One of the things that will help you on your journey to freedom from idolatry is the temptation tracker. This tool is valuable because it can help you get to the root issue behind your idolatry struggle. The explanation of the temptation tracker tool is below. If you want an explanation besides just written form, then listen to this sermon:
Temptation Tracker (created by Doug Hutchins, used with permission)
- Assignment: Create a 30 day calendar.
- Write in the dates on the calendar that correspond to the month that you are in.
- For 30 days, track when temptation strikes.
- Tracking Details: If you DO NOT encounter temptation, then place a √ on the corresponding calendar day. If you DO encounter temptation, then do the following:
Day: circle the day in which temptation occurs
Time: record when temptation strikes (looking for a specific time)
Location: where were you when it happens (bed room, living room, etc.)
Feeling: how were you feeling when temptation hit (Remember- BLAST)
Questions to Answer Regarding Tracker
- What were the most common days that temptation struck?
- What were the most common times (be specific)?
- What was the environment like – where were you? Were you alone?
- What were the most common emotions?
- If applicable, what digital device was the most tempting?
How Jesus helps us in the midst of our negative emotions:
- If I’m BORED, I might lack purpose. I may need to see life as worship and spend myself for the needy. (Colossians 1:15-16 & Isaiah 58:6-12)
- If I’m LONELY, I may need to see how Jesus can meet my aloneness need, and it might be helpful to know that Jesus battled loneliness too. (Psalm 88 & Matthew 26:36-46)
- If I’m ANGRY, I need to receive God’s forgiveness for my sin and give that forgiveness away to those who have wronged me. (Ephesians 4:32)
- If I’m AFRAID, I need to experience God’s perfect love. (1 John 4:18)
- If I’m SAD, I need to experience God’s comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- If I’m STRESSED, I need to learn how to trust in God and God alone. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- If I feel SHAME, I need to know that Jesus covers my shame with His righteousness, and I need to experience this truth about my identity in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- If I’m TIRED, I need to either experience rest for my soul (Matthew 11:28) or physical rest by just going to bed (Lamentations 3:22-23)
If you have questions about this, Contact Josh.
Below are more detailed thoughts I have on the feelings that may hit you when you are tempted (BLAST).
I believe that being bored is actually a purpose problem. We live in a culture where we believe the purpose of our life is to actually be entertained. If I am not constantly entertained, then boredom can set in. I have found this to really be hurting the young men in our American culture. The American church is not exempt. Many churches have resorted to entertaining those who come into their worship services. Why? If I am not entertained, then I may get bored.
The reality is we were not created for the purpose of being entertained. We were created for the purpose of worshiping the One who created us and redeemed us at the cross.
Consider Colossians 1:13-22.
- Followers of Jesus were rescued from the Kingdom of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light.
- Followers of Jesus were purchased by Christ’s blood on the cross and are forgiven of all sins.
- Jesus is Creator of all things, and all things (including us) were created to worship Him.
- Jesus sustains all of creation.
- Jesus is the head of the Church, and He has first place in everything.
- Through Christ we can be reconciled to God the Father.
- Followers of Jesus used to be engaged in evil, but because of Him, we are now holy and blameless.
I have been rescued from darkness by Jesus so I worship Jesus!
I have been forgiven by Jesus so I worship Jesus!
I have been created by Jesus so I worship Jesus!
Jesus sustains creation so I worship Jesus!
Jesus has first place in all things so I worship Jesus!
I have been reconciled to God the Father by Jesus so I worship Jesus!
In Jesus, God the Father sees me as holy and blameless so I worship Jesus!
What does this look like?
When I wake up in the morning and get ready, I am worshiping Jesus. When I spend time with Jesus, I am worshiping Jesus. When I eat breakfast, I am worshiping Jesus. When I go to work, I am worshiping Jesus. When I eat lunch, I am worshiping Jesus. When I continue working, I am worshiping Jesus. When I get home and eat dinner, I am worshiping Jesus. When I engage my wife and children in the evening, I am worshiping Jesus. When I put my younger kids to bed, I am worshiping Jesus. When I lay down to go to bed, I am worshiping Jesus. No matter what I am doing, I am worshiping Jesus. If this sounds redundant, it is meant to sound that way. All of life is about worshiping Jesus. I was created for that, and I was redeemed by Christ at the cross to do that.
If I am not worshiping Him when I am doing life, then there is a good chance I am worshiping myself.
When I worship myself, I often times can be looking to be entertained. When I constantly need to be entertained, boredom can set in. When boredom sets in, I lack purpose. When I am experiencing a lack of purpose, I am really prone to temptation to bow down to idolatry.
What’s the point?
I can find purpose in whatever I am doing if I am doing it to worship the One who created me and died and rose again on my behalf.
Are you bored?
Are you lacking purpose?
Can you see how Christ wants you to worship Him in everything?
Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to worship Christ and Christ alone!
I want this to be the aim of my life, and I want it to be what I model for my children-Created to be entertained? NO WAY! Created to worship the Creator!
Pray that God will help me to live out this aim. Pray that He would help you do the same thing!
If boredom is potentially leading us to idolatry, let’s run to Jesus and find our purpose in worshiping Him!
Another way to really address boredom is through serving the less fortunate. Boredom feeds my entertainment desire, and the desire to constantly be entertained can produce intense selfishness.
What is the cure for this?
Isaiah 58:6-11 says this:
Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
When I am selfish, I tend to only be thinking about myself. In my experience, if I am bored, then I am typically being selfish. What if I lived out Isaiah 58? Let’s back up. What would motivate me to live out Isaiah 58? Answer=The Gospel!
Christ is MAJESTIC, and I don’t measure up to His greatness. I deserve hell, but because Christ is MESSIAH, He rescues me from sin and hell. This motivates me to let Him be MASTER of my life. When He is in charge of my life, then I will live out His MISSION.
Part of His mission is serving the less fortunate. Questions to ask yourself?
- Am I currently in bondage? Am I helping others out of bondage?
- Am I serving the poor? If so, how?
- Am I feeding the hungry? If so, how?
Please note serving the poor and feeding the hungry can be the physically poor and hungry, and it can also be the spiritually poor and hungry.
When I am in those darkest of places, do I live out Isaiah 58? When I allow boredom to lead me to idolatry, do I live out Isaiah 58?
- Focus on God’s creation to help elevate His Majesty in your life (See Job 38 & 39 or Isaiah 40)
- Worship Him in song that He is Messiah (Sing Jesus Messiah, by Chris Tomlin)
- Let Him be Master (Constantly ask yourself throughout the day, “Who is master of my life?”)
- Live on Mission (What neighbor needs me to serve them? What local shelter or mission could I volunteer at? What child with Compassion International could I sponsor?)
Please note to sponsor a child with Compassion, click here:
My light will break forth like the dawn when I am living for Him and Him alone. When I live for Him alone, I will serve those who are in bondage, poor, hungry, etc.
What if every believer in your local church did exactly that this week? What impact would be made for God’s Kingdom!
Would we only live for Him and His Kingdom!
I really understand loneliness. I wish I didn’t, but I really do understand it because I have experienced it a great deal in my life. There are a variety of reasons why I have battled feeling lonely, but the bottom line is I truly know what this feels like.
However, me feeling lonely is not as big of a deal as knowing that Jesus felt this way. If you read Matthew 26, you will find Jesus in the garden praying right before He is to die on the cross. While praying, He asks His disciples to pray with Him. They continue to fall asleep on Him. As He is praying, it seems He is in intense distress, and His closest friends are not with Him. Wow!
His loneliness continues in Matthew 27 on the cross. As He bears the weight of mankind’s sin on His back, God the Father turns His back on Jesus. Christ cries out, “Why have you forsaken me?”.
It is encouraging to know that Jesus Christ struggled just like you and I struggle. Hebrews 4 tells us that we have a Great High Priest who understands our weakness. How does He understand? He experienced being lonely.
Genesis 2 tells us that it is not good to be alone. This is before the fall. Perfect garden with perfect man with perfect God, and there is loneliness. God said being alone is not good. Wow!
Loneliness is not a sin, but God does not want me to stay in a place of loneliness. What do I need to do when I am lonely? If I am not careful, feeling lonely will lead me to bowing down to idolatry.
Here are some practical ideas I have to combat loneliness:
- Remember that Jesus wants relationship with me. My sin keeps me from relationship with God, but God made a way through Jesus for me to have a relationship with Him. It is possible you are lonely because you don’t have a relationship with Jesus. You need to come to faith in God. How? Surrender yourself to Him by repenting of your sin and receiving the free gift of Jesus.
- Remember Jesus wants to dine with me. Revelation 3:20 communicates to me that Jesus Christ wants to have an intimate relationship with me and spend time with me. When I am lonely, I am usually resistant to spending that time with Jesus. I must remember that He wants that intimacy with Him and spending time with Him helps me in my loneliness.
- Surround myself with people who point me to Jesus. In Mark 2, there is a paralyzed man who can’t get to Jesus. He had four friends who literally carried him to Jesus. I need friends in my life who will point me to Christ. Many times when I feel lonely, I don’t want to reach out to people that are connected to me. One of the greatest things I can do is to reach out to those one or two people in my life who will remind me to take my loneliness to Jesus.
- Sometimes there will be times when I don’t want to reach out to Jesus or my closest friends. These are usually really dark times. I have found one Psalm to really help me during that time. That Psalm is Psalm 88. I think it is the loneliest Psalm in the Bible. There is really no resolution to it either. I am glad that chapter is in Scripture because it helps me to know I can talk to God that way when I feel super lonely.
All of these above ideas have helped me in my loneliness, but I want to specifically focus on #4. One of the loneliest times in my life was when my son, Caleb Micah, was born stillborn. It was brutally hard. His death came right after our church plant had collapsed. I was in a really dark place.
I stumbled on Psalm 88. One night in particular I was having a really tough time, and I went outside to work in my yard to take my mind off of how I felt. I started trimming hedges. The next thing I knew I had destroyed those hedges. I decided to just take them out of the flower beds. There were 6 of them. I used a tool to cut the limbs of the hedges down to where all that was left were 6 stumps.
At this point I am really crying out to God about how I feel and how lonely I am and how my heart is not in a good place. I start using a shovel to pull the stumps out by the roots. I finally get to my last stump. As I am pulling on the last couple of roots, I trip and fall. On the ground, I just look up to heaven and cry. I felt so lonely, but somehow in that moment I knew God was with me.
I look back on that night as a turning point for me. Jesus met me in my loneliness as I was destroying those shrubs. It would have been much easier for me to run to anything idolatrous there (examples: distract myself with going back to work, go watch porn, go watch sports, play a bunch of video games, eat a bunch, etc.)
I am so thankful to the Lord that He gave me some shrubs to destroy so I could cry out to Him in my place of deep loneliness. That was my Psalm 88 moment. I took my loneliness to Christ, and I was finally able to see that He was with me.
Where are you today? Wherever you are, don’t take your loneliness to idolatry. Take it to the feet of Jesus!
If I am honest, I would tell you that I feel afraid a great deal of the time. Some feel afraid a little, and some feel afraid a ton of the time. The reality is this: we all feel afraid. Of course we would need to be honest with ourselves to admit that we feel this way. Fear, feeling afraid, impacts everyone.
How do you deal with this?
I used to tell myself that I just needed to have more faith. I would almost will myself to have more faith and even try to explain away my fears. Let me tell you. This never worked. All I would do is suppress my fear. I would still feel afraid, but I would lie about it. I would just convince myself that I was having more faith to overcome it.
Like I said, this did not work for me, and it does not work for you either.
Don’t misunderstand me. When I am afraid I do need to have faith. I just need to get to a place when I can place my faith and trust in Jesus in the midst of my fear.
One must ask, How do I get to this place? I can’t will myself to do it for sure.
1 John 4:18 in essence says that God’s perfect love casts out fear. If I want to get to a place that I am trusting Jesus every time I am afraid, then I must be experiencing His perfect love. His love causes the fear to dissipate, and His love compels me to trust in Him.
What do I need then? I need to be experiencing the love of God. How do I do this?
This is what works in my own life. I start with the glory and awesomeness of God. Job 38 says that God commands the ocean to stop. Psalm 29 says that God’s voice can snap trees in half. Isaiah 40 says that God can hold the waters of the earth in his hand. That is a powerful God. If he can do all that, then He can probably help me with my fear issue. I don’t think it is as big as the ocean.
The next thing I do is move into how He loves me. This awesome and powerful Jesus loves me. He went to the cross and rose from the dead to reconcile me with Himself. He did not do that for me. He did that for the glory of God. Somehow reconciling me to Himself brings Him glory. Man, I must be valuable. Dude, He must love me.
Then I move to practical ways He has shown love to me. He gave me my wife and my kids. It was brutal when my son died, but I remember how He sustained me when this happened. I remember ways He has crazily provided for us.
I might even go on a walk and just meditate on all this, just really deeply letting it sink into my heart. I might listen to songs that remind me of God’s love. Here are a few:
The Love of God is Greater Far
Oh, How He Loves
One Thing Remains
As I reflect on God’s power, the cross, and the practical ways He loves me, I am not thinking about being afraid. When I sing about His love, I often am experiencing His love, and I am no longer feeling afraid. Why? His perfect love casts our fear!
Feeling afraid can lead us to escape into idolatry. Experiencing God’s love can lead us to trust Him.
Will I let Him perfectly love me today? Will you?
I am so thankful for God’s perfect love!
In Ephesians 4, it tells us to be angry but don’t sin. This means it is possible to be angry without sinning. However, the problem is when I allow my anger to lead to sin. How does that happen? Ephesians 4 tells me this happens when I allow the sun to go down on my anger.
If we are honest with ourselves, I think we would admit that many of us have had the sun go down on our anger. When this happens, we are in trouble. Ephesians 4 tells us that this gives the devil a foothold. If the devil gets a foothold, what could that lead to?
Well, Ephesians 4 tells us it could lead to this:
- Unwholesome talk coming out of our mouth
- Causing the Holy Spirit to be grieved
- Anger becomes worse and leads to bitterness, rage, slander and malice
Again, if we are honest I think we would all admit that the above has happened in our own life. If we are bowing down to something other than Jesus, and anger is at the root, then we must release that anger! How do we do this?
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to forgive just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
How has Christ forgiven us?
- Psalm 103:12-He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west
- Isaiah 38:17-God places our sin behind His back
- Isaiah 43:25-God erases our sin and chooses not to recall it to his memory
- Micah 7:18-19-God puts our sin under His foot and buries it in the depth of the sea
- Romans 8:1-The one who knows Christ is not condemned
- Romans 8:38-39-No one can separate us from God’s love if we are in Christ
- Ephesians 1:3-8-God chose us, adopted us, forgave us, redeemed us and lavished us in grace
- Colossians 1:13-14-God rescued us, redeemed us and forgave us
- Hebrews 10:14-God sees me as perfect because He sees Jesus in me
I could go on and on. This is how God has forgiven us because of what Christ did through His death, burial and resurrection. That is some pretty intense forgiveness.
Questions to consider: Do I believe God has forgiven me like this? Am I experiencing this type of forgiveness currently in my life? If I believe this, and I am experiencing this, then can I give that forgiveness away to the one who has wronged me?
When I bow down to idolatry to escape my anger, then I am just allowing the devil to get a stronger hold on my life. When I recognize how forgiven I am, then I can be be empowered by Him to forgive others. When I do this, I am compelled to bow down to only Jesus, not idolatry!
As you examine your heart, would you be willing to release your anger by forgiving the one who has wronged you? Remember: Don’t will yourself to do it. Long before you try to forgive, spend tons of time reflecting on and meditating on the forgiveness God has given you.
I gave you some great verses on forgiveness. Let me give you some great songs as well:
Forgiven by Sanctus Real
You Love Me Anyway by Sidewalk Prophets
Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave
Jesus is worthy of our worship because He created us. He is worthy of our worship because He died and rose again. He alone is worthy of our worship. We must bow down to nothing else.
If anger is leading me to idolatry, then may Christ’s forgiveness lead me to forgive others, and may this act of forgiveness be an act of worship to the King of Kings! He alone is worthy!
Not everyone agrees with my take on this, but try to follow me and hear me out.
I think most of the stress we feel in life can go back to needing to be in control. Think about the last time you were stressed out. Were you stressed out because there was something going on that was out of your control? If I were going to answer that question, then I would need to say “yes”. If you are honest, then I bet you would say “yes” as well.
So then as we look deeper we find that stress is not really a stress problem. Stress is a control problem. We all want to be in control, at least I know that I do. The reality is that we do not control anything. Think about it. Job 38 & 39 makes very clear who is in control. You and I were not there when the foundation of the world was laid. We don’t command the ocean to stop. We don’t tell the mountain goat when to give birth. We don’t give the horse its strength. God is in absolute control of the universe He created, not us.
Please follow my logic. Often times we bow down to idolatry because we are stressed, but we have learned that stress is not really a stress problem. Stress is really a problem that at the root is wanting to be in control. However, we can’t be in control because we are not God. He is in control of everything, and we control nothing.
What do I do with this need to be in control? What do I do with my stress? I lay it at the feet of Jesus. I don’t trust in my own self. I trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3 tells us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. It tells us to not lean on our own understanding. It tells us if we acknowledge God and lean on him, then He will direct our paths.
I am not in control. If I think I am in control, then I am really just living under an illusion. If I will place my faith and trust in the one who is in control, God Almighty, then He directs my paths, and that causes my stress load to decrease. In turn, I am not bowing down to idolatry because of my stress. Instead, I am taking my stressed out self to the only one who can help me.
Let’s be honest. It is not as easy as just laying our control down at Jesus’ feet. Let’s see if we can dig even deeper on this control thing. Follow me. At the root of stress is the need to be in control. At the root of needing to be in control is fear. Ouch! I know that one hurts because I can be a stressed out control freak. Since that is the case, that means fear can play a huge part in my life. God wants me to trust Him in the midst of my fear. How do we do this?
I would say refer back to Temptation Tracker, BLAST-Part 4 of my blog posts. That whole post deals with being afraid. That might be a good read for you if you struggle with stress.
I won’t restate here everything I said there, but I will give you the short version. How do I learn to trust God in the midst of my fear? I let Him love me with His perfect love. When I experience God’s perfect love, then my fear evaporates. Which means my need to be in control is not there, and my stress is gone.
Challenge: Don’t let stress lead us to any form of idolatry. Let the stress we feel lead us to experience God’s perfect love so we can trust Jesus and bow down to Him alone!
Sadness is an emotion we all experience, but many of us try to explain it away or bury it. If we do this, then we don’t need to feel the pain of how deep something hurt. That is not really an effective strategy for dealing with sadness.
Unresolved sadness often leads to anger or fear. We have already looked at how to deal with feeling afraid or being angry in this temptation tracker series. It is possible that the anger and fear never come on us as strong if we would just deal with our sadness as it hits us. It is also possible to most effectively deal with our fear and anger, then we must experience healing where those deep places of sadness are.
How do we do this?
First of all, we need to believe that we need to deal with it. For some that takes quite a bit of convincing. I was one of those people. However, once I was convinced I can promise you I believe that deep sadness needs to be healed, and I believe only God and God’s people can do that effectively.
Let me give you some passages that let us know what to do with our emotional pain (our hurt, our sadness, our disappointment).
Matthew 5:4 tells us that the one who mourns can experience comfort, and Jesus says the one who mourns is blessed. Have you ever mourned your hurt, your sadness, your disappointments, your pain? In essence, have you grieved these things? When most people think about grief, they associate it with death. That is a a great place to grieve. I did that when we lost our son. I did that when my Grandpa died. I did that when my wife’s Grandpa died.
However, that is not the only time I grieved. When we planted a church in Austin, TX, we had dreams for that church. We had dreams of what God would do in and through that church. We had dreams of our children growing up in that church. That church plant ended up not making it as a church.
When that happened I was angry, and I was afraid for my family financially (and many other things). That was not all that was going on though. I was sad, hurt, disappointed. I was in pain, and I needed God’s comfort. To experience that comfort, I needed to mourn. In order to mourn and grieve, I would have to face my pain and sadness. The only way to do that is to feel it. I am not going to lie. This was brutal, but I can confidently say that God met me in my sadness. He met me there with great comfort!
How did He do this?
He did this through Himself and through God’s people. Let me explain.
Romans 8:28 says that God causes all things to work together for the good for God’s people. How could the church plant collapsing be good? Before I answer that, let’s look at Romans 8:26. This tells us that when we are in pain, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. In essence, the Holy Spirit is praying for us. Amazing! It is even better that that. When He intercedes, it is so intense we can’t even understand it. It sounds like groans. When our son died and when the church collapsed, there was some definite groaning going on with me. It was so comforting to know that God, the Holy Spirit, was groaning intensely with me in my pain!
He was with me, and that brought me comfort. This opened my eyes to see the good that is mentioned in Romans 8:28. The good is defined in the rest of the chapter. Through the pain, God conforms us into the image of Jesus, and looking like Jesus is good! It’s really good!
Had I not experienced God comforting my pain like he did in Romans 8:26, I don’t know if I could have fully understood the good that can come from pain that Romans 8:28 describes. I am so thankful for how He brought comfort to our sadness.
He also brought comfort through God’s people. In Romans 12:15, part of the verse tells us to weep with those who weep. We had folks who did this with us. One of those was our very good friend, Jim. Outside of Jesus, no one has taught me how to deal with pain and sadness more than Jim. He loved on my wife and I, and he comforted us. He wept with us when our church didn’t make, and He wept with us when our son died. He was comfortable with not trying to give explanation to what happened or why it happened. He was comfortable just weeping with us. When he wept with us, we were comforted.
We have seen how God comforts us when we grieve over our pain, and we have seen how God’s people can just weep with us to help comfort our pain. Let me tell you one more thing God does to help bring healing to sad hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us that God comforts us in our pain so we can comfort others.
When pastors struggle with their church or when church planters don’t have a church to show for their efforts, I know how to comfort them. Why? I have experienced the pain and sadness from our church plant not making, and I have experienced God’s comfort for that pain. Therefore, I know how to comfort someone who is hurting in that same respect. When I offer them comfort, this provides me more healing for the pain and sadness of my past.
When someone loses their child, the pain and sadness is intense. We know that first hand. We also know how God brings comfort in that deep sadness, and we know how to comfort others who have experienced this deep pain. On one occasion, I even assisted in the funeral of an infant. Believe this or not, God used me comforting this couple to bring some healing to my wife and I for the loss of our son.
What’s the point? Don’t bury the sadness. Don’t explain it away. When we do, that pain and sadness often leads us to idolatry so we can forget about the pain.
God wants us to feel the pain, grieve it, and let Him comfort us. God wants His people to weep with us. God wants us to comfort others in the same way we have been comforted. When this happens, we don’t run to idols. We experience healing.
Let us to run to Jesus and only Jesus! Let us bow down to only Him! Let God and His people provide us comfort. May God comfort our pain, and may He use that pain to help us become more like Jesus!
What is shame? Guilt says I feel bad for doing wrong. Shame says I feel worthless because there is something wrong with me.
Where did shame come from? (Genesis 3) When Adam and Eve sinned their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked. In Genesis 2:25 they were naked with no shame, but the moment they sinned, in their nakedness they felt shame.
What does shame cause us to do?
- Cover up (Genesis 3:7)
- Hide (Genesis 3:8)
- Be afraid (Genesis 3:10)
- Blame others (Genesis 3:12-13)
We all do this. We battle shame. We want to cover up or hide. We are afraid of God, or if we are not careful, we blame others for our problems. There is one thought however I find really neat. It is this:
God looks for us in the midst of our shame (Genesis 3:8-9). God still went walking in the cool of the day looking for Adam and Eve knowing they had sinned. God could turn His back on us in our shame, but instead, He meets us right in the middle of it. He demonstrated that most emphatically through Christ.
So think about shame in the context of idolatry or addiction, but specifically sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us when we sin sexually we sin against ourselves. Sin against yourself leads to more shame. If this shame is not dealt with, then it leads to more sexual sin.
Something else might trigger you to give into the idol of sexual sin (boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, etc), but if you are not careful, then shame will lead you to more sexual sin. In essence, shame keeps you stuck in the sexual addiction. Shame keeps you bowing down to sexual sin. That is why it is so important to deal with your shame!!! Only Christ can do this!
Christ encounters a woman in John 8 who felt a ton of shame, but he did not condemn her. Even though He has the power to do so. What is the point?
Only Jesus can really condemn us (John 8:7). He will condemn those who do not know Him, but I love what He tells the woman in John 8. He tells her “neither do I condemn you”. Then he encourages her to leave her life of sin.
Through trust in Him & His cross we are not condemned (John 8:11). Praise the Lord!!!! Romans 2 tells us forgiveness and kindness leads to repentance. This is the very thing Jesus does with this woman. She is forgiven and encouraged to live a life of repentance. This is the exact opposite of what shame does.
Shame often comes from sin and even drives us to sin more. The cross motivates us & empowers us to leave our life of sin (John 8:11).
Could we like the woman be freed and empowered to leave our lives of sin and to follow Jesus with everything we have! Shame will not lead us to Him. Knowing that He meets us in the midst of our sin and shame can lead us to bow down to Him and only Him.
Thank you Jesus for the Truth of the Gospel that tells us we are not shamed or condemned (Romans 8)!
FYI: If you want to listen to a sermon I have done on this, you can click on this link:
We all feel tired. It is a basic function of being alive. It falls under the same category of being thirsty or being hungry. Those are also basic functions of being alive. When I am thirsty, I get something to drink. When I am hungry, I get something to eat. When I am tired, I need to go to bed and get some sleep.
There are many times that being tired can get us into trouble and lead us to idolatry. Why is this the case? Many times we are tired, but we won’t go to bed. We won’t get the rest that we need. In a tired state, we can make very unwise decisions. Those can be very costly when those decisions become sinful and when that sin takes over and becomes an addiction.
There is a solution. What is that solution? Brace yourself because this is going to sound very profound. The solution is “go to bed”. What?!? That’s it. Sometimes, it is just that simple. If I am prone to lust and look at porn and bow down to sexual sin, then why am I surfing the internet between 12am-2am? Lamentations 3 tells me that God’s mercies are new every morning.
If I am tired, then I can just go to bed. I will wake up in the morning, and I can experience God’s mercies in a fresh way. At times, it really is that simple.
Other times, it is not. We might be feeling tired, but it is more than just being physically tired. At times we are tired because we are just physically, emotionally and mentally drained. When this happens, I believe God wants us to be at rest in our soul.
How do we experience this? Matthew 11 tells me to bring my weary and burdened self to Jesus. When I do this, Jesus can give me rest. This is not just any kind of rest, Jesus says He can give us rest for our soul.
Does this just come from bringing our burdens to Him? No, it does not. Jesus clearly says in Matthew 11:28-30 there are a couple of things that must happen in order for me to experience soul rest. The first is that I must bring my weary and burdened self to Him! I must do this! I can’t take my weary and burdened self to idolatry. Food will not give me soul rest. Porn will not give me soul rest. More likes on social media will not give me soul rest. Winning my fantasy football league will not give me soul rest. Movies won’t. Music won’t. My job won’t. My family won’t. Other relationships I have won’t. If I want soul rest, then I can only take my weary and burdened self to one place. That place is really a person, and His name is Jesus.
There is something else I must do to experience soul rest. I must yoke myself to Jesus. No, Jesus is not talking about egg yolks here. He is talking about the way two oxen would be yoked together when a field was going to be plowed. Those two oxen would be yoked together. In essence, they couldn’t be separated, and one of those oxen would take more of the lead. That is how it must be between Jesus and myself. I must be yoked to Him. He must take the lead in all areas of my life, and I must be willing to learn from Him! When this happens, I am at rest in my soul.
To sum up, if I am tired, I may just need to go to bed so I can experience God’s new mercies when I wake up the next morning. Doing this can help me to avoid idolatry.
If I am not at rest in my soul, then I don’t want to run to false idols. I want to take my burdened self to Jesus. When I do this I yoke myself to Him. I follow Him. I obey Him. When this happens, I find soul rest.
Who or what are you bowing down to today? If it’s not Jesus, would you be willing to repent today! Could you bring your weary self to Jesus?
If you are battling idolatry, would you have the courage to track your temptation to find the root issue in your heart? If Jesus can lead you to the root issue, He can empower you to bring that root issue to Him.
Will I trust Him be enough in my boredom, my loneliness? Will I let Him be with me when I am afraid or angry or stressed or sad? Will I let Jesus cover my shame with His righteousness? Will I find my soul rest in Him and only Him.
Remember, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is enough. He alone is worthy of my heart, my pursuit and my worship!