Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Isolating Effects of Sin

Sin has a very isolating effect on us.

How often have we been doing well by purposing in our hearts to keep our guard up, we are wise with our entertainment choices, have been avoiding bad company with those who aren't a godly influence and example (see First Corinthians 15: 33), and seeking to align our thoughts with the truth of Philippians 4: 8...and then, we fall.  We give in.  We masturbate or view porn.  We watch an episode of that raunchy reality show everyone at work or school has been talking about.  We begin fantasizing again.  How did we get there?  What made us fall again?
I believe all sin has a starting point.  It begins with the first thought we have.  Maybe we think, "I want to taste of that again" or we dwell on scenes from films or conversations we have had or times we fed our lust and it creates the desire again in our hearts.  What we really do is lie to ourselves and say, "I will give in just one more time.  It won't hurt me.  I've been doing so well.  I couldn't possibly get addicted again after one time, right?"  WRONG.
A friend of mine has rightly observed that all sin begins in the first thought we allow that we choose to dwell on instead of taking it captive and surrendering our longing in the moment to the Lord and asking Him to make the clear way out.
Whether it is sexual sin, drug use, alcohol consumption, self-injury, or even stealing, all of these choices show a deeper issue than just outward actions that serve as a coping mechanism or a distraction from life's pain.  We become addicted to various lusts and habits not simply because it feels good to give in and we enjoy the thrill of it.  More often than not, there are underlying issues and problems, hurts and burdens that we are carrying around and our way of dealing with them (or at least pacifying them for the time being) is to act out in various forms.
Quite possibly, we feel lonely and turn to porn because this, coupled with fantasy and masturbation, makes us feel wanted, respected, desired, and sexually pleased (which has a calming effect on us).
You might turn to drugs or alcohol because it lifts you above current trials or problems you are facing.  Such choices distort your perception of life.  After all, it's much easier to sort of "check out" of life through the use of drugs and alcohol than it is to soberly face what is obviously wrong in our hearts, relationships, families, health, financial situation, fear of the future or guilt from our past.
If you turn to self-injury over even the slightest matter that goes wrong or hurtful words that are said (among countless other triggers), take heart.  I can relate to this and for years off and on, self-mutilation was what I would turn to when life was stressful or overwhelming, disappointing or hurtful.  Please take the time to read previous blog posts I have written regarding self-harm here.  If you would like to write to me to discuss your thoughts regarding this, I will gladly correspond with you through letters.  Write to me at:
One reason I often tell people who read my blog that I am willing to converse with them through letters and that they are welcome to write to me sharing their heart or thoughts about what is happening in their lives (or if they would like to comment on something they read on my blog) is because I have so many experiences and have lived a life of many regrets, ups and downs, painful trials, and many victories through Christ and seeking Biblical counsel (not to mention great accountability partners and people I respect who spoke truth in to my life regardless if I wanted to hear it or not) and I so wish I had someone who had gone through similar situations and could be a source of comfort, wisdom, and friendship to me during my past experiences.
I have seen how easy it is to give in to temptation, how quickly bondage ensues, and how difficult it can be to repent once I have given in one, two, ten, and twenty times.  Sin isolates us from others.  The more we feed our particular strongholds, the less we spend time with others, our commitment to our God-given roles and responsibilities suffer, and we withdraw from important relationships and worthwhile pursuits.  It's crazy to consider how fleeting passing pleasures are and how pathetic it is that we continue giving in for brief pleasure, day by day.  This results in shame, feeling dirty, being alone because we don't want to be around people in the midst of our uncleanness, we care less and less about seeking after God, and suddenly we find ourselves dwelling on thoughts that would bring immediate embarrassment if others knew its content.

Here are a few healthy alternatives to stress:

  • STOP.  Don't rush in to your usual coping mechanisms.  THINK.  Ponder and write down what led to the longing to ___ and list as many words as possible to describe how you feel by whatever just took place (emotions, feelings, how you view the other person and yourself, your perception of the situation and what bothered you exactly)
  • Speak kindly to yourself as though you were talking to someone you really admire and appreciate who hypothetically went through the exact circumstance (what advice would you have for them?  What words of kindness and forms of gentleness and grace could you show them to help comfort them?)
  • Remember the quote, "Hurt people, hurt people"  (other phrases could also be used:  "Angry people, anger people", "Selfish people, use people", "Mean people feel bad themselves")  This by no means excuses the behavior, actions, or words of others who have sinned against us.  It is simply an observation that people who are emotionally, relationally, and mentally healthy will treat others in a right manner (though not perfect), while those who are hurting inside, have gone through a lot in life or have dealt with issues and problems often times lash out at others
  • Acknowledge God - Proverbs 3: 5-6.  Admit your need for Him and His constant presence and intervention.  Ask the Lord to give you a fully surrendered heart to Him and to transform you and change your character, build the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Galatians 5: 22-23) and give you eyes to see all of life through His heart and perspective
  • Read the Bible or listen to an audio Bible
  • Watch uplifting and clean shows (or VeggieTales episodes - I personally love these!)
  • Listen to beautiful, God-honoring, positive music (as opposed to lyrics that contain violence, anger, perversity, or speak of depressing topics, heartache, or sadness)
  • Practice gratitude.  List everything there is to be thankful for; material provisions, health, a place to live (or homeless shelter to stay at which is much better than being out on the street), food, water, soap, clothing, shoes, books to read, the weather, dishes, furniture, schooling, a job, family, friends, godly resources, God's wisdom, faithfulness and character...
  • Take a walk or relax at the park
  • Go on a drive
  • Write a short note, email, or text message to everyone you know listing two or three qualities you love about them (giving compliments to others has a way of lifting our mood because it blesses them and brings joy)

"Facing storms and shipwrecks in our lives really isn't a matter of if; it is a matter of when. So it's time for us to get our sea legs under us. Rather than trying to avoid the storms of life, we need to learn how to get through them, how to survive them, and how to learn the lessons that we can only learn in such times and such places.

It has been said that you can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, I can't control all the elements of my world—or even very many of them at all. But I can control my reaction to them. I can adjust my sails—and adapt."  Greg Laurie

"Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong."  Timothy Keller

"Suffering dispels the illusion that we have the strength and competence to rule our own lives and save ourselves."  Timothy Keller

Book suggestions:  The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives by Ravi Zacharias and Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller


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