Written by Joe Dallas, Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
Day has begun and I’m already sinning Help me to change this heart that I have Lord, help me taste of the grace that You’re giving. I want to be a spiritual man. “Let the Old Man Die” lyrics by Chuck Butler
Every one of us struggles with something. Some of us relapse into that “something.” Afterwards, how we handle the relapse will have a lot to do with our future successes or failures.
To struggle is to have temptations, sometimes towards one particular life-dominating sin. You knew the type. It’s usually some bodily pleasure that we’ve discovered, then returned to, and then, after years of repetition, we’ve established as a pattern.
Overeating, porn, smoking, gambling, and drug abuse are all pretty good examples. What we discover we incorporate, and what we incorporate becomes predictable – a regular, often destructive part of our routine.
Predictable, that is, until God puts His finger on that part of your life. That’s when He calls you to repentance, and when that happens, a new standard gets birthed.
Suddenly, what you used to allow is unacceptable, and abstaining from that “something” is a new mandate. New standards of what we do or don’t allow are sure to follow anytime we say “yes” when God says “this has to go.” That’s part of discipleship living.
But to say “God has called me to stop doing this” is also a way of saying “I’m committed to resisting the desire to keep on doing it.” Sometimes the desire is resisted successfully; sometimes not. And that opens up the possibility
Relapse happens when you return to a behavior you renounced. It’s often called “breaking sobriety” because it means you broke a commitment to abstain from something addictive; some would also call it a backslide. But whatever name the relapse rose goes by it smells just as bad, and is a thing to be avoided, guarded against, but also prepared for. It’s somewhat like John’s interesting statement about sin:
These things I write unto you that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. I John 2:1
Clearly John wasn’t saying it’s OK to sin. But he was saying that if you do, you have an advocate. Likewise, when you commit to abstaining from porn, fornication, drunkenness or gluttony, you don’t by any means have to relapse. You can stay clean; there’s no reason to return to those behaviors.
But if you do, you have an advocate with the Father who will cleanse and restore you. In that vein, let me offer a few immediate steps to take if, God forbid, you should relapse.
Decide now who’d you’d call if you relapsed. In most cases an accountability partner is your best bet (and if you’re committed to abstaining from an addictive behavior, then an accountability partner really is a must!) since he works with you weekly and you’re probably in regular contact with him.
But a trusted friend or member of your church will also be a good choice, or perhaps a pastor or counselor. What matters is that you know who to call and what number to use, and that you call him immediately. Tell him you relapsed, and that you’ll need his prayers and support. If you have a severe crises situation, meet with him ASAP.
With the help of whoever you notify, figure out what went wrong. Usually people relapse because they slacked off on their prayer life, scripture reading, fellowship or accountability.
But there may be other reasons, so spend time exploring what you were doing before the relapse, what you could have done differently, and what you’ll do differently in the future to prevent this from happening again. Human error is a terrific textbook, so you may as well use it.
3. Move It!
Get back on the saddle immediately, because you’ll accomplish nothing by wallowing in grief over your relapse, and there’s no reason to delay beginning again. If you refuse to start over, you’re yielding to a more severe, deadlier sin than relapse: despair. Sin is something you can repent of, but despair? Yield to that, and you’re really finished.
Don’t be. Relapse is a temporary set-back; despair is the end.
You’re protecting a treasure when you guard your purity, so apply yourself to its longevity the way you’d protect a valuable antique or piece of jewelry. Recognizing its worth, you work both to keep it, and keep it in its best possible shape.
The freedom of godliness, likewise, is a purposeful, challenging, exciting way to live, and keeping the ball in play is worth all the blood, sweat and tears a committed athlete has to shed.
So move ahead today in the power of gratitude for God’s grace, and let it manifest in the smallest and largest areas of your life.
Written by Joe Dallas, Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!” – from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
The power of porn may not just be its explicit content. It may also be its capacity to take the viewer into another world.
Porn’s a place where bodies and people are perfect, where imaginary lovers comply with every wish, and where the scene created perfectly matches the deepest desires of the viewer. It’s a perfect and perfectly destructive world, and it’s the stuff both horror and heartbreak are made of.
Life on My Own Terms
Novelist Ira Levin tapped into the horror of it in his fantasy drama The Stepford Wives, a dark essay on chauvinism in which a New England town is inhabited by men who’ve perfected the art of re-creating their wives into compliant, flawless and utterly lifeless beings who live only to please
The procedure involves creating a replication of the wife looking and behaving exactly as she does minus anything the husband dislikes. Then the wife is killed, of course, to make room for her new and improved model. When the main character in the story discovers Stepford’s secret, she asks the leader of the town the obvious question: Why?
His answer is chilling in its simplicity.
“Because we can. If we can have you any way we want, why should we settle for you as you are?”
There’s the horror of married men and porn – that a man would betray the real woman who loves him so that he can indulge in a phantom figure that doesn’t even know him.
But there’s heartache along with the horror, lying in the number of men who’ve gotten hooked on the Stepford Syndrome, taking time, focus and sexual energy away from their wives and investing it in images that are perfect, exciting, and utterly unreal. CS Lewis described the issue decades ago when he wrote:
For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete his own personality in that of another and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.
And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.
Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself.
Mirage, Not Marriage
Ironically, however convenient it may be to skip the efforts involved in normal intimacy and instead settle for the cheap substitute of these ‘shadowy brides,’ the fact remains that the genuine needs of the soul cannot be met by Stepford Women. They offer no emotional support, provide no reliable nurturing, and have no partnering capacities whatsoever. Like the junk food some people eat in hopes of meeting their hunger needs, they supply a quick rush with no follow through, leaving the consumer hungry for more of what didn’t satisfy to begin with.
The husband using porn is ripping off both his spouse and himself.
Plenty of men have realized that, repented, and stayed on course. On the one hand, that’s something to cheer about. On the other, let’s look at it in light of what Christians in other nations, and other times, have suffered for the gospel, Saying no to porn is the right thing to do, but please don’t confuse it with martyrdom.
So when images beckon from all sides, and when memory of a quick pleasure derived from porn conveniently omits the aftermath of shame and hurt, I hope we’ll remember the real love and support that outweighs and outdoes the unreal hands down, slam dunk. With that in mind, we can consistently and resoundingly say No to the unreal and Hallelujah! for the real.
Written by Joe Dallas, 2/11/19 Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
I don’t believe people who say “I have no regrets.” Unless you’re of the sociopathic variety, you must have a combination of insight and decency – enough insight to know you’ve fallen short (and in the process, you effected others) and enough decency to care that your sin made someone else’s
So OK, we’ve all blown it one way or another, and in many cases, our sin was not only against God but against others as well. So we confess it and we’re forgiven (I John 1:9), which is great. But God’s forgiveness doesn’t erase our action from our memory banks, and there’s the rub.
There’s no condemnation to those of us in Christ Jesus, hallelujah. (Romans 8:1, as if you needed the verse) But there’s often regret, which isn’t condemnation, but an emotional response to the realization of what
You can catch echoes of regret in Paul’s writings when he mentions, years after the fact, his attacks on the Church (Galatians 1:3) and refers to himself as a former “blasphemer and persecutor” (I Timothy 1:13) who’s the chief of sinners. (I Timothy 1:15) Where else could words like this come from, if not a place of regret?
It seems to me that we pay a high price for spiritual maturity. The more Christ-like we become, the more we share His perspective on all aspects of our lives, failures included.
He surely doesn’t rub our noses in them; indeed, once they’re confessed and forgiven, He doesn’t even bring them up, having removed them immeasurably. (Psalm 103:12) Yet the more we grow in obedience, the more indignant we tend to become over past disobedience.
So what can we do with our regrets? Five things come to mind today.
Celebrate the change.
I hate the fact that I’ve failed. I love the fact that I care.
I remember once being so hardened to truth that I not only rebelled, I rebelled with complete indifference to God and others. I wanted what I wanted, consequences and Christians be dammed.
Afterwards, when God called me to repentance, my first concern was the sin I’d committed, which I had to put away immediately. Only then could I begin to feel something about what I’d done, and while to this day I don’t particularly enjoy feeling it, I’m grateful God softened my heart while restoring my mind.
If you regret something, don’t let the regret drown you, or distract you from living the life you’re commissioned to live. But do celebrate the fact that your heart is softened enough to feel the regret.
Contend with old patterns
Your past wrongs are a textbook about your potential. The fact that you were capable of doing something once means (bad news alert!) you’re capable of doing it again. Surely that doesn’t mean you will, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you’ve repented of a sin, you’re now immune to any temptation to repeat it.
What gave you pleasure or distraction or pain relief in the past will beckon you when, in the future, you again crave pleasure or distraction or pain relief. So let the sin you regret now be the sin you take concrete action to prevent in the future. After all, if you feel the discomfort of regrets, the last thing you want to do is add to them.
Confess as needed
It’s possible you’re regretting something you’ve never acknowledged, at least to the person you harmed.
Confession to God is top priority, sure. Ultimately, as David himself said, all sin is an affront to Him. (Psalm 51:4) But the nagging discomfort you feel over something done in the past may be an invitation to let someone know that you know what you did, you know it was wrong, you know it caused them pain, and you yourself now feel pain as a result.
Granted, most of what we’ve done can’t be undone, but that’s not the point. When our wrong has offended another yet we’ve said nothing about it, that person’s left not only with the hurt we caused them, but also the belief that our silence on the matter proves our indifference to them. We owe it to them, in cases like that, to acknowledge their value to us, by admitting both the wrong we did, and our inability to undo it.
If you’ve caused someone to doubt their worth, whether by words or actions, do something now. You sent them the wrong message before. Try again, and this time, get it right.
Correct when possible
Some regrets invite us not only to acknowledgement, but to action as well. Since our God is a God of justice, if we’re guilty of injustice and have the capacity to make restitution, then restitution becomes a mandate.
It may be symbolic (a trip to the florist comes to mind) or quite literal (an uncollected debt also comes to mind). Either way, the money owed, the promise broken, or the commitment left undone, all call for more than a simple “My bad.” They call for a “I will.” In that case, do more than feel. Do.
If you regret something you have the ability to correct, good grief, don’t leave it hanging. One of the quickest weight loss tricks I know is the correction of wrongs left uncorrected, and the relieved conscience and lightened soul that come as a result.
Commiserate from experience
I’ll never be OK with, or cavalier about, my own failures. I hope you
But we can both let them soften our hearts with a compassion for fellow strugglers, of whom there are multitudes, who are dealing with their own shortcomings. It’s amazing how profitable God can make a formerly unprofitable servant who is now fully aware of her or his own weakness.
People need grace extended from someone who knows what it’s like to fall, and has some ideas on how to get back up. So as much as I hate failure, I’m blown away by the irony of the fact that my worst failures are now largely responsible for my ability to be, hopefully, of some use to others dealing with similar failures.
The perfect mentor won’t have many followers, for obvious reasons. Who the heck can relate to him? But we the imperfect, the flawed and the broken and the forgiven, can limp our way into the lives of sheep who really do want to get back to the Shepherd but aren’t sure how. Pharisees won’t show them the way. Wounded warriors will, with compassion and clarity.
So here’s to our regrets, whatever their size and shape. And here’s to their ability to fashion our future while teaching us invaluable lessons from the past, and to shape our character in the here and now, with eternal benefits.
Written by Joe Dallas, Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
If I knew falling in love would hurt this much I would have rather fallen into a ditch, and maybe I would be healed by now. -Evans Macharia
When a man sexually betrays his wife, his ability to understand her pain is equal to his ability to understand what pregnancy and delivery feel like.
In other words, it’s an obvious zero. First, because unless she’s done exactly the same thing to him, he can’t grasp what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such a blow. Second, because although to him it may feel like nothing more than a “guy thing” or a minor weakness, to her it feels like an assault on the most private parts of her soul.
Or so I’m told. Not being a woman, and not having experienced for myself a wife’s misery when she finds her husband is into porn, strippers, prostitutes or an affair, I’m speculating at best. But I’ve heard from plenty of such ladies. Sometimes they and their husbands come to the office, hoping to repair the damage and restore the love. Others come alone, married to a man who neither knows nor cares to know how serious the problem is. While listening to these wives explain their mental and emotional agony, I notice some common points keep coming up.
Three of them are worth passing on.
“I Didn’t Sign Up for This”
When a Christian woman joins herself to a Christian man, it’s reasonable for her to expect him to live with integrity. Not perfection, certainly, and I’ve never even heard of a wife who expected never to see weakness or sin in her husband. In promising “I Do” she knows she’s also saying “I’ll tolerate”, because marriage calls for it. So she’ll tolerate some bad habits, irritable moods, messiness, even occasional stupid blunders.
But she didn’t sign up to be lied to. Nor to learn her man is sexually investing himself in something or someone other than her. Nor to be insulted in the most primitive way by a husband’s dismissal of her as his lover and his embrace of another, whether an image or a
In fact, most wives I’ve worked with are astonished at what their men have become accustomed to, and that’s part of the problem. Any sin loses its shock value with repetition, making it easier for the person practicing it to minimize it’s seriousness.
But to the woman who sees her man as God’s provision, the mate He chose for her, it’s a killer. She sees him lift his hands and voice in church, pray over meals, and generally talk the talk, then finds he’s been deliberately and, in many cases, frequently giving himself permission to cross lines no believer is given permission to cross. So she passionately (and quite rightfully) says, when discovering those lines have been crossed with a vengeance, “I didn’t sign up for this.” In her wildest dreams or worst fears, this just isn’t what she expected.
“Don’t Complain if You Caused the Pain”
The idea of a man abusing his wife by punching her in the face, then complaining because she develops a bruise, is unthinkable. But is that man really so different from the guy who complains because his wife is reacting emotionally to the discovery that he’s been using porn, or committing adultery?
Plenty of guilty men have tried to pressure their wives into “getting over” their pain, pain which the complainer himself created. Often these women begin an emotional roller coaster when they learn about their man’s sin, veering from depression to rage to clinging to numbness.
“Why can’t you forgive?” is surely the wrong question to ask these wives, because it’s not about forgiveness. It’s about wounds. The woman who’s been sexually betrayed sustains an indescribable injury. Her emotions skyrocket, and she doesn’t get to choose how she’s going to feel while she’s processing the ramifications of her husband’s sin.
When you cause pain, don’t ask your victim to stop hurting. Not only is it unfair, but it will almost certainly slow down the healing both of you need.
“Devastation Doesn’t Have an Expiration Date”
No one wants to see the effects of his sin, so the sooner those effects vanish, the easier life becomes. But some effects just won’t get with the program.
To learn you’ve been betrayed, dishonored, and deceived is devastating under any circumstances, and all the more so if the devastation came from the one person you’re the most reliant on.
We marry for, among other things, safety. Through our union, we hope to create a haven we can retreat to at the end of the day, a world we share with our spouse based on deep affection, lifelong commitment, and mutual safety. Finding out that the person you assumed was the your safety net is in fact the source of your worst pain is akin to finding out that the lifeboat you jumped into to avoid drowning has sprung a leak.
That spells devastation, which doesn’t ebb on a convenient schedule. A devastated wife cannot set a timer on her recovery any more than she can speed that recovery process along, and any pressure for her to do so borders on cruelty.
Granted, many wives whose husbands have sinned have themselves also sinned, often in terrible ways. The wife who henpecks her man, ignores him, dominates or belittles him, is sinning as surely as is the man who commits adultery. But the one wrongdoing can hardly justify the other, and the wounded woman who’s got a soul crying out in its pain can hardly be accused of being difficult.
Instead of criticizing her for bleeding, a wise husband will listen to her, wait on her, and love her as best he can. One way to do this is to ask her to explain, as best she can, what she’s going through, and how he can possibly make it better.
In response to that, she will, I think, have a good deal to say.
Written by Joe Dallas, Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
It’s lonely for the guy in the dog house. He knows that his own sin put him there, and he feels helpless, unsure what to do or say to make
So OK, you know you’ve messed up, you’ve apologized every which way you can, and you’ve taken some concrete steps to get help. You joined an accountability group or you got yourself an accountability partner, you’re consulting with someone to help get you on your feet, and you make sure that on a daily basis you’re in the Word and praying.
(Note: If you haven’t yet taken these steps, either take them now or get very comfortable in the dog house, because that’ll be home for awhile.)
But she’s still mad. She says she forgives you, then she rips into you with a fresh round of questions. (“How could you do that? Tell me again,what were you thinking? What else haven’t you told me?”)
Other days she’s snowman cold; yet other days, she’s so depressed you seriously fear for her safety. You can’t blame her, and you don’t – after all, your actions made it all happen. But your frustration grows. You want to make it right, but you’re running out of ideas. Now what?
You might try something I call the State of the Union Address. It’s a simple weekly practice you can implement now, and it can hugely relieve the hurt and tension you’re experiencing at home. Many of my clients practice it, and have found it to be helpful. I hope it will be for you, as well. Here’s how
– Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes per week, preferably the same day and time each week. Make sure the two of you have privacy during this time, and that it will stay uninterrupted. This insures her that you’re taking it seriously, and gives her a sense of weekly continuity.
– Start by telling her about your own process. Tell her how you’ve been doing with purity (as in, whether or not you’ve stayed clean, how you’re handling temptations, etc.) Then tell her what you’ve been learning this week through your counseling, or your group, or your own personal reflections. Finally, tell her how you’re feeling about her: how you appreciate her, how you feel about the sin you committed against her, how you feel about her as your partner, and whatever else comes to mind. Be specific, and don’t hold back.
– Then tell her she’s got the floor. Tell her you’d like to know how she’s feeling about your marriage, about you, about the communication between you, and about the progress the two of you are making. And be sure to ask her if she has any questions at this point about anything, and I mean anything. This reassures her that you’re open and willing to talk about her feelings, her concerns, and any unanswered questions she may still have.
– Remind her of how much you appreciate her forgiveness and patience, then finish the time in prayer, asking God to continue healing your marriage and preserving the two of you in Him.
Now, you and I both know there’s no quick fix for a damaged marriage, but this weekly effort usually helps it along nicely. She needs to see that you have a zeal for her, and for the life and health of your union.
I know of no better way of showing that than through consistent, regular efforts at communication and cooperative effort. So try this out – I think you’ll find it a plus.
Originally posted by Joe Dallas @ www.joedallas.com on 8/10/20
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward
compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward
disobedience and call it freedom.
– D.A. Carson
There’s something unnatural about drifting upstream. That’s why I hope to always be an unnatural man.
What other word than “unnatural” could explain some of the life-changing, radical decisions we make for the sake of holiness? Or some of the things we say “no” to when everything in us screams “say yes?”
How else can I make sense of the fact that already today, I’ve resisted thoughts and actions that would have come so naturally to me, yet I said no to them, and I feel great about that?
What a life we live as believers in this decaying world! We feel good saying no to what comes naturally; we feel lousy saying yes to basic impulses, so what comes naturally winds up on the What Not To Do list, making the natural immoral, and the moral unnatural.
Like I said, what a life.
So I say Amen to Carson’s point in the quote above. We don’t naturally drift towards holiness. We’re not by nature prayer warriors, scripture verse meditaters, flesh crucifiers. Let yourself go in the direction you’re most naturally inclined towards, and I’ll bet good money none of those three will be on your route.
So if we’re ever to live in holiness, it will be by the work of grace in us, inspired and provided by God, enacted and driven by the Holy Spirit’s work, mediated and shepherded by our Great High Priest Jesus.
Also, of course, it will be because we said “yes” to that work. After all, we have the choice to live for the old or the new nature, and free will, whether a burden or blessing, will always be intact. We have a say in whether or not we live holy lives.
Then again, I’m reminded of what Paul told the Philippians:
For it is God who worketh in you, both to will
and to do of His good pleasure.
Even my will to do His pleasure is a result of His work in me, so when I make the right choice, it’s ultimately because He gave me the right desire.
I don’t fully understand that and, in fact, I wrestle with two seemingly contradictory truths, both of which I fully believe: First, we have the choice to say yes or no to God and His will in our lives. Second, even our willingness to say yes is ultimately given us by Him.
So was our obedience to Him ever really a choice?
Great question. Maybe when we stand before Him we’ll find that since we were foreknown, chosen, and predestined (Romans 8:29) it was all marked out for us.
Or maybe we’ll see with infinite gratitude that we miraculously chose Him over self and could, in fact, have refused Him, to our own destruction.
But then again, I remember Chuck Smith, my first pastor and favorite bible teacher, expounding on what Jesus said in Matthew 22:14:
“Many are called but few are chosen.”
He pointed out what a mental dilemma that scripture poses, and how many rail against it.
“Seems unfair!” he said, “and lots of people agonize over that. Are we predetermined to be saved and nothing can stop it, or likewise predetermined to be damned? Is it fair for God to say ‘This one’s in; this one’s out’?”
The he flashed that beautiful Chuck Smith grin and said, “I’ve given up trying to figure predestination out. I just like to revel in it.”
Why not? If I was chosen, whether I had a lot, some, or nothing to do with it, praise God. And if I by His grace drift against the tide towards a holier life, all the more praise to the One who implants submission in a rebel’s heart. That, whether I understand it or not, is something to revel in.
So I hope to always, in this world at least, be unnatural. The tide of this world flows where I’m forbidden to even glance, yet without divine power I’ll drift there. (Drift? Heck, I’ll crawl stroke!) So when that power shows itself , let’s appreciate His grace and remember His decisive, even aggressive statement of ownership when He declared, regarding his own:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
Written by Joe Dallas, 7/31/20 Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
About 20 years ago, I put together these “tips” in answer to the question of what steps a man should take to “keep it clean.”
Well, considering the amount of stimulation and temptation we’re confronted with daily, common sense tells us today, more than ever, to both be and stay prepared. Here are ten ways I think you can help make
One: Get REAL
Recognize that sexual temptation is unavoidable in our sex-obsessed culture. Erotic images on billboards, films, television and a thousand other stimulants are bombarding you daily. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from temptation – the godliest of men can fall prey to it. So the first step towards maintaining sexual integrity is to get real.
Admit to yourself that sexual temptation is a problem that you have to reckon with. Remember John’s warning: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” (I John 1:8)
Two: Get SERIOUS
You should know by now that sexual sin ravages everyone connected with it. What you may not know is that every sexual fantasy you entertain, every flirtatious conversation you keep up, or every “second look” you indulge in is the seed for AIDS, adultery, a broken heart, a shattered life.
Get serious – if you’re entertaining lust, you’re dancing on a cliff. Take concrete action now while you can. “Lust, when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death.” (James 1: 15)
Three: Get READY
If you really believe an earthquake is coming someday, you prepare for it by developing an emergency plan. If you really believe sexual temptation is both common and can become lethal, you’ll make an “emergency plan” for it, too. Decide in advance what to do when you’re tempted: how to distract yourself, who to call, how to escape close calls.
Even St. Paul admitted: “Like an athlete I train my body to do what it should, not what it wants to do. Otherwise, I fear that I myself might be declared unfit.” (I Corinthians 9:27)
Can you really afford to do less?
Four: Get CONNECTED
Sexual sin thrives in the dark. If you’re caught up in any sexual vice, one thing is certain: The secrecy surrounding your behavior is what strengthens its hold on you. However ashamed you may feel about admitting your problem to another person, the reality is this: You can’t overcome this on your own. If you could, wouldn’t you have done so by now?
Take a hint from James: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you might be healed.” (James 5:16) Find a trusted, mature Christian friend to confide in. Make that friend a partner in your recovery, and NEVER assume that you’ve reached a point where you no longer need accountability.
For information on Joe’s upcoming webinar click HERE
Five: Get BRUTAL
I believe there’s an eleventh commandment somewhere that says “Thou Shalt Not Kid Thy Self.”
If you’re serious about sexual integrity, you’ll distance yourself not only from the particular sexual sin you’re most prone to (fantasizing, pornography, affairs, prostitution) but you’ll ALSO distance yourself from any person or thing that entices you towards that sin. Sometimes, even a legitimate activity (certain movies, music or clubs, for example) may be OK for other people to indulge in, but not for you.
Get brutally honest about your lifestyle: anything in it that makes you prone to sexual sin has to go. “All things are lawful for me”, Paul said, “but not all things are edifying. I will not be brought under the power of anything.”
(I Corinthians 6:12)
Six: Get HELP
Sexual sins are often symptomatic of deeper emotional needs that a man is trying to satisfy in all the wrong ways. Repenting of the sin itself is necessary first step, but recognizing the conflicts or needs that led you into that behavior may be the next step, requiring some specialized care from a Christian professional.
Don’t hesitate to seek Godly counsel if you’re trapped in cycles of ongoing, out-of-control behavior. The answer you need may be more than just “pray and get over it!”. King David (who was no stranger to sexual sin, by the way) found refuge in Samuel’s wise mentoring. (I Samuel 19:18) If you’re willing to seek professional help for taxes, medical care or career counseling, surely you’ll be willing to do the same to maintain your sexual integrity.
Seven: Get COMFORTABLE
The problem of sexual temptation isn’t going anywhere. It’s been with us since time immemorial, and no doubt it will plague us until Christ comes. So get comfortable with the idea that you’ll need to manage your sexual desires throughout life, always remembering that your sexual integrity is but a part of the general life-long sanctification process all Christians
“I count myself not to have attained perfection”, Paul told the Philippians. “I am still not all I should be.” (Philippians 3: 12-13) So learn to love the process of pressing on, not perfection.
Eight: Get LOVE
“I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places”, an old song laments. The sexual sin you’re drawn towards may indeed be a cheap (though intense) substitute for love. You can repent of the sin, but not of the need the sin represents. So get love in your life: friendships, family, spouse,
A man who truly loves, and knows he’s truly loved, is far less likely to search for what he already has in places he’ll never find it. “Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, or your labor on that which cannot satisfy?”, Isaiah asked. (Isaiah 55:2) Learn to be intimate and authentic. It’s one of the best ways to protect your heart and your integrity.
Nine: Get GRACE
It isn’t the sinless man who makes it to the end; rather, it’s the man who’s learned to pick himself up after he stumbles. If you’re struggle seems relentless, remember this: when you commit yourself to sexual integrity, you commit yourself to a direction, not to perfection. You may stumble along the way – that’s no justification for sin, just a realistic view of life in this fallen world.
What determines the success or failure of an imperfect man is his willingness to pick himself up, confess his fault, and continue in the direction he committed himself to. Remember Paul’s approach: “Forgetting those things that are behind, I press on towards the mark of the high calling.” (Philippians 3: 14)
Ten: Get a LIFE
What’s your passion? What’s your calling? How clear are your goals? And, by the way, do you have any fun? The man who doesn’t have a life – a passion, a sense of meaning, an ability to play as hard as he works – is a man with an emptiness tailor-made for sexual sin.
Life is about more than keeping yourself sexually pure, as important as purity is. It’s about knowing who and why you are, where your priorities lie, and where you’re headed. If you don’t know that much about yourself, you have some serious thinking to do.
Commit yourself to developing your life as a good steward of your gifts and opportunities, and make that the context in which you seek to maintain your sexual integrity.
Sexual integrity for it’s own sake is a good thing; sexual integrity for the sake of a higher calling is better. So by all means turn from your sin.
But as you do, turn towards a goal-oriented, passionate, meaningful life. That is repentance in its truest, finest sense.
Written by Joe Dallas, 7/16/20 Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
Day has begun and I’m already sinning
Help me to change this heart that I have
Lord, help me taste of the grace that You’re giving.
I want to be a spiritual man.
-from “Let the Old Man Die” by Chuck Butler
An unclean habit is crazy powerful, easily adopted, and miserably hard to walk away from.
Ask anyone who’s gotten hooked on porn and tried to stop. Ask a smoker, drug abuser, gambler, or compulsive over-eater. When we discover something pleasurable, we repeat the experience, and eventually incorporate it.
Finally, God interrupts us, graciously, reminding us we’re not our own, but His. We repent, then commit ourselves to obedience to Him, and abstinence from habits that are outside His will.
That’s when the real fun starts.
New Sheriff In Town
If you’ve truly repented – “turned away from” – then what you used to allow is unacceptable, and abstaining from that “something” has become a new mandate.
But to say “God has called me to stop doing this” is also a way of saying “I’m committed to resist the desire to return to it.” Sometimes the desire is resisted successfully; sometimes not. When the desire is not resisted, and the person gives himself permission to indulge it, that’s when you’ve got a relapse. (Also known as “Blowing It.”)
Relapse happens when you return to a behavior you renounced. It’s often called “breaking sobriety” because it means you broke a commitment to abstain from something addictive. Some would also call it a backslide.
But whatever name the relapse rose goes by, it smells just as bad, and is a thing to be avoided, guarded against, but also prepared for. It’s somewhat like John’s interesting statement about sin:
These things I write unto you that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
–I John 2:1
Clearly John wasn’t saying it’s OK to sin. But he was saying that if you do, you have an advocate.
Likewise, when you commit to abstaining from porn, fornication, drunkenness or gluttony, you don’t by any means have to relapse. You can stay clean; there’s no reason to return to bondage.
But if you do return, you have an advocate with the Father who will cleanse and restore you.
Even so, you may wonder at such a time, “So what now?” So let me offer a few immediate steps to take if, God forbid, you do blow it again.
Decide now who’d you’d call if you relapsed,even if talking to anyone about it is the last thing you want to do.
After all, at a time like that you’re ashamed, frustrated with yourself, sick of this whole (expletive deleted) cycle of stops and starts.
I get it. Been there. That’s why I know that when you’ve just failed, you don’t want to talk about it. It will be embarrassing and a bit of a hassle.
But if you don’t, you’re likely to do what so many of us do after we mess up. We figure, “Oh, well, blew it again, might as well indulge a little more now that I’m dirty. Tomorrow I’ll get my act together.”
Tomorrow, always tomorrow. Which, of course, leads to more sin, more indulging, more wallowing in the mud.
Don’t go there. Let someone else in, quick, before your mind gets any more darkened and you (again) do something stupid.
Have you got an accountability partner or group? In most cases, that’s your best bet (By the way, if you’re committed to abstaining from an ongoing sexual sin in your life, accountability really is a must!)
But a trusted friend or member of your church is also be a good choice, or maybe a pastor or counselor. What matters is that you know who to call, and that you call him immediately. Tell him you relapsed, and that you’ll need his prayers and support. If you have a severe crises situation, meet with him ASAP.
A dark habit thrives in the dark. Don’t expect to get free from it unless you drag it into the light.
With the help of whoever you notify, figure out what went wrong.
Usually people relapse because they slacked off on their prayer life, scripture reading, fellowship or accountability. But there may be other reasons, so spend time exploring what you were doing before the relapse, what you could have done differently, and what you’ll do differently in the future to prevent this from happening again.
Human error is a terrific textbook. You may as well use it.
3. Move It!
Get back in the saddle immediately, because you’ll accomplish nothing by wallowing in grief.
Besides, if you don’t get started again, there’s a good chance you’ll yield to a deadlier sin than relapse: despair. Sin is something you can repent of, but despair? Yield to that, and you’re really in over your head.
Relapse is a temporary set-back; despair is the beginning of the end. I can’t count the number of men I’ve worked with got derailed, not by the power of sin in their life, but by the power of condemnation. Satan, in concert with their own sense of helplessness, convinced them there was a limit on God’s grace, and that walking in the light was an impossibility.
So rather than try and fail, they got sick of disappointment and opted instead to simply cave.
Don’t let that ever be said of you! Remember, the struggle between your flesh and your spirit (Galatians 5:17) difficult as it may get, is also proof of the new nature you have in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17) and of His ongoing work in you. (Philippians 1:6)
Let’s put this even more plainly: you struggle against sin not because you’re a filthy sinner who loves his sin, but because you’re a new creature in Christ who cannot be truly satisfied with his sin, so you keep struggling against it. (I John 3:9)
Please keep that in mind. Your struggle is not your curse, it’s your proof.
Watch Your Investment
You’re protecting a treasure when you guard your purity, so apply yourself to its longevity the way you’d protect a valuable antique or a piece of jewelry. Recognizing its worth, you work both to keep it, and to keep it in its best possible shape.
The freedom of godliness, likewise, is a purposeful, challenging, exciting way to live, and keeping the ball in play is worth all the blood, sweat and tears a committed athlete has to shed.
So come on, friend, it won’t be long now, just a few more laps. Then this mortal will put on immortality (I Corinthians 15:54) we’ll see Him face to face (I John 3:2) and you know what? We won’t even remember the misery of the struggle. Paul said it well:
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)
Written by Joe Dallas, 5/15/20 Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
Weird, isn’t it? You think you’ve got a good relationship, and suddenly you don’t. Worse, you’re also the bad guy, found guilty by a jury and sentenced by the Court, and you didn’t even know you were on trial.
Surprise! You were, and now you’ve been Baded.
That’s different than being Ghosted, which happens when someone vanishes from your life without explanation. But while Ghosting is usually about indifference, Bading is more about punishment, and passive punishment at that. When you’re Baded, someone doesn’t just bail on you. They also Bad you, pronouncing you Officially Bad without explanation.
Notice of your sentence doesn’t come quickly or clearly, but it comes. Your messages get blocked. Your texts aren’t returned. You leave voicemails in the Twilight Zone.
Finally, after you’ve knocked until your knuckles bleed, you’re coldly informed that you’ve done or said something which made someone uncomfortable, offended, appalled at your insensitivity, and needing to withdraw for their own health and safety.
“Wow. Can we talk about this?”
“Nope. Door’s closed. Depart from me, ye cursed.”
For more books and resources by Joe Dallas click HERE
Call it immaturity if you will, or gross entitlement, and you’re right on both counts. But I’d also call it the times. Armageddon and the mark of the Beast aren’t the only signs of the end, you know. Jesus also said in the last days love would grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) When that happens, Bading follows.
“Why’d You Bad Me?”
When someone wants affection and companionship, but isn’t willing to invest in the long-term give and take any healthy relationship requires, then he’ll Bad the other when things get rough. It’s a good excuse for bailing.
When someone doesn’t feel good about herself, and knows that when someone else gets close they may see the warts she’s so ashamed of, then she’ll Bad that person out of her life when authentic closeness is starting to happen. It’s a good excuse for hiding.
When someone isn’t sure he’s morally right, but chooses to ignore his own conscience, then he’ll Bad any friend or family member whose own life reminds him of the standards he’s trying to ignore. It’s a good excuse
That’s why lots of folks are breaking bad these days. Rather than work relationships through, they Bad someone when the relationship costs more than cuddles and laughs, moving on to someone else who’s good, until they, too, need to be Baded.
Please, Not Another “We’re All In This Together“
During this miserable shutdown, we’re constantly hearing we’re in it together and how it’s teaching us the value of our relationships. OK, fine. Let’s take that lesson to heart, then, by calling Bading bad, very bad.
Let’s agree that it’s bad to find more power in being offended than in showing grace.
Let’s agree that insisting we’re victimized every time someone disagrees with us is likewise bad, and childish to boot.
Let’s agree that taking a second look at ourselves before we impose a death sentence on a relationship is worth the discomfort. We may be seeing sins where they don’t exist; we may be inflating them beyond reason; we may even be seeing our own sins on someone else. So let’s agree that keeping our bonds intact makes it worthwhile to consider those
We’ve been shown grace, a fact which should make us all the more willing to show it. (Matthew 18:21-35) It pleases God when we do, and it’s in our own interest as well because, you’ll recall, He warned about this sort of thing:
“Bad not, that ye be not Baded. For with whatever measure you Bad others, you yourself will be Baded.”
To join Joe’s email list for updates on future speaking events
and projects click HERE