Reason #6: Your Life and Witness Will Be Stronger, Effective

Recall again the parable of the sower, and the thorns that choke the word, making it unfruitful.  We must continue to remind ourselves that this parable is not about unsaved people.  The seed was sown, and it was planted.  It took root and grew.  But its growth was stymied by half-hearted devotion and the distractions of the cares of the flesh.

We who want freedom must desire an undistracted life.  This kind of life is one that effectively maximizes God’s plan to use you to be His witness in the world.  Think about the areas of your life where God has used you.  Think about ministries, charities, activism, and discipleship.  How effective can you be in those tasks if your mind is constantly thinking about surfing the web at the same time?  About your favorite internet model? How effective can you be when you’d rather be elsewhere? When these people kind of annoy you with all their real world problems, and you’d rather just wade into the pool of prostitutes and naked women?

This is why God wants an undivided heart.  A compromised life is an ineffective life.  Romans 12 says we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  That means we aren’t distracted by all kinds of other things.  We have a faith-based mission, and we are going to change the world, one day at a time.

James 1:23-25
Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one is like a man considering the face of his birth in a mirror.  For he considered himself, and he has gone away, and he immediately forgot what sort of man he was.  But the one having looked into the perfect law of liberty, and having continued–not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of work–this one will be blessed in his doing.  (NT Transline)

James also talks about the “double-minded” person who is blown and tossed by the wind because of his doubts.  And where does doubt originate?  One place is a distracted life, filled with all kinds of unnecessary concerns.  Misplaced priorities.

In both cases, you have a person who hears lots of truth–this is someone who goes to church regularly–but does nothing with it, and when the fires of life get turned up and faith is mixed with doubt, he gets thrown around into chaos.  He hears, but he does not respond.

Action reveals character. If God’s character is indeed growing inside you, then your actions should start to reflect this. James calls this the “law of liberty.” It’s interesting to think of liberty as a law.

Like many of God’s mysteries, He has injected them into the fabric of human life. Give, and it shall be given to you. Do unto others. You reap what you sow. And also, the law of liberty. If you go out and do what you have heard, if you live according to the truth, freedom, grace, and power you keep hearing about, then you will operate within the law of liberty. But, if you keep enslaving yourself to addictive sins and selfish desires, you operate outside the law, and you lose the effects of liberty.

Some people call this “depression.” But in essence, you’ve lost your identity.  You’ve forgotten who you are after just being reminded.

“That was a great sermon.”

“Yeah, sure was.  Let’s see who’s winning.”

“Whoa. Check out that cheerleader.”

If our identity is not in Christ, then what will we say to people when an opportunity suddenly arises to share the gospel, or speak into someone’s life, or help a friend or coworker, or show love to an unsaved person?  We’ll be uncertain, hesitant, wavering in discomfort.  You know the feeling.  The same one the other eleven disciples felt as they watched Peter jump into the sea and walk on water–the only man other than Jesus ever to do this.  Sure, he didn’t last long.  But those few seconds taught him more than the others could ever learn standing safely in the boat.

On the contrary, an effective life sees opportunities, and with the confidence and boldness Paul regularly prayed for, steps up and takes advantage of it.  An effective life sees a chance to reveal something about God’s nature and love to another person, and seizes the moment.  An effective life gets up in the morning and goes to work or school, and knows the reason why it’s doing this.  An effective life sees the prize waiting at the end, and knows that’s worth putting aside all the distractions of the world.

In short, an effective life makes a difference.  And we want freedom from sin, because otherwise we will not have an effective witness, and our impact in the world will be minimal at best, negative at worst.

Why Freedom Matters

Matthew 11:12
But the kingdom of the heavens is being treated violently from the days of John the Baptist until now. And violent ones are snatching it away.  (NT Transline)

When beginning a serious quest, a person must first decide why to pursue it.  Why now?  What is the goal?  What will be required of him in order to succeed?

In our quest for freedom and victory over sin, especially sins of addiction, we must first decide why it matters to us.  If we cannot answer that question, then the goal will continue to elude us.

The violent ones “snatching” the kingdom do so because they want it.  They see its value.  It is worth fighting for.  The merchant sold everything to buy the pearl.  The man who stumbled on the treasure sold everything to buy the field.  The kingdom is worth all we have. All that is within us, and all that we possess.

The word “snatching” can also mean ‘take by force, seize, or steal.’  The ones who want the kingdom seize it.  They pursue it.  Like David who went after the Philistines until he had crushed them, we must desire the kingdom more than life itself.  And because God wants more than anything to give it to us, He will surely provide the strength and the power necessary to seize it.

But if God can just give it to us, why must we take it by force?  And how does this relate to freedom from sin?

The Key:
If we don’t hunger and desire for God, for freedom from sin, and to know the riches of our inheritance, then we will not find any of them.  We will fall short.  We will stop at some point and settle for less.  Sin and comfort are too easy.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are the ones hungering and thirsting as to righteousness, because they will be filled to satisfaction.  (NT Transline)

God blesses and rewards those who long for what He offers.  If we don’t want it, then it is only by God’s mercy or grace that we may even stumble upon it. And even then, at some point, we must recognize its value for ourselves, or eventually it will slip away and elude us.

The half-hearted skeptic never reaches the top of the mountain.

Proverbs 21:21
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor. (NAS)

All these verses imply, along with their urging to long for life in God, that the flip side is also true.  The one who does not hunger for righteousness will not be satisfied, but will be left empty and wanting.  They know something is missing, but can’t figure out what it is.  They are like people trapped in the Matrix.  They know something is wrong with the world, but don’t know what.  The one wandering aimlessly does not find honor or life, but dishonor, irrelevance, and disillusionment.

So if you’re reading this and say you want freedom from sexual sin (or other addictions and idolatries), you need to stop right now and ask yourself: Do I mean it?  Do I really want freedom?  Because the only way to freedom is through desire.  Your desire for God, His kingdom, Spirit, presence, word, and life must be stronger than anything else.  It must be strong enough to make you sacrifice things.  Things you have had or wanted for a long time.

This kind of freedom was never given freely.  God gave us forgiveness.  Victory over death.  Salvation in Christ.  But that was just the seed.  Its growth must be fought for.  The mustard seed starts small, and it has to be cultivated, grown, watered, and cared for.  Otherwise our freedom will lie dormant in a garden in the desert, unfruitful.  Unnoticed.  Parched.

Jesus tells us this very truth in the parable of the sower:

Luke 8:14
And the seed having fallen into the thorns–these people are the ones having heard, and while proceeding are being choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life. And they are not bringing fruit to maturity.  (NT Transline)

This is what happens when we fail to make a quality decision to pursue the fullness of freedom from depression, self-loathing, fear, cynicism, selfishness, lust, bigotry, self-righteousness, and addiction that is available through Jesus Christ alone.

How we find that freedom is the point of this study, which focuses on sexual sins but applies to all the others as well.  But before we can even start looking at the details, each of us must assess our hearts.  God in the Old Testament was always wanting to test what was in the people’s hearts.  But really, He already knew.  He wanted them to discover what was already in their own hearts.

So we must search our hearts.  How badly do we want to put our sinful habits and tendencies and weaknesses behind us?  Do we really want a life where the things our flesh depends on for comfort and security are totally and completely absent?  If you are honest with yourself, you will be a little afraid at that thought.

Addiction is about finding security in something other than God’s love.  The longer you have sought security (become enslaved) in some particular sin, the more fearful you will be at the contemplation of a life without it.

But faith triumphs over fear.  The one who fears is the one who doubts, but faith is the conviction of things not seen.  An unseen future is promised to us by God who never fails in His word. If you want to see this future, then I urge you to invest the time in going through this study/blog. It is the length of book, and will take you several days.

Is your freedom from addiction and idolatry worth it to you?