This issue of the Shoveletter comes from a reply to the below email I received today. I have a feeling that many are often snagged by this sense of obligation. Jim
am saved and believe in jesus. But i Keep on falling into this sin of adultery. i pray about it but i keep on repeating the same mistake. What do i do? Does it mean i am not saved? Please help.
Hello, my struggling friend ...
You don't just fall into a cycle of adultery as if it's some kind of accident, you set yourself up for it. However, the nature of this set up is so mystifying to the religious mind that its solutions only complicate the matter and cause more confusion. You ask what you can do about it, but you need to realize that your attempts to control it have only kept the cycle going. Now, while you may doubt your salvation based upon your failures, I do not. Instead, I suspect the life in you simply will not accept a vicious sin-cycle as being the promised salvation Jesus brings.
Do you want to know what I really think? I think you still see yourself as being obligated to the thing you were delivered from, which is also why your prayers do nothing but reinforce the very lie that has been destroyed in Christ. Do you hear what I am saying to you? Your prayers are part of the grand delusion that keeps you in your struggle! While you may be hanging onto prayer as to a life-line, you apparently haven't noticed that the trusted rope you hold in your hand is free-falling with you. Ironically, we have been taught that such prayer is ineffective, that it does not accomplish anything, when in fact it does exactly what it demands.
After all, when you plead with God to keep you from falling into whatever sin you believe yourself to be trapped in, upon what basis do you present your case? Do you make promises in exchange for help? Do you profess your heartfelt desire to change? Do you beg God to make you new? Do you grovel before Him as an unworthy sinner? Do you suppose that by regularly admitting to God how bad you are that you will somehow escape your inclination to sin? These are not requests to the living God, they are only desperate expressions of hopelessness. And such prayer effectively locks us into an unending struggle, as the one you describe.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- Romans 8:12
The truth is that as long as you assume you are obligated to perform the desires of the old life - the one that was destroyed on the cross of Christ - you are asking God to break a sin-cycle He already delivered you from! So then, what God - other than the God of our imaginations - are we praying to who could overlook everything accomplished in Christ in order to accommodate the kind of requests we throw at him? Though we may view ourselves according to the flesh from time to time, God is not under any such confusion.