Okay, we're not going to keep mentioning this every time. But we have to make the point one more time.
Follow your recovery plan. Whether it's been a good day or a bad day, a clean week or a sinful week.
Spend some time thinking about and praying to God about the passages below. Write them in your journal and include what he reveals to you. Come back to them and memorize them over the next week or so.
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
"...A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
Some questions to consider and write about in your journal:
What are ways that I am sowing to please my flesh?
What ways that I am sowing to please the Spirit?
What does it mean to be clean of sexual sin?
We follow Jesus' teachings - and we will explain why it is crucial to have this as our standard:
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
So a clean day, week, month or year means no sexual fantasy, masturbation, looking at lustful images, pornography, sex chats and webcams, premarital sexual acts, extramarital sex acts, sexual establishments, etc. Click here to read more about what it means to "look lustfully".
Anything that we become addicted to is sinful because it enslaves us. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12: "I will not be mastered by anything".
As Steve Gallagher explains in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, it is virtually impossible for any length of time to masturbate without having lustful thoughts. For many guys with sexual addictions, habitual masturbation was a big part of how it began.
Like all addictions, sexual addiction is progressive. While it may take years or decades, if unaddressed, it will get worse. You will cross lines you never thought possible and, once crossed, they are easier crossed again.
The Bible is clear and incisive in how it explains the steps that lead us to sin, again in the passage we just mentioned:
"but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
We've seen how the battle against sexual sin begins with our thoughts. Lustful thoughts will grow eventually to lustful actions, leading to death.
Romans 8 further explains that what we "set our minds on" reveals whether we are living according to the flesh (our sinful nature) or according to the Spirit:
"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ."
This passage explains why simply "trying harder" not to sin doesn't work. If we are living according to the flesh then we cannot please God or submit to his law. It isn't possible.
Getting clean of sexual sin and addiction isn't about starting by changing outward behaviour. It is about inward transformation of our heart as we live in accordance with the Spirit. Those who live according to the Spirit will still be tempted (even Jesus was, but didn't sin), but they do not have their minds set on the desires of the flesh.
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
How then do we live in accordance with the Spirit? Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance - taking decisive steps to turn away from our sin and towards God. We are also told in Luke 11:13 to ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit.
Questions to consider, pray over, and journal about:
Can I honestly say my life is defined by living according to the flesh or the Spirit?
In what ways is my mind set on the desires of the flesh?
In what ways is my mind set on the desires of the Spirit?
What steps do I need to take to repent of my sexual sin: (a) to decisively turn away from it and (b) to turn towards God?
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Living according to the Spirit and experiencing the transformation of our minds through Jesus Christ is a mysterious miraculous process that is fostered through daily spending time in solitude with God in prayer, meditation and reading his Word.
We have also found there are many other important tools or spiritual disciplines that the Bible describes for followers of Jesus that help us walk closely with him and resist the temptations that will still come.
We talked before about how the battle against sexual sin begins with our thoughts. How do we do battle there?
"...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:5
We're going to be sharing many tools that have been incredibly helpful at times in our battle against sexual sin. Learn them, try them, and practice them. Add them to your recovery plan. None of them alone is a "silver bullet" but all are helpful as part of decisive steps we take away from our sin.
Here's a go-to tool we use the split-second we are tempted or have a lustful or ungodly thought. We say:
No! I Renounce that thought, in Jesus' name.
I Announce that I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, I choose to Worship you.
[Then we sing the doxology]
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Early in your recovery you may have to do RAW many, many times a day. We also recommend calling someone in your group when you're tempted and it is not immediately going away with using RAW, changing your physical location, calling out to the Lord for deliverance, recite scripture, etc.
It is crucial to understand that whenever we are tempted we can resist. God always gives us an escape:
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
1 Corinthians 10:13
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Many of us memorized scripture in Sunday school for stickers or treats. Not the best motive. Rote memorization isn't what we're talking about here. We're talking about writing the very word of God on our hearts and dwelling and thinking about what they mean.
For years or decades, we've filled our minds with garbage. Now, we need to fill our minds with God's word. If you attend Men's Group reciting scripture we've memorized is how we start each meeting, so this isn't something extra.
There is power in God's word. Writing it on our hearts does something significant.
Ephesians 6:17 calls the word of God "the sword of the Spirit". You can use it when you're tempted after you RAW the temptation. Once you memorize longer passages, you can use those, filling your mind with godly thoughts to wash out the filth tempting you.
What are some tips for how to memorize scripture?
Everyone seems to find their own system. Here are a few ideas to try out. Read the verse one sentence at a time ten times, then recite that sentence with your eyes closed ten times, then move onto the next sentence doing the same thing, working through the verse. Make your verse your home screen on your phone or laptop. Write your verse(s) on an index card/piece of paper and go for a walk while reading and reciting it aloud. Listening to your verse(s) on a Bible app again and again. There's no one way to do it, just do it.
How do you decide which verses to memorize?
There are a ton of verses we've mentioned in this bootcamp. Each of them are powerful and directly speak to the issues you're confronting in your life and will aid you in your new life with Christ. Start with them and any other passages that God speaks to you through as you are reading his word each day.
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."
No matter how difficult our circumstances, we can always lift our voices to praise God. It doesn't matter if you don't think you can sing - God's your father and every father loves when his children sing, no matter how off-key.
There are well over a hundred verses about singing praise to the Lord in the Bible for a reason. Above all it is to give God glory and thanks for what he has done for us.
Many guys like to get a Christian music playlist going and listen to it while commuting, doing chores, exercising, etc. Rather than just listen passively, sing along, pray the lyrics, raise your hands - something to give praise and worship to the Lord. It will change the atmosphere around you, soften your heart, and set your mind above your daily worries on what really matters.
Here's a few worship songs to get you started - there is every kind of Christian music genre so if you don't like these you can find some you'll like too:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Self-pity and focussing on the negatives in our life leads to us taking a dim view of reality. It makes us more vulnerable to acting out to numb or self-medicate the pain or stress in our lives.
Instead, by intentionally focussing every single day on what we're grateful for - even in the seemingly worst circumstances - we have a much different outlook.
One of the men's group's leaders talks often about how writing in his journal every day about what he is grateful for has been a huge part of his recovery. It is also giving thanks and glory to God for all the good things he has done for us.
You can also pray entire prayers of gratitude. Not asking God for anything, just thanking him for what he has done for you, who he is, and for his creation and promises.
We don't want to be like the 9 lepers Jesus healed who never bothered to thank him.
"Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Congratulations on making it this far. It's time again to update your recovery plan based on what you learned and the recovery work you've now completed.
MY RECOVERY PLAN
(Version: [Today's Date])
Prayer, Meditation & Reading the Bible
2) DURING THE DAY
Daily-Check In Call
Worship and Praise
No screens 30 minutes before bed; set alarm to be up at least 1 hour before usual; get to bed at least 7 hours before I need to be up; Pray before going to sleep
Attend Men's Group(s)
"RAW": Renounce, Announce, Worship
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