Decision #1: Validate and Forgive Yourself (part 3)

Validate Your Needs
Once you have come to terms with what you’ve done, you can finally start to repair the damage that has been done to your soul.  You can start to validate yourself.  You have been crushed by sin and by the lies of the enemy, and every addiction leads to some form of self-loathing.  In this instance, our sexuality has been warped, and we must rediscover what God says about it.

Sex and Truth
One lie Christians believe when they fall into this addiction is that sex is evil.  The world knows this one well, and mocks us for it.  But sex isn’t dirty.  It was created by God, and under His will, it is not only clean, but guilt-free.  That was my first revelation after getting married.  I have no guilt or shame at all in this.  It is a good thing, and God is pleased.  Everything the world tells us about this is a lie, and unfortunately, so is much of what we’ve heard from the church.

The truth is very simple, yet eternally profound: Your desire and need for sexual intimacy is God-given.  It is okay to want to make love to a beautiful woman whom you love and desire.  To receive from her what she was designed to give.  It is a pure and sinless hope.  It is a prayer-worthy statement.

The enemy has hidden this truth from billions of people because he wants us to go looking for it in the fallen world.  But God made men to need women, and vice versa.  Don’t believe me?  Every fundamental truth about God and human nature can be found in Genesis.  Listen to this next verse, and recognize that this happens before sin enters the world:

Genesis 2:18
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (NAS)

All through the creation story, everything God made was called “good.”  The planets, the stars, the animals, the trees, and the man.  Everything was good.  Yet, in this perfection, this sinless paradise, God himself declares that something is not good.  And what is that something?  It is the cry for companionship.  The loneliness of the human soul when it has no one with whom to share its needs, wants, ambitions, hopes, fears, and intimacy.  The joy of another person’s eyes.  The acceptance and the unselfish giving from one lover to another.  The absence of this was not good, even with no sin in the world.  Dwell on this for a while if you’ve never thought about it before.  This is a profound truth that will break away perhaps years of calcified misunderstandings about your sexuality.  It is okay to feel the need for a woman.

God knows your need for love, companionship, and beauty.  He’s known it since the foundation of the world.  It was there before lust even existed.  This need cried out for attention.  God created the woman specifically to meet this need!  Now as we all know, once sin entered, along came insecurity, and fear, and arrogance, and dehumanization, and the desire for control.  The passion to fulfill our lusts naturally follows from all those.

But the need is still there, and the need itself is as legitimate now as it was for Adam in his sinless paradise.  Your need for the joy of companionship is as valid as the yearning for inner peace and world peace.  Your hope for a beautiful partner to share your life with is as pure a hope as the desire to make a difference in the world, to do something significant with your life.

So validate your need.  Know that God knows it and does not devalue or minimize it.  God knows it is the single most important need you have.  And this same God has been working since time began to get people to trust Him to take care of needs just like this one.  In fact, God uses our needs to draw us closer to Him.  Just as we have physical needs, we also need God.  Pursue Him first, and He will take care of the rest.  When you turn to porn, you take your trust away from the God who knows this need exists and understands its true importance far more than you do, and you place it upon the bodies of women who have no idea of the harm they do to themselves or all their male worshipers.

Your needs are not evil.  They are not gross.  It is not a sin to desire sexual pleasure.  The sin comes when we seek to fulfill it outside the will and plan of God.  Doing so breaks trust.  It is a faithless act.  If any Christian, pastor, parent, or friend tells you your desires are evil, don’t ever talk to them about this stuff again.  The enemy has misled them in this area.  I’m being especially blunt here because of how important this point is, and how many Christians have been deceived in this area.  The fundamental need for a companion is not evil.

More Sex, More Truth
But you might be wondering, Genesis is so far back.  It’s an allegory, some people say (it’s not, but that’s another debate).  Fine.  Surely there must be other evidence in the Bible about all this, if what I’m saying has any merit.  Consider this:

Proverbs 5:18, 19
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times.  Be exhilarated always with her love. (NAS)

Song of Solomon 7:6-8
How beautiful and delightful you are, my love, with all your charms.  Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters….Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine. (NAS)

Song of Solomon 4:16
Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance; let its spices be wafted abroad.  May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits. (NAS)

There’s a reason the poetry of Song of Solomon was written.  Actually several.  But one of them is that God wanted us to know the joys and pleasures He has made for us in this life, in the marriage relationship.  He wanted us to have an exemplary description of the physical and emotional passions that can be fulfilled through marriage.  Solomon writes about a man and woman becoming engaged and then married using vivid and dramatic imagery.

In case your poetry and metaphor interpretation skills are a little rusty, let me help you out a little on verse 16 there.  In this verse, the wife talks to her husband on their wedding night.  The garden she speaks of, full of spices and fragrance, where she wants her husband to come and eat, is her….well let’s put it this way: Guys, we don’t have one.

The point is, God knows not only our relational needs for companionship, but our sexual needs.  Again, if you ever hear a Christian, pastor, parent, or friend tell you that sex is only for producing children, don’t ever talk to them about this subject again.  The enemy has misled them in this area.

How can I say that?  Because this passage don’t say nothin’ about no children.  It says a whole lot about touching, holding, and satisfying.  Read the whole book and see.  Yes, sex produces children.  I think that’s pretty obvious.  If that were its only purpose, why did God make it so enjoyable?  God wanted children to be produced through the moment of highest pleasure and love between the two parents.  Thus, every child is a “love child.”  At least, that’s how God designed it.  Today, unfortunately, many children probably couldn’t be labeled in this way, because the parents have rejected the knowledge of God.

The reason I say to avoid seeking counsel from Christians who don’t understand this is because you need to be able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence that your sexual needs are valid and pure.  God knows them and wants to take care of them.  It’s why I know He designed the “nocturnal emission” process, and that it’s not just some weird event that happens a couple times when you’re fourteen.  When I realized the profound nature of all this, I started thanking God for making us this way.  You can truly believe God will take care of your needs when you realize He created them in the first place.

Our Greatest Test of Faith
But this is the hardest area to trust God in your life, because it’s the one you need and care about the most.  It’s your greatest test, and also your greatest victory.  I used to think in my moments of loneliness and discouragement about men who live in poor nations.  Suppose there’s a guy who has little land, struggles to survive, can’t read, and has little hope his life will change.  But suppose this same guy has a wonderful wife, and the two of them are happy together, love each other, and help each other make it through each day.

Who is happier?  That man, who has nothing of value in the material world, but abounds in riches in the relational one.  Or me, who has moderate stability in the material world, but total emptiness in the relational one?  Now, I was discouraged of course, which distorted my perspective, because my relational world wasn’t totally empty.  But I was missing the most important part of it.  And I felt the absence daily.  In that grind, it’s a challenge to keep trusting God, day by day, hour by hour.

Once I realized that my needs weren’t evil, but were created by God to be met in accordance with His will, and once I forgave myself for my own sins and knew that God had already declared me to be righteous, my faith began to build.  Yours will too.  It takes time, and these truths must be revisited and dwelled upon.  But as Peter says, the proof of your faith is more precious than gold.  In other words, it’s worth the sacrifice to build your faith.

Decision #1: Validate and Forgive Yourself (part 2)

(Continuing from Part 1, we look at what it means to forgive yourself, and what is your identity in Christ)

Get Specific
You must forgive yourself.  Admit what you have done.  And remember, you haven’t just looked at some pictures, or watched some videos.  You’ve grieved the Holy Spirit.  You’ve robbed yourself of your destiny (for now), and you’ve tainted the temple of God, which is your body.  You have taken what God declared holy and righteous, and turned it into a den of filth.  You have rebelled, and you have loved pleasure more than God.  You have set up an idol and worshiped it before God.  You’ve gone to church, and your mind was distracted thinking about the great pictures you would look at when you got home.  When you confess sin, get specific. Remember the sins of the mind and the tactics and lies of the enemy.

And when you confess to God, you must also forgive yourself.  Do you think God accepts you based upon what you have done?  No!  This is the evil of religious thinking.  Religion is about performance.  A lot of people only love you for what you do, not who you are.  Not so with God.  And like Him, you also must accept yourself for who you are.  You must forget the past.  God casts your sins as far as east is from west.  You need to as well.  Learn who you really are, not what your sin has warped you into thinking.

True Identity
But who are we?  Aren’t we sinners?  Isn’t everyone a sinner?  No one is perfect, right?  We always say that.  There is no one who is good, not even one, it says in one of the Psalms.

But how does God see us?  Does he look at us and see “sinners?”

Gal 2:16
In order that we might be declared righteous by faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law, because by works of the Law, no flesh will be declared righteous.  (NT Transline)

Romans 8:30
And whom He predestined, these He also called, and whom He called, these He also declared righteous, and whom He declared righteous, these He also glorified. (NT Transline)

You have been declared righteous, even though on your own, you aren’t.  This was a revelation to me of the highest order several years ago.  Yet it’s all over the Bible.  How do we miss it?  Because we don’t hunger for the truth like we should.  Read the whole book of Galatians.  This is its central message, that we have all been declared righteous through our faith and not by our actions, and because of this, we can receive the grace from God that we must have to live this life in righteousness.

God declares you righteous so that you can live in righteousness.  You can’t do it on your own, but you can do it by His grace.  And when He looks down on us who have turned to Him for salvation, He does not look at your sin.  He looks at his child, whom He loves, and He sees a righteous one, full of the Spirit of God.  Just as Paul says a little later here, and also in Romans:

Gal 4:6
And because you are sons (children), God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying out, “Abba, Father.” (NT Transline)

Romans 8:15
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again leading to fear. But you received a Spirit of adoption, by whom we are crying out, “Abba, Father.” (NT Transline)

Not only are we His children, whom He has declared to be righteous, but God wants us to cry out to Him.  Paul says almost the same thing in two letters.  It’s also exactly the same thing we looked at in Numbers with the Israelites.  God’s heart hasn’t changed a bit in thousands of years.  Then and now, all He wants is a people who will put their trust in Him, and not in the worthless things of the world.  But the enemy knows that we will never cry out to God if we don’t think He cares, or if we believe He scowls and frowns when He looks at us.

But what does He see?  He sees a cherished member of His family whom He has declared to be holy and blameless, with the same power by which He created the entire universe!  By that power you have been declared in the heavens to be blameless in His eyes.  This is who you are.  It’s your identity in Christ.  Your freedom from slavery and fear comes from your adoption by God.  You can get up every day and say to yourself, “I’m a child of God.  I can walk before Him and be blameless.”

When you believe this truth, your sin will start to look different.  It will start to look disgusting, but it will seem separate from you now.  Why am I keeping this around?  God is here, and this is who He says I am.  This is who I am.  Cry out to God with this faith, and you will know His love in a new way.  You will become, over time, as convinced as Paul that nothing can separate you from God’s love.  Least of all the sin He forgave two thousand years ago.

But you must walk this out.  You make the decision today to forgive yourself, and then you can allow God to come in and help you start believing these truths.  You can truly repent.  Repentance doesn’t just mean saying you’re sorry.  It is a physical act of turning around–away from serving yourself and toward serving God.  You change direction.  You submit your will to Him, rather than living for yourself.

God wants to rule your heart, not just occupy it.  Occupations always lead to resistance.  But when God rules, we follow, and greatness awaits.

What If We Don’t?
Otherwise, as we saw in Numbers, even though God loves us, He will disqualify us from His plans.  The Bible is filled with warnings like this.

Numbers 14:12
I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.  (NAS)

Numbers 14:31
Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey–I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. (NAS)

In verse 12, God speaks to Moses, and promises to make a new nation from him that will eclipse the one He just freed from Egypt.  God’s will is going to get accomplished, but we sometimes think He only has one plan for doing this.  One overall plan yes, but infinitely diverse details for how it may be brought about.  Some of those details are conditional.  The faithless people who did not know God’s love got shut out of His plan, and instead God gave their destiny to their children, even though the people declared out of their mouths that their children would surely be annihilated in the new land.  God made a nation of them, in place of their parents.  Jesus says the same thing to the Jews of His time:

Matthew 21:43
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruit of it.  (NAS)

They did not recognize their Lord when He came, and so God gave their destiny to someone else.  And this was assured in 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was crushed and destroyed by Rome.

And we see this yet again in Esther, as we’ve already observed.  Esther had to choose to take the risk to save her people.  But Mordecai declares to her in faith that God will save the people, and if she fails to rise to the occasion, He will find another way.

This is so important to grasp, because too many Christians only think about salvation.  “Once saved, always saved,” and other goofy sayings, are used to overshadow what it actually means to be saved.  The issue here is not about being saved.  It’s about why you were saved.  God didn’t save us so we could just sit around babbling “once saved, always saved” to anyone who questions our salvation.  He saved you so you could do something for His kingdom.  He saved you because you have a purpose, a reason for being here. One of my favorite verses says it this way:

Eph 2:10
For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works–which God prepared beforehand in order that we might walk in them. (NT Transline)

We don’t want to be left on the sidelines while God carries out His plan.  We can’t be saddled with addictions, fears, and uncertainties while God searches across the planet looking for people with true faith, who know their God and know who He has declared them to be.