Monogamous Adulterer…

autumn-landscape-gloomy-misty-forest-lake-panning_vj_13sgbe__F0000Confession: I actually started this post over a year ago, but stopped for a lack of words and direction, but I believe the Lord has given me both today, sufficient at least to express my heart.

I had been reading a book on the sin of addictions called “A Banquet In The Grave”, and in it the author used the term “dry drunk”.  A term I have never heard before, but apparently it is quite common in the AA world, to describe someone that has been physically sober but still wrestles with dysfunctional thoughts and or behaviors that led to the addiction.  In other words someone who has endured the physical withdrawals of alcohol, but still has not addressed the root emotional component that may have led to the dependency of the chemical.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, and reading a few chapters on the subject of addictions did not make me an expert at all, but it did help open my mind to cyclic patterns of sin that are deeply rooted in my life.

I purchased this book as an effort to be obedient to Jesus’ command to wage war against sin with the vigorous intensity as if heaven and hell weighed in the balance, namely because they do [Matt 5:27-30].  Jesus’ sermon was not propagating legalism, which if He came to earth today and preached the Sermon on the Mount, He would surely be accused of doing.  But rather He was striking at the root of our human condition and the distorted world in which our fickle hearts connect us to.

This world is not a lake, it is a river of rapids flowing down to destruction.  There is no such thing as standing still in life, you are either actively, by the Spirit, killing sin or sin is actively killing you. There is no middle ground.   A truth that is more easily accepted by our minds, then by our lives.  My flesh cries at the thought of daily warring against it’s old tendencies.

In my own life I am amazed at how God dramatically changed the trajectory of my life nine years ago.  To see the effects of a heart exchange, that left me desiring and pursuing holiness, rather than the world, leaves me speechless.  To see the power of the Holy Spirit rid my life of so many filthy sins that have been purchased by Jesus Christ.  To look back and see the efficacy and sufficiency of grace in my life as I became more conformed to the image of my Savior, is simply breath taking!

And yet there remains in me deep rooted sin that has never been addressed, at least to the degree that our King commands us to, and it rears its ugly head with the same vigor and strength that it has always had.  Why is that?  Why does God powerfully remove the presence of some sins in an instant and not others?   Why do some believers experience the cataclysmic destruction of certain strongholds, while other strongholds are brought down piece by piece over years, or dare I say decades?

It would be arrogant to suppose that I could come close to render a complete and sufficient answer. Who can know the mind of GOD [Rom 11:34]?  However something John Owen wrote in “The Nature of Temptation” has profoundly struck me, and at the very least can give a sliver of understanding into God’s wisdom.

“The efficacy of an antidote is found when the poison has been taken; and the preciousness of medicines is made know by diseases.  We shall never know what strength there is in grace if we know not what strength there is in temptation.  We must be tried, that we may be made sensible of being preserved.” 

How beautiful that paragraph was, when I first read it.  Being brought face to face with a dragon so destructive and relentless, breathing fire on my every joy in Christ, that all my hope of freedom from its tyranny was quickly vanishing.  All the hope that I had placed on all my gouging, plucking and cutting in accordance to Scripture, to separate from this beastly foe vanished in an instant.

It was there in the stillness of despair, on my knees leaning over my tear soaked couch, with a voice trembling in between sobs, with my head pounding from every muscle fiber  straining to seek God, that perhaps the truest and most earnest cry of my heart came forth.  God destroyed all false hopes of mine, it was wonderfully and fearfully painful, but to behold the grace of God in all its glory and fullness found in Christ was magnificent.

God, in His sovereign wisdom, allowed me to feel the full strength of this temptation, to rid me of all self-reliance and pride that was blinding me from seeing and savoring the beauty and power of the supremacy of the crucified Christ.   Oh how sweet the words of our Lord in that moment of despair “my grace is sufficient, my power is made perfect in weakness”.  Or the tender words that finally wrestled C.H Spurgeon’s, heart to God “Look to me and be saved” [Is 45:22 KJV] 

I believe Jesus, help me believe!  I have seen the force of the dragon first hand, and I am no match for it, BUT it is no match for Christ!  And my life is hidden with Christ in God [Col 3:3].  All that Christ is, He his to us { 2 Cor 13:5, Rom 8:10, 2 Cor 4:6-7, Gal 2:20, Eph 3:17}, because He is in us and we are in Him.  The blessedness of our union with Him, is sweetest, when you see and feel the destructiveness of sin.

God is not calling us to an external religiosity which manufactures hypocritical legalists, which I have seen terribly within myself.  He is not calling us to monogamy with an adulterous heart, He is calling us to monogamy with a joyous heart.  Or to be more aligned with the gospel of Jesus, true obedience and devotion come from a new heart that God gave us, that now has the ability to respond and savor the wonderful truths of the Gospel.

I had set up an idol in the house of God [2 Kings 21:5-7], by harboring this sin deep within the labyrinth of my heart.  1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our body is not our own, it is a temple of the Holy Spirit.   I was being hospitable to a sin that the Spirit is set against to destroy [Gal 5:17].  That is like serving milk and cookies to the midnight intruder that broke in to kill your family.  And I did all this, while seeking pardon from God as I bow down to this idol [2 Kings 5:17-19].  No wonder there isn’t victory with certain strongholds, we have to first want them torn down and destroyed.

Psalm 66:18 says “If I had cherished iniquity within my heart, the Lord would not have listened”.   It is by the grace of God that He has brought the diagnosis of my heart to the forefront of my life.  It’s ugly, painful, and down right messy,  but now it can be dealt with by the blood of Jesus.

The diagnosis might be terrible but the prognosis is nothing short of miraculous, as I turn my attention from my failings, to a rejected and ridiculed, bloodied and battered Savior, who spared no expense to die for those that had nothing to give.

“Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise”Jer 17:14 

 

 

 

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