Reasons: Introduction

“You’ve got to let it all go.  Fear, doubt, and disbelief.  Free your mind.”
-Morpheus, to Neo, in The Matrix (1999)

Now that you have determined you want the freedom found only through the promises and the power of God, it’s worth it to spend some time considering all the reasons this freedom is so desirable.  Before exploring the keys to overcoming sexual sins and addictions in your life, you need to know what kind of life it is you want after that happens.  What does the Bible promise?  What are the blessings?  What kind of life does God offer?  What will He require from your life?

“So much potential.”  In education, teachers routinely marvel at all the potential burning within so many students.  And so many of those students, for a variety of reasons, totally or partially spoil that potential during their formative years, and are doomed to spend the rest of them looking back at what might have been.  We root for them all, but at some point, the students choose what kind of life they want.

When Neo hears the above statement from Morpheus, he has no idea what kind of life awaits.  He knows just an inkling of what is possible.  But what will be expected of him once he becomes who he was made to be?  Will he be ready?  We can ask the same questions of ourselves.  What will we do with our freedom?  What should we do?

But first, we must overcome the three hindrances of fear, doubt, and disbelief.  And the truth is this triad of timidity doesn’t just imprison our minds, but our hearts.  A fearful heart that doubts and does not really believe or trust in God is the one that seeks out comfort in the known, the familiar.  Addictions offer this comfort, and billions of people are enslaved to them in some form. But God says something different:

Colossians 3:1-6
If then you were raised with Christ, be seeking the things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Be thinking the things above, not the things upon the earth.  For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ appears–your life–then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore, put to death your body-part things on earth–sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed–which is idolatry.  Because of which things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. (NT Transline)

What God promises here and in many other places has been hidden with Christ.  Someday, we will appear with Him in glory.  This is the resurrection, and our greatest hope.  And it is far off, hard to imagine, and even harder to properly evaluate for its worth.  So we begin by asking God to start reorienting our minds, to set our minds on things above.

The disgusting and filthy comforts we run to in this life, such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, technology dependence, food, and thrill-seeking offer only temporary solace.  I know, you’ve heard that before.  Haven’t you learned yet that it’s true?  It seems that knowing this truth doesn’t help us overcome the tug of its addiction on our hearts.  Why?  Because we have set our minds on the wrong things.  We have missed the true message of Christ.

We don’t overcome sin by concentrating on avoiding it.  Thus, people often say we have to get our minds off ourselves.  That’s true, but what do we place it on?  Some people place it on others.  They get into causes, and want to serve and help other people. If I put my whole life, heart, and mind into helping others, then I won’t be so obsessed or controlled by my own flesh, and I’ll find freedom.  There’s a measure of truth in this, and serving others is one of the reasons we’re here.  But this is not the starting point on the road to freedom.  This is one possible ending point.

We rather must begin by setting our minds on the things of heaven.  The things in God’s presence.  We get our minds off ourselves, yes.  But we also get our minds off of others.  We aren’t going to find freedom by focusing on a bunch of other people who are enslaved to their own flesh, and also don’t know God.  We must think first about God, about heaven, about a life totally separate from this one.  To the atheist, this is insanity.  But it is the most rational choice you can make.

And what are the things in the presence of God?

-The absence of sin.
One of my previous pastors once described God’s plan in this way: First, Jesus died for our sins to set us free from the penalty of sin.  Second, during this life, He conforms us into His image by the renewing of our mind, and we are set free from the power of sin.  And one day, the greatest day of our lives, He will set us free from the presence of sin.  Penalty, power, and presence.  The first thing I think of when I consider the “things above” is that we are free from the presence of sin.  No hate, no theft, no racism, no lust, no abuse, no violence, no war, no exploitation, no selfishness.  And no fear, no discouragement, no apathy.  There’s no mediocrity.  I hate mediocrity.  Perhaps it’s the teacher in me.  Mediocrity is unmet potential.  Apathy is the surest way to get there.  There’s none of this in the presence of God.

-Absolute joy and peace.
The pacifists often get ridiculed for foolish idealism.  “That’s not the way the world works.  We have enemies, and if we just sit here waving flags, they’ll walk over us.  They hate us.”  In heaven, the pacifists win.  There are no enemies.  And it’s not just external peace, but even better, it’s internal.  Our hearts will be at rest.  Our souls will be satisfied.  Our rest will be complete.  There will be no longing for something we know is missing.  The joy of the Lord will truly and completely be our strength.

-The presence of God.
Moses refused to enter the Promised Land if God’s presence did not go with the people.  He would rather have stayed put and died in the wilderness than take the whole land, but do so without God’s presence by his side.  Why?  Because he understood the value of God’s presence to be greater than anything else on Earth.  In God’s presence is fullness of joy.  Understanding.  Acceptance.  Security.

We could go on.  That’s a small list.  But if you spend a day, or an hour, or even one minute seriously thinking about those three things, you will suddenly discover a very different feeling inside your heart.  Your mind is now thinking about the things above.  And God begins to change you when you value the things He values.  When you think about these things, it means you believe what His word reveals about heaven.  It means you trust that He really will provide an eternal, resurrected life that shatters anything we can think of in this one.  It means you don’t fear anything that comes against you here, because what comes after is so much better.

Courage, trust, and faith.  The antidotes to our three great enemies of fear, doubt, and disbelief.

Once the things above start to saturate our spirits, then we can start imagining a new life, and we find new reasons to want this freedom now.  I don’t want to wait until I die for this.  Does the Bible say we can have this now, or do we have to wait?  The freedom available to us in heaven would do us a little good right now as well.

What follows are 13 reasons to desire freedom now, in this life.

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?