Denial

Steve Arterburn

Men, you all know someone close to you’someone you’d trust with your life’but someone who struggles to tell you the truth. That ‘someone’ is you! And this self-directed deception is called denial. The Complete Life Encyclopedia defines denial as ‘an inability to see the truth about oneself’. Here’s what denial is: it’s a lie you tell yourself, and after you tell it, you cling to it and believe it.

We all struggle with denial. And it blurs your vision of many things’troubled or destructive relationships, sins you’re unwilling to acknowledge, overly optimistic goals, financial irresponsibility, physical illness, unresolved character issues, self-righteousness, and any number of situations you’d rather not see clearly.

But guys, if you seriously desire spiritual renewal, you must bring the all of your life under the umbrella of God’s grace. Even those areas you’ve closed off, and especially the lies you’ve tried to convince yourself are true.

One of the reasons denial is so dangerous is not only does it blind you to the problems you’re trying to avoid, but it also blinds you to the consequences that avoidance creates. The moment you open your eyes and see things clearly, accurately, and truthfully, you’ll also see the troubling results of your denial.

Yeah, you’re likely to fight with discouragement, and the urge to seek diversions and other ways to feel good. But these are cop-outs: denial in disguise. My challenge to you is that you allow your recognition of the truth to spur you to repentance, and then, to a joyful, grateful response to Him of service.

Why We Deny

Steve Arterburn

Men, we all struggle with denial’but why? Well, one reason is that truth is scary. It can frighten you into a ‘see no evil’ lifestyle. For some of you life’s been very difficult. You’ve weathered many storms, and aren’t interested in further suffering. Denial may be the only coping mechanism you know. And you’d rather face the status quo than the discomfort of change. If I’m talking to you, I’ll grant that’in a sense’you’re right. Ending denial brings with it the threat of loss as well as pain. Reality is often costly. And accepting the consequences of truth may cause the loss of income, possessions, friends, or prestige. But know this: in the long run, denial has far worse consequences. It’ll inevitably sap your life’emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically.

Another reason you sometimes avoid self-scrutiny is because you don’t want to stop what you know is wrong. You’ve confused avoidance with innocence. You tend to use busyness as a means of denial’keeping a hectic pace, and, at least for the time being, keeping reality at bay. With life whizzing by, you see very little and feel even less’especially the numbing effect denial is having on you.

Men, this is simply too high a price to pay. If these descriptions have described you at all, I invite you, in the name of Christ, to come into the cleansing, life-giving light of the gospel. Yes, the truth can hurt. But only the truth can set you free.

Is Confession All That Matters In Recovery?

Jonathan Daugherty

Is confession all that matters in recovery? If we continue to admit our faults and failures, is that enough to live a life of ongoing purity, or is there more to the equation of freedom than simply admitting time and again that we are broken and imperfect? I propose that confession is only half of the equation when it comes to living each day in sexual purity.

Repentance is the ‘other half’ of this coin of recovery.

Confession is certainly necessary for recovery to begin, and even to move forward. To confess is to agree with truth. We confess that we are not perfect (true). We confess that we have a problem with lust – or whatever the particular struggle may be (true). We confess that we need help and cannot overcome our faults and failures alone (true). We confess each time our thoughts or actions do not match up with what God has said is good or right, and in so doing we agree with truth. Confession is an honest assessment and expression of reality. But confession alone does not change behavior. No, confession invites the forgiveness and cleansing of God on to our broken lives, but it is repentance that ultimately changes the course of our recovery over the long haul.

I used to think that if I just got really good at confessing my faults and failures as quickly as possible to when they occurred that I would become a different man. Unfortunately, all I learned from such a venture was how desperately wicked my sinful nature was and how often I must confess. Nothing seemed to change, at least not in significant, lasting ways. I just confessed and confessed and confessed. Mostly, I just confessed the same failures over and over again. This didn’t seem like progress (I’m not the brightest kid in the class, but I can deduce that repeating the same failures does not equal positive growth). Each confession did bring about a cleansing, a sort of “start-over-point” as promised by God (1 John 1:9), but this didn’t seem to do much for gaining traction in overcoming these vice-like sins. There always seemed to be an ‘ingredient’ missing in acquiring the long-term victory my heart craved.

Then I discovered the key to gaining ground against the ever-chasing pull of lust: applying the practice of repentance.

Repentance is the process of turning away from anything opposed to truth. Repentance provides the balance to confession. We confess to agree with truth, and then we repent to turn away from the opposing thought, belief, or action that prompted the confession. Through repentance we train our minds and hearts to focus on that which leads to life and freedom: truth (John 8:32). And as we continually turn toward truth we experience the power of God unleashed on the false thoughts, beliefs, and actions that seek to pull us again into darkness, shame, and despair.

One of the biggest challenges to repentance is pride. We truly believe we know what is best for our lives, even if it may be killing us. We think we can reason our way out of the lustful trap we are caught in, rather than surrendering ourselves, through repentance, to the truth of God’s Word and His ways. Pride is an ugly beast, but so often goes unrecognized as we wiggle and squirm out of the loving invitation of repentance and new way of life. But to become a new person, a free, pure child of God, we must die to our pride and invite, even embrace, the path of repentance.

Another harmful opponent to repentance is minimizing our sin. We deceive ourselves into believing that our problems aren’t as big as they really are and that we can successfully manage our sexuality without anybody’s help (minimizing and pride often travel together). We say we have a ‘little’ problem with porn or that we ‘aren’t hurting anyone.’ The longer we play with the fires of pride and minimizing the further we drift from repentance and the more we will suffer the consequences (Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Prov. 6:27).

Does confession matter in recovery? Absolutely! But without repentance, confession only serves to perpetually wash over the same stain again and again without ever effectively seeking to remove it. Repentance, therefore, compliments confession by guiding us toward the proper focus and perspective once we receive the refreshing cleansing brought about by humble, honest confession. May you allow your times of confession to remind you to take the additional step toward long-term freedom by also repenting. This is the path to true and lasting freedom…

For help on this subject please see Every Man’s Battle.