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.

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.