A Secret Addiction, and a Life of Quiet Desperation

sea man beach couple

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

~Henry David Thoreau

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).

In John 3:19 Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Unfortunately, this love for evil does not end at conversion. A new capacity to love God and the things of God does begin at the moment of conversion, but there is still a lingering love affair with the world, the flesh, and the devil. For this reason, the gospel command comes, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). 

Mortification of the flesh is not an option for the believer. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:13-14).

If the professing Christian does not find the victory to comply with the gospel commands of Scripture, then the following will happen.

A life of spiritual defeat will be experienced full of sadness and sorrow instead of the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy and peace.  Because of the choices he made, Lot lived a defeated life. When he did finally speak about righteous matters, and warned others to flee from the wrath to come, he seemed to them as one that mocked. He had no credibility.

The Holy Spirit will be grieved, and perhaps even quenched. The Holy Spirit is grieved when sin is committed. He is quenched when sin is persisted with repentance and remorse. 

There will be secret shame and fear of public exposure. The mind will imagine many scenarios of exposure bringing sleepless nights and anxious days.

One area of weakness will give way to another. Rarely do people struggle in only one matter. Sin is like an octopus with tentacles. It not only reaches out to touch the lives of others, but it also reaches out to affect other areas of the personality.

A double life, a secret life will be cultivated. There is a public persona and a private reality known only to friends and family members, and sometimes not even them.

A premature death will come, for excessive sin hastens the day of divine judgment. There is a sin unto death. For Moses, it was failure to give his child the sign of the covenant (Exodus 4:25). For Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, it was lying to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:1-11). For the believers at Corinth, there was the abuse of the Lord ’s Table (1 Cor. 11:30). For disobedient children who show disrespect to their parents, there is a shortening of the life (Eph. 6:2).

There will be a hardening of the heart when sin in the soul is left un-mortified. This hardening of the heart will manifest itself in the need for unholy boldness, and recklessness, because of the need for something more extreme to produce the pleasure principle which is at the heart of rebellion. When Eve “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 6:2). If you think of a person addicted to something whether it be alcohol, sex, drugs, anger, over eating, under eating etc. you know they did not get to this sad condition by a single transgression. By degrees the heart was hardened so that new practices could be engaged in with the end result being enslavement.

A life of quiet desperation will be maintained.

Dr. Neil T. Anderson, a Christian pastor and author, shares a letter to God from a Christian young woman who was languishing in deep spiritual, mental, and emotional turmoil over repetitive secret sin. The letter was written in the 1980’s.

Dear God,

“Where are you? How can you watch and not help me? I hurt so bad, and you don’t even care. If you cared you’d make it stop or let me die. I love you, but you seem so far away. I can’t hear you or feel you or see you, but I’m supposed to believe you’re here. Lord, I feel them and hear them. They are here. I know you’re real, God, but they are more real to me right now. Please make someone believe me, Lord. Why won’t you make it stop? Please, Lord, please! If you love me, you’ll let me die.”

A Lost Sheep

The desperate cry, and deep emotional anguish that produced this letter to God is not unusual. This Lost Sheep is not alone. There are many Christians who are living defeated spiritual lives because they “hear voices”, and are caught up in a world of secret struggles. The battle for the soul and for holiness of life, is being waged, but they are on the losing side. Day after day, year after year the soul is swept away to engage in self-destructive and other destructive behavior. No matter how many people scream out, “You are hurting me! Stop hurting me with your anger, your cutting remarks, you negative criticism” the message is not received. No matter how loudly the heart cries out, “Oh God, I hate myself, and I despair of not being free of this monkey on my back”, spiritual victory remains elusive.

Salvation was not supposed to be like this. What happened? There are several possibilities.

It is possible that a genuine conversion experience has never taken place. Jesus addressed this issue in the parable of the Seed and the Sower (Matt. 13:1-23).

Is it possible a person is deceived. Paul writes of how “perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:1-7).

It is possible a person has yet to comprehend the spiritual warfare that has been entered into. Eph 6:12 explains. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Because there are principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual oppression must be considered. Throughout church history Christians have had to battle not only the world, and the flesh, but the devil as well. Adam and Eve met Satan in the Garden of Eden. David was tempted by Satan to number the children of Israel in an act of inordinate military pride. Job became the object of Satan suffering, as did Paul, who said that an emissary from the devil buffeted him. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. John saw the enemy of men’s soul on the isle of Patmos.

Failure to comprehend the nature of spiritual warfare, and failure to appropriate the divine provisions by putting on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6: 13-18) for the same, will keep the soul enslaved, not because the heart has not been converted and set free, but because of a voluntary servitude to sin.

The apostle Paul addresses the issue in Ephesians 6:13- 18, and in Romans 7.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:13-18).

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:17-24).

There is debate whether Paul is writing about the state of his heart prior to salvation, or whether he is writing after salvation. I believe he is writing as a Christian struggling with inbred corruption, for he declares He delights in the law of the Lord after the inward man. No unconverted person could ever say that and mean it.

Paul knows the Lord wants him to be good, and decent, and holy. The practical problem is how. The evil that he does not want to do he finds himself committing. Why was that?

For Paul, the road to spiritual victory came when he realized the existence of the presence of the principle of sin. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” For lack of a better term, Paul sees three personalities, or players in his life.

There is God. There is himself. There is the presence of the principle of sin personified. It is the presence of the principle of sin that becomes the focus point of attention, for to Paul this presence of the principle of sin is the real culprit. It is “nothing good”.  This presence of the principle of sin is like a splinter in a finger. It dwells in the flesh, but it does “nothing good” for the body. It should not be there. It brings only pain and suffering. In like manner the presence of the principle of sin should not be there. But it is there until, like the splinter it is removed and that removal can take place in time. The way the spiritual splinter is removed is through mortification of the flesh, and the flesh is mortified by an act of the renewed will.

Adam and Eve consciously chose not to do right. God wants believers to consciously choose to do what is right. But that can only be accomplished by realizing there is a genuine choice. In order to perceive the genuine choice then the big lie of the Enemy must not be embraced. The greatest lie of the Enemy is that there is no choice and the soul is subject to the presence of the ruling principle of sin.

When the Christian realizes this presence of the principle of sin, but sees it as something different from himself, then it can be personified as a ruling force that will take control of the life but only if it is yielded to. Yielding or not yielding to the presence of the principle of sin is, for the Christian, a true choice, and therein is the good news.

Christ has come to set the captives free. He did not lie when He said He came to do that.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

But the Enemy lies and his biggest lie causes Christians to be self-deceived. The lie of the Enemy is that Christians are helpless before the power of evil. The self-deception is that the presence of the ruling principle of sin is identical to self. That is simply not true.

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

The new birth brings a new nature. The new nature that is born of God cannot sin in the sense that the heart yields to evil without being miserable and remorseful. The only problem is how to be free from the tyranny of the presence of the principle of sin.

In order to be free, a winning strategy is needed. Paul found the winning strategy in Christ. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:24)”

I Heard an old, old story, how a Savior came in glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

Oh, Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood.
loved me ‘ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard bout His healing, of His cleansing power revealing,
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t to me the victory.

Oh, Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood.
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory,
And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing, and the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up their the song of victory.

Oh, Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood.
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”

~E. M. Bartlet, 1939

As inspirational as the song might be, as beautiful as the thought of divine deliverance is, the practical problem still remains as to how this victory is achieved. Spiritual platitudes do not work. What does work is the truth said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

The first great spiritual truth is the presence of the principle of the power of sin which is personified for the qualities it seems to possess.

The second great spiritual truth is that this presence of the principle of sin is distinguished from the born-again believer.

The third great spiritual truth is that the presence of the principle of sin can be effectively defeated. It is defeated by exposure, and then by metrification. Mortification takes place when the principle of sin is not yielded to by a conscious choice of the redeemed will through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

If this sounds like mystical reasoning it is not, for the key concept to breaking out of spiritual bondage is to recognize that the presence of the principle of sin is an alien entity, which the Enemy lies about in order to keep control and power. The lie is that the presence of the principle of sin is the same as the new man in Christ Jesus.

The self-deception is that the power of the presence of the principle of sin is so great it must be yielded to and that, says Paul, is where the next great principles comes into focus, the renewing of the mind.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

Romans 7: 23 and Romans 8:5-7 show that the center of all spiritual bondage is in the mind. That is where the battle must be fought, and won, if there is to be freedom in Christ, which is the believer’s inheritance.

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23).

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:5-7).

Because the carnal mind is hostile to God, and cannot be ruled by the Law of God it must be destroyed. Therefore, the Christian must find a winning strategy to destroy this tyrant. Such a strategy will be found and implemented. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

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