What does it look like to have victory in the midst of struggle with sin? When we find ourselves facing the same temptations for years; how does God see us?
It has been over 11 years since I walked away from the homosexual lifestyle. My eyes were opened to the reality that being gay was not my identity and it has been a journey of discovering my identity in Christ.
I am still haunted by misguided desire. I have heard Mike Bickle say that one of the most painful longings of the human heart is for companionship. We were created for pure and undefiled intimacy. It is from God to long for companionship; ultimately in Christ at the fullness of time, but partially through marriage in this age. Because of sin in the world, with various offenses against our humanity (abuse, sickness, deception, etc), our longing can me misguided through the formation of our person. For the most part I am not attracted to women, but to men. To my friends that do not struggle with homosexuality, I explain it like this: for most guys the idea of them having romantic relationship with the same sex is strange and even repulsive, while they have a natural drive towards romantic relationship with a woman. Their longing for companionship directs their wandering daydreams to marriage and family with the opposite sex. For me it is the other way around. I continually have to submit my thoughts and desires to the Lord. Paul said to men that struggle with sexual temptation that it is best to get married, but what I desire is contrary to God’s creative design.
It is a tension that every believer faces in varying areas of sin. The Apostle Paul describes this tension in saying “I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do.” I am convinced that at the core of my heart, I desire God above all else, but there is a conflict within me. Jesus said “though the spirit is willing the body is weak.” Therefore Paul, in Romans, exhorts believers to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. I was once a slave to my sinful nature, but now born of the Spirit and free from bondage to sin. Now this is the choice set before me each day; am I going to walk according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. To walk in the Spirit is to walk in obedience to Jesus which leads to life. To walk in the flesh is contrary to God’s ways and leads to death.
Sometimes I am so consumed by the ache of this longing that has been misguided. It is a part of the process of healing wounds in my heart that reveal my need for God and directs my longing towards Him; for He alone satisfies the deepest yearnings of the soul. The process seems long and painful at times. I can sympathize with so many of my friends that have gone back to the lifestyle; it seems like an inescapable desire. I have many times battled within and wanted to give in, but I know that there is no life outside of Christ and that His word is clear on this issue.
There are many testimonies of individuals being restored and now have healthy heterosexual families. I believe in God’s redemption in this age, but Is that the pinnacle of victory? I have painfully wrestled with this question. I believe that victory in this age is not found in the absense of temptation, but is in the grace to choose Christ over the temptation. Every choice, big and small, moves His heart and is our eternal glory. life in this age is about being crucified with Christ in His death that we may be raised with Him. We put to death the deeds of the body as we live according to the Spirit. All the patriarchs of the faith had to die to themselves and submit to God’s leadership through the valley of suffering. It is the mystery of the kingdom; in death we find life and sowing in tears we reap joy.
Through the process, I have come to the end of myself many times. I have found that I am so weak, so broken, and so prone to wander in doubt. I have been gripped lately by the humility and mercy of God. Jesus came for the sick and the needy. He draws near to the poor and contrite. He is close to the brokenhearted. He came so low, inviting all who are hungry and all who are thirsty to come. He came for the messy. He came to walk with us through the mess, knowing that we cannot be clean on our own. And this is His great delight; to show mercy again and again.
I know that we all have our battles in this life. Mine feels very distinct and a hot topic today; but everyone has been found guilty of sin. The playing field is leveled in the light of God’s righteousness. The good news is that Jesus stepped onto this field, making God and His salvation available to all who will believe. All who believe step out on a pilgrimage; going from glory to glory and strength to strength. All walk step by step and choice by choice. When we stumble He is quick to show mercy to those who will receive it through repentance. His love propels us forward; transforming our ashes into beauty. This beauty is christ within, our hope of glory. Through the process He is perfecting us in love and we will shine like the stars for all eternity.
In the midst of our pain and failures, let us not draw away from God’s open arms; but let us run into His embrace and let His love have it’s perfect work in our lives.
Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Operations Director at Ember