This letter is in response to someone in ministry who has fallen into an adulterous relationship and who has repented and come for advice on how to not fall again.
Thanks for opening up to us. As you suspected, the darkness of secrecy was one of Satan's most effective tools against you and you have now removed part of that ground from him. That's really what healing and restoration is all about - discovering Satan's ground in us and removing it as the Holy Spirit exposes it to the light.
I liked what you had to say - about how Daniel purposed in his heart not to sin long before the temptation so that when the temptation came, it did not have the persuasive power it would have otherwise. I have found that this "purposing in the heart" is a very important part of guarding of the heart and mind.
Taking a step prior to that, however, is the matter of the "will" - the will to do rightly. The will needs to be healed and made Christlike so that the "purposing" of the heart against sin is effective and unmovable.
The will is often damaged by disappointment, hurt and pain, out of which we develop judgements of one sort or another (some conscious, some unconscious) against God. There are likely some things in your childhood or even adulthood that have caused you to withhold a childlike, open and vulnerable trust of God. It is usually these deeply buried resentments, anger or fear that serve as fodder for the inner justifications that drive our sinful choices. It was Oswald Chambers who said, "The core of all sin is the doubt that God is really good."
How then is the "will" made whole and pure?
Next, comes the long hours spent developing an intimate relationship with the Father, so that we learn deep inside (rather than just on an intellectual, head level) just how much He loves us, wants to forgive us, meet the needs that we're trying to meet through sin, etc., etc., etc. You see, when we come to know Him through the heart as well as the head, trust is born. (God taught intimacy to me by having me sing love songs to Him every night. I would put on a worship tape from Vineyard Music and sing those love songs to the Father).
Titus 2:11-14 is one of my favorite scriptures and one God used mightily in my life to set me free from a lifetime of acting out in deeply serious sexual sin. There it tells us that it is the grace of God that teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and that it is the grace of God that teaches us how to live upright and godly lives "in this present age" and that motivates us to be "eager to do what is good." Wow - that's a great deal of benefit that God's grace gives!
How does it accomplish all that? Let me tell you a story.
One night, I was sinning sexually, and right in the middle of it, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I was very surpised that God was even in the room, much less watching my sin. He said, "If you turn to me right now, I will love you, and forgive you and embrace you." I thought, "That's crazy. That can't be God. I'm right in the middle of a sin here." So I ignored the inner voice of God and finished my sin, and the second I finished, the Holy Spirit spoke the same words to me - "If you turn to me right now, I will love you and forgive you and embrace you."
I was flabbergasted! At that point, I knew it could only be God - and the idea that He wanted to "embrace" me even though I hadn't even cleaned up yet from my sin, after I had coldly rejected His first entreaty, that He was speaking to me as if the only thing on His mind right then was forgiving and restoring me, blew all my excuses and hidden inner justifications for continuing to sin right out the window. I remember thinking, "Wow God, if this is what you really are like, then I want to follow you!"
What had God done? He had broken my cold heart of rebellion by the power of love and grace. In a second, I went from being driven to obey Him because I thought I should, to "wanting" to obey Him because I loved Him so. He transformed my will with grace. As Jeremiah 31 says, He wrote His law on my heart - making it something I did from an inner motivation of love rather than from the guilt, fear, duty, performance motives of law. Ezekiel also writes of this (36:26ff) where God says He will remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh (meaning yielded, pliable) wherein He will move us to follow His decrees and keep His laws - from the heart, the thing that truly drives our will!
Now is the time for your heart transplant, as you experience the grace and forgiveness of almighty God for your sin. It will be that very grace and love that will then become the inner motivator for your wanting not to sin again, as long as you recognize the favor you're being given and respond appropriately, in making newly motivated efforts to develop and maintain an intimate relationship with the God who sent His Son to die for you. That new heart needs to be kept watered from the river of life that flows from the throne of God.
A great book on this is Dudley Hall's Grace Works. (I recommend other excellent books at this internet site, under "Recommended Reading").
Another major source of heart transformation for me was sitting before the Lord at length and asking Him to reveal in greater measure my understanding of His love expressed on the Cross. One night, after reading the synoptic crucifixion accounts and waiting on God, He let me feel just the tiniest bit of the pain that He suffered in watching His Son die, and that brief revelation of the Father's true heart has served to persuade me from allowing my lifestyle to get close to the fire of those things that tempt me ever since. You see, it is a true revelation of the Father's heart and nature, in it's variant revealed forms, that motivates us to walk in obedience. Then we become persuaded from the inside to allow God to keep us from falling, as Jude 24-25 alludes. Our transformed will - His power - that's the winning combination.
I have a message on this internet site that helps explain why some of us spend a great deal of time struggling over sin issues. Go to the main page, click on "The Articles", then under the subheading "Spiritual Truths", click on "Why People Remain in Sin and Bondage". It has been one of our most popular teachings.
Also, look through the teaching tapes under "The Resources". There we have many teaching tapes on subjects like, "Pornography", "Sexual Addiction", "Masturbation", etc.
God bless you brother. I will, of course, be in prayer for you. And know this, I was for decades a slave to sexual sins at the highest level and have been set free indeed by God almighty now to minister to those so entrapped. So what I share with you is not intellectual theory, but is what God shared with me during what is still an ongoing healing/transformation process of some 17 years.
I share openly what God has shown me with any who ask knowing, however, that every person's healing process will be tailored by God to their life history and so will not exactly mimic mine. However, the principles behind it all will be the same.
Yours for His glory, David Kyle Foster, Director