Moving forward with Jesus 

Now that we’ve discussed sex addiction recovery and your own healing journey, we need to look forward strategically.   Jesus died not only to bring forgiveness for your sin, but also to open the way for you to have a new life.  Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).  As new creations, we have the privilege of exercising spiritual authority over the forces of darkness.  Learning how to use this authority is an important part of living as a new creation and protecting your marriage and family from the attacks of the Enemy.   

Living in Spiritual authority

Jesus exercised spiritual authority over the devil and demons throughout his earthly ministry.  In addition to rebuking and casting evil spirits out, Jesus also healed people of various illnesses.  Many people may not realize that they too have the privilege and right to exercise Jesus’ authority through their faith in him.  Consider these passages that establish this right to that authority: 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name  John 1:12 NASB 

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:14-17 NKJV 

We are children of God through our faith in Christ.  As such, we inherit his authority and can expect real and positive results when we exercise it.  There are many examples in the New Testament of believers operating in this authority and witnessing sicknesses being healed, demons being cast out and miracles being performed.  In fact, when Jesus commanded believers to go and preach the good news to the world, he mentioned that such things would occur as confirmation of their faith in him:   

15He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."  Mark 16:15-18 NIV 

While we may not face such notable things every day as poisonous snakes and demons, we will have daily opportunities to show God’s love to people, pray, listen and be his instruments as the Holy Spirit directs.  When major events and confrontations with evil do occur, we’ll hopefully be prepared to use God’s authority that has been entrusted to us.   

Let’s now look at the role of husband and wife in the context of spiritual warfare.   

The husband & wife team living for God

God’s original spiritual design for families is that the husband and wife are to be united in their commitment to:

·        Live for God

·        Resist evil

·        Protect their children

·        Raise their children up in the Lord 

While the husband is considered the spiritual head of the home (Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:3), I believe that God holds the husband and wife responsible for upholding the above objectives.  Ideally the couple will be united in love and submitted to God, forming a strong team which will endure the challenges of life and advance the purposes of God’s kingdom.   

Unfortunately, the reality is that many couples fall short of this ideal relationship.  Sex addiction is certainly one of the many traps that the Enemy uses to destroy marriages and families, or at least render them spiritually ineffective.  For example, a typical scenario we hear involves a sex-addict husband drifting from God and his family.  He finds it difficult if not impossible to be an effective spiritual head of the family, since he is giving evil a foothold through porn (or some other sex sin) on a regular basis. His wounded wife is then left to fend for the family spiritually, usually with little or no support from him. In some cases the husband becomes hostile toward God and his wife.  If your situation is similar to what I just described, I encourage you to take heart and know that God is with you and will help you through this difficult time.  He has given you what you need to not only survive, but also to overcome the challenges you are facing.   

Peter wrote about the specifics of what God has given us through Jesus:   

2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:2-4 NIV  

God has given you everything you need for life and godliness.  Additionally, the promises of God’s Word will help you:

1. Participate in the divine nature (live as a new person in Christ)

2. Escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires

I’ve found the above passage to be a great encouragement to my faith, and a great reminder of the power that is mine to live as a new person in Christ.   

One of the challenges that wives of sex addicts are likely to encounter is fear.  The revelation of a spouse’s sex addiction can be devastating, both through what is known and what is still unknown.  It can be tremendously unsettling to discover that the man one thinks she has been married to all these years has actually been living a double life as someone else in internet chat rooms, secret email accounts, My Space, etc.  Some women try to fight this fear by trying to find out exactly what their husband has been doing and what he is doing now.  One friend of mine allowed that quest for truth to become her obsession and it almost ruined her and her marriage.  She was consumed with finding out who he was in touch with, what his online habits were and where he was at every moment.  When she was finally able to relinquish control to God and surrender her spywork on her husband, things changed for the better.  There can be many unknowns involved with a spouse’s sex addiction. If we can trust God with the unknowns and lean on his strength and direction, we will be much better off.   

Fear is a natural force, but unfortunately it can work against faith. In the face of unknowns, fear may assume the worst.  Fear can extinguish hope of change.  With that in mind, let’s look at how God directs us to deal with fear: 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV 

From this passage, we can answer these questions:

What does God tell us not to do? Fear

Where is God? With me

What are his promises to you?  He will strengthen and help me; he will uphold me with his righteous right hand. 

Though you may feel alone in your family, facing the impossible, you are not alone!  God is with you and will help you stand for righteousness.   

The role of priest

To further explore spiritual leadership in the family, we need to understand the concept of priesthood under Jesus Christ.  In essence, the husband and wife are called to be priests in the home unto the Lord.  Let’s first study the old covenant priesthood in order to better understand how the new priesthood functions.   

Priests under the old covenant

The priests of Israel came exclusively from the Levite tribe (Numbers 3:6,9-10).  They were to be leaders among the people and expected to adhere to strict standards of appearance, physical condition and conduct (Leviticus 21:4-5,17-21).  Additionally, they were to:

The priests of the old covenant did a great many things in their service to the Lord. They had to be meticulous in keeping the Law and in conducting their duties, as they were ministering to a holy God.  Violation of the protocol could have meant death for the priest (Leviticus 22:9). 

The primary functions of the priest included:

It was by no means an easy job.  In fact, it may have been the bloodiest and most stressful job available at the time! 

Priests under the new covenant

Jesus is “the mediator” of the new covenant.  He is also identified as the “High Priest” of this covenant (Hebrews 9:11,15).   As such, Jesus has done two important things for us:

1. Freed us from our sins by his blood

2. Made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father

(ref: Revelation 1:5-6

If there is any doubt concerning Christians’ roles as priests, consider Peter’s affirmation of that role:

 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  1 Peter 2:9 NIV 

Though the role of priest changed under the new covenant, many of the former priestly duties have spiritual significance and application in the new covenant priesthood.  As with the old covenant priests, new covenant priests’ primary function is to minister to the Lord.  Thankfully, physical sacrifices are no longer required, as Jesus provided the ultimate sacrifice for all sin on The Cross.  We do, however, have the privilege of offering “spiritual sacrifices” to the Lord.  Offering such sacrifices in effect is how we minister to the Lord (1 Peter 2:5).    

Spiritual sacrifices are acts of worship that reflect the attitude of our heart.  This heart-attitude is characterized by humility and contriteness (Psalm 51:17).  If our hearts are not behind our actions, the sacrifices will be offensive and meaningless to God.  There are several different spiritual sacrifices that we can make.  Perhaps the most important sacrifice we can make is obeying God with our actions and thoughts. Paul wrote about this in Romans 12:1-2: 

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 NIV 

When our bodily acts and thoughts are in alignment with God, we will be positioned to please God and know His will. 

To offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we submit to God’s will and resist the sinful cravings that our flesh may have.  As with any sacrifice, denying our cravings will involve some pain, but the rewards of submitting to God will be life and peace.   

Our thoughts are just as important as our actions.  Unfortunately there are many sources of “worldly” input that can lure us into a worldly pattern of thinking, such as television and movies.  Such a pattern is typically based on lust, idolatry, materialism, hedonism or a combination thereof. Paul wrote that we are to no longer allow our minds to be conformed to the world’s pattern.  We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  I believe that the transformation process occurs as a partnership between the Holy Spirit and ourselves.  Our part is to be careful what we put in our minds and think about and the Holy Spirit reminds us of the Word, empowers us toward righteousness and speaks the truth to us.   

Other important spiritual sacrifices include praising God (Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:9), and giving tithes and offerings (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).    

The priest of the home

The Bible mentions another function of the new covenant priest which involves “reigning” on earth (Revelation 5:9-10).  I believe that part of our “reign” on earth includes leading our families in righteousness, i.e. to be “priests of the home.”  Unfortunately we lack scriptures that specifically describe the new priest’s duties, but we can, however, derive duties by comparison with the old covenant priests and applying the New Testament scriptures.  For example, consider the below table: 

Old Covenant Priests

Priest of the Home

Ministered to the Lord 

Leads family in ministering to the Lord

Offers sacrifices

Offers spiritual sacrifices: lives righteously, praise & worship, tithes, etc.

Works in the meeting place

Makes the home a place of worship; brings the family to church; consecrates the home; prays for family regularly

Taught people God’s laws

Teaches the family God’s laws; leads by example

Distinguished between holy and unholy 

Screens things coming into the home; decides what will is allowed and what isn’t ; sets standards for entertainment selections on TV and computer; sets standards of dress

 These are responsibilities that are ideally shared by a husband and wife who are in agreement on the standards for the family.  As mentioned before, the situation is often not the ideal, and there is bound to be conflict where there is a lack of Godly leadership.  When a husband neglects or abdicates his spiritual leadership, hopefully the wife can step in and tactfully function as the priest of the home as the Lord enables her.  

Preparing for spiritual battle

When we take a stand for God in our home, we can expect spiritual conflict.  Satan and his minions desire to retain any influence they might have in your home and family.  Thankfully, in Christ you have the upper hand in this conflict, typically known as “spiritual warfare.” Spiritual warfare can be defensive or offensive, depending on the situation and how the Lord leads.  As a good soldier prepares for battle, we should prepare for this spiritual warfare so that we will prevail when and if battle occurs. 

God as the power source

Perhaps the foundational principle of fighting spiritual warfare is that we must rely on God’s power.  Paul highlighted this point in his key letter to the Ephesians: 

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB 

The enemies we face in spiritual warfare are not of flesh and blood.  They are spiritual enemies which Paul described as rulers, powers, “world forces” of darkness and “spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (vs.12).  In fighting such enemies, we cannot rely on our own brute, human strength, as that would be totally ineffective against unseen spiritual forces.  Paul said to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”  Exactly how to be strong in the Lord is a bit of a mystery, but Paul then goes on to explain specific actions related to the various parts of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:14-18.  Summarizing, these actions include:

I believe that these actions are subsets of the overall process of being strong in the Lord. Some of them are more symbolic than literal.  For more in-depth study on each of the above actions, please see my Armor Study.   

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV). Jesus is the source who we can and must rely on in spiritual warfare.  The more we stay connected with Him, the better success we’ll have in facing the challenges of living for God and fighting for our marriages and families.   

Promises to stand on

I’ve found it helpful to remind myself from time to time concerning who God is and what he does.  The scriptures are the best, timeless sources of information about God.  Accordingly, here are some example scriptures to stand on: 

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.  Psalm 28:7 NIV 

 1God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah   Psalm 46:1-2 NIV 

O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.  Psalm 140:7 NKJV 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV 

There are many more verses in the Bible that are great for shoring up one’s faith in preparation for spiritual warfare, especially in the book of Psalms.  You can stand on scriptures such as those above and claim them for your situation.  Just as God helped the people who wrote the Bible, so he will help you!  It’s important to note that belief in God’s word (i.e. faith) is linked directly to the proper functioning of the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).  Faith in God’s word can literally deflect the attacks of evil that may come against you.   

Prayer for power & provision

A logical first step in being strong in the Lord’s might is to ask God to strengthen us for the spiritual battles that we may face.  Historically, Paul prayed for God to strengthen the Ephesian Christians: 

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV 

The Ephesians needed God’s power in their inner beings so that their faith would be strong and that they would be rooted and established in love.  The implication was that they needed to be rooted and established in order to stand against the adversaries that were certain to have been seeking their demise.  Had they not been rooted and established in love, the Enemy could have divided and conquered them through strife and sectarianism.   

Along those lines, here is a prayer that wives can pray as they assume a role in spiritual warfare for the family: 

Heavenly Father, thank you for my family.  I take my stand against the Enemy’s work and influence in my family.  I pray that you will strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being.  Please help me to be tactful and wise in dealing with my husband.  Please help me to fulfill the call of a godly wife, yet to stand up against the evil that has invaded my family.  I put on the whole armor of God today: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, my feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the Sword of the Spirit and prayer.  Please teach me how to stand against the enemy and fight the spiritual battles that lay ahead.  Thank you that you have not left me alone, and that you are with me.  I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.   

Connecting with God through Quiet Times

It is important to stay connected with God throughout the day, especially when we’re engaging the Enemy in spiritual warfare.  I’ve found that the foundation for staying connected with God is spending time each morning in a “Quiet Time.”  This time typically includes prayer, Bible study and worship.  Using the military analogy, a Quiet Time is like meeting with one’s commanding officer and receiving orders for the day’s operations.   

I’ll be the first to admit that having a consistent Quiet Time can be a challenge.  The cares of the world, lack of sleep, and busy schedules will vie for priority over time with God.  If you can discipline yourself to have Quiet Times, you’ll be better prepared to face each day’s challenges. 

Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4 NKJV). The concept of a Quiet Time is based on our need to abide in Christ. By spending time with the Lord, learning his Word and communing with Him in prayer, we have the best chance of abiding in him for any given day.  The danger of not investing time with the Lord is that we will be less likely to abide in him and therefore less likely to be fruitful for God’s kingdom.  Considering Jesus’ sobering comments concerning unfruitful trees, such as Matthew 3:10 and Matthew 7:19, it behooves us as believers to do all we can to be fruitful.   

King David was a person that seems to have abided in God for the most part.  His many Psalms reveal the depth of the relationship that David had with God.  Psalm 63 is a good example: 

1 A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. 6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. 7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. 8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. 9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. 10 They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.  Psalm 63 NKJV 

David’s soul longed for the Lord; his flesh thirsted for the Lord.  In response, he sought the Lord early in the morning and worshiped him.  As a result David’s soul was satisfied and he rejoiced.  God dealt with his enemies accordingly. 

Quiet times can be a strategic time for us to seek God’s wisdom about the challenges we’re facing in the natural or spiritual realms.  James 1:5 NKJV says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  An example of what can happen when we fail to seek God’s wisdom is found in Joshua 9:1-19.  Joshua and Israel’s elders failed to consult the Lord concerning a proposed treaty with an unknown nation.  Once the treaty was ratified, the people learned that they had been deceived by the Gibeonites, a local group whom God had commanded the Israelites to annihilate.  Because of their treaty, the Israelites were unable to carry out God’s instructions.   This was a serious error that affected the Israelites for the centuries to follow.   

What to do in a Quiet Time

There are a variety of activities to choose from for quiet times.  As previously stated, the basics include Bible study (Joshua 1:8), praise and worship (Psalm 100:4), putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-13), and praying (Ephesians 6:18).   

What matters most is the condition of our heart.  We should not forget that the main objective is to connect with God.  If we get too wrapped up in checking off a “to do” list in our Quiet Times, we’ll have missed the point.   

Connecting with other Christians

Connecting with other Christians is vitally important to your survival in spiritual warfare and in the Christian life in general.  Isolation and secrecy are typical barriers that spouses of sex addicts face.  Embarrassment and fear often conspire to keep spouses silent about the evils of sex addiction and how it might be destroying their families.  In bowing to such pressures, spouses too often allow the Enemy to cut them off from the emotional and spiritual support of other Christians that could help sustain them in the battle for their families.   

The Christian life was never meant to be a “lone ranger” journey, but it seems that human nature tries to hide weaknesses and to avoid vulnerability with other Christians.  This is especially the case when dealing with the embarrassing issues of sex addiction.  The scriptures show that we need to be connected with other Christians if we hope to gain victory over the Enemy and succeed in living the new life in Christ.  How many one-person armies succeed in winning battles in the physical realm?  Not many if any. Successful military campaigns are waged through the coordinated efforts of a group of soldiers, whether it be a squad, platoon, company or brigade.  The same principle applies to spiritual battles.  Granted, we may be caught in spiritual skirmishes with the enemy when we’re alone, but we need to be in fellowship and prayer with other Christians for the bigger battles and for long-term success in general.   

Paul explained that each Christian is a member of the “Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), which enables people to be interdependent, share one another’s burdens and be unified in love (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).  The local church should be the best vehicle through which to accomplish those things. Being connected with a good church will involve more than simply attending weekly services.  Small group opportunities such as Bible studies, prayer groups, Sunday school, outreach groups and special projects can be great places to build meaningful relationships with people and minister to one another.   

Another important benefit of being connected with other Christians is the personal edification that comes through ministry of the various spiritual gifts.  In 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, Paul explained how God has given each person a different set of spiritual gifts for ministry “for the common good.” The writer of Hebrews gave us an example of this type of ministry: 

 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB 

Encouragement is something that everyone likes and needs.  If there is one thing that the world and the Church could use more of it is encouragers.  An encourager can be like a breath of fresh air that lifts a person’s spirits and inspires him or her.  In the church their function is to stimulate people toward love and good deeds.   

Wise counsel is another potential benefit that comes from being connected to a good church.  Consider these verses regarding counsel:

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.  Proverbs 11:14 NASB 

Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 NASB 

A common theme in the above verses is that multiple counselors will contribute to successful plans and operations.  This builds a case for being in fellowship with other Christians who might be able to lend insight into a person’s situation. Larger churches often have pastoral counselors, prayer ministries and staff whose function is to provide wise and godly counsel to their congregation members.   

It takes courage to risk vulnerability and share what is going on. One of the problems with sex addiction is that it thrives on secrecy.  When we share the situation with others, we break the power of the secrecy and fear.   If we won’t tell people the “real deal,” we miss out on any potential counsel or support they might be able to offer us. 

A final important reason to be connected with a church is for spiritual “covering” or protection.  Peter described our enemy, Satan, as a lion who prowls around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  He is looking for those who have become separated from “the pack,” and aren’t actively involved in any particular church.  Such victims lack the prayer support and edification that comes from being connected with the Body of Christ.  They also lack one other important thing – a leader to help guide them.  Paul likened church leaders to shepherds of a flock in Acts 20:28-31.  The shepherds mission entailed being on guard and on the alert and to protect the people from the “savage wolves” who seek to draw them away from Christ.   

God gives church leaders, including pastors, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers, spiritual authority and responsibility to guard the people in their care from the enemy.  Jesus modeled this “shepherding” relationship in caring for his disciples.  Consider this example from John’s Gospel of what Jesus did for the disciples: 

While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. John 17:12 NASB 

Jesus protected the disciples in God’s name and he guarded them so that none perished (except Judas).  When you are part of a good church, you have the protection that comes from being part of the “flock” under the guard of a God-ordained shepherd.  This will help prevent the enemy’s wolves from getting into the fold and tearing you to shreds! 

If you are not closely connected with a good church, please take a moment to brainstorm and list actions you can take to remedy that situation. 

 

 

I understand from firsthand experience how difficult it can be to find a good church.  If you are searching for one currently, or gave up searching, I encourage you to press on and not give up.  Don’t forget to ask God to guide you to the right place.   

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