Recently in my quiet times, I have been reading a book called ‘Sexual Healing: A Biblical Guide to Finding Freedom from Sexual Sin and Brokenness‘ by American author David Kyle Foster from Pure Passion. Foster himself came out of homosexuality but his book here addresses more general sexual brokenness. Better than that (as if that can get any better!) he looks at how the issue is dealt with by simply pursuing God for Himself. I have not got through the book yet: I’m still on the 3rd chapter, but that is simply because the book is hard-going and tends to dredge up difficult, painful things that are often masked by sin, distraction, busyness, and other things. But it’s good to go through bit-by-bit even if it does take a while.
What I have read thus far I have found very impressive and right on the mark- in fact, I cannot fault Foster on a thing. One thing struck me today in the third chapter that dealt with people’s tendency to be justified by self-holiness performance, to be holy and godly enough so as to be acceptable to God. I wanted to share here what I read, because I believe it will bring people closer to their redeemer God and save them from the despair and hopelessness of faux self-hate and unhelpful performance. They demonstrate how the key to killing sin is to not flee God’s presence or to induce guilt by using the Scriptures as a judgement rod, but God’s grace (Titus 2:11-14):
“[After we sin] we bathe in thoughts and feelings of condemnation as though they were in some way helping to balance the scales of justice. We refuse to take ourselves off the hook, which plays so nicely into the world’s version of religion. Oh, we’ll confess our sins all right, but many of us will refuse to truly embrace the forgiveness that God offers …
Satan is trying to keep you from running back into God’s arms by making you think that [He] doesn’t like you or approve of you any more, or that He wants you to stand in the [naughty] corner and think about what you’ve done before He’ll consider your pleas for mercy. Satan is trying to give you this false image of God because he knows that if you return to the Father’s loving arms, His love and grace will persuade you even more to be faithful the next time you are tempted“. (pp. 46, 51-52, emphasis mine).
I used to be very much like this, and I remember when I was acting out sexually with other men that I would have an encounter and then beat myself over the head- even literally sometimes- as if that would please God and make me happier. I would avoid His presence. I would read Scripture, but that only hardened my heart instead of causing my heart to apprehend its awesome grace. I’d read the harsh parts about God’s discipline (like Hebrews 12). In the end it made me despair even more and gave Satan opportunities to accuse me. He often did that, whispering in my idea the lie “You’re not worthy to be loved! Who could love a disgusting creature like you? You are MINE” The voice always sounded snake-like and it was chilling. In some those moments, and there were many of them, the Spirit would intercede and say to me “You are God’s Haydn. He loves you so much and He has such a heart for you, even as you’re breaking His heart as you sin. Come back. You’re always welcome because you are my son”.
It took a long time to do so, but I did start coming back and I found myself able to refute Satan, not unlike Martin Luther. ”Yes, I may or may not be worthy but that’s exactly why I am qualified to be a son of God (Romans 5:6-8)“, I once said. ”SO GO! I am NOT yours- I am His and He is in me. Take your lies to where they belong”. After that never heard those serpentine attacks again. After that, when I did sin, I went to God rather than fleeing from Him and He soon showed me Titus 2:11-12:
For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age (HCSB)
This verse revolutionised my heart… What I learned was that when the grace (love) of God fills you, sin is not just something you shouldn’t do- it’s something that disgusts you and it then becomes unnatural, even if it has been a hard-to-break sin habit that seems natural. It’s feeling deeply (not intellectualising) the love of God that does this). Nothing saves like grace when it’s etched in the heart (Jer. 31:33). This is completely opposite to the world’s thinking, but that’s God’s way; it saved me from destructive homosexuality and it can save from anything and anyone else.