Meet John. John is a Christian who loves Jesus with all of his heart. He goes to church, reads his Bible every day, and prays regularly. John wants to honor God in all he does, but he has a major problem. He’s addicted to pornography. He hates the fact he likes watching it. He’s read the Bible and knows it’s a sin. He also knows he should be able to overcome the problem, but the problem seems bigger and stronger than he is. He’s ready to give up on God because he feels like God may have given up on him.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe your problem isn’t pornography, but I think we can all relate to wanting to change things in our lives and not being able to. It’s probably the most frustrating thing a Christian can experience. The feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and condemnation associated with our failure to change can almost be unbearable at times. Often in those times we focus more on what we’ve done rather than who He is. This causes us to withdraw and flee from His presence. When we do this, it’s because we are seeing things backwards. We are seeing Him backwards!
How tragic? The one who made us, the one who is love, is trying valiantly with everything He has to reach us and we shut Him off. We don’t miss walking in freedom because God doesn’t love us, we miss walking in freedom because we won’t receive His love. We see God backwards. We think we have to change for God to accept us. Changing to produce acceptance doesn’t produce freedom, it produces bondage. The first step in the process of change is to understand that God accepts us as we are.
2 Corinthians 3:18 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
True change comes through intimacy with God. Intimacy in spite of our shortcomings, not because we have worked them all out. According to the verse above, we are changed by beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! We are not changed from focusing on our sin. Unfortunately, the focus on sin causes most people to leave the presence of God, the very presence we need in order to change.
Think about the woman caught in adultery in John 8. The Pharisees (the keepers of the law) brought accusations about her to Jesus. They brought up her shortcomings and failure. Through the course of the conversation, Jesus got each of the Pharisees to admit they were unworthy to judge the woman and every one of them left His presence. This woman was left in the presence of Jesus and he removed the spirit of accusation from before her face. Look at verse 10:
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
Jesus then raised Himself up and told her that He didn’t condemn her either. Think about it. She hadn’t changed and He didn’t condemn her. In the midst of her mess, she experienced acceptance in the presence of Jesus. This may seem backwards to some of you reading this. If it does, maybe you are still seeing things backwards. Keep reading!
I’m not saying Jesus approved of her sin. He just wanted something more important than her actions. He wanted her heart. When she experienced perfect acceptance in the face of perfection, her heart was open to anything He would tell her next. Her heart could trust because her heart felt safe. She knew she was loved; loved as she was and not as she should be. As she looked into His face, Jesus told her “Go and sin no more.” This woman who didn’t qualify for acceptance now had the power to change. And she did.
God longs to spend time with us so His presence and glory can change us. We are changed as we behold Him; as He looks deep into our eyes and we look deep into His. I hope this teaching has blessed you! If you want to learn more or maybe have additional questions about how can this be true, please check out this message entitled “Walk In Newness of Life.” The biblical truths contained in this teaching have set many people free! Be blessed!