God loves us. He wants our relationship with Him to be unhindered. Many of us enter recovery looking for freedom from the battle against a particular sin. We hope to walk away from recovery untroubled by that sin.
But freedom in Christ is not the absence of trouble or temptation. Jesus told us that we would face trouble and temptation living in a sin-filled world (John 16:33). Freedom is being able to fully experience God's goodness unhindered by sin while living on a spiritual battleground. As we rely on Christ through our battles, we die to our sinful nature, allowing us to experience God's power, goodness and freedom.
Read this brief story of when God revealed true freedom to Nate in the middle of his battle against a pornography addiction:
One day, after years of sobriety from a pornography addiction, I was greatly tempted to act on lustful thoughts while at work. At lunchtime, I told a friend about my temptation but after praying together my battle still raged on. The first half of 2 Timothy 2:22 was the only scripture I could recall. Desperate for relief and unable to focus, I realized that if I did not leave I would give in to temptation. I fled my office. As I drove home, I was ruthlessly attacked by lustful thoughts. I tried recalling scripture and focusing on God’s goodness, but porn images of the past yanked on my mind. I tried thinking of my wife only to have sexual imaginations that I had never seen flood my brain. My heart raced and my hands shook. I was desperate. I did not want this struggle. I wondered out loud, “Am I crazy?” “Am I really this sick?” “Where is the freedom?!” “After years of sobriety, where is the freedom?!” I cursed, then yelled, “WHERE IS THE FREEDOM, LORD?! What about the "light" burden and "easy" yoke? You promise!” (Matthew 11:28–30)
Out of nowhere a question flashed through my mind; "How would this drive have been five years ago?" . . . Five years ago . . . I would have looked at porn. I would be dreading my arrival home; feeling great shame, guilt and failure. I would be sick. I would wonder, “How do I face my wife? Kids? Friends? God? How little can I share to be rid of my guilt? I can never share it all.” In coming weeks I would approach God out of obedience rather than passion—my relationship with him dry. Conviction would haunt me when reading the Bible. Prayers would focus on my forgiveness. I would fake smiles at church and only have shallow conversations. I would isolate, staying unknown and distant in my relationships. Satan would accuse me: "Guilty. Not worthy. Fraud. You cannot share Christ. You are not free."
In that moment I realized . . . I AM FREE. I have not surrendered to the battle. I have nothing to hide! I am free to go home to face my wife and my kids.
Free to face God. Free to share my struggles. Free to worship. Free to indulge in God’s goodness and to enjoy him. His strength is perfect when I am weak.
Arriving home, I tell my surprised wife, "You married a crazy man. I do not know why but today my mind was wild—that is why I am early. But, honey, I have nothing to confess other than . . . I love you. None compare to you.”
A week later as I recalled the temptation, I savored the joy in our home and my opportunities to delight in God. My relationships were at peace. I had been refreshed by the richness of God’s Word and intimate prayer. I reflected on the oneness created in our marriage as we explored my battle together and thanked God for the beautiful, godly woman he gave to me.
As I prepared for bed, a television advertisement suddenly flashed a picture of a disrobing actress. I turned my eyes and headed to bed. My first thoughts were, “She has nothing I want. I have all I need. God is good.”
Nate Graybill, re:generation Director
God wants you to pursue and embrace everything that He has for you. He wants the best for you. The life He offers you is far beyond what the world can offer. Each temptation or hardship you face is an opportunity to see the wonder, power and goodness of God while living in a broken world. If you decide to trust Him and remain steadfast through hardships you will know true freedom in Christ.