When Do You Stop Being a Failure and Start Being an Example?

It’s a great question, but don’t get stuck on the word “failure”.  Make sure you know what you have failed in and what failure means.  When you understand failure against God’s love, then you can start being an example.

God, nowhere in the Bible calls you a failure.  You are never worthless to Him.  You never lose your value.  You never stop being loved.  And if you’re saved, you will never lose your salvation.  This is so hard to believe.  For us, we are what we do.  So if you sin sexually, look at porn, masturbate, cheat on your wife… you think that’s who you are.  Deep down many of you hate yourselves.  You think you are what you have done. 

But this is a lie.  Your identity is meant to be “in Christ”.  Christ Himself inhabits you spiritually. He adopts you into His family.  He calls you an heir of His inheritance.  You are part of His holy nation, His holy people, His holy priesthood. 

You are not a failure at your core, because Jesus is your identity.

Top Truth – You are not what we have done.  You are who Christ is.

Top Tip – You have to learn and believe that you are loved by God and our identity is “in Him”.

As far as sobriety are concerned, failure is a different story. 

You have failed sexually.  You have stepped over boundaries.  You have taken less than the best.  You do not have a healthy sexuality if you are turning to porn, illicit relationships, fetishes, and masturbation.  These are poor substitutes for the good, healthy sexuality that God has for you. 

You can fail in your purity strategy.  You can relapse and fall back into old habits.  You can take on new, more base habits.  You can get worse in your thinking.  You can get worse in your actions.

Top Truth – You have messed up when it comes to sexual boundaries and sobriety.  All of us have. 

Top Truth – Sobriety is not the same as identity.

You are a sinner.  We are all sinners.  The Bible says, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  You have failed when it comes to meeting God’s high, perfect standards.  You were born with a selfish nature that causes you to want to do your own thing.  Eventually, this has led to you choose your own will sexually.  You are a sinner who has sinned sexually. 

Your sin has caused a rupture in your relationships.  You have not kept commitments.  You might have spat on your marriage covenant by committing adultery. 

If you are a sex addict, you have failed in your attempts to control your sin.  You have tried to not sin and not be tempted.  It doesn’t work.  You are guilty of failing because you have done it on your own efforts, even by becoming very religious.

The good news of Jesus is you don’t have to be defined by your sin.  You are responsible for your sins, but you don’t have to continue in them.  Jesus has already paid the price for your sins.  Freedom from sin is found in turning to Him.  Freedom from sexual sin is found in turning to God and turning to others who can help you walk in God’s freedom.

Top Truth – Your sin has caused you to fail God’s perfect standard.

Top Truth – Freedom from sin, pornography and sexual habits comes from turning to Jesus, sometimes with the help of others.

Being an example seems to begin when you have a right understanding of failure.  You are not a failure in your core.  You are valued and loved by God.  But you are definitely messed up.  Jesus accepts you with all of your junk and enters your life to help you get it all straightened out.

#1 – An Example in Your Understanding
Know your junk and know the love of God.  Know that you are a sinner and know that He has extended grace to cover your sin.  Your understanding of these key truths will catapult you into being an example.  Guys are looking for real guys who understand junk and understand God.  This is how you start building your recovery story. 

#2 – An Example in Your Sobriety
This is the next level, but it’s essential.  You have to get sober.  You have to get rid of the bad stuff and start doing the new stuff.  You have to deny yourself the sexual deeds that you think will satisfy your soul and trust that God has a better way to provide. 

#3 – An Example in Helping Others
You can start helping others almost immediately in your recovery.  You are not a teacher and a leader yet, but you have a story… you can share it.  You have a listening ear… you can use it.  You have presence, and you can be there for another guy who is struggling, even if you don’t know what to say. 

Jeff Fisher is a blogger and podcaster living in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He and his wife run www.porntopurity.com.  Jeff’s podcast Top Tips For Sexual Purity Podcast (I-Tunes) is one of the more popular podcasts on sexual addiction recovery.