Fear is a funny thing… it can have some much control over us as men. My most recent example was when I was asked a couple of weeks ago by XXXChurch to participate in the online blog; I instantly felt fear. I felt fear because I was reminded of all the reasons I couldn’t succeed at writing blog entries for such a ministry. This is the same kind of fear that so many of us as men fall into when we try to honestly follow Jesus’ standard of purity in our life. There are some men that have such a fear of slipping up that it will lead them to decide to continue with their lifestyles in order to feel some sort of success.
I accepted Christ in February of 2005 and what resulted was an immediate change; a 180 degree turn from the drugs, alcohol, pornography and pretty much everything else that makes men “unclean” that is mentioned in Mark 7:21-23. I was a new man and I wanted everyone to know it. Several months later of trying to live a perfect life that reflected all that God had to offer, I started to feel this sense of failure in my walk with Christ. The freedom that I had found in Christ was getting overshadowed by following rules and when I would fail or feel like I had failed, I’d feel guilty and distant from God. I was trying to go to church and do the right things; however, I was always interrupted with the people around me. See, I had not been in church since I was a teenager and started to go back to church. What I found was that people who where members of the church and sometimes even the ministry staff would “look” like Christians but their actions and words would be of the world. In Matthew 7:15-19, Jesus is warning us of false prophets that come disguised as harmless sheep and Paul also speaks of people who are more concerned with the laws than the salvation through the cross in Galatians 5:11-12.
From my personal view, I think that I had felt like I had done so much wrong in my life that I would make it up by doing all the right things; sometimes acting self-righteous. Paul tells the churches of Galatia that if they are trying to make themselves right with God by keeping the law, they have been cut off from Christ; that they have fallen from God’s grace (Galatians 5:4). God’s grace is what set me free in the first place but I had allowed myself to be judged by man’s law resulting in me falling into a continuous reminder of all the reasons I was not a Christian. Before I knew it I was searching for success and acceptance behind my computer through porn or through some sort of impure thought. When this started I felt more like a hypocrite which resulted in more failure. What had changed? Why had I gone back to something that would separate me from God’s truth and grace?
Reason why was because I had not changed my habits as far was monitoring what I was exposing myself to. Yeah, I had cut out drugs, alcohol and pornography but I was still watching movies and TV sitcoms that had sexual content in them. I wasn’t in the Bible daily and I was not being transparent about my struggles. I was allowing the outside interferences affect my view of the truth, about God’s grace. I had let the world judge my walk with Christ by putting standards on myself or letting other people put standards on me instead of going by God’s standard. This is a dangerous place to be, this is the place that many people walk away from God and decide to be a success in the world’s views. These senses of failure lead me to a full fletched addiction of pornography again.
It is important to remember that being Christian is not about perfection but about forgiveness. Knowing what Jesus actually did through His death on the cross. It’s about knowing who to go to in the middle of struggle. God doesn’t punish us, we punish ourselves. God strengthens us through every weakness we have because His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in weakness (2Corinthians 12:9). I am proud to say with all the praise in my heart that He has giving me strength through my weakness. How did I finally find freedom? I realized that God sometimes allows us to go through struggles and trials to strengthen us, to develop a dependence on Him. Times of difficult are the best times to embrace the Holy Spirit and to be desperate for God. You can’t change overnight because frankly we didn’t fall into a sinful lifestyle overnight, but you can start by a “bite size” approach. God gives us numerous times throughout the day to say yes or no and opportunities to practice what he is telling us. The important thing is to remember where to go when we feel that sense of failure… to the foot of the cross.