Love Of The Familiar; Fear Of The Unknown

Never underestimate the power of the familiar. It has kept countless people from change, even when change would save their very lives. The familiar, after all, may be unhealthy, but at least we know it. We relate to it. And we’re all too prone to cling to familiar territory.

When that ‘familiar territory’ is sexual activity, it becomes perversely dear to us. Even though we admit it’s wrong, we also come to see it as an old friend. It’s reliable and available, and it works. It eases our pain and temporarily satisfies us. To repent of habitual sexual behavior is like abandoning a trustworthy buddy.

Compare this to drug addiction. A person doesn’t just fall into it. Somewhere along the line he discovers satisfaction through a chemical. It temporarily eases pain, helps him forget troubles, comforts him. It is his anesthetic, deadening his anxieties like a nurturing parent. Of course there are other ways he could deal with his problems, but the drug is familiar and has a good track record. Why give up something that works? What began as a comfort, is now a necessity!

Meanwhile he is becoming addicted. What began as a comfort is now a necessity, emotionally and physically. To give it up means to go through physical withdrawal, which is hard enough. But it would also mean finding another way to cope with the inner conflicts which remain long after withdrawal. In fact, without the familiar coping mechanism, those conflicts will be stronger and more painful than ever. The truth is, he must find other coping mechanisms, because the one he uses now will eventually destroy him.

Look at the Jewish people’s journey out of Egypt. They lived in bondage and prayed for deliverance, and God intervened. He brought them out of Egypt miraculously. But when faced with difficult situations in the wilderness, they were prone to long for the familiarity of Egypt and to dread the unknown Promised Land. Think about the power the familiar held for them! They had been treated worse than animals in Egypt, yet at times they would remember it fondly, saying, “At least we were fed regularly and had our basic needs taken care of!” The unknown frightened them, making them turn toward the bondage that they could at least relate to. And when they finally approached the Promised Land, the terror of its giant inhabitants overshadowed all the benefits that would go along with their new location. In Egypt at least they had survived. How could they be sure they would fare as well in new territory?

If you’ve been engaging in sexual immorality, you may also wonder how you’ll fare in new territory. It’s tough at times, to be sure, but it also opens up a way of freedom, new relationships, and peace of mind. What will it be? Cling to the old, destructive and familiar or move into freedom and the unknown?

The question, then, is this: Are you going to cling to familiar, destructive ways simply because you can relate to them, or are you willing to abandon them in favor of a new way of living which is better, even though at this point you can’t relate to it?

I trust that you’re ready and willing to try something better, which means that you’re ready and willing to repent.

See Every Man’s Battle for help in breaking out of the familiar.

Unleashing Samson

He was strong and impressive; a clever Nazarite who could spin riddles, destroy lions bare-handed and conquer a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone. He was Samson, and he was not to be messed with. Yet this man of strength eventually found himself tied up, blinded and put to work at a grindstone like a common mule. What happened? Compromise. Samson was bound by a vow to abstain from drinking wine, eating unclean meat, and cutting his hair.

So long as he was faithful to this vow of separation, he retained his strength. But when presented with an aggressive beauty named Delilah, he broke his vow and integrity, never imagining the nightmare a simple compromise would bring. As soon as he foolishly told Delilah the secret of his strength, she betrayed him to the Philistines, who immediately tied him up, gouged out his eyes, and put him to hard labor.

Strength came from faithfulness to God’s design of separation. Your own Delilah doesn’t care any more about you than Samson’s did. Whatever your weakness may be ‘ pornography, commercial sex, affairs or anonymous encounters ‘ you can be sure it will only weaken and betray you. Look what it’s done so far. Look at how it’s affected your confidence, your judgment, your general ability to perform. Be honest about this. Has sexual sin done anything for you, other than to weaken and limit you?

Compromise came from breaking from God’s design and his own integrity. That need not be the end of your story. When Samson allowed his hair to grow back, his strength returned. And with it came a determination to once and for all destroy the enemies who had so brutally kept him from his potential. If his compromise mirrors your own, take heart. Because his final victory can mirror yours as well. I hope you’ll begin by recognizing that, apart from a consecrated relationship with God, you’re very much like Samson at his weakest. But in returning to Him through repentance and a commitment to knowing Him and His will for you, your spiritual and emotional potential will return as surely as Samson’s hair grew back.

Unleashing Samson involved repenting and waiting for his power to return.
Unleashing Samson was as simple as repenting and waiting for his power to return. So take heart if you’ve allowed yourself to become a compromised man. Your compromise has been foolish and destructive,yes, but your potential, like Samson’s is still waiting to be unleashed.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) or consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops.