In my 22 years of counseling ministry that is nationwide by phone or Skype (www.carolclemans.org), I counsel people who were sinned against in childhood through all types of abuse. Some of these wounded people sin against themselves out of their emotional pain. Others are emotionally wounded because of failed relationships, marriages, ministries, grieving issues, etc. I also counsel people who allow sinful desires and addictions to control them even after a salvation experience.
God is the answer to all of the above problems. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world – Rev. 13:8. God knew before He created the heavens and the earth and Adam and Eve that they would choose to disobey Him and bring sin into the human race. No matter what the emotional, relational or spiritual need is God’s Word has the answers. We can be transformed with renewing our minds with His truth.
In this article, I want to focus on people who have received salvation, but deal with sinful desires or addictions that are not acceptable to God. How can we be over comers to these sinful desires and addictions? In Romans the 7th chapter, Paul discusses the raging battle that goes on inside of us between our fleshly desires and the Holy Spirit. In the 24th verse Paul says (NLT), “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (25) THANK GOD! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul informs us there will always be a struggle in the flesh, but when we choose the redemption power of the Cross we can be victorious over comers!
Jesus said in Matthew 10:38 & 39, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” In Matthew 16:24 – 26 Jesus says (NLT), “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways (deny self), take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul: Is anything worth more than your soul?”
The above scriptures do not say take up Jesus’ cross. They say your cross! What is your cross? What temptations overtake your spiritual self to satisfy your physical self? Anything that controls us in the flesh to sin against God is an addiction and your idol. When your physical self desires sexual sins, smoking, drinking, gambling, drugs, lying, etc., you are NOT denying self. You are allowing your physical desires to control your actions. Our thoughts create our feelings and we usually act out on our feelings. This is where we MUST take every thought captive unto the Lord. Filtering every thought with this question, “Lord, is this pleasing with You?” If we are honest in our hearts with God, we already instinctively know the correct answer!
The Bible never promises that temptations will cease. What it does promise through Christ – the infilling of the Holy Ghost – that through Him we CAN do all things! BUT, we have to make a choice! So when the desire comes through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, we MUST CHOOSE to take up the cross of denying self and DIE to the flesh – this is your cross! We must daily die to our lustful physical desires.
Addiction to pornography is running rampant in people who go to church. I receive calls for counseling help because of addiction to porn almost weekly from pastors to lay people. Satan has taken the one beautiful gift that God gave to man and woman in marriage with its boundaries for our provision and protection and has broken people’s lives around the world with distorted sexual desires. Fornication, adultery, porn addiction, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sex slaves, etc., are all sexual sins. BUT THERE IS A GOD who promises us victory if we take up our cross and deny our self daily!! Hour by hour!!!! We choose the cross of denying flesh instead of yielding to the crutch that is the addiction! If we sincerely desire to be victorious we must become Holy Ghost controlled.
We must choose to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh to desire its lust. First, there must be genuine repentance of heart. Second, that means no longer making the addiction available. You must stop using porn and become celibate with self. No more hiding in the dark and satisfying self. A smoker must stop buying cigarettes. The gambler must stop going to casinos. The drinker must stop buying alcohol. Will your body suffer withdrawals? Yes! But that is your cross to die daily to the fleshly cravings. The more you take up your cross of suffering instead of returning to the addiction; the Holy Ghost will become your healer. Call out, “Jesus, I need your help. I cannot do this on my own!” Remember, Paul said, “THANK GOD, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST WE CAN BE DELIVERED!” It’s all based on your choice of action.
The experts say it takes 21 days to break a habit. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a believer who is a brain scientist, says it takes 21 days to rewire the brain to new growth in our receptors of the brain. We must take the addiction to God continually every time the temptation seems to overtake us instead of returning to the addiction.
Every time the temptation comes, take it to the Lord in prayer. Confess the desire. Hand it to the Lord. Leave it on His spiritual altar. Thank Him for the strength to deny the flesh. Praise Him for the victory. Worship Him by making your flesh become subject to the Holy Ghost. This is the renewing (rewiring) your mind/brain/heart – God’s greatest commandment: Love Me (God) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!
The above instruction is Romans 12: 1 & 2 (NLT) in action, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. (Denying self is true worship!). Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Jesus said, “Deny self. Take up your cross. Follow me.” This is the answer to every addiction. The flesh must come under the control of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. I Corinthians 6:19 & 20 NLT says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with you body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 (KJV) 19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Our bodies do not belong to us. We now belong to God. You are the dwelling place of God. Do you want to allow the House of God to be acting out in sin? You are the temple of the Holy Ghost. This is God in you the hope of glory! Are you willing to throw away your life to eternal damnation through continual sinning???? I pray the answer is a resounding, “NO!”
God promises us if we repent of our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins. God’s love is unconditional. He never stops loving us no matter what we do. But He does tell us to be Holy as He is Holy. We cannot continue to sin in any manner and be acceptable to God. His love never fails. He challenges us all if we love Him, we are to keep His commandments. Yes, you can have victory in Jesus if you are willing to take up your cross and follow Him.
There is an old chorus that says, “Take up your cross and follow me. I hear the blessed Savior say. How can I make a lesser sacrifice when Jesus paid it all.” God proved His unconditional everlasting love toward us by coming to earth in a robe of flesh and dying on a cruel painful cross for our sins. He made us worthy by offering cleansing from every sin through salvation. No matter how sinful our life may be, He will always forgive us through genuine repentance. Are you willing to take up your cross to bring Him glory?
(c) Carol Clemans – March 2014
Carol Clemans is a Certified Pastoral Counselor/anointed Bible teacher for churches & conferences. She provides confidential nationwide counseling by phone (636) 448-0121. Rev. Harold & Carol Clemans’ pastor is Jerry Dillon, Madison, MS-www.carolclemans.org.