5.27.2013

Sam on shame, perfection and brokenness (Lets Get Real Series)

I feel so blessed to be able to share this blog entry with you on the first week of the "Lets Get Real Series!"

I love Sam's bravery and honesty as she openly writes what she is going through. Being in a relationship myself I know how difficult it can be and it's so refreshing to hear her heart in all of this and what God is teaching her through it. 
I have been so challenged and encouraged by her and her entry and I pray while reading this you will be too.

Enjoy:)

My name is Samantha Nosal (I go by Sam), and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The crazy thing is, though I have claimed to be a Christian since I was young, I am still learning what it means to truly be a follower, and not just a fan of Christ. Currently, I am reading a book by Kyle Idleman called "not a fan", which had challenged me to step outside the habitual, expected motions of a "Christian" (whatever that means nowadays) and become a radically obedient disciple of Jesus Christ. 
This past year has been one the greatest seasons of growth for me in my walk with Christ. It has also been a year of immense temptation and struggle for me, where I have battled with sins I felt like I could never overcome. Honestly, I believe growth in our relationship with God stems from brokeness. A prime of example of a man who really got this concept was King David. God even spoke of David as "a man after my after my own heart" Acts 13:22, so clearly David had some pretty solid insight into what the Lord desires from His followers. In Psalm 51:17 David cries out to the Lord, "the sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God". A broken spirit, that's it. Not works to try and regain the Lord's approval, not an extra donation of your money to a Christian organization, just a broken and repentant heart. 
I want to share this with you because I do not want you to continue trying to earn the Lord's favour by your own strength because you are holding onto the shame of a sin you feel like you just can't beat. 
I have been there
I have strived in my own strength and willpower to overcome sin, and this is so dangerous because it is a hopeless battle on your own. 
For the past two years my boyfriend and I have struggled with sexual immorality in our relationship. This sin has broken us down, stripping away our joy, and has even caused us to break up several times. Though I am a virgin, and some may consider anything less than sex ok, I am here to tell you that even a hint of sexual immorality is robbing you of the blessings God has planned for you are your future husband. Ephesians 5:3 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality". God does not warn us of this sin so often in scripture just because he feels like it. He knows us completely, and has beautiful plans to bless us and give us abounding joy if we would only listen and be patient for it all to unfold. However, the real struggle for me was not acknowledging that my sexual sin was wrong. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit every time I engaged in this sin, I just did not know HOW to overcome
Every morning I would wake up crying, telling myself I would never let myself fall into this sin again, only for the my motivation and willpower to wear off in a couple weeks. I was so sick of failing and so ashamed. I knew the right response wasn't to turn away from God in my shame, but how could I keep facing him over and over, when I knew what I was doing was wrong? I now realize that Satan was feeding me this lie. Scripture does not tell us that at some point God stops forgiving us, but that his grace is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When Jesus was on the cross, God looked at his own Son with all of our sin past, present, and future. Because Christ was victorious, God sees us through lens of Jesus' righteousness. How arrogant and ignorant of us to think that our sin is too large that Christ was not able to bear it when he died on the cross. This mindset it minimizing all that Jesus did, which is EXACTLY what Satan wants. 
God's grace is a gift, and the first step to overcoming sexual sin was letting go of my shame and acknowledging that the Lord's grace is sufficient for my sin. He isn't just giving me a break. 1 John 1:9 tells us "if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Our God is JUST by nature, so it is right that he forgives our sins because Jesus paid the ultimate penalty once and forever. How beautiful, loved ones, that we can come to the Lord in our brokeness and disgusting sin and he still sees us as his pure, beloved daughter. 

The next step to beating this sin was to stop depending on my own efforts, such as limiting contact with my boyfriend, writing out new boundaries, etc. I am not suggesting that you put yourself in dangerous situations that will drag you into sexual sin, but Satan will find a way for you to be alone and face this temptation, regardless of your own effort. The key is to be spirit-filled rather than self-empowered as Kyle Idleman puts it in his book "not a fan". Kyle goes on to explain that being filled with the power of the Spirit begins with the honest acknowledgement of our own weakness. He points to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 as an example, where Paul speaks of how acknowledging our weakness makes room for Christ's power:
I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses... For when I am weak, I am strong.

I also agree with Kyle's statements that this is not just a once a week acknowledgement of the Holy spirit, but a moment by moment walk in the Spirit. One of the practices of walking in the Spirit I have learned from this book is Spiritual Breathing. It is a method to practice walking in a moment by moment awareness of the spirit, as described by the author. The moment you become aware of a sin in your life you exhale and repent of the sin, clearing our space in your heart for the Holy Spirit. Then you inhale, and pray to be filled with the Spirit, surrendering control to him. Basically, this keeps you in constant prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit's power. The result is God in control, where by the Spirit's strength you are increasingly, though not perfectly, having victory over your sin. 

I just want to end with this verse from Colossians 2:13-14: "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross". Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, God no longer looks at us in all of our unrighteousness and shame. 
He sees us as blameless and beautiful in the righteousness of Christ.
All of our sin was nailed to the cross with Jesus. If you have been struggling with a sin and are experiencing the weight and burden of shame, you don't have to! God does not expect perfection, but that we are becoming increasingly obedient to him, where his grace is being made perfect in our weakness. And the best part of all, our God is a god of healing! Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds WE ARE HEALED." 
So if you have a past that Satan is telling you can never be mended, tell him to get behind you, because God's son already paid for that and HE still has abounding blessings and healing to pour upon you!

Sam.

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