The Infinite Shades of Grace
A few months ago, Lucy and I were toying with the idea of scheduling a summer series for More Precious that revolved around living a Godly life in the 21st century. But we were nervous - anxious about discussing topics that truly terrified us.
And then this post found its way into my inbox, and God made the decision for us.
Below is a post that frankly breaks my heart. It is a story that is not all that uncommon in the church, and yet pornography among women remains a taboo - a taboo in popular culture, nevermind in the church that can sometimes be a few steps behind. But the body of the church has to be willing to discuss the things that are hidden in the shadows, and we have to be determined to bring them into the light.
What you'll see in this post is the consuming darkness of a fallen world, but you will also see the redeeming light of the cross. That's what makes this post so remarkable. - Hannie xo
I don’t know where to start when writing this post. I suppose with the fact that it is a miracle, a testament to God’s amazing grace and power, that I am even doing so. I have to tell you that I’m absolutely terrified - but I believe that it is important and I pray that it will help all of you who have similar struggles or those with friends who have. At the very least that you would see what an amazing, astonishing God we have! So here goes:
I struggle with pornography.
Even writing that down is scary. I already want to hit the backspace button and give up. I have struggled with pornography since the age of 14 and only seven years later was I able to tell just one person. To say it out loud. So I’m writing this for my 14 year old self and anyone who has ever been or still is in my situation.
For seven years I often felt like I was living a double life. By the time I was about 14 I knew that I needed Jesus as my Saviour and wanted him as Lord in my life. I was astonished by God’s love for me and in awe of his forgiveness and acceptance of me. But now it was time for me to get on and be a good girl, right? I went to church, to CU at school, I read my Bible and I prayed with my friends. To people at church and to my friends I was that girl. Sure, I had little problems, but so does everyone.
However, at the same time I was becoming addicted to pornographic literature, increasingly aware that it was wrong, in and out of trying to exert self-control and stop, stuck in an absolutely helpless spiral of self-loathing and despair. What would people say if they knew? Wouldn’t my friends be disgusted? And what about God? How could He love me? How could I say that God has forgiveness for this? How can I pray to a perfect God? This is what sin does. It isolates us, entangles us. It drives a barrier between us and God and between us and other people. All sin. And unfortunately there are some sins we are so afraid to admit that they are like poison in our relationship with God and others.
And here comes my favourite word from the Bible...
But God in his infinite mercy did not leave me in this situation.
Through some bold sermons by people unafraid to talk about the ugliness of sin and amazing grace of God, by people unafraid to talk about the sins we like to avoid talking about, through quiet whispers in times of stillness that told me again and again of God’s mercy and eventually through a brave friend who opened up to me about her struggles with pornography and God’s amazing power for change in her life, God allowed me to admit my sin without fear, to receive his unbelievable forgiveness and to accept his power to change me.
You see, this was my problem: I had been trying to fix myself - to use my own efforts to stop going back to pornography. Trying to pass my own test of ‘goodness’ before I deemed myself worthy to go to God. But all along God had given me the gift of His power in me. He gives us new hearts. Hearts ruled by Christ, not by sin. Hearts free to live joyfully for Christ, not despairing hearts enslaved to sin.
So when tempted, I don’t need to believe the devil’s lie that there’s nothing to be done, I can’t avoid sinning. I can look to Christ, knowing that all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27) and that I can live by the power of Christ:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
And when I have given in to sin, which I do and will, I don’t have to run from God in shame, but can run to Him, my loving Father, free to admit and repent of my sin, free to receive his forgiveness with trust in its sufficiency, thankfulness and joy and trust in his promise to transform me into Christ’s likeness.
Struggle with sin is hard. For all of us. We all stumble and fall. Some of us will have times when we feel irretrievably far from God’s love. Don’t believe it. Remember: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) NO condemnation. This is true for all of us who believe - just look at people in the Bible like David. I mean talk about far from God – he committed adultery and had a man killed to cover his sin. But was he too far for the reach of God’s grace? It’s fair to say we can answer that with a resounding NO. And therefore, we can say along with Paul:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-9
Click here to read the rest of our summer series.
Below are a number of online Christian resources to provide accountability and support for any who are struggling.
However, it is important to note that one of the most powerful tools will be simply telling a member of church leadership, or even just a friend.
There is no shame in Christ - you are covered in His grace and righteousness. Do not let the lies of The Deceiver tell you otherwise, precious daughter.