Recap: we as believers should not be surprised when we fall into old habits and patterns. That’s why I call it “learning to walk in freedom”. We need to proactively make choices to act like a free person.
Acting like a free person means in those “moments of maybe”, as a former pastor called them, those moments where we are tempted:
Tempted to sin
Tempted to see ourselves in any other way than how God sees us
Tempted to believe the lies and fall back into old patterns, tempted to take our unhealthy/unhelpful thoughts and run with them
In those moments, we choose to act like a free person.
A free person would realize the temptation she is experiencing is common to man. That person would choose to act as if she were free rather than act as if she is still enslaved to that temptation and has to give in.
A free person would say to that dark thought, “That’s not what Jesus says about me!” A free person would say to that boundary violation “I will leave the room if you continue to speak to me that way.” A free person would say, “In the past, my emotions have felt overwhelming, so rather than choose to feel them, I choose to medicate my emotions through food, sex, power, escape. I can make different choices today, knowing that I can experience these emotions and they won’t kill me because I can handle anything with the Freedom Giver and other Freedom Seekers at my side.”
So you see this isn’t just about saying no to sin. It’s about saying no to bondage in all its forms and saying yes to throwing off the chains.
Don’t forget it’s a process. We’re back to the analogy of training, running a race. When we were slaves to sin, our body and mind was trained that, when faced with temptation, we sin, we give in to the negative thoughts, we let our boundaries be trampled on. So like an athlete needs to discipline himself or herself to train, whereas it feels much more natural to sit on the couch and watch TV, we too need to train and discipline ourselves so that when we are faced with temptation, we, like Joseph when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him as told in Genesis 39, flee the scene rather than give in to old habits and say yes.
We read this in Romans 6: “From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.”
There are a million different reasons why we choose to old behaviors/patterns/choices rather than choosing to act free. It’s not just because it feels good or natural. We sin because we have emotions, feelings & experiences that we have trouble dealing with. We sin because we lack coping mechanisms. We sin to avoid uncomfortable feelings. We feel lonely, we feel rejected,, we feel unlovable – so we go out & try to hook up with someone. The feelings are still there, but we get to escape them for awhile. We sin – because we’re used to the chaos.
So when we start taking a risk & saying no to our old nature, these feelings will come up & we need to make sure we have a support system in place to deal with them. I heard someone who struggled with same-sex attraction share in his testimony that he would go to his counseling appointments, feel all these overwhelming feelings, and on the way home, he’d hook up with someone. Finally, he contacted a friend and said, “Look, I just need someone to hang out with me for a couple hours after my appointment.” We need to learn appropriate self-care.
Next week we’ll find out the freedom step that makes it easier to say no to the old nature.