Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Tuesday, July 4

Victory over Sin

Right - this post is in many ways the main reason for me setting up a blog in the first place, but it has taken some courage for me to get round to writing it. It is very personal and confidential, and so it seems bizarre to put it up on the internet for everyone to see! That is why, apart from my photo and first name, I have not given too many clues to my identity. First it's embarrassing for me, and second it's not fair on my wife and kids for it to be known amongst friends. So if by any chance you do come to know me - keep this information strictly to yourself!

Victory over sin.

Theologically, Christ has won the victory over sin by his holy life and substitutionary death and resurrection.

In practice, having become Christians, there is an ongoing process of sanctification - becoming more Christ like - as sin in our lives is put to a stop.

I have never been tempted to buy, sell, or use drugs.

I have never been tempted to gamble - yes I have bought a few lottery tickets "Just to give God an opportunity to bless me", but when he didn't use that route it what not difficult for me to see how stupid this was and not buy any more tickets.

I have never been tempted to drink excessive alcohol. It just makes me feel ill and unsociable.

I have never had any serious urge to steal.

But the one area where I have always been weak is with pornography. At boarding school, when I was about 11, it was easy to come by, and it became a habit. But I had this more or less under control by the time I got married, and then, apart from unsuitable TV programmes, it was never really an issue.

Then the internet was invented and invaded the workplace. I was aware that pornography was available on it, but presumed that company firewalls would keep it out was therefore never tempted to go looking for it. Until one day, when a colleague sent me an unsolicited "humorous" image of a topless woman, whose nipple would follow the cursor around the screen. I told him off for not knowing better than to send it to me, since I was well known as "the office Christian". I also asked how he got it past the firewall, and he explained that - well I won't go into details, but there was no problem with it.

This spiked my curiosity, and I started to test it, "just to see".

I quickly discovered how easy it is to see extreme pornography on the internet. Also how hard it is to close down quickly when the cleaner is coming past your desk! I went home feeling extraordinarily guilty that night. I didn't dare tell me wife. "Why are you late?" "I got engrossed on something on the computer and didn't notice the time". True. But not true. Guilt about the deception as well. I stayed away from it for a while, but after a month my curiosity came back, and I experimented with new search ideas and came up with wide ranges of images. More guilt. More deception. More failed attempts at self control. Massive arguments with God about what classes as true repentance. Every six weeks or so I would have a bout of three or four days in which I would indulge the habit before regaining some control. It came to the stage where during work hours, with colleagues around me, I would be viewing pornography in a small window on the screen, shielded by my shoulders. Clearly, I well down the road of self destruction.

Meanwhile, my alter ego, the Saint Simon, was being trained as a preacher in the church. More guilt, more deception. More shame.

I contacted the Samaritans, who were helpful in the sense that I was able to let my feelings out in a non-destructive way, but they are so into non-directional counselling that they didn't really solve the issue.

Something had to change.

The change came while preparing a sermon which included a section on repentance. How could I preach this in my current state? I sat at my desk to write the sermon, and played Christian music in the background, and prayed. And the song that was on was by Matt Redman - I don't have the words to hand but will try to edit this post to add them later. It was all about how "Nothing but the blood of Jesus" can take away sin. And as those words washed over me, the floods of tears came and the emotion washed through me, and I gave myself again to Jesus and asked his forgiveness again - this time from the heart rather than from the head. This time it was His work in me, rather than my self effort or self discipline. True repentance at last! Freedom from guilt at last!

I went on to preach the sermon very well. I preached it sincerely, from experience.

The pattern of sin was broken.

My wife is now aware of what I did and went through - that is a big story and merits a post in its own right.

I can't say that I am not still tempted - once you know how to do it you can't lose that knowledge and it does call me. But I know what it will do to me. Where I do act foolishly is to paddle at the edge of sin - not swimming in it but going to the waters edge and seeing how close I can go to the waves without being splashed. Pray for me that I will stop doing this foolish thing too. But I am basically free from pornography from that day, and have even been less prone to unsuitable TV as well.

People can mock the Christian faith, but it does actually work and make a practical difference in my life.

Thanks be to God who gives us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment