I deal with a lot of people who have cycles of sin operating in their lives. Many people call these cycles “addictions” because the behavior has become a part of the individual’s life. Both terms fit the set of behaviors I am speaking of. My definition of a sin cycle is:
A recurring behavior that is unhealthy for the individual and/or prohibited by the Word of God.
I have had these cycles operate in my life. Before I was born again, I had several addictions or sin cycles operating in my life concurrently. When I was saved by the power of Jesus Christ, every one of those cycles were broken off of me except one: a sexual addiction. I tried as hard as I could to stop the behavior I was involved in, but to no avail. The cycle brought great shame and depression into my life. If caused me to experience great “ups and downs” in my Christian walk. I loved the Lord with all my heart and His presence in my life and the salvation He had procured for me brought me great joy, but the addiction to the behavior created angst and shame in my life, which carried with it emotional pain.
Nothing was working…..I just couldn’t get free. The cycle continued on and every time I was involved in the behavior, I went through hours and sometimes days of condemnation.
How could I love the Lord and still be involved in what I was involved in?
This question began to tear me apart.
Finally, I came to the Lord and admitted that I was powerless to change myself. I remember distinctly what happened next.
First, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Son, I know you can’t do this. I have known that all along. That’s why I am here; to break you free from this bondage.” I remember saying, “Lord, what do I do?”
I have to be honest: the next thing He said to me didn’t bless me! He said, “The next time you fall, I want you to get up, dust yourself off and trust my love and forgiveness.”
At that point, I wanted to hear about “The Ten Steps to Supernatural Deliverance”. Or, I wanted Him to “zap” me and tell me I was free forever. I surely didn’t want to hear about the certainty of another fall!!!
I remember saying, “Is that all? What comes next?” I didn’t hear anymore from Him at that time. It didn’t take long for the temptation to come again. The cycle continued as it always did: I was tempted; I fell to temptation and then the condemnation started. But, I remembered the direction the Lord gave me – “get up, dust yourself off and trust my love and forgiveness.” In the midst of the screaming condemnation, I said, “No! I am not hated by God because of my behavior! He loves me and has died to free me! If you have anything more to say about my relationship with Him, I am not listening! You will have to take up that conversation with Him because our conversation is over!”
Something began to happen to me. I began to realize that what I was saying was true – Jesus loved me and WOULD set me free in His time! What I didn’t realize at the time was that God was breaking a huge part of what causes addictive behaviors to continue out of my life. He was breaking self-hatred and shame. I was not in agreement that what I was doing was right but I was acknowledging that I was loved by God, I was saved and therefore, my deliverance was inevitable.
Soon, God began to show me the lie embedded in my sin cycle.
One of the reasons I kept doing the behavior was because I was getting some type of “perceived” benefit from it. I say “perceived” because there was some enjoyment of the sin, but the behavior was not meeting the underlying need that I had. As a matter of fact, the sin was not only not meeting the underlying need for love and security but was making me feel worse! It attacked the feelings of love I did possess and made me feel more out of control!
I remembered these words from Romans 6:20-21:
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit (benefit) did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.”
God also revealed to me how satan was playing me.
Satan would get on one of my shoulders and tempt me to be involved in the sexual addiction, promising it would help me feel better about myself. After the behavior was over, satan would jump on my other shoulder and tell me how lousy I was; how weak my faith was, and how hopeless my situation was!
This revelation began to develop in me an anger: not at myself but at satan! I hated him for what he was doing to me! I realized that the seconds of relief I was getting from my sin was not worth the hours and sometimes days of condemnation satan threw at me!
The combination of accepting God’s love for me in my imperfect state and the hatred, not of myself but the behavior set off a reaction that set me free! The love of God met the need for love and security that was driving the behavior. The revelation of the game satan was playing brought about a rejection of the lie that the sin was somehow benefiting me. These two revelations caused me to have no more desire or need for the behavior!!
I was free!
If you are experiencing addictions or are “riding the cycle of sin”, don’t despair: God will deliver you too! Call out to Him and listen to His voice. In His love and direction, you will find freedom for your life!
“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Become a son of God. He sets His sons (and daughters!) free!