How many times in the last week (or day or hour) have you felt like giving up? Have you been tired, frustrated, or beaten down by life and your addiction? What are the answers to your sexual acting out, and how can they possibly be implemented?
For those who struggle with sexual sin, temptation is a daily battle. Today’s culture is becoming increasingly saturated with sexual images and innuendos. Pornography is a booming business and growing exponentially through the constant connection to the internet. Marriages are breaking up due to sexual infidelities. Can such rampant impurity be curbed so that man can lead a life that is pleasing to God?
Many in today’s culture (and even in some churches) would be quick to shove a “program of healing” in your face and spout, “Just do this and you’ll be fine.” This is the modern day equivalent of the old doctor’s quip, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Society has become engrossed with programs to “heal” every ailment.
Does this mean all ‘programs‘ are bad? Of course not. Are most programs useless? No. But if programs in and of themselves were effective, wouldn’t there be higher rates of success from those who implement them? The answer should logically be yes. So why aren’t larger numbers of people in “recovery programs” finding long-term freedom from their compulsive behaviors?
The answer is found in one word: persistence!
The Bible speaks of perseverance (or persistence) as endurance. The Greek translation for endure is hupomeno and has the connotation of “staying under” or “remaining.” Jesus used this word when He spoke in Mark 13:13 and said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Does that type of long-term vision describe the attitude of today’s culture? No! Today people get impatient and frustrated when a candy bar doesn’t fall from the vending machine in less than 2 seconds. The willingness to endure and persist is getting lost. Thus, the increased reliance on “programs” alone to remedy every addiction.
Programs can definitely be useful (such as New Life’s Every Man’s Battle Intensive Workshop), but ONLY when coupled with persistence and relationship! When you persist, or endure, you are engaging in the hard work of “staying under” the leadership and accountability of another person (as it pertains to recovery). Persistence is required in the recovery process, recognizing that enduring is not always clean, neat, glamorous, or “perfect.” You persist because you understand the greater good of “remaining” until the work is complete.
Persistence means you will not bail out no matter how intense the pressure is to quit!
Programs are oftentimes primarily interested in outward conduct. Are you “doing” the right things? Are you following each step correctly? And programs can often turn a person away to work on their issue alone, isolated from others. This is why so many people will start a solid program only to find themselves shortly afterward abandoning it as they spiral further into their shame and addiction.
You need other people to help you maintain focus when it comes to fighting
compulsive behaviors — not a list of rules!
One last note on persisting – it is NOT easy! In fact, one of the sub-definitions for the Greek word for endurance is “suffer.” Sticking to something and not giving up are character qualities that will test your resolve at the core of your being. It will require you to increase your threshold for emotional discomfort and develop habits of righteousness that will lead you to the One who can “bear your burdens.” Jesus is the ultimate example of persistence. He is “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:2, NLT). Jesus “remained” where God wanted Him and provided you with freedom from your afflictions.
A challenge for you today is to adopt a new outlook on your personal journey of purity. Instead of seeing the mountain of potential failure spots in front of you, focus on the wonderful Savior who fully bore all your sin, shame, and guilt on the cross and said, “It is finished.” Let Him be your primary motivation for persisting and connecting. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).