I’m up this morning about to pen a devotional (if you want to get on the list, shoot an email over to [email protected]) about some verses in Scripture that I “happened upon” last night:
“Out of here! Out of here! Leave this place! Don’t look back. Don’t contaminate yourselves with plunder. Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves in the process of worship, carrying the holy vessels of God. But you don’t have to be in a hurry. You’re not running from anybody! God is leading you out of here, and the God of Israel is also your rear guard.”—Isaiah 52:11-12 (Message)
The verses are referring to God calling Jerusalem out of Babylon. A modern-day defintion of Babylon: “any society or group in a society considered as corrupt”. Yep. Malachi 3:6 tells us that the Lord does not change. Even now, I believe he’s still calling us out of corruption. Yet, what really caught my attention was the line in bold. Don’t just leave. Leave clean.
The 9th step in Alcoholics Anonymous (and these days, many other 12-step support programs) is “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” That’s pretty much Scriptural:
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”—Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV)
The ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) is vital to one’s “leaving clean” and getting a fresh start. I thought about that as I read gospel singer, Ty Tribbett’s Associated Press interview earlier this week re: his new LP…and his highly-publicized extramarital affair last year. I found this part especially enlightening:
The Associated Press: You and your family have been through a lot of drama. How did you fall into the trap of cheating on your wife?
Tribbett: I thought it was something that’ll never happen. I saw infidelity with my mom and dad who was a pastor, which made them split. I told myself that I would never do that. So when it happened in my marriage, it was like “Whoa.” God broke down my self-righteousness, my pride.
AP: How did you feel when she did the same to you?
Tribbett: As a husband it is PARAMOUNT to be there for your wife emotionally, and I blew it and I wasn’t there for her, which opened her up to fall into the same trap and commit the same sin as I did! I’m just so grateful that it wasn’t the end for us!
AP: What led you to cheat?
Tribbett: (Televangelist) Joyce Meyers gave the best explanation of what my situation was about. She said lust has no conscience. It doesn’t care if you’re married, doesn’t care about your responsibility, doesn’t care if you’re a pastor. It wants what it wants when it wants. It doesn’t have to be because of lack for lust to take hold.
AP: How was it for you when you and your wife took a break from each other?
Tribbett: When I was between my house and mom’s home, I was contemplating suicide — almost every day.
(Check out the interview here)
1) He saw infidelity in his own home as a child and thought it would never happen to him. Even his parents were in ministry.
2) His pride and self-righteousness had to be broken down.
3) Husbands must be available to their wives emotionally (I Corinthians 7:3).
4) LUST HAS NO CONSCIENCE.
5) A season of his consequences caused him to contemplate committing suicide. Regularly.
Hmph. With confession comes healing, right? (James 5:16) I can’t tell you how many times I waited for a pregnancy test result and wondered, “What was I thinking? At the *very least* not using a condom. This dude has a girlfriend and I’m sure he’s not being ‘faithful’ to me…the side chick he’s sleeping with!” Mr. Tribbett is so right. On all of his points. However, the one that I feel led (Luke 12:12) to focus on today is #4: Lust has no conscience.
I remember what the battle with porn is like and on some levels, until, who knows when, I have to make a daily and very conscious and concerted effort not to watch it again; although I must take a moment to say that the Internet really doesn’t play fair (duh!). There’s not too many sites you can go to that are straight text copy and so therefore, at least once a day, I’m seeing *somebody*, *somewhere* with hardly anything on…and usually they are in a “compromising situation” with someone else which causes me to have to think differently…and quickly. A picture of naked people doesn’t really get to me (which is why I was never a big “I get ‘Playboy’ for the articles” kind of consumer-LOL). Oh, but what I can conjure up in my head once a picture is presented? Um. Yeah. Communicating on PCs is like a recovering alcoholic who can only get a job in a bar. Self-control? A Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) indeed!
So many of us struggle with porn and yet, look at what it does to our lives. I don’t see a whole lot of mail on here from people talking about how much they love porn, how great it makes them feel and how fulfilled their lives are because of it. Porn comes with a price. Adultery comes with a price. Lust comes with a price. One thing people don’t really think about is that lust doesn’t encourage you to think before you act. Not. At. All.
I get it. I get that’s why so many people can write in and say, “My marriage is in shambles because I can’t seem to kick this porn habit.” Lust says, “Get what you need and…” You know what? Actually there is no “and”. It’s so cruel that it doesn’t even encourage you to think about the fact that you could lose your job, your ministry platform, your marriage. Your conscience. Lust is greedy. It’s selfish. It’s demanding. It’s pure evil. Because even in our pique of counterfeit pleasure (even true pleasure comes from God-Psalm 16:11), it knows there will be a high price of pain, even if it’s just guilt and a “spiritual setback”…even if it’s just getting us to focus on these next 10 minutes to the point that the next three weeks, six months, 10 years that follow don’t matter. Lust says, “Gimme what I crave. No matter what the cost. I don’t care about what’s best for you. I care about what feels good to me.”
Yep. Lust is the greatest pimp there is. It seduces you by tapping into a part of us that is perfectly natural (our sexuality) and then it tells you that the physical benefits are far more important than sex’s initial purpose: oneness in covenant (Genesis 2:24-25). And then, once you’ve had a taste and gotten hooked on the “This ain’t so bad” mentality, it strings you out and demands more and more of you. More of your time. More of your attention. More of your character. It comes to you telling you what it’s gonna give. It leaves you with all of the stuff that it took in return. With no apologies. Yet usually some humiliation.
The Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Proverbs 11:6 tells us that the unfaithful will be caught by their lust. Mr. Tribbett is married. He got caught. I am single. I was still unfaithful to how the Lord told me I am to esteem my temple (I Corinthians 6:18-20). I’ve been caught before too. Caught up. It pulled me down. Like most nets are created to do. Again, God’s Word does not return void. Pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). Even, and in some ways, especially with lust. Even when that lust is porn.
I appreciate Mr. Tribbett making the time to be so vulnerable…to make an effort to make amends when it comes to his marriage (first) and his platform (second). It reminds me to do the same. To not just leave my past behind, but to make an effort to leave clean.
Bottom line? In whatever you do today, remember: Lust has no conscience.
Definitely something to think about. First.