11/25/18 “Breaking Free of Porn”

Last week I talked about the peril and the power of pornography. The feedback has been overwhelming from people, who are mainly saying, “Thank God you were talking about this in the church.” The place it really should come from has been avoiding it, including myself. It’s a topic that’s not easy to talk about but needs to be talked about. I’ve got articles coming out as well on this topic. Last week’s and this week’s sermon transcripts are being put into articles, and I’ll be able to share those as well. This one this week is “Breaking Free of the Power of Pornography.” The title of the message could actually have been “Breaking Free of Sin” because these principles don’t just apply for pornography; they apply to sin in general.

A few things I talked about last week I didn’t get to finish, so I want to just recap a few things. The first thing is we have to remember that an extreme attack will take an extreme defense. We can all agree on that—that there is an attack against our country, there is an attack against our families, there is attack against us individually, unlike anything we’ve ever dealt with before. I can guarantee you Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie did not have to deal with this type of attack from the enemy. You get that, right? Now something is just a click away; more perversion than the world has ever known is a click away.

An extreme attack is going to take an extreme defense. I’m just here to tell you the truth. So you might want to rehash out your battle plans. Casual Christianity is not going to cut it today. Lukewarm Christianity is not going to be able to defeat the enemy in this type of onslaught. I believe the reason that most people are miserable is that they are not in defense mode; they are living in defeat mode, constantly defeated. You know sin will wear you out. Many people in the church today are not excited about church, they’re not excited about God, and they’re stuck in defeat mode. They’ve been defeated and discouraged.

People will say we’re called to be on the defense, when really, we are called to be on the offense against Satan’s kingdom. We’re going against the gates of hell by the power and the blood of Jesus Christ. So we’re not always supposed to be defending. We are to defend, but we’re also to be on the offense, to push in. “The kingdom suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). I love the King James on that, but Jesus is saying that from the time of John the Baptist until now there’s going to be a violent upheaval, a spiritual battle. The demons never had to listen to anyone until Jesus stepped on the scene. Think about that. They lost all control, all power, when Jesus Christ stepped onto the earth and began to cast them out, began to rebuke Satan, and we’ve been given that same power and that same authority in Jesus’s name. I don’t know how many of you realize that, but the same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to believers because of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. So you can conquer sin. You can live a victorious Christian life. Yes, there will be mishaps. Yes, there will be fallen steps. But you get back up, and you fight that battle.

Last week what we talked about in Scripture I want to bring up again. It’s Matthew 5:29. “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish [to not to have an eye] than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” What He’s saying here is, obviously, you don’t chop off your fingers. Obviously, you don’t do certain things and maim yourself. Because the battle is in here. The sin is up here. The sin takes place first here before it’s acted out. He’s saying if there’s anything that provokes you, anything that triggers you, anything that induces you, anything that inspires you, anything that motivates you to sin, remove it. We would fix a lot of problems if we would just follow that verse. Whatever is causing it, whatever is tripping us up, needs to be removed.

It’s funny, we got a Facebook message this week on this message of pornography. I know this guy, and he said I can share it. He said:

When I was younger, I sometimes thought that your approach was too harsh. I thought, well some of his points are good, but he’s going overboard. But let me say that time and time again God’s Word has proven to be right. Never once have I personally, or anyone I’ve ever talked to, looked back and thought, I wish I had been less vigilant, less careful. Never once have I thought, I wish I had not been so committed to holiness. Never once. It always is the reverse. It’s always looking back and thinking, wow, I didn’t see that coming, or wow, I didn’t realize the danger.

You’ve heard me mention it before, and I recommended it on Facebook—there’s a website called Rare Christian Books (rarechristianbooks.com). It’s where I get a lot of the rare Christian books that aren’t really published anymore. The more I order and the more I read, the more this theme of holiness stands out. There’s one book I’m reading now about certain people who started the Salvation Army. If you read this book, you’d think I was just going easy. [I was reading it, and I put the book down and thought,] these guys are absolutely correct. You see this theme of holiness. You have this theme of fighting sin. You have this theme of coming out from among them, being separate and walking and living the Christian life. But nowadays we’ve kind of sugarcoated that. We’ve kind of tailored things to build an audience but not break the heart.

I quoted J. C. Ryle before, but it fits perfectly with this sermon. He lived in the 1800s, and in his book on holiness he said, “We must stand guard as a soldier on enemy ground. The problem is that many love the world and have a hard time separating. They believe in heaven, but they don’t truly long for it. They say that they fear God, but they don’t live like it. They indulge temptation rather than fight it. They enjoy sin rather than confront it, and they compromise rather than conquer. And the lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction.”

If you ever meet a lukewarm Christian, they will not like conviction unless they’re ready to change. “Don’t turn up the heat! I like it on the easy setting. I like just a little comfort. Don’t turn up the heat.” Well, let’s just ask Peter. Do you think he might have something to say? In 1 Peter 2:11, he said, “Beloved, I beg you”—and I can see Peter doing this—“I beg you.” And I don’t think he’s joking around. I think we sometimes tell too many jokes in the church. The church can be serious sometimes. He said, “I beg you, I beseech you, I urge you.” What does he say? To abstain. “Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” That’s pretty clear. I beg you, whatever is warring against your soul, whatever you are feeding that monster within, abstain from it. Do the hard things. Do the hard things.

I want to give you few examples of this I thought of this week that I’ve seen people experience freedom through. Now a disclaimer, of course. We trust in Christ. We run to Christ. He’s the answer. He’s the truth, the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through Him. He’s our anchor, He’s our foundation, He’s our sure footing, He’s our Sabbath rest. We got it. But there are also practical things we can do. You can have open phones, passwords that are common to your spouse. There are even apps that you can put on a phone where your kids’ texts can go to you. Uh oh. And the kids say, “Mom, Dad, I don’t want to do that.” Why?

There are also apps a person can put on their phone that will tell you the location they’re at. I remember this was recommended to someone (and I don’t want to give too much information with kids here), but he was just not going to places that were good. Let’s say that. He didn’t want to put on this location app on his phone. See, it’s accountability. These things in themselves won’t help you, because you can go around these things if you truly want to, if the heart’s not right. But these are wonderful safeguards.

Remember when crack cocaine was big? I don’t know if it’s still around—that’s good, I guess—but I had three employees that were addicted to it, and I told them, “I’m never paying you on Friday. I’ll pay you on Monday, and I’ll give it to your mom or your wife.” And believe it or not it was the one or so who would do that who would find freedom. They would find healing. How bad do they want it?  

People say, “Oh, these are extreme.” Well, how bad do you want it? You remove those things that cause you to stumble. We talked last week about software transparency. You can put software on your phones, on your computers, that will block things. How bad do you want it? We offer a Pure Desires class for men. How bad do you want it? Because somebody who truly wants to change will take the necessary steps. Here’s why: because I don’t trust what’s in here. As worried as I am about the devil, I’m worried about the old Shane, because he’ll take me down a lot quicker than the devil will.

So you restrain the flesh, the Bible says. You crucify the flesh. You don’t play with it. I could sit here and quote a lot of Scriptures on denying the flesh, making no provision for the flesh, fleeing from what the flesh desires, removing the things that bring you down. If we get back to this beautiful word of holiness, it’s a wonderful concept and a truth. You know why this is so important? Because the more you’re filled with the Spirit, the more you’re doing things that honor God, the less you’re filled with the flesh. I’m going to give you example of that. You want to see an example? I wish I could find different colored ping-pong balls, but I didn’t. So the white, the ping-pong balls, will represent the sin. That’s the sin. Full of sin, right? Many people even in this room or listening later or listening now can’t comprehend what I’m talking because they’re full of sin, they’ve quenched and grieved the spirit of God. So once you do these things, once you start to put in more of the spirit of God, what starts to happen? Get back into the Word of God, get back into worship. Oh, we have a worship morning.

So I’m starting to honor God, I’m focusing on holiness, I’m getting accountability, I’m getting this software, I’m getting transparency going in my life, I’m removing the things of the world and I’m pouring more of God into my life. What starts to happen? The more of God you begin to pour into your life, the more you desire holiness, the more you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be filled—filled with the right things. There are a few stragglers. You’re not perfect. There are a few of little those little stinkers on this side of the cross, but I’d rather have this, wouldn’t you? Here’s what starts to happen—when sin starts to go down, they just pop back up. You can’t put these back in. There’s no way in the world these are going back in until what? The water comes out. That’s what quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit is. You begin to remove His influence. You begin to remove the work of the Spirit, and you begin to be filled back in with the sin and the depravity. The only way you will become victorious over sin is you begin to submit your life to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to fill your heart. Because that lust that you can never control, now it’s one of these. It’s a little harasser. Just remember, I’m going to leave these down here the whole service, so you don’t get your mind off that. But that’s how you defeat sin.

All these things I’m talking about are one pour of the cup. You can read the Bible and still be in pornography. You can come to worship morning, you can be at church right now, and you’ll still click on something tonight. But if you’re into worship, you’re into the Word, you’re into praising Him, you’re into repenting and being transparent, you’re into “hey, I might struggle tonight—can you text me?” and you put up all these safeguards, you start being filled with the spirit of God, and you will drive that out. That’s just how it works. There’s no other way around this. I’ve tried. I’ve looked. We’re either full of the things of God, or we’ve quenched the spirit of God and we’re full of the things of the world. But that is a balancing act, correct, because as the week goes by you can be so filled with God on Sunday, but come Thursday, what came back in? The sin and the depravity begin to come back in if we don’t push them out.

Last week I also talked about going back to the old paths. That’s what we have to do, go back to the old paths, Jeremiah 6:16. Again, I’m talking to those who want victory. I’m not playing church anymore. We decided that eight years ago when we planted this church. We’re not playing games. This is what works. If it offends people, if it upsets people, if it’s too rigid, too extreme, well, God’s called us to preach holiness. Not weirdness, not legalism, not a bunch of rules. This cracks me up because I will get emails on this. “Oh, that’s too legalistic. That’s too rigid.” You don’t understand. It’s not about all these rules, it’s about drawing closer to Christ. And the closer I draw to Christ, the more I want to please Him, the more I want to be filled, the more of God I want. God, I want more of You. What you call rules, I call a necessity to have a vibrant relationship with Christ and to be filled with the spirit of God. This isn’t rules, this is relationship, and you have to foster, you have to build, that relationship.

And some of these I got to in the first service, and I didn’t get to in the second and vice versa. It was a mess, so I might repeat a few things. It was a good mess; they would call that a hot mess, because God’s spirit was breaking and working in people’s lives. Listen, we’ve got to hit this like you hit a concrete wall with a sledgehammer. We have a little pink hammer in our garage for the girls, but I’m not taking that to a demolition job; they would laugh at me.

1. Stop making excuses.

Stop, just stop. Own it. Own it. Just this week a friend of mine who doesn’t go here, very doubtful he will be listening, doesn’t live here, I’ve known for a long time, he just got divorce papers. It was coming. She’s warned him: stop drinking. And I text him, like all good friends do. I actually called. I said, “Listen, you just need to fully surrender. Tell her she’s right. ‘You’re right. I need to stop. I need to own this.’” You know, he told me, “It’s her fault.” On the text message, he was chewing me out. “It’s her fault. Hypocrisy in the church. She’s why I’m drinking.” He’ll never, never have freedom with that attitude. Never. Never. Because what’s the next excuse? If the truth be told, that person really doesn’t want freedom, they’re trying to make excuses for their sin. They’re excusing their actions.

So you have to get to this point. If you want to break free of sin, specifically pornography of course, but any sin, stop making excuses, and you see the death in it. You have to see where this is taking you, because so many people get fooled: “But, Shane, I hear what you’re saying, but man, my life has never been better. My job, my money, my marriage seems good.” Nothing yet. Oh, just wait. God says, “For whatever a man sows, he will reap,” and when you reap, it’s the whirlwind. I’ve seen so many people who don’t stay under God’s shelter, His covering, and they’re outside of that, and they think, “This isn’t hurting anything.” Little do they know, because God has withdrawn much of that anointing, that blessing from their family because they’ve rejected Him, too busy for church. And the husband’s caught in this, and the enemy’s whispering to the wife to go have an affair. He doesn’t see it coming until it’s too late.

But everything was good! Everything was good. What happened? Ah, see, whatever a man sows, he will reap. The enemy’s working in that, so don’t ever think for a minute that will not end in death, some type of death—death of relationship, death of a family, death in relationship with God. Death just means separation in the Bible. Sometimes physically, often spiritually, there is a separation. For God does not tempt man, right? Man is tempted. He is drawn away by his own desires and enticed, and when that temptation is conceived, it brings forth death. If we would just love the Scriptures more, we would get a lot of direction. Sorrow doesn’t work, but repentance does. The guy I called actually has cried over this. He’s shed tears: “I can’t believe this is happening.” That’s not repentance. That you worried about your image. So it has to start there.

2. Pursue holiness.

Yes, it’s what I’ve been talking about, but I wanted to give you really what holiness is. I’m going to sum it up in the word holy, and I got this from Brian Long. Thanks to Phil, the message is “Called to Be Holy” on YouTube. I would encourage you to watch it. I emailed Brian. He said I can use this analogy because it is so true. Holy—always remember this. H-O-L-Y, right? Here’s what it is:

H is for hunger for righteousness. There has to be a hunger, because if you’re not hungry, and you’re bored, then you will not see victory in this area. That’s why I often ask, are you bored in church or hungry? God, I’m hungry for righteousness. Those who hunger and thirst for the power of the Spirit, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. See, I hunger for this. I don’t know about you, but I hunger for the purity of the gospel. I hunger for the purity and the power of the Holy Spirit. God, I hunger for that. The spirit within me cries, “Abba, Father.” God, I want more of you. I want more. I’m hungry and I’m thirsting for God. God, I’m going to lay hold of You until You answer that prayer. You don’t think He hears that cry? You don’t think He hears that desperation? That’s where holiness starts. [People say,] “Shane, can calm down.” You get more excited about the Steelers! Why do I have to calm down? We should be excited about the holiness of God and the power of God and the purity of the gospel. Man, I’ll take a group of twelve people that are hungry and holy and bold than twelve hundred who are bored.

O means obey. Oh Lord. Obey. Obey what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Most of us right now, we know. There’s maybe something in our life. I know, I know God wants me to do this, but I’m not obeying. To be holy you have to obey those promptings, the leadings. Thank God that God doesn’t just spank us. Well, I gave you one chance. It’s a contining. What it is, is an invitation. It’s a drawing. Come closer to Me. Obey Me in these areas.

L is, obviously, what we talked about—look to Christ. Look to Christ. Again, not about rules. Because if you’re like, “Well, I’m going to put this app on my phone, I’m going to have an accountability partner, I’m going to try not to go on the computer at night, I’m going to do all these things and do and do,” that’s just your willpower. That’s strictly willpower. I believe willpower and self-discipline are good—I’m not one who puts that down, because the fruit of the Spirit is self-discipline, to discipline self, to tell the flesh no, to put the flesh in submission, to crucify the flesh. That’s all part of self-discipline. So you look to Christ.

Y—this is so true—you yield. How many of us have horses here? Balcony, up there, a couple. Anyone down here? Horses, horses, horses, okay, horses. Do you want to ride a broken horse or a wild stallion? Of course, right, nobody can ride the wild horse. Why? It has to be broken, and it’s not until it’s broken and submitting and yielding under the direction of the master that it is correctly led. Same thing with holiness. There has to be a yielding with the right heart.

3. Extinguish the fuel source.

Extinguish the fuel source. Now a lot of these are overlapping, of course, but we have to avoid looking intentionally at things that stimulate lust. David said, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” This is where many people get in trouble. They play pattycake with the devil, and they have things they shouldn’t have, and they’re fueling the sin, not extinguishing it. Of course, at this point in the message—don’t raise your hand—but I’m sure many people are saying, because I’ve thought it, “But, Shane, who could measure up?” My Lord, do you have a longer list than that? How am I my supposed to conquer that? Who in the world could ever measure up? No one. No one.

Here’s the problem though. Most people use that as an excuse to sin, not motivation to fight. Well, who can ever measure up? Forget it. I’ll just cave in. Instead of motivation to fight and saying, “Lord, I can’t do this without you.” There was an interesting teaching many years ago. It was part of the holiness movement, and some Methodists picked it up. I don’t think John Wesley went this far, and it’s called different terms, but it’s perfectionism. Perfectionism, that a Christian can get to a state where they’re not sinning ever. Now if you’ve arrived, talk to me afterwards. I would love to pick your brain for a while. The interesting thing though is the concept in and of itself—well, let me say this carefully—I can see where they come up with it, because the Bible encourages us to not sin. It doesn’t say “when you sin,” it says, “if you sin,” you have an advocate to go to. “I write this to you,” John would say, “so that you do not sin,” and with the power of the Holy Spirit operating in our life, the ability is there not to sin through the work of the Holy Spirit. But the flesh is so strong, and that pull is so hard, and it’s a lifelong struggle, that we succumb to that work of the flesh.

So here’s what we need to do. We need to become men and women of prayer. I’m not giving permission to sin. What I said earlier that there’s a pull there, because I think we can live in that victorious Christian life. To me, victorious Christian living is when you’re living with the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Yes, you might have said something you shouldn’t have, you send out the wrong email, or “Ugh, I slipped with that word.” It’s funny, people have come up to me and said, “If a person cusses, they are not a Christian.” Well, do you ever slip on something here? Do you ever actually make any mistakes? And that’s the victorious life, is you getting back on track. Anyone have any angry outbursts in this room? Oh, I’m so sorry.  But see, you get back on track. God, thank you for working in my heart. I want to change. And you’re changing. You’re being conformed in the image of Christ. You’re living victoriously because that sin is not getting you, you’re getting it, and you’re putting it in its place.

Again, not permission to sin, but how to deal with it is to crucify it. Men would live better if they prayed better. Sin cannot gain a stronghold in a broken, praying heart. We must spend much time on our knees before God if we are to overcome sin. Again, do hard things.

4. Avoid compromise.

Avoid compromise. Now compromise is a little bit different than these things. Do you know areas where you begin to compromise, and at first it’s not a big deal, and then you do some more—this isn’t too big of a deal—and you begin to compromise. See, you used to stand for things. You used to be strong. But then you begin to compromise, and you begin to open that door for Satan. You begin to do things you normally wouldn’t, you begin to go places you normally wouldn’t have gone, you begin to entertain things you normally wouldn’t have entertained, and you begin to compromise. The enemy doesn’t push us off that building; he walks us down one sin at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at the time.

For example, and this happens a lot, young couples wanting to get married, they want to focus on sexual purity, and they’ve got some good things in place. But then, well, parents are gone, let’s watch a movie together. Which I’m not saying is not bad—you know where I’m going with this. People will be like, “This guy is out there.” No, I’m going somewhere. And then that wasn’t too bad. You know, keep your hands to yourself. And then, well, let’s do that again. Can I pick up some Chardonnay? Two bottles or one? Then, well, I know we weren’t doing anything, but can we get a little intimate? And then you start to make those compromises.

Same thing with the Word of God. I’m going to church on fire for God. Then, you know what? We’ve got things to do. We can’t make it like we use to. We can’t be involved like we used to. I’ve got this new job, I’ve got full days ahead of me. I can’t read the Word like I used to. That’ll come later; maybe when I retire, I’ll have more time. See how that compromise works? That’s how he works in all our lives. Compromise.

Or a man at work with strong ethics, who will not cheat on his spouse, but then he begins to compromise. Well, I’ll go to lunch with someone I shouldn’t. Isn’t it funny how the world just chewed out Vice President Pence? “Oh, you don’t go to lunch with someone other than your wife?” Yeah, you idiot world. Hello. Don’t get me started. I’m sorry.

But you start to take those compromises. That’s how he gets you to the bottom. He doesn’t show you “oh my Lord, look where that’s going.” He entices one step at a time, one wrong choice at the time. Romans 13:14 tells us to make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. You know what provision means? Don’t plan ahead to sin. Don’t plan ahead. Don’t make a provision for the flesh. You guys think I joke about this, but I don’t. I try not to have junk food in my house, because that chocolate cake, those brownies. Man, if I had brownies in my pantry and Twinkies and Cap’n Crunch, I’d be a mess. The flesh is pulling and pulling and pulling. “Shane, you just need self-discipline.” No, I don’t need that kind of stuff in my house.

Now, I’m making a little example of what’s a bigger problem because we’re allowing things into our lives that are much bigger than Cap’n Crunch, much more destructive than brownies. Out of sight, out of mind. You begin to remove those things. I’m going to read an email I received this week. I titled it “Chasing the Lie of Pornography”:

When computers became a household product, I was really in trouble. It became a quick and easy access point. The addiction became such a problem for my husband that he would view it with the children present. I would become upset and tell him the kids were here. He would say, “If they don’t like it, don’t look.” I was never my husband’s only one. There were affairs and a constant barrage of pressure to engage in unthinkable acts. I never felt special or respected him nor did I feel respected. Intimacy was not sacred; it was sick. I felt repulsed, I felt filthy, I felt like I was doing something wrong. Everything was twisted and confusing. Porn killed. It smashed and destroyed the beautiful gift God intended for us to keep and cherish.

If any man thinks this won’t affect his marriage in a negative way, think again. If you think it won’t affect your daughters in a negative way, think again. If you think your sons are not watching, and it will not affect them, think again. You are lying to yourself. Once you test the waters of sexual sin, your wife cannot satisfy. If you don’t stop, you’ll lose your family. You will have to rely upon stimuli that is not God-given. Porn rewires you. Anger, violence, guilt, shame, and sexual sin are born, because there is no way out of the lie until the day you choose to become completely delivered. Can’t they see? There is no finish line. There’s no trophy. There is no ribbon. There is no medal. It’s the lie, the lie of pornography.

You know, she made a good point that I actually made up here this morning. You should view it this way. You know, many people avoid drugs because they alter. Pornography is a drug that alters your mind. It’s not a physical something you take and you get in this altered state, but it begins to rewire your mind, it begins to rewire your thinking. Perversion begins to grow and grow, and darkness begins to change your concept of sexuality and different things. It’s a powerful drug that no one’s talking about.

I also want to touch a little bit about demons, the demonic realm. There’s a whole study of theology called demonology. I do believe the demonic realm is working overtime in this area. My struggle with demons and the demonic is I personally don’t believe that a believer can be possessed or overwhelmed by a demon to such a degree to where they are out of control. I’ve had people email, sincere people, who said, “Shane, it wasn’t until I was delivered. That’s wonderful, everything you said, that’s wonderful, but it didn’t help me at all. I had to be delivered.” I don’t want to minimize their experience. Many of you listen to Derek Prince, who passed away a long time ago. He believed in this, and there may be something to it. People do need deliverance. I’m big on that. I’m big on deliverance. But I do not believe that a demon can oppress someone to such a degree that they are no longer in control and they cannot obey the Scriptures. I just don’t see that, that as a believer, there’s a demon on that person, and they cannot obey the Scriptures. I don’t see any scriptural relevance for that at all, because “no temptation has overtaken you but what is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear; but with the temptation He will make a way of escape.” You don’t see verses that say, “1 Corinthians 12: ‘Try this, but if it doesn’t work, there’s a demon, and you need to be delivered.’”

Please understand, because I know it’s going to upset some people. I believe that people need to be delivered, Christians, from a demonic type of oppression. There’s a demonic element there, whether they’ve opened it up through astrology and New Age and Ouija boards and darkness and occult or sexual sin, and there’s a demonic element that has latched onto them, and it’s harassing them, it’s oppressing them, and it will not let them go, and sometimes that needs to be dealt with. So I’m not minimizing that, but I’ve seen a lot of people think they can never get freedom because the demonic realm is too strong. But I read that “greater is He that’s in you than he that’s in the world.”

So that’s why I don’t tie too much demonology into this. I believe the demonic realm is heavily involved in drug addiction, heavily involved in pornography, but I believe the Scriptures teach this: as you’re filled with the spirit of God. If there’s a besetting sin, and something you just can’t quit, then have someone pray with you. Pray for that demonic oppression to stop. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. When you experience that, it takes it up to a whole new level. The believer who’s been set free for months, something’s driving and something is taking them to that liquor store. What is that that’s coming upon me? That could be a demonic oppression. That demonic oppression has gripped you and has taken a weak area of your life, and it’s beginning to manipulate.

But I believe that a believer can say, “Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, no temptation is going to overtake me. I can say no. I can resist this devil, and he will have to flee.” Because if you weigh it, you have all these Scriptures supporting resisting the devil, making no provision, fighting, fleeing, bearing the temptation, and you don’t have any saying, “Well, you’re out of luck if that’s you because this demon is not letting go.” I just don’t see that. So hopefully I have clarified that. I’m not minimizing the demonic realm in any way, shape, or form. I’m just saying I think we give them too much credit.

I read this poem a year ago, and some of you requested it. I’m just going to read the last two paragraphs, in regard to addiction:

You knew this would happen. Many times you were told.
But you challenged my power and chose to be bold.
You could have said no and just walked away.
If you could live that day over now, what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you be my slave.
I’ll even go with you when you go to your grave.
Now that you’ve met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell.
Come, take my hand, let me lead you to hell.

That’s been the challenge for me this week is wanting to share and letting you know that in the midst of deep darkness there is a great light, there is great hope. I want to offer that, and I will, but we cannot—at least I cannot—minimize the seriousness of sin. You’ll never see it painted in a good light in all of Scripture. You will never see it painted in such a way where you don’t need to worry about it. You will never see it painted in a picture as something that’s well, you know, just kind of keep an eye out for it. You always see it painted in Scripture as something destructive, as something that needs to be dealt with swiftly, and you see that the roaring lion goes about to devour, to steal, to kill, to destroy. You see that giving into temptation and the sin brings forth death. I believe that if we see the death in it, if we see the destruction in it, we see sin like God sees it, that it put Christ on the cross, then it might change our view. But there’s a big movement, especially in the church. I hear it all the time on TV. People say, “Well, it’s just a bad choice.” It is just a bad choice. And it is. “It’s just a little mishap.” And we begin to dumb it down. Adultery is called a fling. I mean, a fling sounds kind of fun. You know, flinging something as a kid. We dumb down these words.

Now, thank God, I was going to get to this at the end, but thank God the greater the darkness, the greater the light. The greater the darkness, the greater of life. We sing that song “Not for a moment has God forsaken me.” Not for one second has God forsaken you. The light is always greater than the darkness, so you turn to the light. Turn to Christ. Look for redemption and salvation. Don’t fight this on your own.

There’s a song also that says, “I’ve been told to be ashamed. I’ve been told I don’t measure up. I’ve been told I’m not good enough.” And you know what? Many people tell me, and you’re probably thinking this right now, “But Shane, who could ever measure up to everything you’re saying?” That’s Super-Christian. Who could measure up? And you know what? You’re right. No one. No one can measure up on the side of eternity, except Christ, our example, obviously. But I’ve noticed for most people this becomes an excuse to sin, not motivation to fight. Most people say, “Who can ever measure up? Forget it. Just let me cave in to the desires of the flesh. Who could ever measure up?” That should be actually motivation to fight the good fight. Paul says, “Come out like a soldier wielding the weapons of our warfare”—the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and you come out and you say, “Devil, I’m fighting for my marriage. I’m fighting for my children.” How many of you are praying for your children on a daily basis? “God, would You guard them? Would You shelter them? Keep the Evil One away from them, Lord, but even if they stumble, even if they fall, will You uphold them with Your righteous right hand, because the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” And you seek God.

That’s the hardest part of this job this morning for me. I will tell you this is balancing God’s love and mercy and grace and running to the fountain of life and drinking of living water, but don’t forget about the seriousness of sin. The Bible never paints sin in a good light and never says, “Eh, don’t worry about it.” It actually says it doesn’t use stronger language. What you do when you read that? That your adversary goes about—just think about this—the adversary goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may play catch with? Seeking whom he might wrestle a little bit with? Seeking whom he might make somebody’s day bad? He goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The thief cometh not except to kill, to steal, and to destroy. Every man is led away by his own temptation, and when that temptation is conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin fully grown brings forth death.

So looking at Scripture, I love to encourage, I love to motivate, but you’ve got to wake up. You’ve got to wake up.  That’s why I say Joel Osteen sermons aren’t going to cut it in these dire times. I’m not putting down. I’m just saying that it’s not going to cut it. That’s not going to equip believers to fight the good fight of faith. There’s warfare. You “wrestle against” what? Principalities. We wrestle against principalities and powers in darkness. So the Bible is very clear. Finding that balance is hard, but it’s possible.

Again, back to the lyrics. “I’ve been told to be ashamed. I’ve been told I don’t measure up. I’ve been told I’m not good enough.” But think about this. This thinking is in direct opposition to the Word of God. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. I’m going to share a difficult Scripture with you. I’m going to close with this. I don’t mean difficult as in I don’t believe it. I believe the Word of God; we teach it, we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, we believe in the power, the authority, of God’s Word, but do you ever read a difficult passage, and it’s just, “Man, Lord, help me understand this”? But every time in Isaiah 53—I go through it probably once a year, then also when I’m studying—it basically says that it pleased the Father to bruise the Son. It was the Lord’s will to crush His Son and cause Him to suffer. That word crush means “overwhelming pressure or weight.” It’s a violent collision. Sometimes we think of pleased like God is pleased, He’s happy, and “Oh, I’m so pleased, good cartwheel,” to your children. Or “good job at gymnastics,” or “good job in baseball.”  It’s not. It’s satisfied. The wrath of God was satisfied on the cross, on Calvary.

So if Jesus bore all the shame, all the guilt, why do you walk around carrying it? One of the points of the cross was for salvation, obviously, but He bore, He took on our shame, our guilt. Yes, there’s consequences for wrong choices. Yes, we feel a certain way. Yes, it’s hard, life is hard, but you don’t have to walk around with shame and guilt because that’s in direct opposition to God’s Word. What happened is our sin collided with the grace of God. So it pleased the Father, it satisfied God, that Christ would absorb the wrath of God. That’s that big word I’ve used before: propitiation. That just means the wrath of God was satisfied. People want me to explain it. I can’t understand it more than you do. Why didn’t God just do this? Why didn’t God just do that? I don’t know, but I know that sin has a penalty, sin is to be paid at a price, so He sends a perfect, spotless sacrifice to go on the cross, die for the sins of the world, and then that one point of history—you remember—“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” What happened? It was that point in history when the wrath of God was appeased on the cross of Calvary, when that collision of sin and humanity hit the holiness and purity of Christ, and it pleased the Father, it satisfied the Father, but Christ felt the pain. “Eli, Eli lama sabachthani.” My God, my God, where are You? Father, where are you? Father, where are you?  It satisfied the Father to crush the Son. Oh God, what a wonderful grace.

So two things. If you came in with a lot of shame and guilt, leave it here. Or if you’re not sure where you’re at, you don’t believe in Christ, you don’t believe in God, you don’t know, leave here knowing. Leave here knowing. The brevity of life is like that. In the last month I’ve seen three people, and they’re all gone. I’m doing a memorial for one of them tomorrow. Gone. Gone. Today is the day of salvation. “When you hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

I don’t know where you’re at, but I do know this: God runs to the weary. God runs to the weary. He runs to the weak. Did you know that about God? Parents, you know this. Have you ever seen your child somewhere, and they’re just crying, “Mommy, Daddy,” are you going to say, “Oh, just leave me alone”? No, what are you going to do? Come on, let’s be honest. You’re going to run to them, pick them up, and say, “Who made you cry?” So God hears the cries of His children. “I hear the weary. I hear the tired. I hear the crying. I hear the broken. I will run to them, and I will restore them. My eyes go, and I look for those. I will build up those who have been driven away. I will bind up the broken. I will strengthen the sick.” But He says, “The proud, the fat, the arrogant, I will feed in judgment,” says the Lord. He looks for the cries of His people. The cry of the broken He hears. He hears. So run to the cross.

It’s so funny, people say, “Oh, you get so excited!” You get so excited over the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the love of God. Why can’t we get excited over God and redeeming humanity and setting people free? I mean, think about that. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. No chain too great, no bondage too deep, that God can’t reach in and grab and pull them out of the pit of despair. I was once lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see. Why is that not exciting? Because the majority of the church doesn’t have a powerful relationship with God. To them, it’s only words in a book and not words on their heart.

So I don’t know, I didn’t talk about this at the first service, but let me encourage you to fully surrender your life. Fully surrender your life. Say, “Lord, everything is Yours.” It doesn’t mean you’re going to wake up tomorrow morning perfect, but it means you’re going to make a step in the right direction. Say, “Lord, help me. I want to fully surrender my life, and I need You. I desire this. I desire this.” He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be satisfied. Satisfied. Satisfaction. It comes from that word that your needs have been met—I’m satisfied in the Lord. It’s a wonderful thing.