by Pastor Tim Burt
For 28 years I ministered monthly to a large group of about 250 men. Every year I touched on the subject of sanctification, leadership and living as godly man. 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (NKJV) says, “…each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.”
Some time ago I was with a man who had a problem I’ve also heard from other men countless times. From all appearances he seemed to have a happy and great life going on. He had a beautiful family, a good job, and was in leadership roles in multiple areas of his life. He approached me and shared that he wasn’t feeling very good about himself. I asked him if he knew why. He told me that he was struggling with looking at sexual images and pornography on the Internet, and was masturbating which made him feel dirty. I asked him why he was doing it. He said it wasn’t his marriage. His wife was good to him and he loved her. He said they had a good sex life and that it didn’t have anything to do with her. He felt that this was left over from his old life before Jesus. He had done these things daily before giving his life to the Lord and becoming a Christian. He said he had stopped and for the most part, wouldn’t participate in either of these sinful behaviors. Then one day during a time of discouragement, he caved and clicked on a site that was inappropriate. After looking for a while, he was regretful and told the Lord he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again. But, he did. And then again and again. Now he felt like he couldn’t stop. These behaviors made him feel like a disappointment to the Lord.
Can you practice sexual sin, sweeping it under the grace of God and be happy in your relationship with God and yourself? The answer is no! When you have ongoing areas of sin, sexual or other, the only happiness you can draw from them is the fleshly pleasure they momentarily give you which will, in time give you displeasure unless you become deceived and over time, hard-hearted. Then you’ll lose your discernment pushing you further and further from the Lord. Deception will tell you living in sexual promiscuity is okay with God—that it’s not even sin at all! That’s exactly the deception those who call themselves “Christian homosexuals,” live in today.
The displeasure and guilt you initially feel is a life-line! Your heart is still tender. You can still feel. Whereas those who let their heart become hard, move further and further from God. Their callousness and confusion help them create their own versions of God’s acceptance of sinful behaviors as an okay part of the Christian walk. Which isn’t actually acceptable at all! God will deal with them, now or later.
We talked about a lie he had allowed himself to believe—that he was a slave to sin! That wasn’t the truth and he acknowledged it and began to speak it out. I am not a slave to sin. I am a slave to righteousness. I hate sin and do not like this behavior, nor will I continue in it! I asked this man to pray and ask God to forgive him. To put it under the blood of Jesus trusting in the promise of 1 John 1:9 (RSV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I then asked him to meditate on two scriptures for a month and come back and tell me if it changed his heart, behavior, and relationship with God. I asked him to meditate on:
Psalms 97:10 NKJV “You who love the LORD, hate evil: He preserves the souls of his saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” And…
Romans 6:17-18 (NLT) “Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness.”
He did what I asked faithfully and repeatedly for a month. When we talked again, he excitedly told me the behavior stopped. Freedom, joy, and a refreshed intimacy with God and his wife were restored. He felt so much better about his walk with the Lord!
This isn’t just a man problem. Women deal with this also! We all make mistakes and blow it. But, patterns of sin set us up to be accused by Satan and bring confusion to our walk with the Lord. A man isn’t going to be happy in his marriage while cheating on his wife—even if it is only through pornography and masturbation! Nor will a woman toward her husband if she is practicing these kinds of sins. People will either repent, stay before the Lord, and love God and their spouse, or become deceived and twisted in their minds and eventually hard-hearted, blowing up their marriage. When we do what’s right before God and let sanctification—responding to God’s voice that helps us purify our heart, mind, and body over time, only then will we experience a pure happiness that comes from knowing we are obedient and faithful to Him! Only then will we “know how to possess our own vessel in sanctification and honor.”
Colossians 3:5 & 10 NIV, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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