break secrecy

Break Secrecy 

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It’s a natural tendency for us to want to hide our sin.  Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God as soon as they sinned and we’re no different.  The devil plays on that tendency, using lies to persuade us to cover our sin with secrecy.  Some common lies the devil uses are: 

If we believe the lies, we will likely withdraw and disconnect from God and the people in our life.   The truth is that we cannot afford to be cut off from these potential help sources.  Our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).   When we allow ourselves to be isolated, we’re like the weak gazelle that gets separated from the rest of the herd.  Eventually it becomes lunch for the lions!

What’s so dangerous about keeping my struggle secret? 

Secrecy brings us under the devil’s influence:  Secrecy is deception and deception is the work of the devil who is the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44).  When we engage in deception, we open a door to the devil’s influence in our life.  God wants us to have truth in our “innermost being” (Psalm 51:6).  When we hide things in secrecy, we are giving lies a place in our innermost being. 

Secrecy opens the door to fear.  Sexual sin is powerful fuel for fear.  Typical fears faced by sex addicts include:

Our natural tendency is to respond to the fear by trying to avoid these situations.  To do this, we’ll likely dive deeper into secrecy (and deeper into our sin habit)  to medicate the fear.     

Secrecy causes physical problems.  Living a double life will wear us down physically, emotionally and spiritually.  For example, in Psalm 32:3-5 David described what happened when he kept his sin secret.  David’s bones, energy and emotions were all damaged by his secrecy until he confessed his sin.  There are many other possible physical problems that could arise from staying in secrecy (stress, ulcers, etc.).   

Secrecy blocks blessing:  God will not bless us when we’re covering our sins.  Proverbs 28:13 confirms this:  “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” 

It is best for us to break secrecy!  Regardless of our situation, it is best to break secrecy by confiding with someone we know.   The obvious question is “Who should I tell?”  We encourage you to consider this question with much prayer.  Some people may be better able to handle the revelation of your sin than others.  Ideally, you’ll want to share your situation with a Christian who is walking closely with the Lord.  This is because they then can pray for you and give you Godly encouragement to continue through your walk to freedom.   

If you are married, you have another major decision to consider.  At some point, you will need to tell your spouse about your struggle.  Because sexual sin can be devastating to a marriage, we urge caution and prayerful preparation prior to sharing this with your spouse.   Don’t think that you’ll be able to get free and never have to tell your spouse about your former life.  Since you are one with her/him in body and spirit, you can’t afford to keep this truth from your spouse.  Withholding your secret struggle from them is tantamount to harboring lies in your inmost parts (Psalm 51:6).   Sharing the whole truth will be essential for the rebuilding of your intimacy and marriage sex life.  If you have previously told a trusted Christian friend about your situation, they can cover you in prayer when you sense it is God’s timing to tell your spouse.     

Accountability relationships: Places to break secrecy

Accountability relationships can be excellent places to break secrecy and encourage one another in our walk with Jesus.   By “accountability,” I’m referring a loving relationship (non-sexual) between same-gender Christians that is meant to mutually encourage and strengthen each other in their pursuit of God.  These relationships can exist in a one-on-one or in a small group (3-5 persons) format.  Ideally the persons involved should meet periodically throughout each month to stay in tune with how things are going with those in the group.  These are not performance-oriented relationships.  If a person falls to sin once, the relationship should not be in jeopardy.  It is probable that all of us will fall in sin one time or another.  The accountability relationship provides a safety net to help get us back on track and keep walking with Jesus.  

There are several scriptures that support the need for accountability relationships:  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?  12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  (NKJV)

Matthew 18:20“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."  (NKJV)

James 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another…” (NKJV)

Proverbs 15:31: “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” (NIV)

Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (NKJV)

The story Jonathan and his armor bearer makes a great analogy for accountability groups (1 Samuel 14:6-14).  In the story, Jonathan and his armor bearer scaled a steep cliff and defeated a Philistine garrison of 20 men. They were united in purpose, faith in God and desire to serve God.  As Jonathan attacked the enemy, his armor bearer stayed with him, guarding his back.  As the Philistines fell before Jonathan, his armor-bearer killed them.  Applying this to accountability relationships, we all need armor bearers to help us fight the spiritual battles of life.   The walk with Jesus was not intended to be a one-man show.  We need to be connected with those in the body of Christ as a team. We need people who will stand with us in battle and cover our back.   Also, we need to be willing to be armor bearers for others in their battles. 

Qualities of a successful accountability relationship:  I’ve been involved in several accountability relationships.  Some of them were good and others not so good.  I’ve highlighted some qualities of successful accountability groups below.   

Truth:  This may be the biggest challenge week in and week out.  The group members must fight the temptation to gloss over what is really going on in their lives.  If people aren’t being real about what is going on, then the group will lose effectiveness.  It may be difficult to admit that we’re struggling, but it’s even more difficult to admit when we’ve failed.   

Love:  Love will keep the relationship alive and free from any "legalistic" turns.  Love is quick to listen and slow to speak.  I’ve found it’s often a temptation to want to give advice and a quick fix.  People don’t always want or need my advice, but they do want me to listen to them.  

Tough Questions:  Tough questions will help keep us from glossing over the core issues.  Here are some examples:

·         Did you look at porn this week?

·         Did you masturbate this week?

·         Did you take actions to avoid a repeat scenario of how you fell? 

·         What can I do to help you avoid or escape the triggers that lead you to sin? (phone call; prayer; lunch, etc.)

·         What areas can I address in prayer for you during this week?

·         Have you lied to me in any of the above answers?

Loving Correction:  Correction can be crucial to the overall success of an accountability relationship.  Paul wrote, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” in Romans 12:10-1 NASB.   When a person lags in their diligence by falling into sin, how will the accountability partner(s) react? Will they just brush over it and hope that it doesn’t happen again, or will they take the issue head on and ask the person to account for what happened?   I suggest that if they brush over the sin, it will be bound to happen again.  If a person truly loves his friend, he’ll take action to address the sin. 

Corrective action should be taken with a “gentle,” humble attitude.  Paul wrote:

1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions…  Galatians 6:1-4 NIV

With that in mind, here’s a possible approach to use: 

·        Ask the person explain how/why the failure happened

·        Analyze the chain of events and brainstorm with the person to determine how to prevent future failures

·        Encourage the person to move forward and return to living for God (by not embracing the sin any longer)

·        Offer to help in any way possible (prayer, check-up calls, etc.)

One of the misconceptions of accountability relationships is that they somehow give people special power to break sin’s grip on the soul.   Jesus really is the only reliable power source for breaking addiction, and effective accountability groups are those that point people to Jesus for power and transformation.  In and of themselves, the groups can’t stop a person from sinning.   It is the person empowered by the Holy Spirit who chooses to obey God rather than sin who will gain victory over addiction.  

Unfortunately, there are times when even the best of accountability relationships don’t work out.   In the event that a person continues to fall back into sin over and over, it might be time to disband.  I encountered such a situation with a friend who I was meeting with for about three years.  We met together, prayed together and did Bible studies together.  There were many times when it seemed like he was making progress in his relationship with God, only to later fall back into his old addiction patterns.  I felt it was time to suspend meeting when he refused to break secrecy with his wife about the problem.  

When no progress is being made, it may be time to consider doing what Paul did in 1 Corinthians 5:1-11: 

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

 6Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

 9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.  (NIV)

Breaking off a relationship with someone who is continuing in habitual sin may seem like a harsh thing to do, and it may not be pleasant experience. Nevertheless, there is good that could come out of it, especially if one releases the person to God’s care and continues to pray for them.  The person that Paul discussed on the above passage eventually repented and returned to the church (2 Corinthians 2:5-9).

Who to meet with?  We encourage you to seek God’s guidance for this.  You obviously want to be cautious about who you approach.  Look for someone who is interested in living for God.  Pray for God’s prompting and confirmation as you go forward.  If you are not sure about where to look for a potential group, your church may be a good place to start.   If you are waiting for someone at church to invite you to join a small group or be an accountability partner, you may have a long wait!  Often it will require you to take the initiative, pick up the phone and do the leg work in finding or forming a group. 

Can my spouse be my accountability partner?  Unless you are walking in sexual purity right now, I recommend that you do not make your spouse your accountability partner.  This is primarily because of the emotional “re-wounding” that can occur if you fall back into your sex sin habit regularly.   

Personal Application Questions:

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