I have a friend I haven’t seen in close to a decade. Ten years ago, this person was young, vibrant, happy, and faithful to the Lord. When I saw this person again I didn’t even recognize them. Ten years filled with drugs, alcohol, despair, and drifting from God had physically and mentally morphed them into a dark, hollow, angry individual. Someone who seemed to have aged more than twenty years in just ten. A completely different person in every way from the friend I once knew. Sin does that to a person.
Thanks be to God, sin is not the only thing that changes a man. I recently saw the same thing happen in reverse. I was sitting with a brother caught up in addiction. We’ll call him Logan. Slumped shoulders, hollow eyes, and defeat covered his entire being. He had been battling pornography for years and just could not seem to rise above it. Satan still held him firmly in his grasp. Logan was broken in a bad way, but not yet willing to let go of the very thing that was killing his soul: Pride. He was bitter, angry, passing the blame to others. While he stated that he wanted to break free from porn, his actions communicated that he was unwilling to do what it would take to truly repent. It would require humbling himself and, like most of us, he struggled against that idea.
During this meeting, Logan received several texts of encouragement from brothers in Christ. With each text, I saw the wall being chipped away from Logan’s heart. By the time the last text came through, Logan was in tears and willing to take steps to make a real change. Through urging from his wife and other counselors, Logan decided to lay his sin before his local church and ask for prayers.
When I saw Logan a couple days after he went forward, he was a completely new man! He was laughing, smiling, speaking in positive terms about the future. He and his wife sat close together, holding hands and filled with hope. Logan was peaceful. Forgiven. Strong. He had his joy of salvation restored! I have never seen such a marked difference in a man from one week to the next. God had truly done a great work in Logan’s life.
There were several things in play that helped Logan. One, he was tired of his sin. He’d fought on his own and he was showing a desire to do some things differently. He still had some distance to go but he wanted to get there! Similar to how we see the Philippian jailer asking Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”, Logan longed to know what it would take to break free from porn.
Two, he had multiple Christians reaching out to him showing their love and concern. They didn’t know what he was fighting, but they had paid enough attention and had enough care to notice and reach out at a crucial time. We need to pay attention to our brothers and sisters so we can know when things are not right and when they need that extra dose of encouragement. He also had good counsel from those who loved God and loved Logan enough to tell him the hard stuff he didn’t necessarily want to hear.
Three, Logan had a loving wife who was praying for him, begging him to repent, and grieving with him. Christ assures us of the great influence of a godly wife (1 Peter 3:1-2), and Logan’s wife was the singular greatest human influence that led Logan back to God. All three of these things gave Logan the fortitude to be different this time; to step up and make the needed changes to walk away from sin.
Those who know me or much of any of my material know that I push openness. This is one of the big reasons. It sets us free from sin’s secret dungeon. Public repentance forces out the pride that keeps us chained in darkness, separated from God’s grace. When Logan was open with his church family about his sin, he released that pride. As a result, he no longer had to carry the burden of his sin alone. He was immediately surrounded by love and support from brothers and sisters. Without pride in the way, God created a clean heart in Logan (Psalm 51:10).
Repentance and humility go hand in hand, and it changes a man. When we try to keep sin covered up we are trying to beat Satan at his game. If we will play with God’s game pieces – humility and open repentance – we will enjoy the victory over Satan.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Stay on the Beaten Road!
Joshua P. Richardson