Why I Just Couldn’t Get Free
Today I want to write to those of you who, no matter how hard you try, feel stuck. Maybe you’ve been following Jesus for years, or perhaps you’re just getting started—but you find yourself unable to overcome a certain struggle that keeps rearing its ugly head.
If this describes you, keep reading.
First, know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus will never stop forgiving you. He sees the torment your sin brings you every time you fall. He knows you truly want to be free. And by His grace, these words today can help you.
So if you’ve fallen, or keep falling, don’t stay in shame. Every time you fall, keep getting back up, keep repenting, and keep running boldly before the Throne of Grace, where you find mercy (Hebrews 4:16).
Next, though—and this is key—I want you to examine your motive for changing. If your heart is not in the right place, you’ll likely find it very difficult to get and stay free from whatever you are struggling with. That’s what I experienced in my own life. Allow me to share my story.
Years ago, I struggled with an addiction to pornography. I became addicted several years before coming to Christ and even after getting married and working in ministry, I could not get free. I once had one of the most well-respected ministers in America lay hands on me and pray for me to be delivered from my addiction. None of it worked.
My freedom didn’t come until I changed my priorities. In the beginning, my desire to be free was driven by fear. I wanted God to set me free because I feared my sin would get in the way of my ministry and God’s call on my life. I was afraid of getting caught and being exposed. In other words, my motivation for being free was self-focused. I was worried about the negative effects my sin would have in my own life.
But then my heart shifted in a powerful way. God revealed to me that even in my repentance, I was making it all about me. I stopped being motivated by fear and instead, I allowed love to be the driving force for change. Fear looks inward at the self, but love looks outward.
More than anything else, I began to focus on how my decisions were affecting my intimacy with Jesus. I started caring about how my sin affected God. I became grieved over my sin because I realized I was hurting the heart of the One I loved.
To put it differently, I began to experience true godly sorrow over my sin.
This was a game changer.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul contrasts two kinds of sorrows—godly sorrow that leads to salvation and worldly sorrow that brings death. My story illustrates both of these sorrows. At first, my sorrow was worldly, meaning it was self-focused. I was worrying about what would happen to me as a consequence of my sin.
But later, my sorrow became godly. I became concerned over how my sin was hurting God and others. The focus of my sorrow and repentance shifted from fear to love.
It has made all the difference.
If you want to get and stay free, start with your why. Without the right force driving you, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels.