Stop the one behavior I loathe?
How can I stop the one behavior that I LOATHE, which is periodically looking at porn. I spent 5 years in 12 steps, and then learned about identity at 180. But it seems that I can't fully embrace the concepts that 180 taught me (new creation in Christ, all sins forgiven, completely forever saved, etc.) until all this stuff is resolved in my head. TB
What drives your lust for porn? Does the fact that it is forbidden have anything to do with it? As children, did we not do what we were not supposed to do? Or go where we were not supposed to go? Are you not still taunted by that which appeals to you on the basis that you are not supposed to have it nor to do it? Consider the similarity between the insatiable drive for porn and the irrational desire to find out what is behind a closed door or inside a wrapped package. Our imaginations cause us to speculate as to the desirableness of that which is hidden or forbidden to us. You remain convinced of the irrational need to pursue that which is being dangled in front of you in direct relation to the belief that whatever has been forbidden must be wonderful. I tell you these things not as a rebuke but as from one who understands the power of the law's work upon the imagination. :)
See I am torn now. I think a core belief would go like this: “This is absolutely condemned by God all throughout the Bible. I am not supposed to lust and look at the nakedness of any other human being other than my wife. Etc. God hates it and it is condemned and therefore I better stay away from it like the plague. That's how I grew up seeing it. There are no eternal consequences for sin committed in Christ, because he “does not count our sins against us. And even though there are scriptures said to that effect, there are NUMEROUS scriptures that talk about not sinning, and many warnings for those who do. TB
You are hoping that the grace verses might somehow win out against the sin verses, but there is no real disparity. Of course our former beliefs as to what those passages mean most certainly challenge the unbelievable goodness of the good news, but our former fleshly beliefs twist the way we understand both the grace and the warnings. I hear the antithesis in the assumption that in holding to the truth of grace you would have to avoid the truth of the Biblical warnings Do you recognize that your struggle with law goes hand in hand with your attempt to find Scriptural proof-texts? My desire is for you to know that you already know all things in Christ. My friend, without Christ we know nothing, but we are not without him. It is because of his spirit in us that we now know all things. Let this sink deep down.
so here is where I am today ...is this true? Can this truly be true? When I have an urge for lust, I feel horrible, like I have disappointed God, like I have let him down. But then I remember what I was taught and try to embrace freedom in Christ, but then I doubt whether that is true and whether I am fooling myself and that I need to just "try even harder" and "be more committed." So I have been fervently going to the scriptures this past year to see who I really am in Christ, and how my relationship with Christ truly is in Christ. And hence all the "problem" scriptures I have bumped into that seem to support Arminianism on one side and Calvinism on the other, grace and love on one side, obedience and consequences on the other, etc. etc. etc. I feel like after 15 years of giving my all to understanding scripture and knowing God, I now know nearly nothing. A huge question mark rests upon my heart. I am just trying to know and learn. TB
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:20-21
Often, our understanding of Scripture hinders our recognition and appreciation of the amazing knowledge that has been put within us. We erroneously believe that by getting a handle on the Bible we will get a handle on God. Instead, it is because of him that we know HIM; for he has known us. There is much more that has been going on inside you for the past 15 years besides attempting to learn Scripture and to know him. However, do not despair, for his work in you has not been for nothing. He is pleased to let us TRY to learn in order to know him, for in so doing we are given insight into the truth that with all our learning we discover that we need only him in order to know him. The written words will become testimonies to this very truth to you. Once the words are removed from the stagnant format that only brings fear and death, we can see them afresh. They will be the same words, but they will be living. And they will reflect the life that has arisen out of death, even the ones that scare you. Regarding sin, I am not asking you to adopt an antithetical view to what you formerly held, for that merely comes from the same place. I say this because I hear a lot of this kind of thinking in how you refer to the alternative to your former law-based perspective. Christ has not made it okay to sin, he removed us from its domain. The warnings about sin were not added to take away the certainty we have in Christ, but to shake us from confidence in the flesh, especially in those who would have us follow their supposed spiritual programs. You know that verse in Galatians you mentioned earlier, Galatians 6:7? Yes, especially that one. Seen in context, the warnings were given in response to those of the law who were troubling them because of how it had so obviously infected the whole group. Consider the whole letter and how it all fits together, so that his warning made it clear as to whom they should not put confidence. If you take the verse by itself, you can make it fit however your fears reinterpret it. But given the flow of the whole letter, Paul can be seen as targeting those whom he wished would cut themselves off: "whoever they may be". Ask yourself this: Who INHERITS the kingdom of God? Only those born of God. Who does not inherit? Those not born of God, but born of the flesh. And what do those born of flesh do (aka. practice)? Works of the flesh. Paul asked them, Do you understand what the law says? He spoke of the two sons. One after the flesh, the other according to promise. One of the slave, the other of the free woman. We cannot listen to those who are born according to the law, of slavery, of the flesh. We need to disregard everything that comes from the flesh and the fleshly mind. This is all part of his warning. He repeats it in his statements about sowing to the flesh or sowing to the spirit. He is not warning those who are born of the spirit that they will somehow get unborn, he is warning them that they cannot produce something spiritual from the flesh. This is exactly what Paul was so doggoned mad at as he wrote this letter. We miss the importance in such a warning only because we think real warnings have to involve something like destiny changes between heaven and hell. Those who come preaching law can make a total mess of a fellowship of believers by getting them all pumped up to get serious about their "spiritual" lives, and all they bring in is works of the flesh. Jim
So the one whom Paul refers to as those who have "fallen from grace" are those who, as a principle are looking to seek spiritual life in terms of fleshly categories and not by Christ himself. They are listening to teachers who are basically promising them something that they already have in Christ? TB
Yes. Consider how Paul asked questions, like:
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh? Galatians 3:3
You were running well! Who interfered with you that you should not obey the truth? Galatians 5:7
The Galatian believers were doing well before men from Jerusalem came along with an insistence upon circumcision, aka, the law. In other words, after they had begun in the Spirit and were doing well, they became impressed by the idea that they could improve their standing in Christ by doing what the Scriptures seemed to indicate that God wanted them to do, and they began moving away from the very grace of Christ that had delivered them. You worded this well: "They are listening to teachers who are basically promising them something that they already have in Christ" This is what followed Paul around wherever he went. He brought the truth of Christ, and others would follow behind with their "godly" additions, because they were sure that Paul didn't give them what they really needed to live righteously. But the people did already have exactly what they needed to live truly spiritual lives: Christ. Jim :)
I think I have had an aha moment... I hear the antithesis in the assumption that in holding to the truth of grace you would have to avoid the truth of the Biblical warnings. I am looking for enough of my own understanding of grace to make me feel good about holding to a positional truth about grace, so that my misunderstandings of warning passages will be alieved, and I will FEEL like I am saved, etc. But my misunderstandings of the warning passages come from, not contradictions in the truth, but in the fact that they are the result of the residual legalism that has always interpreted those passages a certain way. So in other words, I have a weak faith. Warnings seem to be for non believers and believers who are following error. The non believers in Galatia would be judged and "weeded" out of the church by Christ, and the warnings served to spurn true Christians to repentance and recognition of the real truth (i.e. the Lord's discipline of those whom he loves). It also served in a third way to possibly bring those who were non believers to faith in Christ. Am I getting any closer? Thanks so much! TB
You are indeed catching a greater awareness of that which was behind the writing of these letters. I have a suspicion that you will begin to notice little things sticking out here and there that add to the overall sense of the who, the how, the why, and the what of the new testament letters. One thing to keep in mind is that when all is considered, those who received these letters were very much like ourselves in the most basic sense. Cultural differences often disguise the simple recognition that people from various times and places are really the same. It just looks different. Believe it or not, I am not a fan of what's called "positional truth." What I mean is simply that a position is more about the doctrinal framework we desire in order to get a better handle on it. We have been brought into a living faith, a living truth. Your father has put his spirit in you in order to pour out his love within you. I understand that you want to be able to connect the dots, especially regarding scripture, but don't let your understanding of what Christ has given us be turned into a position. Always, always let yourself be led back to the reality that Christ in us is what makes us what we are. :) I'm really loving this interchange! Jim