September 11, 2012 by A Girl Like Me
Last week God was able to use Kelly in a mighty way to help show you His truth on the battle with lust, our need for Jesus and desire to fight in order to break free from the bondage of sexual sin. Like you, I was left feeling encouraged and empowered. So much so, that I myself wondered, where do we go from here? What else could we say that would hold nearly as much weight as the truth that God oozed from Kelly’s fingertips to you? And so I began to pray. I began to reflect on my own past and my own battle with lust and what I would want to be told next if I were you. I’m not sure if what I am about to write is the next step, but I do know it is the thing God has impressed upon me most to share with you all.
If you could see me now, you’d find it quite overwhelming. I’m sitting at my desk, notes with scribbles and thoughts all over the place, books and bibles flung open, and my handy cup of mint green tea next to me so that I have the energy to type as quickly as my brain is moving. See girls, what I am about to discuss is something that I want you to hear, but more importantly, something I need to hear myself. It is something that no matter how hard you try, you will face in this war against your flesh. In some ways, it is a darker, longer lasting battle than the one you will face against your sexual urges. It’s the battle against sexual shame.
It’s been well over five years since my last sexual indiscretion occurred. It was shortly before I began to date Jeff, and probably one of the more emotionally gut wrenching ones. I had barely been dating the guy when my dad passed away. As a way to deal with my grief, I gave him my body. Not even a month after my dad passed, the guy I was dating’s mom got in a severe car accident that would eventually take her life. To help him deal with his pain, I again, gave him my body. Shortly after her passing, he called me one day to tell me that we were breaking up, and had I not made him go do stuff with me, he would have had more time with his mom before she died. I was wrecked. As if all of my other past moments had not soiled me enough, this one took the cake. I was left there feeling like my desire for sexual affection had caused a man to miss the opportunity to be with his dying mother. And though many years have passed since then, I still am pained by that memory all the time.
Shame, also known as self-condemnation, is one of if not the strongest weapon satan likes to use against us. It is the one tool he has to keep us bound to the shackles of our past even though we may have sought redemption in Christ. It is his tool to keep us disobedient to our Father and hopeless in our desire for freedom. The thing is, we often get confused over the difference between shame and conviction. We think, “I should feel bad about my sin. I hurt God, myself, and others. If I don’t feel bad, then I’m not really sorry for what I have done.” If this is what you are thinking, you’re right. And this is where the fine line between shame and conviction is drawn.
“Conviction of sin draws me away from myself and toward God; it frees me to repent, grants me sorrow over offending my King, and floods me with a relief in knowing that his smile still rests upon me…….Self-condemnation, on the other hand, draws me down into myself and away from God. It makes me afraid and distrustful of him. It entraps me in unrelenting self-loathing and unbelief. It makes my heart cold toward the Lord; he’s seen as a harsh taskmaster, a cruel tormenter. It makes me think of my Savior the way I should think of my enemy, and this reversal brings a vicious glee to the Accuser.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick
Ask yourself girls, how many times have you thought the following? “I’m no good. God could never use me after what I’ve done. There’s no way God will give me a godly husband now. I deserve to be alone after what I’ve done. I’m worthless. There’s no way I could ever be seen as pure again. I should give up.” I know that I have, and do still think a lot of those things. Actually, I’ve thought some of them even in the last hour. And this is the root of shame. It becomes all about us and our failure. It eliminates grace and what Christ did for us completely. “Self-condemnation doesn’t make me love Jesus more, because it’s essentially not about him. It’s about me.” -Fitzpatrick
The thing we need to remind ourselves of is that Satan cannot damn us. He doesn’t hold that power, though he’d like you to think so. The only damning thing is unforgiven sin. But remember girls, our Christ HAS forgiven our sins! Colossians 2:13-14 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”(NLT) Do you see that? Our sin is cancelled. Done. Finished. The moment those nails were driven through the wrists and feet of our beloved Savior was the exact moment in history where you no longer had to look at yourself as worthless and hopeless. You are not damned because of your sin. YOU ARE FREE!! If we continue to walk in the shame of our past and present mistakes, we are saying that Christ is not big enough, does not love us enough, and is not strong enough to set us free. Ladies, I know this may sound harsh, but when we choose to walk in the shadows of self-condemnation, you are spitting on the foot of the cross and saying that what took place there was no good.
But where do we go from here? We want conviction, right? We want to feel the sting that our choices have weight and affect us deeply. We want to remember that the poor choices we make are wrong so that we will strive to not repeat them. So then how do we live in light of the cross yet still in the confines of conviction? John Piper would say that we “Trust Jesus to the hilt with gutsy guilt.” That means that we trust Jesus and what he did on the cross with every fiber of our being knowing that what he did for us, we absolutely will never deserve. But in knowing that, we can live in the hope and joy that His death was enough to not keep us tied down to the constraints of our sexual failures. And then we confront ourselves and the lies the enemy is breeding within us with all the force of a mighty hurricane.
I want to leave you all with this verse. I’m going to give it to you, and then break it down for you.
“Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
I will be patient as the Lord punishes me,
for I have sinned against him.
But after that, he will take up my case
and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.
The Lord will bring me into the light,
and I will see his righteousness.” Micah 7:8-9 (NLT)
Let’s first address verse 8. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy.” Like I said, Satan cannot damn you. He takes great joy in making you think he can, so our first response to him when he tries to sow the seeds of shame in our hearts is to essentially tell him “NO.” But why can we tell him no? “For though I fall…. I WILL RISE AGAIN.” Do you believe that, girl? Do you believe that Jesus is strong enough that when you fall you can rise again? Yes, we sin. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, it hurts God and us. But no, no it is not WHO we are and it is certainly not the end of our story. For when we fall, girls (and we will still fall)….we CAN rise. I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, but it is time we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and we live in the shadow of the cross instead of the shadow of our own self-pity. Self-pity leads to shame, shame leads to further failure, further failure leads us farther away from the cross. Do you get that? When you fall….GET BACK UP! Why? Because “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” We are all in some kind of darkness in our lives. That is the curse of our sin nature. Sexual failure and sin can be the darkest of all places. But what Micah is telling us is that in that darkness, the Lord will be our light. He has not and will not ever abandon us. He may allow you to head into those dark and gloomy places, but never ever EVER will he leave you with out a light and a way to lead you back to himself and out of that pit.
“I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him.” No, this does not mean that your lack of a boyfriend/husband/what-not is punishment. No this does not mean that your inability to move beyond your past is his punishment. What he is saying is that the guilt and conviction you feel….you should feel. You need to remember how weak you are and how desperately you need a Savior. THAT is his punishment. Ladies, God is not an evil vindictive dictator who hands out cruel punishment like candy. He is a loving Father, who is wounded and disappointed in his disobedient child. And his punishment is the conviction of knowing we’ve disappointed him. HOWEVER…it does not end there.
“But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness.” Girls, Jesus needs us to feel conviction. Like I mentioned earlier, true conviction points us back to him in hopeful repentance. So he convicts us…BUT he then takes up our case and issues justice for all we have suffered. How does he issue justice? By NAILING OUR SINS TO THE CROSS! And by taking our sins upon himself, he has thrust us out of the darkness and into the light of his redemption and grace. For through his death, we are not damned. We are not a slave to this sin, nor are we destined to live a sub-par mediocre life with a worthless louse of a guy. We are better, women. Live in His grace. If not, his death was pointless.
In our gender, this issue is taboo. We don’t talk about it, and so we all live in shame and fear. But not today. Today girls, is our day to fight. It’s time to throw off the weight of self-condemnation and put on the robe of grace and forgiveness. No more anonymous comments on here girls. You want freedom? Step up, say your name, claim what you are doing and then fight. Fight in light of the cross. Tell the enemy “No!” when he wants to toss you into the well of shame and self-loathing. When you fall, hold onto to the redemption Jesus has lavished generously upon you and GET BACK UP! This is no easy process ladies. This is every minute of every day.
When writing this post, Satan confronted me once again with shame from my past. I had every reason to turn off the computer, walk away, and just dumb-down what I was going to write. Instead, I kept typing. And as I typed, I kept saying “When I fall, I shall rise. When I fall, I shall rise.”At one point, I was crying and screaming it at the same time. Why? Because the enemy has not won this war. Jesus has. And so I want to give him the victory. He deserves that. I need that. You need that too.
I have attached a copy of this Micah verse for you to print. Tape it on your wall, next to your computer, on your mirror, in your car, wherever it needs to be so you can see it. Say it to yourself. Memorize it. And like me, when the crushing wave of shame feesl like it is about to pull you under, lift your eyes up to Jesus and tell yourself…”When I fall, I shall rise…when I fall I shall rise….when I fall I shall rise….”