The Choice to be “Stuck”
I am in my 20th year of full-time ministry. I’ve served as a youth pastor, senior pastor, taught in two Christian schools, and worked with teens nearly all my ministry. I’ve counselled drunkards and drug addicts, those trapped in sexual sins of every Biblical category, the depressed, and a host of other sins that trap the believer.
(*While I accept that there are a select few who have experienced neurological trauma resulting in a chemical imbalance in the brain, I believe the vast majority of those diagnosed as depressed suffer from a spiritual problem that medication cannot correct. I do not believe you can be filled with the Spirit and depressed at the same time.)
As I’ve gained experience and been forced to study the scriptures more to help those trapped in a besetting sin, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion – the believer who is ‘trapped’ by sin is bound by chains that have been unlocked and in a prison cell that is opened.
The Scriptures are clear, when a person receives Christ as their Savior, they are set free from the control of sin. I did not say that they are set free from the desire to sin, every believer still possesses the sinful flesh that desires sinful things. However, we are not under the control of sin as we were before we got saved.
John 8:36; Rom 6:18-22; Acts 26:18; Eph 5:8; Titus 3:3-8; Col 1:13; et al
Unfortunately, people who are engaged in a sinful habit like to think of themselves as a victim of some wrong done them by another or by God Himself. Being a victim of another’s mistreatment is a great way to excuse their own sinful habit. Sometimes they blame God for their problems which provides an excuse not only for the beginning of their sinful habit but an excuse to remain in that sinful habit.
If you feel ‘trapped’ by a besetting sin know that your chains are already unlocked and remaining in your state is a choice. If you want to leave your prison cell, here is what you need to know.
1. You have to choose whether you believe the Word of God or not. A biblical counsellor, such as your pastor, will give you biblical truths about yourself, your sin, and your Savior. If you do not choose to accept that truth as the very Word of God, you will remain in your cell. If you do accept that truth, it will produce a genuine sorrow over your sin (not merely the consequences of it) that prompts a godly desire to change. We call this repentance.
2. You have to choose to please Christ. Choosing to please Christ is a choice to obey the Word of God. I’ve had many who want to quit smoking, drinking, viewing pornography, etc. who are genuinely trying to stop. They have a social reason for trying (family pressure, job security, etc.) but they don’t have the right reason yet. Pleasing Christ is the only reason powerful enough to compel a change in behavior (2 Cor 5:14). “Christ says this behavior does not please Him, therefore, I must change my behavior to please Him!” I have found that those who are not compelled by a desire to please Christ do not see lasting change in their patterns.
3. You have to choose to change your way of thinking. At the root of every sin is a corrupt thought process that needs to change. Replacing the corrupt thought process has to be a biblical thought process. A thief needs to change his way of thinking from being a taker to being a giver (Eph 4:28). Ultimately, we see the sinful behavior as a way of satisfying a need or desire in our life. The biblical mindset is to have all our needs satisfied God’s way. Pornography may seem to satisfy a man’s sexual needs but only in a committed marital relationship can a man’s needs be truly satisfied.
Ultimately, every person and their situation is different and will require a unique application of these truths. However, we are all the same – sinners and the answer to the problem of sin is always Jesus Christ! If you’ve struggled and failed time and again to overcome a sinful habit, it is likely that you have not made the necessary choices for God to give you the victory. Think about these things and then go see your Pastor or biblical counsellor and seek their help, but most of all, pray. Tell the Lord what you choose and ask His help in implementing those choices for His honor and glory alone!