This article is part of the Open Letters series.
What do you do when you are still struggling? What do you do when repeated failure, guilt, and shame weigh heavily on your conscience?
Let me begin with a story about a friend of mine. He had come to faith in Christ when he was in his late twenties. As they say, “He had history. He came with baggage.” I’ve never forgotten the way he described his life at the point when Jesus reached him. “If you divided my mental day into a thousand moments, nine hundred of those moments were immoral. I simply lived in a world of immoral images and desires and pursuits and behaviors.” His entire life was steeped in polyamorous, bisexual immorality.
Did his newfound faith immediately bring about a complete change? You know the answer: of course not. But his way of describing the process was particularly vivid. “It wasn’t as though I went from nine hundred immoral moments down to zero. But nine hundred went to seven hundred. And seven hundred became five hundred, and five hundred became two hundred, and so on. It was very hard to think that seven hundred out of a thousand meant progress! But it was. It was huge progress, and even though I was still failing, Christ was changing me.”
Jesus knows the kinds of people he has chosen to save.
He grew. Eventually, by the time I knew him, he was significantly changed—but still not perfect. And he lived with a daily awareness that, “I’m still vulnerable in the area of sexual temptations. I can never think I’m home free and will never struggle.” But he had entered into the long walk of discipleship, the patient, persistent obedience in the right direction, walking under the mercy of the Lord.
What sustained him for ups and downs of the long walk? I’ve never forgotten his words. “Early on I learned something that I’ve never forgotten. I had to presume that Christ loved me. Jesus knew the kind of person he had chosen to forgive and save. He who had begun a good work in me was committed to one day bring me to completion. I relied on the fact that his mercies for me truly are new every morning—I lived in that promise of Lamentations 3:22–24.” Christ’s love for him was the given on which his life depended. He could daily seek Christ’s mercies for what he needed that day: forgiveness from the Lamb, strength from the King, protection in the Refuge, guidance under the Shepherd’s hand.
Step by step by step by step he was moving toward the light. His long, hard fight was wrapped up in the mercy of Christ to him. It is the same for all of us, whatever our particular struggle—sexual immorality, anger and bitterness, fears, addictions, self-righteousness. Jesus knows the kinds of people he has chosen to save. We can seek him, and we will find him true and good for the long haul. My friend was honest, no secrets before God. He was honest to confess where and when he struggled. He was honest with friends, who helped him to seek and find the God who promises many mercies. He was honest in asking help from other people: accountability and prayer, counsel and conversation with brothers. He rebuilt a life that had good in it. He learned to treat both men and women as holy brothers and sisters, rather than as sexual objects.
Here’s an old metaphor about how a Christian fights against darkness. Envision your mind as a room. When sin reigns, that room is filled with dark thoughts, dark actions, and deceptive people who mean you no good. So how do you get darkness out of the room? There are two ways that you fight. First, you stand up to the darkness, expelling it from the room, learning to directly say no to evil. And second, you fight the darkness by filling the room with light. There’s no room for the darkness when the room is filled with worthy actions, true thoughts, and constructive people. When Christ enters the room, he is patiently committed to teach us to say no to what is wrong and yes to what is merciful and good. My friend began to care for other people, rather than using them as objects of his lust.
One of the actions that proved most helpful to him was getting involved in discipline teenage boys. (Pedophilia was not one of the sins he had indulged in.) They were entering adolescence and puberty in a hypersexualized world. At the same age that evil had trapped him, he could help to protect them from going down a self-destructive path. Serving others in need also helped him by filling the room with light so there was less room for darkness. In a sense, they were helping him as much as he was helping them.
Christ comes with mercy for people who know their sins. His mercy leads to doing simple things that consistently head in the right direction. Do you feel discouraged and defeated by your struggle? Don’t let anyone kid you that there’s some magic answer and somehow you missed it. There are no magic answers. But a Person full of light is willing to walk with you in the direction of the light. He is willing to walk with you the whole way home.
Sex is like fire. When it blazes in the fireplace, a good fire warms and brightens the room, enhancing joy and companionship. But when fires ignite in the wrong places, the house burns down. Is your sexuality igniting in the wrong places? Are you treating sexual sin casually? How do you know when this has happened? Let me offer a few tests that can rouse your conscience.
- Is what you are doing simply wrong? The outright evils of sexual immorality are not hard to identify. Our culture makes the water very muddy, and preaches the doctrine that dirty water is good to drink. But the line between love and lust is clear. We are to treat other human beings in a familial way. You don’t ever sexualize a person whom you are called to treat as your brother or sister, your mother or father, your son or daughter. Sexuality is reserved for marriage. You are to protect other people, not lust after them. Consensual immorality is still immorality.
- Are you captivated by sex? One sure tip-off is that you are preoccupied. When something takes up too much airtime in your mind, when you’re driven, when you must do it, you just do it, you can’t help doing it, you can’t not do it, you’ve got a problem. Whenever sex becomes obsessive, impulsive, or compulsive, it’s going astray.
- Do you hide what you are doing? Hiding what you are doing and the time you spend doing it is another clear tip-off. Wrong doesn’t love the light (unless it’s become shameless and brazen). We hide when we know something is wrong. When you create a secret garden of any sort in your life, mutant things inevitably grow. So we hide from the eyes of others, from the eyes of our own conscience, from God’s eyes.
- Do you use sex as a refuge? Boredom, stress, loneliness, and pain tempt us to look for an escape. Do you try to flee discomfort or mask pain? We are meant to look pain in the eye, to grasp the experience, to bring it in hand to our God, to cry out for help, to find refuge, and then to do what can be done constructively, however seemingly small our powers.
If you are being nonchalant about your sexual sin, I hope that my list arouses a proper sense of unease. Fires are burning outside the fireplace. Is something not right with your sexual behavior? You are a child of light—don’t walk in darkness! God’s point of view is good, right, and true. He beckons you. Walk as a child of light—for the fruit of light is found in all that is good, right, and true. The God who invites us into what is good also warns us off what is bad. You may be sure of this: everyone who is sexually immoral has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Don’t let anyone deceive you with empty words. Because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the disobedient. That’s the gist of Ephesians 5:5–9:
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).
By the mercy of Christ, you will live a brighter, more loving, and more fruitful life.
Take it to heart. Don’t let peer pressure or the culture deceive you. By the mercy of Christ, you will live a brighter, more loving, and more fruitful life.
How do you change? There are many facets of that big question, but I will point to four. First, the starting point for change is to say, “What I am doing is wrong.” That acknowledgement gets you pointed in the right direction.
But God doesn’t just tell you to shape up. The second step is to realize “I need mercies from my Father. I need him to love me and forgive me. I need his strength and forgiveness.” Recognizing wrong leads to awareness that you need something that only God can give you—something he freely gives. He gives himself in Jesus Christ.
The third step in changing is to act on this. The Lord calls you to seek him, to find him, and from him to receive what you most need. Psalm 25:11 brings this to life:
For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Cast yourself on the care of your Father. Find grace and help from outside yourself. Seek, and you will find the mercy you need.
The fourth step is not really a step, it’s a lifestyle. It’s learning to walk out what those “good, right, and true” things look like. This has many different aspects that work out in our lives at different times. Choose to spend time with different companions. Put filtering software on your screens. Set up real accountability with someone you trust. Make the kind of lifestyle changes that get you out of the path of where you’ve gotten yourself into trouble. Jesus uses a vivid picture of how to deal with our own evil. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. He shocks us into a radical amputation of evil. And, of course, none of these battles are one-and-done. God intends to work in you a committed resolve to take seriously what’s wrong, to need him, to pursue what’s right. It’s an ongoing fight.
Here is one of the most helpful things I heard early in my Christian life. Think of your soul as a room. When you’re in sin, that room is full of dark forces, dark people, and darkness. There are two ways you get rid of darkness in your soul. One way is to cast it out, fight it, resist and reject it. The other way is to fill the room with light. As your life fills with better people, better things to do, and more reasons to live in the light, then there’s less room for the darkness.
Jesus Christ gives a beautiful call. He invites you to live a radical life. He challenges people who think that it’s okay to do wrong. He challenges people who think they have moved past outmoded cultural values. He challenges people who think that current cultural assumptions are good, right, and true. Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t drift with the culture. Do what Flannery O’Connor said we should do: “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.” Live out in the daylight, not in the shadows and darkness.
Finding the mercies of Christ and learning to walk in his light is courageous. It has an impact on people around you. You demonstrate the Lord. That’s bigger than any one of us individually. In a world where the light is going out on sexual rights and wrongs, you have an opportunity to turn on the lights.
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.
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.”
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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.”
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Written by Joe Dallas, 1/07/20 Originally posted at joedallas.com Used with permission 
Approval Accepted; Acceptance Denied
When someone says “Mom and Dad, I’m gay”, are Mom and Dad automatically forced into a choice between approval or rejection, celebration or hatred?
The question is more than academic to the many Bible believing Christians who hold to clear definitions of marriage and sexuality, yet deeply love (and value their relationship with) a lesbian, gay, or transgender family member.
Can their acceptance exist without their complete approval, or does love require them to say, “If I love my gay son, I must also approve of, and celebrate, his homosexuality”?
Twenty years ago we would have said Duh!, but not now. The rules of relationships are changing more quickly than most of us can play the game, so what seemed obvious in the past is up for debate now.
Which is why so many Christian families are being torn apart when homosexuality hits home. They’re not necessarily divided because they disagree on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, but rather, over the ability to have a relationship despite the disagreement. Too often, the family says “Can’t you see that we accept you even if we don’t approve of this part of your life”? and the gay loved one responds “Approve, or your acceptance is rejected!”
To sign up for Joe’s brand new 6-part video series
especially for families titled
When Someone You Love is Gay click HERE
To Value without Validating
Yet we can and do value people without validating everything
Spencer Tracy, my favorite actor, comes to mind. He’s a man who achieved much that I admire, and who engaged in adultery which I disapprove of. The one does not cancel out the other.
He loved the actress Katherine Hepburn, their relationship being the stuff of Hollywood legend, and he was married. His union with Hepburn was adulterous.
They were wrong, and they were terrific performers; they were in adultery, and they loved each other. Those facts co-exist, so I can value him while disapproving morally of their relationship, just as I can consider their relationship wrong while valuing them.
A moral position against something does not negate the worth and authenticity of the people involved, nor do their worth and authenticity negate the moral position. Not everything is a “but.” Often, as in this case, it’s an “and.”
To Accept without Approving
In that same vein, I look at my 32 year marriage and conclude that my wife loves me deeply, validates me generally, and disapproves specifically of some parts of my life. (More than some, in fact.) None of those three – love, validation, or disapproval – negate or contradict the other.
They exist, in fact, within any relationship, especially the family kind. So long as there is human imperfection and differing views, and so long as humans love each other, then humans must face the challenge of seeing imperfections, having disagreements, and loving nonetheless. And you know what? We’ve been doing just that for centuries.
So I can say with integrity, “I accept and love you; I disagree with you in some matters; I disapprove of some things about you.” I can also say with integrity that I don’t believe anyone who wouldn’t say all of that right back at me. Where there’s real love, there’s got to be a blend of grace and truth.
Back to Basics
Which is pretty much what John said about Jesus in his gospel – that He was full of grace AND truth. (John 1:14)
Showing grace need never require a compromise of truth, nor does truth call for negating grace. Somewhere in the Christ-like middle exists that wonderful tension in which grace and truth co-exist, never silencing but in fact enhancing each other. Walking in both of them poses, to my thinking one of the greatest challenges Christian families face when homosexuality hits home.
If you’re one of those families, I salute you, and I pray that God gives you peace which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) clear and ongoing wisdom (James 1:5) divine comfort (II Corinthians 1:4) and the faith which subdues kingdoms (Hebrews 11:33) and moves mountains. (Matthew 17:20)
To sign up for Joe’s brand new 6-part video series
especially for families titled
When Someone You Love is Gay click HERE