I thought I was too far gone
There was a time in my addiction to pornography that I began to believe that I had gone too far. I thought God stopped loving me, that His forgiveness had run out, and that He was done with me. They were all lies, but I chose to believe them. I had always tried to be a “good Christian,” but now I felt so much shame, I thought God was through with me. Maybe you feel that way sometimes too.
We can get to a place in the struggle with lust that we think we’ve gone too far. We’ve promised again and again never to go back, only to return to the very thing we swore we were done with.
The prodigal son
There’s a story in the Bible about a son who took his Father’s inheritance and went and “wasted all his money in wild living.” (Luke 15:13) Eventually, the son gets to a place where he has lost everything and is starving and eating with the pigs. The Bible says, “he finally came to his senses” (vs. 17). He remembered that at home, even the servants were fed well. He decides to go home, but he has a lot of shame and is not sure his father will accept him back. He says in vs. 19, “I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” He believed he was too far gone.
What I’ve learned on my journey to freedom
I can remember a time early in my journey to freedom where I heard from the Lord in a very gentle way, “I’ve always been here with you, Matt. I’ve never left. Even when you chose to go a different way, I am still here.” It wasn’t an audible voice, but a reminder to me that God was still there. That moment shook me to my core and overwhelmed me with the love of my Father. It was His Grace that ultimately led me to freedom.
2 things I learned from this and the story of the Prodigal Son:
1. I believed that I had lost my Father’s acceptance.
When the son ran out of his resources and decided to return home, he believed his father wouldn’t accept him back. He thought he was unworthy of his Father’s acceptance because of his sinful behavior. Yet, the story says that when the Father saw his son returning home, he ran to his son, and kissed him and was full of love and compassion(vs.20).
The Father never stopped accepting his son, even though the son felt that way. If the devil can cause you to think that God doesn’t accept you because of your bad behavior, he can keep you thinking you are too far gone from God.
Truth: When you know that your Father loves and accepts you at all times, you will run to Him and avoid foolish choices.
When I began to honestly believe that God’s acceptance of me was fully complete, it motivated me to change my behavior. I saw that His love, forgiveness, and acceptance of me isn’t based on my behavior, but on how good He is.
What about you? Do you feel unaccepted by God? If so, your feelings are lying to you! God accepts you as you are.
2. I didn’t understand my identity.
The son didn’t understand his own identity, so he thought of himself as unworthy of his Father’s acceptance. He saw himself as a bad person who deserved to be rejected by his Father. This was my attitude as well: “I am just a porn addict and a bad person, so I need to earn God’s love for me.” And that’s what I did; worked hard to earn His acceptance. I needed to understand that I was already entirely accepted, and my “bad behavior” couldn’t change that.
I needed to agree with God about what He said about me. This took some time, but God was patient with me, and graciously revealed my true identity in Him. As God transformed my attitude in this area, I could let go of “promising to do better next time” or “trying harder to please God.”
I was already pleasing to Him. I’m not saying that God doesn’t care when we sin. He does! And it grieves Him because He loves us. But His Grace is more than enough to handle it!. He’s not surprised by your sin. He knows you better than anyone. And He will allow you to choose your way: to leave and go to the far country like the prodigal, or run to His loving arms. We get to choose!
When I had a proper understanding of my identity, I didn’t want to sin. God gave me a new desire to please Him because of His Grace. If you don’t know who you are, you will try to make up for your sins. If you see yourself primarily as God’s servant as opposed to His son or daughter, you will continue to work and earn God’s acceptance. Do you see yourself as too far off or as God’s child?
Three action steps to take today:
REMEMBER: The son remembered his Father when he lost everything. He knew he could go home, and so can you. Remember God’s love for you.
RECOGNIZE: The son began to see his actions as foolish. Why would he behave this way when he was a beloved son? When we know who we are, we will behave that way. We will act like who we are.
RETURN: The son realized he could return home, and so can we. When we feel too far gone, the only response is to go back. And the Father is waiting with open arms.
You are never too far gone. The Father is running towards you right now.