If you’re struggling compulsively with an unwanted sexual behavior, you may have a difficult time receiving the thing you most need.
Mike certainly did.
I met with Mike a few months ago and listened as he talked about his love of God and his intense desire to share the truth of Jesus with a lost world.
At the same time, Mike was incredibly hard on himself. Reading into the way Mike talked about things, I got the impression he believed God loves sinners but is impatient and angry with those who choose to follow Him.
I’ve met a lot of Mike’s over the years—men and women who are doing their best to love God, but who are caught in cycles of sin, and who are filled with an immense amount of self-loathing about the disparity between those two aspects of their lives.
Maybe you, like Mike, have a very difficult time receiving that thing you need most from God.
What’s that thing?
It’s God’s love—not in the abstract, but in the encounter. Not just the knowledge of His love, but the experience of His love—His immense, passionate, powerful, and personal love for…you.
In the midst of our ongoing struggles, this feels counter-intuitive. God has already given us so much. We’ve been the grateful recipients of His blessings. When we sin aren’t we just taking all that and treating it like garbage? If so, why would it make sense that God would give us more of what we’ve thrown away?
I don’t entirely know, actually. And I don’t think what I’m saying diminishes the reality that God will discipline us, but His discipline is an expression of His love, not of His rejection (Hebrews 12:4-11).
Receiving God’s love while we continue to struggle with ongoing sin doesn’t only feel counter-intuitive, it also feels risky. What if I’m wrong? What if God’s fed up with me for having messed this up so many times? What if I’ve reached the end of His patience?
From start to finish, the consistent, clear teaching of Scripture is that God wants to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), so if you’re wrestling with sin, God wants to help.
I can also say that I’ve never seen a person break free from a sexual addiction by being hard on him or herself. Taking a hard, honest look at one’s life, yes. Working hard, yes. But not being hard on yourself.
And most of all, although it may feel counter-intuitive, it is not some kind of harshness from God, but God’s kindness that leads us to true repentance (Romans 2:4).
So to all the Mikes reading, I’m glad you love God, but if you want to gain freedom over your compulsive sins, let God be kind to you. Let God love you. Stand at the foot of Jesus’ cross and practice receiving His love. It’s what you need most.
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