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Also, watch the 6.30 minutes video on Otakada on How to Change Unwanted Feelings, Thoughts, and Emotions by Mark
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Sunday, 10th of November 2019
Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/ending-the-immoral-relationship
Nuggets of Wisdom – From Life’s Experiences
“In retrospect, my wife and i saw many occasions where we could identify communication problems in our friend’s marriage, but we said nothing He became involved with another married woman and subsequently left his wife for her My wife and I now see (1) that we should have voiced our concerns and (2) that we would now never refrain from speaking out in the future with other friends where we see similar difficulties.”We were hesitant to speak out because we were fearful about jeopardizing the friendship. But now, we would see that risk as being far less significant than the pain both couples went through as a result of the unresolved tensions in their marriage.”I would now never hesitate to risk a friendship for the sake of saving a marriage “ – Christian man after close friend’s marriage is threatened by adultery
“I have asked some Christian friends at work to hold me accountable When you lack accountability, you are wide open for rationalization. Accountability realty strengthens you. It is a reminder to keep your priorities straight. “ – Christian man after involvement with a coworker
“A belief is what you hold; a conviction is what holds you.’ A conviction is not authentic unless it includes a commitment to live accordingly.” – Berry bridges
“You can’t feel yourself into a new way of acting; you have to act yourself into-a new way of feeling.” Anonymous
“As Christians, we sometimes overlook the fact that sin is fun. That is the great enticement to begin with. The power of sin is real, and it takes great strength to break it.”
“If one person in an adulterous affair calls the other after the breakup—the person called must hang up the phone.” Sound harsh? It is, but it is the only way. We are dealing with a very destructive force and it must be dealt with harshly.”
“Emotional illness is every bit as debilitating as physical illness.”
Key verses for Today:
Romans 6:6 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
We know that our old life was put to death on the cross with Christ. This happened so that our sinful selves would have no power over us. Then we would not be slaves to sin.
Proverbs 23:7 Amplified Bible (AMP)
7 For as he
thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates].
He says to you, “Eat and drink,”
Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost].
Matthew 5:27-32 Message
Adultery and Divorce
27-28 “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30 “Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32 “Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Matthew 7:21-23 The Message (MSG)
21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
Matthew 15:18-20 The Message (MSG)
16-20 Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 The Message (MSG)
11-12 These are all warning markers—danger! —in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
Exodus 20:14 –17
14 No adultery.
15 No stealing.
16 No lies about your neighbor.
17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.
Back to Godliness
Step 2: Ending the immoral relationship
Some who ended the affair
Not real names to protect identity.
Helen and John—Helen and John had been having an adulterous affair on and off for about six months. They had come to realize that they simply couldn’t end it. Both of them had been committed Christians who were now at the brink of ruining two families and their own testimonies.
They worked for the same Christian organization, and had sincerely tried to go back to being “just friends” and coworkers. For a time, they would succeed. Then one of them would weaken and they would succumb to their sexual desires.
Their friends had begun to notice the amount of time they spent together. There were some casual comments. In desperation, they were ready to get counseling help. They were ready to do whatever it would take to right the situation.
Nancy—Nancy recognized, with growing irritation, that her dependence on her boss was unhealthy. She had spent months justifying her feelings by telling herself everything was okay because they were not romantically involved.
She had even told him that they should spend less time together, and when they were together to talk less intimately. But he brushed aside her concerns as foolish, and temporarily convinced her that God had brought them together to be a comfort to each other. She knew that they were just kidding themselves about their friendship.
She was right. It soon went beyond inappropriate behavior into a full-fledged affair. Even if Nancy’s boss was not willing to take action, she was. She began taking the necessary steps to break her dependency on him.
Marlene—Marlene was spending more and more time alone. She had dropped out of her Bible study group and had only minimal contact with her Christian friends. Much of her time was spent at work and watching TV at home.
Her fantasy world had become her refuge. She would slip into the characters on the TV screen or in the pages of the novel she was reading. Friends began to call her attention to the fact that she seemed “somewhere else” when they did get to see her. She realized that she had allowed her thought life to control her. She fantasized about things she wanted to happen in her life that weren’t happening. She pictured herself romantically involved with a number of men she knew only casually.
She felt nothing was wrong with this because no one else knew of her thoughts and she had taken no action on them . . . yet. But when her boss scolded her about not paying attention to her job, she became disgusted with herself and decided to get help.
Starting the process back to godliness
Just as there is a process that leads to immorality, there is also a process that leads back to godliness. There is no instant cure.
1. The acknowledgment of sin—The first step in this process of restoration is an acknowledgment of sin. Rationalization must end. The situation must be seen for what it really is in God’s eyes. We can no longer look at the affair with the eyes of the world or even with our own weakened “spiritual” eyes.
We can no longer compare ourselves to other believers who may be caught in more damaging sins than our own. God is looking at us individually—in light of His Son and His Word, not in light of the world around us.
We must become convicted of our sins. Jerry Bridges addressed this issue of conviction when he said, ‘“A belief is what you hold; a conviction is what holds you.’ A conviction is not authentic unless it includes a commitment to live accordingly.”
In acknowledging sin, we must do more than just believe it is wrong. We must be convicted enough to be willing to change. And that conviction must grip us personally. We will be able to find people, even in Christian circles, who will excuse sin, thus influencing us to rationalize our bad thoughts, behavior, or involvement.
Acknowledgment and conviction go hand in hand. We begin at 1 John 1:8 9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” After confessing and asking for forgiveness, we are ready for action.
2. Take action immediately—-The process that leads back to godliness is different than the one that led away from the spiritual walk. In moving away from God, the process may be slow and subtle. In moving back to God, the action must be deliberate, quick, and
radical. By radical, I mean we must make decisions and stick to them, even if they later seem to have been too harsh. We need to take quick action because procrastination will only make it even harder to get started on the renewing process.
Being deliberate means making a commitment to follow through. We are not saying we will try to go back to a godly lifestyle; we need to definitely commit to going back to a godly lifestyle. And this commitment will work only if we have first made the personal, relational commitment to Jesus Christ, as mentioned in the previous series 11 of 15. Seeing that our relationship with Him is more important than our relationship with any other person is the only way we will win the battle.
3- Actions must be based on obedience—The process that led away from godliness was based primarily on feelings and emotions. We may have had rational, godly thoughts during our time of drifting away, but they were rendered ineffective because the decisions at the time were based on emotions.
Now, on the road back to godliness, actions based on obedience to Him must rule over actions based on what you feel you want to do. There is a saying, “You can’t feel yourself into a new way of acting; you have to act yourself into-a new way of feeling.”
You will want to continue seeing the other person; you won’t want to hurt him or her; you’ll still have lustful feelings for the other person (your tendency will be to continue to ignore them). The discipline of taking immediate action is much easier said than done.
Getting out of immoral involvement—Disconnect completely
The most effective way to end an adulterous relationship is disconnect completely. No more contact of any kind.
Once the decision has been made to end the affair, there must be a final goodbye. No more discussions about what went wrong, no more attempts to be “just friends,” no more brief phone calls for just a little advice. No more contact!
You may feel there are very legitimate reasons to contact the other person. “If one person in an adulterous affair calls the other after the breakup—the person called must hang up the phone.” Sound harsh? It is, but it is the only way. We are dealing with a very destructive force and it must be dealt with harshly.
Satan will be relentless in trying to get you back with your lover. Weeks will go by and you won’t hear from the other person. Then, “out of the blue,” you may see him. Because some time has passed, you may feel safe in resuming the relationship on a different level.
There will be a tendency to gravitate back toward the former lover instead of maintaining a distance. Remember, we are talking about abruptly ending a relationship with someone you have grown emotionally attached to, someone you feel you love. Your heart will fight against the decision made by obedience to the Word.
Time and maturity in the Lord may allow for some form of friendship in the future. But, in the beginning of a deliberate reversal in lifestyle, friendship shouldn’t even be considered. That isn’t the issue. The issue is your committed relationship with Jesus Christ. He says emphatically and repeatedly in His Word that adultery is wrong.
Because of that, you must give it up and turn the affair over to Him. Whether a friendship is possible or not will be for Him to determine.
What if the two people work together? A job change for one of them maybe the only solution. If they are in a large enough organization where they do not have to have contact, they may be able to make it. But the battle will be fiercer and longer if the temptation is close by.
Why such drastic measures? Because it is the only way a reversal will work. The flesh is weak and Satan is clever. He will deceive you just enough to make you think that you can successfully take two steps back and not slip again. When you think you are safe, the desire to be intimate will surge to the surface, perhaps stronger than ever before. And you’ll fall again.
A safeguard for maintaining distance is to confide in someone you are accountable to. In most cases of adultery, the help of a trained counselor is necessary to help resolve the situation. He or she will be a source of encouragement and direction when the decision to change becomes difficult to continue. And a counselor will keep it in the strictest confidence. A trusted friend may also be of great help. Do make sure that the friend is not someone who will share your situation in the form of a prayer request.
Because the backlash of an adulterous relationship can be so disastrous, before confessing to your spouse or trying to repair your life by yourself, seek professional help. If you are not familiar with whom to contact, check with your pastor for the name of a trained counselor in your area. In the meantime, make the decision to break the contact—and break it!
Don’t be surprised if. . .
1. Don’t be surprised if you start off strongly and falter quickly. Once you have decided to end an immoral relationship, you will probably feel great relief and determination. Don’t be shocked or caught off guard if that determination is challenged almost instantly. Patterns are difficult to break, especially sexual ones.
Also, remember that you have an adversary. Satan doesn’t want you to win this battle. He will sneak back into your thoughts in many ways. You will find yourself thinking, “What I was doing wasn’t so bad after all”; “Compared to everyone else, I’m okay”; “I can’t help myself”; and on and on.
And so the rationalization stage will begin again. When this starts to happen, realize that you are being led back to making decisions based on feelings. You were determined yesterday. Good. You feel helpless today. That’s okay, too. But don’t take action based on either of these feelings. It is good to feel determined, but the real basis for your action is founded on biblical truth and conviction to put Christ first in your life. Biblical truth doesn’t change with feelings. The truth that allowed you to choose right actions yesterday is still the truth that you may be trying to rationalize about today.
Don’t contact the person with whom you’ve broken up; don’t fantasize about being with him; don’t try endlessly to get out of your pain. Accept the pain as a result of disobedience, then move forward with correct behavior. Enlist all the spiritual armor you can. Deter mine to be faithful to the Lord.
2. Don’t be surprised if fear becomes a constant companion. Fear, other than proper godly fear of the Lord, is debilitating. You may think fearful things you’ve never thought before: being rejected because of your mistakes; never again having the titillating feelings you just gave up; never feeling so deeply about someone again.
A spirit of fear does not come from the Lord. When fear comes in, recognize the presence of the enemy. Satan wants you to lose. Go back to the basics. Stay close to the Lord and refuse to allow fear to control you.
Above all, don’t go back to any of the old behavioral patterns just to relieve the fears. If you fear feeling unloved, don’t go to some counterfeit source to try to get love.
3. Don’t be surprised if you need to act out of sheer obedience. This is a real battle. Your strong convictions and determination will last only if you admit to the severity of the predicament you are in. Rationalization will fight the truth. But you must fight fear with peace. You will want to return to old sinful patterns. You will even have thoughts of justification similar to the ones that allowed you to get involved in the first place.
The process away from godliness progressed with an element of excitement and pleasure. The process back to godliness is a painful, uphill battle all the way. You will be going against the wind. This requires strength. You will feel weak because it takes a great deal of energy to fight this battle.
You may need to drop some activities and rearrange major parts of your life. Take all the time you need. Make all the alterations necessary. You’ll be able to participate in the work of the Kingdom again when you are well. Emotional illness is every bit as debilitating as physical illness.
When you feel weak, hang on in the Lord’s strength. Obey out of sheer willingness to obey. You don’t need to feel like obeying. Do it anyway. You don’t need to feel strong to obey. After you have taken action to break the contact with the one you’ve had the affair with, your next action maybe one of sitting still and resting before the Lord. However, be constantly on guard when you are still, or your mind may drift back to the times you’ve just left behind.
You have been in a battle. Now you are in another one, but of a different nature. God desires you to walk with Him. Satan wants you, too.
You are weak and weary. You may still be confused. You want to stay committed to putting Christ first, but the old ways require so little energy, and the change back to godliness seems to require so much effort. That’s why you need to take advantage of any godly means available to you to win the battle.
Bring a friend into your confidence for support and accountability. Begin attending a Sunday school class or Bible study. Cultivate meaningful relationships with committed, mature believers.
None of these things will prevent immorality. They may encourage you, however, to stay on the right path. They will be strong, positive influences. God does use His people in the lives of others to help change them. Be open to Him to provide support through others, and also through His Word, His Spirit, and the written words of other believers.
Questions for reflection and application:
- Are you in either Helen/John, Nancy or Marlene situation right now? Stop and reflect
- Do you have an accountability partner or somebody you can confide in? Do you have a mentor, counsellor or third party to work with? Begin that process today and they will help you avoid pitfalls in your walk of faith.
Thank you, Lord God, for today and the help we receive from You continually not to fall into temptation. As we are willing to change or put in checks and balances in our lives, bring in trustworthy accountability partners our ways in Jesus name, Amen
Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe
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