I remember the feeling all too well. That gnawing, churning pit of trepidation began in my gut and worked its way to my chest. I remember feeling hazy and weightless, as if my spirit was trying to escape what my body was exposing it to. I was on the edge of a sharp precipice, and my next decision would determine my fate. The boy? Well, I don’t remember too much about him in that moment. I do remember the unspoken challenge in his eyes. The “I dare you” message he was sending me. To this day, I can’t explain what made me push away except that maybe in the midst of the silent roaring between my ears I picked up on a whisper – a still, quiet voice that said, “This is not who you are. You are not his. You are Mine.” And it was enough. I didn’t free-fall into darkness that day; instead, I backed away to safety. He stopped calling. I swore off guys. Ironically, a month later I met the man I would one day marry.
Sounds like an after-school special, doesn’t it? Girl faces temptation but makes the honorable choice. Girl is rewarded with a husband. Yeah…except there was slightly more to it than that. My story cannot begin to be summed up in this one event, but that night almost fifteen years ago was a defining moment in my young life. At nineteen years old, I did make a choice. I said no. Part of me wanted to say yes, but mostly so I wouldn’t disappoint a boy who clearly wasn’t giving me the same consideration. And while I still managed to blow it big time in many ways over the following months, that decision unveiled an inner strength that could only have come from God. So why even mention that night? Because of the redemptive power of Jesus – you see, this story, my story, is really all about Him…
My favorite book of the Bible is Romans, and Chapter 12 holds a special place in my heart. Each of its’ twenty-one verses have helped shape me as a woman and continually challenge me to look at others through the eyes of Jesus. The first verse specifically speaks to Christians who struggle with temptation:
This verse…wow. It’s not one of the more popular, make-you-feel-good verses we love to quote on Facebook and Pinterest. This verse is a command to every saved man, woman, boy, and girl. It’s a verse that unapologetically declares we are to treat our bodies as if they are not really ours to lay claim to. It’s hard to hear and even harder to adhere to.
So what do you do with this verse if you feel a sharp sting of shame when you read it? What if, like me and thousands of other women around the world, you’re guilty of offering bits and pieces of your body up on that relentless altar of lust? Maybe you’re dealing with consequences of your past choices: disease, ruined relationships, emotional turmoil, or separation from God. As you read these words, you may even be thinking to yourself that your life is over. It’s hopeless. You’ve made so many wrong turns that the way back to Jesus seems impossible to find.
This is quite an uplifting letter, am I right? (insert sarcastic emoji) Hang with me, if you will, because Good News is on the way! The One who created you knows all about your sin, and His opinion of you might just sweep you off your feet. Shake off the Enemy’s lies that you are worthless, alone, or beyond the reaches of Christ’s love. My darling daughter, take a moment to consider Scripture. Remember who you belong to. Start fresh today.
Remember Who You Belong To
This beautiful truth from Isaiah says it all. You are His. He knows you, and He calls you by your name. He has redeemed you. That word – redeem – is one of my favorites. If you are a child of God, you have been redeemed. It’s eternal. Nothing you do could ever separate you from His love (Romans 8:35-39). That fact alone should make your soul leap!
He hasn’t condemned you, even if you struggle to forgive yourself. Romans 8:1 says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” If you are a daughter of the Risen King, He will never cast you aside. What’s more, His abounding grace is strong enough to break the chains of sin that paralyze you.
Read Psalm 139:1-6 and 17-18. Trust me on this. Even if you’re familiar with the passage, read it again. When my spirit needs to be refreshed, when I’m longing for a love that surpasses human capacity, or when I’m doubting my qualifications as a representative of Christ, I find the most comfort out of these verses. I marvel at a Savior who reaches out to cradle me even as I’ve wronged Him.
Take a moment to absorb the magnitude of His all-consuming love for you. You don’t deserve it. Neither do I. But it’s ours for the taking if we’ll only receive it!!
Start Fresh Today
By now, I imagine you’re feeling at least a glimmer of hope that your messy and marred life-offering can be salvaged. With a renewed confidence in His love for you, you can boldly make your next move. If you really desire to present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, you’ve got to do some turning.
There’s a well-known story found in John 8 that describes Jesus’ reaction to the woman caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers were eager to carry out a death sentence. She must have felt panic and terror, but not a lot of hope for rescue. As Jesus silently wrote in the dirt, her denouncers began to leave, one by one. I wonder what went through her mind as she faced the Son of God. He could have justifiably handed down a myriad of punishments. Instead, He tells her she is not condemned. He says, “Go, and sin no more.”
Can’t you just picture the shock and relief that must have registered on the woman’s face as she felt the weight of her sin replaced with the freedom of forgiveness? What an amazing testament to the character of Jesus! Notice, though, His parting words: “sin no more.” He didn’t say, “Eh, it’s not that big of a deal to commit adultery.” He didn’t give her a free pass to keep on living her life the way she had been. He gave her a second chance to turn things around. An opportunity to change her ways. He expected that out of her and He also expects the same from us.
So how do we go about this turning away from sin business? It can be a daunting process, but it’s infinitely worth it! It might even look different in your life than it has in mine. In my experience, I have found five things that work:
1. Pray often. Daily. Come clean before your Heavenly Father. Praise Him. Ask for His forgiveness. Pour out your heart. Bare your soul. He knows it all anyway, but there’s something about having an honest conversation with God that brings healing and clarity. (1 Thess. 5:17)
2. Read the Word. Allow inspired truth to break down your defenses. Pursue Jesus. Let Him speak to you. Believe what He says. Hide His words in your heart. (Psalm 119:11)
3. Seek Counseling. Confide in a family member or trusted friend. Talk to a pastor. Find a professional if necessary. Turning requires healing.
4. Find Supportive Friends. Distance yourself from negative influences. Get to know someone new. Be brave. Don’t walk through this alone. Be accountable to someone you trust.
5. Serve Someone. Stop thinking about yourself all the time. Get your hands dirty. Be God’s hands and feet. Meet a need. Sacrifice your time. Do it with love.
None of us can change our past. We all face temptations daily on every level. We are weak. But God understands our limitations. He knows you and He meets you where you are. He will walk with you and give you strength that’s made perfect in your weakness. If you’re reading this and you don’t know what it is to succumb to sexual temptation, I say to you: keep doing your thing, girlfriend! God’s will for all of His children is that each of us choose a path of purity. It’s no small thing to accomplish, but with the Father’s help you can persevere. And daughter, I pray that as you walk your path you will not allow your past to define who you are. Give your future to the Redeemer, and turn towards Him with every fiber of your being. He IS faithful. He’s cheering you on, and so am I!