“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
I received an email the other day from a man who read my book The Petros Prophecy outlining the Bible’s case against homosexuality and its role in end-times prophecy. He thanked me for writing it and confessed that he struggles with homosexual lust and porn addiction. He asked for advice on how to cope with his situation, and I connected him with First Stone Ministries which ministers to people dealing with homosexuality and other sexual brokenness. He replied with a heart-wrenching description of his emotional torment and a second request for my advice. I then answered from my own life experience as a 16-year alcoholic and drug addict healed miraculously in prayer in 1986, and my subsequent work ministering to people with homosexuality and addiction issues through my work as a pastor, missionary and Christian lawyer.
The following is an expanded version of my reply, which I think may be helpful to others struggling with addictions of various kinds. People who have never experienced addiction should be reminded here that addictive conduct is not truly voluntary in the normal sense of the word because the addict’s will power is no longer capable of defeating (except incidentally under optimal conditions) the temptation to which he has become enslaved and which grows in power with each successive failure.
The key to being able to live with yourself as a person who struggles with habitual sin is God’s grace and mercy. We can’t ever be good enough behaviorally or legalistically to deserve His love, but thankfully He loves us anyway like a parent loves a toddler.
Justification – our ticket to heaven — is ours by faith alone in Christ alone, never by works of any kind “lest men would boast” (Ephesians 2:9), But Sanctification (becoming Christlike) takes work and lots of it. It is always and for everyone about progress not perfection, one day at a time, and about recognizing that self-condemnation is siding with the Accuser of the Brethren against our own Advocate in the spiritual/mental/emotional courtroom of our heart.
Importantly, the Judge of All Things is always going to acquit whomever the Advocate represents (it’s a system totally rigged in our favor!), so the only thing accomplished by self-condemnation is voluntarily trading peace for misery in our sojourn through life. Correcting that upside-down state of mind allows us to honor the command to “count it all joy” when we face our life’s challenges, despite our deficiencies (James 1:2).
My advice is to change your primary focus away from preventing relapses through will power (which is virtually impossible to sustain as a long-term strategy). Instead work actively to cleanse and tend the open wounds that cause the pain which drives you to seek relief through ritual sin, by applying the balm of God’s grace and mercy which, over time, will heal them. Wounds heal slowly and incrementally, although in some rare situations Christ brings instant healing for His own reasons. Most people face the longer, sometimes much longer natural healing process, also for His own reasons.
Per Romans 8, abide in the spirit even as you inhabit the flesh that you can’t fully control, and keep the two separate in the sense that you never forget that the flesh is just a temporary vessel destined for death, while the real YOU is already in timeless Heaven, a part of the “cloud of witnesses” watching your human self alternately swimming and treading water in Creation’s river of time. Or, to use Paul’s metaphor, “running the race that is set before us” … “throwing off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Years ago on an early morning prayer walk before serving as a guest preacher in a Southern California church, the Lord taught me a short string of words and phrases that explain very simply the purpose of life:
The purpose of life is to be conformed to the character of Jesus Christ,
through a life-long series of challenges uniquely designed
for each person by God Himself.
You WILL face a never-ending series of challenges in life. God designed them carefully and specifically for you. It’s your mission to help Him shape you to be Christlike in the way you respond to them. The same is true for every human being ever born. So don’t get caught up in self pity, or self-condemnation, or self-absorption, or self-aggrandizement, or self-justification or self-righteousness, or any other self-centeredness. Die to self, surrender to His plan, and enjoy the sanctification process as He intended you to do.
And also remember that “freedom in Christ” includes freedom from the expectations of men. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide in all things, not the opinions of other people, especially those who have never experienced addiction.
But at the same time NEVER give up! Never surrender to despair. Never self-identify with the sin you struggle with (“gayness” is a condition, not a type of person). And Never, Ever compound your sin by declaring it not to be sin.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He [not you] will do it [through your glorification by HIM at the appointed time] (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).