Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Are You Really Struggling?

Hebrews 12:3-4
"Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted unto the point of shedding your blood."

In the last few years I have found that shopping on line for Christmas gifts is enjoyable and almost non stressful.  But this morning, while shopping on eBay I came across sexual images twice!  I was not happy.

Sometimes you just have to look away.  That's what we teach our children.  When the wicked and misguided in our world push images that ought not to be gazed upon, we need to look away...bounce the eyes.  Those who have overcome porn addictions or the temptation to commit adultery know that a lingering eye can very easily lead a person (and often their family) to their own demise.  The same is true for the things upon which we allow our minds to dwell.   My husband has often said, "What ever dog you feed will grow the strongest".  And he is right.  If a person feeds the sinful lust of the eye, that lust will only continue to grow.

Throughout the years I have had many conversations with people who are "struggling" in one way or another.  Of those whose struggle is with sin I've found that not everyone who is "struggling" is necessarily fighting against sin.  Rather than wrestling with it, they seem more captivated by it, like a twisted version of the classic "damsel in distress".   It puts an image in my head something along the lines of the cover of a Harlequin Romance novel, where a scantily clad couple is standing on the edge of a cliff, wind blowing in their hair and the man, standing behind the woman has his muscular arms firmly around her voluptuous figure, pawing at her in the throes of passion.  The man represents temptation and the woman is the one who supposedly struggles.  She isn't fighting at all- she's enjoying herself.  Yeah, that seems more like the "struggle" going on with some people regarding their sin.

One of my brothers used to wrestle in high school.  He was actually pretty good.  When I think back to those days I remember the sweat, the straining of muscles and the overall exhaustion that would ensue from the intense struggle of each trying to over power the other.  Did you catch that?  Each opponent tried to overpower the other.  I've learned that this is not so much the case with some people who say they are "struggling" with sin.  Their  desire to overpower sinful self seems in all actuality non existent.

I once tried to help a woman who came to me needing comfort and aide during a difficult time her family was going through.  After months of help, prayer, deep heart felt talks, encouragement and godly advice I became aware of the fact that this woman was in no way seeking restoration with her husband but instead was actively trying to rekindle a relationship with a man with whom she'd previously had an affair.  For all this woman's talk of "struggling" she was not actually struggling at all.  She was trying everything in her power to play the part of the innocent, trying to maintain her Christian image, painting herself out to look like a victim, when in all actuality she was the instigator of her marriage trouble. She had let her eye, and her mind dwell upon another man.  On the day the situation became clear I confronted her on her sin.  And just like Proverbs says regarding the adulteress she licked her lips and literally insisted she had done nothing wrong.  In that moment, I excused her from my help and counsel and handed her over to her willful way.  It was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do.  To this day, I am unaware of her repentance.

I've shared this story with very few people.  I suppose because it grieves me so deeply.  I know there are some out there who would scoff at my testimony regarding my response to this fallen woman.  There are likely some who would say it would have been better for me to "love her through it".  I can assure you all, my love for her runs deep still to this day.  But I will not love merely with words and tongue.  Actions and Truth are just as important.  I could not and will not give tacit approval to someone who is seeking out things God has forbidden, nor will I allow myself to be in a position to facilitate such things.   I don't believe God has called any Christian to do that.  The whole counsel of scripture actually leads me to believe the opposite should happen.

Sometimes you just have to look the other way.  We are told that each man is tempted when by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed.  Satan will continue to put sinful delights in front of our eyes, hoping our evil desires will be aroused.  It can come in obvious ways like seeing a pornographic picture online and sometimes it might be more of a subtle temptation such as the temptation to keep silent about something you know is extreme folly, that threatens to ruin an entire family and make a mockery of The Faith in the eyes of those watching.  It doesn't matter if you are the one being tempted to commit adultery or if you are the one being tempted to forgo God's wisdom in an effort to love your friend through her rebellion.  Both are equally dangerous and disastrous to our lives.

If you are one who is struggling with sin, I encourage you to grab hold of your opponent and strive for all you are worth to overpower it.  Sweat, strain your muscles and exhaust yourself in your resistance of wickedness.  Don't be satisfied to play the victim.  You have been given the victory if you want it.  From bouncing the eyes to flat out running away from sin each of us needs to strive for what is right, not in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God.


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