“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Testimony – The word Testimony is, if not only by definition, the prophetic permission to access what has been made available before. If it has happened, it stands to reason that it could happen again. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of Prophecy. Rev 19:10 The word “Testimony” has been translated as ‘evidence’ or ‘reputation’ In other words, Jesus’ reputation is evidence that is is possible… to live as he did, gain favor with God and man and access the Kingdom, albeit by eager pursuit or violence. Like in Matthew 11:12 when Jesus said the Kingdom is seized by violence or by eager pursuit like John the Baptist.
the Brave – By definition, a people that are ready to face and endure danger or pain – men that pursue a goal relentlessly despite the fear or pain
History remembers the brave and those that overcame despite incredible odds. Those mavericks who seemed unfazed by limitations and did the seemingly impossible by what seems like sheer will.
As Steve Jobs put it: “… the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Danny Silk preached on courage and defined it as ‘untamed bravery’. This is the kind of brave I am referring to. We admire the brave, we want to be brave and yet if we experience enough failure, by sheer comparison we can disqualify ourselves from victory and sabotage our efforts in overcoming.
Have you ever noticed that no matter what you read in the bible or what you hear from the pulpit it can, at times in your life, always sounds like judgment or condemnation? Several years ago after our van started dying my wife and were dreaming of buying a Nissan Pathfinder. It was profound and we even thought it might be divine, how often we saw them on the road after that. It really seemed as if God was almost ordaining the purchase of a Nissan Pathfinder? What we expected we suddenly saw everywhere. Sometimes when we feel we deserve judgment or punishment for our hidden sins, we think God wants to punish us and his judgment of us seems to be everywhere we look.
This next scripture was one of those scriptures for me. In my brokenness, I read myself into the role of the victim, punished and hopeless. I missed the real freedom & empowerment of this revelation.
The site’s Impetus:
To do this scripture justice one must unpack it’s intention and core value so it can be properly applied to everyday fruitfulness, or overcoming. Especially to be applied in the area of sexuality, sexual struggle, or warfare.
Now read: The primary verse I want to highlight is vs 13, but first, the scripture should be understood in context.
1Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.a 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them. 8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,
righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be
foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do
not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you read this do you feel confused about who’s who in the context?
Paul is continuing from the previous chapters to shore-up the early church believer’s understanding of their identities and responsibilities. He clearly contrasts their former identity with their current identity and masterfully creates a comparison between how they should live today with the life lived by those who still don’t believe. He references Isaiah 60:1 as the standard of living in the understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection today.
There are three primary people groups he references:
- Sons of disobedience, jews of the old Abrahamic covenant and by implication, non-believers
- Believers who still act like they don’t believe and therefore produce no fruit.
- And believers who make the most of their time and produce fruit.
I will outlay the need for being faithful and fruitful in another writing, but for all intents and purposes, understand that as a believer your role is to be fruitful and multiply. The same job He gave Adam and there is a war over every assignment you were given. We are fruitful when we are faithful. You will be judged by your faithfulness, but your fruitfulness will bring Him glory: increasing His renown and or reputation.
So let me paraphrase a bit, from vs. 6
Don’t be tricked into doing what the unbelievers do. By these external acts the old-covenant-Jews (and unbelievers by implication) were opposed and or resisted by God.
Don’t join them in these faithless (dark understanding) behaviours that cause you to bear no fruit. You were an unbeliever once, but now you know and can see that Christ died for you and set you free from that way of living. So live like (whom you) know. Live a life of goodness, right-living and honesty, trying to learn what pleases God.
And again I will highlight more of this in the Faithful vs Fruitful discussion in another writing, but for now know this, without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb 11:6 It is faith that pleases the Father. You have no faith when you have no revelation of His love. The unbeliever is someone who hasn’t experienced or had the love of God revealed to them.
Don’t even talk about or gossip about what they do in secret, this is a source of their shame (Shame, is a form of which perpetuates victim thinking – covered elsewhere).
No, instead compare these acts side by side with the revelation of Jesus in the presence of the Spirit of revelation. See how they measure up to Jesus’s testimony, this will narrow your choice to one that produces life, a.k.a. The obvious choice becomes empowered by the testimony of Jesus.
This is why it says, hey believers with your eyes turned to the darkness, (those sleeping in the light) pay attention, look, see and that Christ will be obvious in you and through you, to the darkness around you. This is the same message echoed in Colossians 3 when the writer is discouraging abstinence and encouraging them to keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Col 3:1
So what does this have to do with sexuality and overcoming sexual addiction?
So many of us who have struggled and who struggle, can read condemnation in that passage and most passages of the bible, if we do not understand the intent and core value of the message. The enemy will lie to us, putting us to “sleep” when it comes to our identity and by so doing rob the intent of that scripture from setting us free. The minute we read “immoral or impure person” and “kingdom of Christ and God” we disqualify ourselves from partaking or reaching “Heaven” because of how we live in secret. We shame ourselves into impotence and fruitless living and some even question their salvation or their final destination after death. We project our judgement onto God, as if he is judging our morality based on what we do in secret and disqualifying us, when in reality it is us who continues to perpetuate victim thinking and disqualification.
This couldn’t be further from the truth and the devil knows it. The devil is a liar, has been and always will be. The secret sins you hide because of shame, especially those self-damning sexual thoughts and fantasies that promise some relief from your loneliness, are a lie. They will lead you further into shame and disqualification, even by your own judgement. Shame grows in silence. However, simply talking about someone’s shameful behaviour isn’t really solving the problem either. No. This is really just gossip and or if you share it personally it comes across like a pity party or false bravado in some cases.
Paul is giving people stuck in a lifestyle of fruitless, damning, shameful, behaviour a ticket out of the trap. All it takes is courage. A kind of resolute bravery willing to face whatever it takes to expose or bring out of hiding the things we do that sabotage our fruitfulness. To bring them out and honestly compare them to the love and fruitful hope of Christ’s testimony. Then we can see how fruitless they are and a way to convert them into fruitfulness.
As an example, when I do sexual acts apart from my wife I do not produce life in our relationship. I do not contribute life to the thing I need most which is connection. Instead I self gratify, disconnect my sex drive from my connection need and I disconnect my wife from participating in meeting that need. Our relationship starts to suffer from deluded self-fulfillment and disconnection. Instead if I understand the role of my sexual appetite as a catalyst towards building the connection I need, I will fight and train my appetites so I can discipline my attention toward the one I need the most connection with. Yes it’s difficult, but this is why the brave are celebrated as heros and stand as a testimony to passive in retreat, in denial and and or in fear. The brave overcome insurmountable odds to do the seemingly impossible and we love them for that. We are inspired and encouraged by their achievements.
After many years of looking at porn and working crazy hours, my sexual drive was self indulgent and undisciplined which way too often excluded and or manipulated my wife. Funny thing is I thought I was justified and that I ‘needed’ it. All it did was cause me to feel more shame, more judgement and more disconnection from the one person I needed to feel most connected to. This perpetuated my self-pity and thereby increased my dependency on self gratification and porn. It’s a deprecating cycle of pain management and pleasure seeking that caused me to isolate and rage against sound wisdom.
It wasn’t until, after sometime of spiritual discipline alone with God, reading the bible and praying, that suddenly one day I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit exposing my dependency to porn and masturbation that I realized I needed this to change immediately. This cycle was not working to solve my marriage issues and it wasn’t working for me either. I didn’t realize it until that moment, but I had normalized my bad behaviour because I justified my entitlement while I projected judgment and shame onto others. Suddenly as I read about Jesus, and I sat in His presence, I was convicted, by the Spirit who enlightens us, and I became adamant that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. Then came the fight for my life.
Long story short, of which I am sure you will read more of in this site, but that was the beginning of undoing the lie and turning the fruitless deeds of darkness into testimony of light. This site, my children and family, the groups I have started and lead, ministries I have effected and men I have inspired are all fruit of exposing my life to the light of Christ’s testimony in me. What the devil meant for harm is now a weapon in my hand.
Verse 13. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
All things when brought into the revelation of the testimony of Christ by the Spirit of revelation, become a revelation to the world around us.
In other words, your darkest act/secret is one encounter away from becoming a lethal testimony in your brave hands.
We think our darkness disqualifies us, but Christ has risen and is risen upon us and all our darkness is one exposure away from being the weapon that destroys darkness. The testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives destroys the work of darkness in and around us.
This is why I write today. This is my weapon. The testimony of what Jesus did with my sexual abuse, sexual brokenness and porn addiction outways the damage and disconnection I perpetuated.
So it’s time to turn on the light and fight.
What does that look like? Well being exposed to the light is a discipline in relationship with Christ. It’s the time and effort you dedicate to spending with Him. For each of us it will look a little different, but engaging Him in relational disciplines is the key.
We purpose to seek His face, we pray, we spend effort finding out what is pleasing to Him and He will be faithful to dress us with fruit and convict us where we need to change.
Then we fight. Then we put all our chips on that revelation and we bet the house. If God is calling you to quit He is able to equip! You can bet your time and effort knowing that the very thing you are battling will bow the knee and submit to God over time. It may be the fight of your lives, as seems to fit the experience of most people, but the value of the freedom is found in darkest days of battle. You are about to go to war with your entitlement, your habits, your truth and the devil. It will be difficult and make seemingly impossible demands of your character. The more difficult it is the easier it will be to hold onto your victory. You only guard with veracity the things you fought to overcome. The bigger the cost, the bigger the fortress.
This isn’t about quitting. This is about putting yourself in the light of God. People often come to groups I have been part of and they insist that they have been porn free and haven’t masturbated for x amount of days before starting group. I ask them why they needed to quit and I often get a similar answer “I thought quitting was a prerequisite for joining” – I started to saying to them, “Well, you can’t out-masturbate God’s love for you!” and “Or our love for you. Go ahead and try.” God isn’t shocked or intimidated by our ‘bad’ behaviour or fruitless acts. His love and acceptance isn’t based on works. The point is, abstinence isn’t solving anything. Being in His presence, seeking His will, pursuing His face, convicts us of all the things that are fruitless and then empowers us to overcome them. And then we fight. Then we win.
Only the brave, who see the light they are standing in and fight, win the reward of weaponizing their sin against the enemy. It is only Christ in us the finisher of our faith that convicts and empowers us to overcome the enemy.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” Rev 12:11
Overcoming sexual addiction, sexual brokenness, sexual confusion and sexual struggles of any kind is the testimony of the very brave.