It’s one thing when you’re fired up and ready to resist temptation, but what about when you don’t want to leave your sin behind?
Perhaps the most familiar parable in all of Scripture reveals something of God’s heart toward those who prefer sin to their relationship with God. In Luke 15, the younger of two sons decides he’s through working the family business and asks his dad to give him his inheritance early so he can take off. The father consents, and the son walks out the door, presumably never to be seen again.
The father consents.
Notice the father doesn’t beg, doesn’t try to change his mind, doesn’t even try to work out some kind of middle ground. Why is this? God desires our faithfulness, but he won’t coerce, force, or manipulate us for it. He’s after our love, and love must be freely given.
The fact that God doesn’t force himself on us means we can walk away. We can choose another god. This is both a freeing thought and a sobering one.
Those of us who have wrestled with addictive unwanted sexual behaviors have learned the hard way that although God listens when we push away from him, other gods are not so respectful of our choices. They open their arms wide to embrace us but then won’t let us go when we’re ready to be done with them.
Sin never wanted our love, it wanted to enslave us.
Have you found yourself struggling with a love-hate relationship with your sin? Sometimes you know how bad it is for you and sometimes you can’t seem to live without it?
The good news of the gospel is that Christ comes to us in our helpless, sin-enslaved state, takes our death, and gives us new life—His life.
He shows up at the pigsty where you’ve become enslaved. He doesn’t chastise or scorn you. Instead, He says your name. Not the name they call you here, but the name only your family knows—the special name your Father uses only for you.
“Father sent me to invite you home,” He says.
Nothing but honesty will do. “I want to come, I do. But you should also know I also want to stay. I hate it here, but the sin feels so good…Please help me, I want to want to come home.”
He smiles a loving, knowing smile, like He hoped you’d say that.
He looks directly at you, and you sense He is looking into you. He opens His hand to reveal the scar and He says your name again, only this time louder, with more authority. You get the sense He is talking to something inside you…and also to someone else.
You feel something stir inside you. A mist seems to clear. You look around and know that you know, however much the sin feels good, it isn’t who you are, this is not where you belong, and it is not what you truly desire.
With a sudden shock, you know and so say aloud, “I belong with You.”
Jesus nods. “You always have. Come.”
You look down at your mud-drenched clothes and soiled hands. “I smell,” you say.
Before you can look up, Jesus has thrown the fence aside, run through the muck, and embraced you. “You belong with Me.”
And with that, you begin the long walk home, Jesus with you all along the way.
Friends, wherever you find yourself trapped and struggling to love your sin less and God more, Jesus has come to help you. He won’t make the decision for you, but he will give you all of himself to help you.
- Do you need love like His for the Father? Ask Him.
- Do you need His strength of will? Ask Him.
- Do you need His endurance for dealing with temptation? Ask Him.
- Do you need His humility to walk in the light? Ask Him.
- Do you need His eyes to see others with love rather than lust? Ask Him.
Ask Him, and hear the words of the Father: “Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31).
Friends, do not believe that the feelings you have for your old familiar sins are who you are. Through Christ, you are made new. Hear your name and believe. You’re battle is not against yourself, it is for yourself. You are not battling to become someone you’re not, you’re battling because you are the beloved of God.
Question for you: Where in your life have you been wrestling to believe you are the beloved of God? What difference would it make for you to dare to believe it’s true?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; The What and Why of Unwanted Sexual Behaviors