Have you ever wanted to stop something so badly, yet couldn’t figure out how to stop. Or even why? Have you tried to stop lusting?
In this weeks podcast, just speaks to the importance of learning to love in recovery from unwanted sexual behavior, rather than just focusing on stopping the behavior.
- The goal of recovery should be to learn to love in a self-giving way, rather than just stopping the unwanted behavior.
- God’s mercy flows to the lowest places, and His grace is for those places. He is there right alongside us in those place. Let Him in.
- It may feel wrong to receive God’s mercy in places where we feel like we know better and keep doing it anyway.
- It may be difficult to open up those places to another person and ask for their help. When you are able to though, Regeneration is here.
- The problem with trying to stop certain behaviors.
- A better goal than stopping your lust.
- We need to first be loved by god.
- Consider for yourself how not receiving God’s love works for you.
- Forgiveness cannot be earned.
- How can we experience God’s love in the face of sexual sin?
- Use your imagination open your mind.
- The first step to love like god.
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So many of us spend so much of our recovery work, trying not to do certain behaviors. We don’t want to stop looking at pornography, we don’t want to have sex with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Because we’re not married yet. We want to stop looking at this person that way. We want to stop, we want to stop whatever it is, we want to stop, right? We want to get rid of certain behaviors. But I think there’s something intrinsically unhelpful about that perspective. And, and that approach, it makes sense, you know, there’s, there’s no shame in it. But what’s intrinsically problematic about it, is that trying to stop a certain kind of behavior or trying to stop the central things you’re doing doesn’t give you a trajectory doesn’t give you a place to aim your attention, doesn’t give you a goal to move towards. Maybe it does a little bit like you’re moving away from you know, my goal is to be abstinent from sexual sin. But that’s not as powerful, it’s just not as meaningful, there’s not as much vision in it, there’s not as much like essence to it, as having a vision of what you want to move toward. And I’ve said other times, in this podcast, I want to say it again, in this podcast, that a better goal than stopping your lust, a better goal than stopping your unwanted sexual behavior is learning to love, learning to love. And what I specifically mean by that is learning to live a life that is a life of self giving. One of the things that the late John Paul, the second taught about Theology of the Body is that the body is actually designed to image to speak a story about what God is like. And God is love. God is self giving. It is in his nature to be that way. And he has designed us to be that way. This is why an X, the writer of X records that the Jesus had said at some point in his ministry, which is interesting, because you don’t find it in the gospels, but but an ax, somebody who had heard Jesus say it said, that the Lord said it is better to give than to receive, there’s something in us that is wired to give. And if you think about all of our unwanted sexual behavior, it’s the exact opposite of that. Our unwanted behavior, our lust, whatever in whatever shape or form is taking. Our lust is about giving us pleasure. The focus is me. And so if I’m just trying to stop that, then what I’m doing is I my my vision is to stop giving myself pleasure. It’s not a very motivating goal, is it. But if instead My goal is I want to learn to be a person who is like Jesus, who can love in a way that is self sacrificing, self donating, self giving, now I can start having a vision for who I want to become that is more powerful than just this kind of vacuum or void of stopping man when it’s actually behavior. Now, with that said, the first step, the first step in becoming a person who loves more like Jesus is a counterintuitive step. A first step in becoming a person who is self donating self sacrificing self giving, is a counterintuitive step. And it is this, we need to first be loved by God. And we will need to be loved by God, maybe especially in those places where we feel least lovable, at least, like we deserve his love. Because those are the places that that most need a God who is love a God who is self giving a God who is self sacrificing a God who is self donating. Those are the places in us that least deserve it. least expect it least anticipated, and most needed. One of my favorite teachers and authors is Andrew cummiskey, who is the founder and president of desert stream ministries. And he puts it this way says mercy is like water, it flows to the lowest place. So if you think about the places in you that are lowest, the places in you that most need the places in you that have least to give to God, the places in you that that are the most corrupt, most depraved, most shameful, those are the lowest places. And those places need to be opened to receive God and His mercy flows to those lowest places. It’s what he is drawn to. Paul writes in Romans that, that where our sin increased, his grace increased all the more. So to put it in this other way of phrasing it. Where our sin is, is his lowest where our sin is the worst. His grace flows to those places. His grace is for those places. So seek To become a person who loves not just the person who doesn’t lust in whatever form that takes for you, but a person who loves with self giving love and seek to become a person who loves his self giving love by opening yourself to God’s love, especially in those places where you need him most, because you deserve him least. So what are some ways that you can open yourself to God’s love, especially with places where you feel like you deserve in the least when they offer you just a quick few ideas? What is this? Consider for yourself, how not receiving His love not receiving His mercy not receiving His forgiveness in that place, has not worked for you. And I start with that, because I’ve talked to so many people over the years who don’t experience His love, who have a hard time receiving His love. I’m one of them. Especially once I was seeking to overcome sexual sin in my life, I was just hurt so hard. For me, it was counterintuitive, it felt presumptuous, I felt wrong, to receive God’s mercy in places where I felt like I knew better and I kept doing it anyway, it just felt so wrong. My instinct was to kind of not purposely but because somewhere somehow inside this kind of close off, like say, I don’t deserve it, Lord, I don’t deserve it, kind of hold them at bay. Almost in some ways, trying to earn his grace almost in some ways, trying to convince him that I was sorry, enough. And I’m not saying that the being sorry, is wrong. I’m just saying that there was something in me that kind of pushed his grace, his unmerited favor, his love that I didn’t deserve a way in a kind of, to try to convince him that, you know, I am worthy. See, I’m not even taking what you’re giving. That’s not helpful. So I start with that idea of consider how that works for you. It didn’t work for me, I actually needed his love in those places. And you do too, I needed his mercy, or at least deserve it. And you do too. Forgiveness, by definition, cannot be earned. If it could be it wouldn’t be forgiveness, right? By definition, forgiveness can not be earned. So that’s the number one. Thing number two, to receive God’s love, where you need him most and deserve at least, is to ask somebody else for their help in that place. And maybe just begins with asking for their prayers, that you would be able to receive God’s love in that place. There’s something about encountering the love of Christ, in the presence of one of his people, that seems to make it more real for us. And this fits perfectly with what Christianity is really, because Christianity teaches unlike any other religion teaches that God who is Spirit became flesh for us. The the fourth century writer and St. Athanasius, wrote, in fact, that that part of the reason that God became flesh was because we had turned away from him and turned our attention and become absorbed in the material world. That’s what we were worshiping. And so God in His grace became materially became matter for us, in the person of Jesus Christ, became for us flesh that we could behold Him. So we’d be seen where he is. And so in a similar way, that now his body, the church, can be in flesh can be visible for us here. And we can experience something of his his actual love for us in the face of another as they listen to our sorrow, as they feel with us as they lay a hand on us, as they give us a hug. As they pray, as they cry with us. Some of the most moving moments for me was, as I was sharing about sexual sin with people who felt authentic sorrow with me, for the things that I’ve done, not, not sorrow that I’ve done those things like, you know, Josh, you, you’re terrible, but rather, like I can see how much what you’re doing is hurting you. And I feel for you, that kind of blew me away, I had a roommate in college who was like that. So find someone else who can be with you, and who you can open up those places to, even if it’s simply for prayer, pray with me, would you pray for me that I was able to receive God’s grace in those places that I need him most and deserve him least and have the hardest time receiving His love? Last thing, I would encourage you to use your imagination. I’m not saying that you pretend I’m not saying you create a fiction. That’s what we do with our sexual sin. And honestly, it’s one of the reasons that we run to sexual sin because we’ve created a fiction in our minds that speak to some of those lowest places in us and give us a false sense of love in those places.
But what I am saying is use your imagination. Open your mind, open your imagination, open that creative, inward inner part of you to Behold God loving you. So take a passage in scripture, John 316, well known passage, right? This is Jesus talking to Nicodemus at night, saying, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. And put your name in there and put yourself in that scene. Imagine yourself at the cross for God so loved Josh, that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that if Josh would believe in Him, God would give them everlasting life. And imagine God giving his son Imagine yourself the cross. Another famous passage, maybe that Jesus is well, best known parable is the parable of the prodigal son. Put yourself in that story. Imagine yourself in that story. Again, this is not creating a fiction, it’s aligning your mind, your imagination, your sense, your your inner feelings with what is true, and what God has said is true. And the reason I recommend this is because of what I said a minute ago that that lust creates a fiction of some type of sexual, I don’t know unreality, you know that it doesn’t exist, but we absorb ourselves in it because we’re looking for something what are we looking for? We’re really looking for God. Alright, so recap. Instead of making your primary focus to stop your unwanted sexual behavior, as important as that is as good a goal as that is, shift your focus to make your primary goal to be someone who loves like God loves, self giving love. And in order to do that, the first step, the most important step, we’re gonna say, first step, really, it’s the primary step. It’s the foundation, and it is always something that you’ll need to do. It’s not like you do this and then you move on. But in order to love like God, we love because he first loved us, right, the Scripture say. So our first step, our most fundamental step is to open ourselves, especially in the areas where we feel like we need him least to God’s love for us. So, Lord, would you help us open ourselves to you? I know I need your love, Lord, I do not love like you without your love. It’s helped me open my love myself to be loved by you, that I might love like you. Leave all my lustful ideas, thoughts, behaviors behind that appraise for myself and all those listening. You name is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.