Time for a reality check. If you haven’t sensed it already you soon will; your growing in sexual wholeness (or any area of wholeness) will be opposed. You can feel it in your body, in your mind, in your relationships, in the deepest part of your soul. These days we’re exploring sexuality, intimacy, and relationships, and the opposition seems especially strong in this part of life, particularly the opposition coming from within.
Biblically you can think of the opposition to your wholeness as the world, the flesh, and the devil. Though that specific phrase isn’t used in the New Testament the categories are certainly there. When it comes to sex many would agree that our sexualized culture – the world – makes it harder. Yes, there’s the devil; that’s for another time. Today let’s look at “The flesh” – the whole reality of who you are as a human being.
Just days ago a friend of mine who is deeply struggling with some sexual brokenness said, “I’m trying to figure out how to cooperate with what God is trying to do in me.” Perhaps you can relate. In some ways you are your own worst enemy. If every negative outside influence were removed you’d still have lots of broken pathways in your brain opposing your journey to wholeness. How do you deal with the opposition that you face from within your own soul?
Let me suggest three important categories; stay clean, stay connected, and stay consecrated.
We live in a dirty world. By that I don’t mean that sex is dirty, not at all. Evil has marred and distorted what God intended sex and intimacy to be (they are related but not the same). Cultural norms, popular media, and the countless examples you’ve seen and experienced yourself barrage your mind with messages that almost unconsciously deepen the pathways in your brain leading you toward doing stuff and believing stuff that’s anything but whole.
Your past leaves you with certain vulnerabilities unique to you. Preston had been deeply involved in the sex and drugs prominent in the New York neighborhood where he grew up. He moved away, God radically saved him, and he became an effective evangelist for the gospel. Decades later he told a group of fellow Christian leaders, “I will never, as long as I live, go back to that neighborhood.” He knew his vulnerability, and the boundaries God had placed on him in order for him to remain clean and whole.
There may be things others can do that you can’t do if you truly desire a life of sexual wholeness. That’s not weakness; that’s honesty and following Jesus. Some refuse to be alone in a hotel room without their spouse or a travel buddy. Some permanently get off social media. Others only have a “dumb” phone (no apps, only calling and texting). There are people who can’t watch certain TV shows, concerts, or movies, or go to certain places. You may need to make decisions that could seem like a sacrifice but are necessary for your protection. You may have to say No to certain things in order to stay clean. What might that look like for you?
- What messages from media, lifestyle, or people make you vulnerable to old brain pathways leading to sexual darkness?
- Where (time, place, circumstances) are you usually tempted? What clues does that give about where you need to set some boundaries?
- Are there activities, technology, places, situations, or people that you will have to say No to, perhaps permanently, in order to keep your soul clean?
Saying No to certain things is not “trying harder;” it’s setting yourself up for success. It’s valuing the life of growing in sexual wholeness enough to do what it takes.
The second category of dealing with the opposition from inside you is staying connected. It’s critically important to find your people, those who you intentionally connect with who know your struggle and can challenge, support, and encourage you. Those kinds of connections disinfect the shame of your story and will also be just as important for your ongoing growth toward wholeness.
Others around you cannot do your fighting or growing for you, but they can alert you to dangers you might be oblivious to on your own. They can provide insight and perspective when you’re struggling, and you will also be encouraged as you experience them receiving support from you.
Society has recognized the importance of not facing danger alone. First responders such as police almost always go with a partner. Soldiers don’t go into battle alone. Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs (Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1). You need a few others who see and know you and are up in your business. It’s one of your best protections against the opposition both from outside you and also from within.
And thirdly, stay consecrated. Consecration isn’t a word we use much today. Imagine having your own car; perhaps you do. You’re the only one with the keys, and you can use it to go somewhere anytime you want. You take care of it well, and you might feel proud of it and show it off to your friends. It would feel very different if the car belonged to several people who all had equal access to it. You wouldn’t have the same pride in taking care of it. If the car is yours alone, it’s consecrated to you. It’s yours.
That’s what it means to be consecrated to Jesus. You belong to Him. You are exclusively His. While you may have said Yes to Jesus’ offer of salvation, have you made Him the Lord of your life? Are you holding on to ownership of your own body and sexuality, or have you asked Jesus to be in charge?
You might say, “of course I’ve decided to follow Jesus. That’s why I’m trying to do this right.” You might also wonder, “I’m not sure I could handle Jesus truly being Lord of my sexuality. I’m not sure Jesus is safe enough for me to trust Him as Lord. He might even punish me.” That is evidence your internal picture of God may need some work.
Jesus will never force you. Control and manipulation is the enemy’s tactic, not God’s. But Jesus does invite you to make Him the Lord of every part of your life. If He is Lord of your sex life that part of you belongs to Him. Your stance is no longer trying to force yourself to do or not do something. Now you are allowing Him to make His home in you. You learn to listen to His voice and follow Him.
How to Pray
That may sound a bit mystical, but based on the New Testament that’s exactly the kind of life Jesus is inviting you into. You can pray, “Jesus, I choose You to be the Lord of my life. I specifically make You the Lord of my sex life for today. I consecrate my sexuality to You. And I purpose to follow You, not by trying harder on my own but by making my body, mind, and soul daily available for You to do Your good work in me from the inside out.”
You might consider praying this out loud every day as part of staying connected with Jesus as you together write new chapters of your story.
Your Turn: Which of these 3 do you struggle with the most in growing in sexual wholeness – staying clean, connected, or consecrated? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Want more? In the podcast episode this week Maria Nistri shares her story of growing from brokenness to sexual wholeness and how she’s staying clean, connected, and consecrated.
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- Your journey to growing in sexual wholeness will be opposed. For many, you are your own worst enemy. How do you deal with the opposition coming from within? By staying clean, connected, and consecrated. Tweet that.
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