CONQUERING STRONGHOLDS CHALLENGE 5
I remember walking up the three steps and onto stage. I bent forward and my professor placed the satin material across my shoulders in a doctoral ceremony called hooding. It meant I’d finally completed my academic achievement to earn a PhD. My chest swelled with pride and relief that the rigorous journey was now over. Before I took the few steps to walk down on the other side, I began to feel that same old sense of panic, and I asked myself the question that haunted me for decades, “What’s next?” The other way I tried to cope with personal pain was through motivation, or accomplishment.
I had just earned the top academic award given by universities, and the joy in the achievement lasted less than a minute. But before that night, I’d also earned a bachelor degree and a master’s degree. Neither one of those helped for long either. When I wasn’t in class, I had to crush barriers in my career by taking the most risky and dangerous assignments available. In sports, I was unable to simply enjoy the health and exercise. I had to push it past safe and sensible because I didn’t find relief unless a found pain. I was like a junkie looking for my next award, recognition or promotion. The wisest, richest, and most successful human ever in the history of the world suffered from the same affliction. It was his hurt, family dysfunction, and the sexual sin of his father, King David, that drove Solomon to conquer and crush.
Solomon grew up in a household rocked by an earlier sex scandal because his father, David took the married woman, Bathsheba, and slept with her while her noble husband was off at war. The great Solomon was another victim of sexual sin, and the generational curse of his father continued to plague him. Motivation and achievements were Solomon’s failed attempt to soothe his pain. The more he accumulated the less he felt deserving. In Ecclesiastes 2 he shares the futility of trying to outwork his hurt. I’ve included this small section of the scripture, but please read the entire Chapter 2:1-24.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Do you not feel good enough, smart enough or worthy enough because of your pain and bondage? Are you working extra hours or taking extra classes or spending extra money to prove yourself worthy? It soon became impossible to fill these empty spaces. Our spirit requires peace, not prizes. Warriors, know that there is peace in Christ. In Him is also healing and freedom from sexual bondage. We can’t work our way into heaven or out of hell. Surrender instead to the love and redemption of Christ. Today is your day!
There is a third way to cope with the cause of your pain that leads to addictive behavior and holds you in captivity. We’ve talked about the way King David used sex to medicate his hurts. We’ve also talked about Solomon’s effort to outwork the hurt he suffered through motivation. Today, we’ll talk about another one of David’s sons, Absalom.
Absalom was also David’s son and Solomon’s half-brother. His pain, like many with a dominant parent, began at home. Absalom also suffered from intense guilt over doing nothing to defend his sister from a sexual attack by another half-brother.
It’s not uncommon for men to become emotionally frustrated over situations at work, in their family, their health, or life in general, and yet fail to say or do anything about it. It makes us feel powerless and creates internal stress, and tension. When we allow our emotions it stew until it boils into internal pain, it’s called meditation. Absalom allowed the hurt in his spirit to meditate until his hatred intensified. For two years he avoided confronting his feelings and the offender before his pain erupted, and he killed his brother. Attacks against others is what often defines those of us who meditate on the hurt instead of healing it. Are you feeling the rage of regret and wrongdoings roil beneath the surface while you look for an outlet to unleash your fury upon? When you do feel angry, please don’t consider that emotion as a failure to control yourself. God gets angry, and it is an emotion that we also naturally experience. The difference is that anger is not a sin as long as you do not sin in your anger.
“In your anger do not sin”:
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
We’ve got to learn to process our feelings. It’s when we bottle them up, that the desire for a “release” enters our mind. Traps such as porn, fantasy or sexual sin are used to replace the act of processing the source of the anger. Of course, all this does is add guilt on top of the already raw emotions. God placed a message on my heart that remains with me today. “Avoiding is not winning.” You can only sweep so much junk under the rug. If it’s confessing a wrong to a friend, spouse, co-worker, or forgiving yourself for messing up once again, time does not heal all wounds. It is a lie, so don’t let stuff fester in your soul.
15: Healing Forgiveness
Why are we in this situation in the first place? I’d suggest that in about 95% of our cases, we were innocent as to the exposure, abuse or neglect that led us into the bondage of sexual sin. Someone else’s behavior left us in this gap, and now the abnormal need for sex or porn remains, while those who caused us to stumble have moved away or passed on.
It doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not. We’re left feeling vulnerable, exposed and ashamed of the sinful behaviors we hide from the ones we love most. But, what if I told you we actually had the power and authority over not only those who hurt us, but also over the pain we’ve been left with? You can, and it begins with forgiving.
Forgiveness is a vital, but most often misunderstood act. Many people, myself included, have refused to forgive others because the sense of hurt or resentment was too great. We feel as though there was too much harm to forgive. After all, why would we let the offender off the hook? So we draw comfort while waiting for karma to get even with them. Sound familiar? Unforgiveness causes a deficit in our spirit, and the holder of the balance is the one who hurt and also holds power over our life. Anger is a destructive force, and until you learn to forgive, it will control you.
There were times when pure hatred fueled me to push forward against someone or something. But, once the issue was resolved or removed, I was left with an abandonment of who I was. My anger wasn’t as much for the person’s actions against me, as it was the bondage I’d placed myself under because of their manipulation through the leash I fashioned out of hate. Forgiveness is not about letting the offender off the hook. There are consequences for every action. Forgiving is an act of power. You are given that authority to set yourself free from the offense, and the offender. While not biblical, the illustration is fitting. I love the quote attributed to Confucius;
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
Now, onto biblical truths about forgiveness. Do you have a verse of scripture in mind, or if you’re like me and don’t do well reciting them, can you Google one about forgiveness? One of the most commonly known is Jesus’ instructions when asked by His disciples how to pray. He gave them the example of what is referred to as the Lord’s prayer. Matthew 6:9-13 includes the line, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
God doesn’t mess around on the subject. His only Son was crucified so we might know salvation through forgiveness of our sins. Jesus himself, hung upon a cross as they mocked and wounded Him. They laughed as they threw dice for His clothes. Instead of raging against them for revenge, Jesus exercised His power, strengthen and authority.
Allow God to show you the truth about forgiving and life-changing freedom. This is true, tangible power that you have the heavenly right to control. Forgiving also doesn’t mean that you have to become friends again. Forgiving someone doesn’t even require you to say it to that person.
God gives us a nugget as motivation. Matthew 6:15 says:
But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.
How’s that for digging deep to forgive others? Talk about hate being a destructive force in your life, try living outside of God’s grace. For those who still can’t get past the idea that your offender will walk Scot-free after you have forgiven them, here is another assurance from Romans 12:18-203
“Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
It won’t be easy at first. It’s a process of growth, so it’s not meant to be easy. Try making a list to get started, of maybe the top three people who have caused you to be wounded. Maybe even include yourself in that list. Start speaking words of forgiveness. You don’t have to say it to the people, but you must start by saying it out loud.
Repeat this for as many days as necessary, and I promise you will soon realize just how much hurt you’ve carried as caused by others. That’s a lot of folks with their clutches in your life. You will also begin to know what true freedom feels like. Again, you have the power. You just have to be willing to flex a little spiritual muscle.