does it come from sin? Does it come from the enemy? Does it come from the devil? Does it come from your flesh? No, it comes from the Spirit of God in you comes from God and moving in your life. So look for those little signs of spring. And trust that God is doing something, you know, the roots grow down in the earth far before, long before we see the fruit on the tree. And so look, look for the little signs of spring. And trust that God is doing something on an under the soil. Number four, use art, use art, music, paintings, photographs,
move movies, use art that speaks to your heart about God’s love for you. And I say use art because I think art is the language of the heart much more than theology. So you can read a book about your new identity in Christ, and that’ll, that’ll be great. You can listen this podcast and hopefully that’ll be great. But art will speak to you on a deeper level art will speak to your heart in deeper ways. I I think here of there’s a scene in one of the early Superman movies with Christopher Reeves, where Lois Lane is in trouble. And he’s, he’s like, up in the universe. He’s far away, but he hears her voice. And he’s tuned in, he’s dialed into her voice because he loves her. And he drops what he’s doing and just bolts like lightning, you know, flying across the, you know, the the globe to get to her. That’s that that was you know, that’s a simple, but powerful image in art in a movie that has spoken to me about how God hears my cry and comes quickly to me, because he feels that kind of passion for me. So use art to help help connect head and heart. And then the last thing is, is get help. This goes along with number one, get help. You know, we’re here. We have coaches on our team, male female coaches. They are trained and gifted in the area of listening healing prayer. They know about how working through shame, they know about helping people grow in sexual integrity. There are other places too, this is not a sales pitch. But certainly we’re here we’re available. And it fine if you’re listening and finances are an issue for you. Don’t Don’t let them be an issue for you. We’ve wanted first of all you’re worth spending money on. Second of all, we have scholarships, there are people who believe in you and want you to grow and who give scholarships and so under the ministry to help others. So, anyway, my time is more than up but I hope this has been helpful for you. Jesus, would you help us believe the truth about who we are? Not based on what we see. But based on what you have done? Increase our faith. Lord, I pray this for Samuel. I prayed for me. I prayed for all my brothers and sisters listening in Jesus name, Amen.