Understanding Yourself ó Continued... Barry's Video Blog...
An introductory note: This site and the materials available are for helping you feed on God. Even though this site is about many different topics, I have always measured whether these things work for me personally, by how well I am doing in the area of lust -- and they do work.
I promise you that these materials can help you too -- they are based on on over 23 years of Bible study and my own personal application. Your job right now is to decide you are going to commit to doing the work of directing your heart toward God. My job is to show you how.
Your part won't take as long as you think. You can change. Start by learning the concepts of how to repent by directing your heart toward God.
What I am seeing in others is that after you get started with the heart- training you can begin to see changes within about 3-4 weeks of application. After that things just keep getting progressively better.
Have fun turning to God and drinking from Him. This site is big. You may find the books easier.
Understanding Lust and
--as Evidence of Your Desperate and "Thirsty" Need to Experience God's Presence Intensely. You can do that!
Our unmet need for God's presence is often so great that our desperation drives us to do things we don't want to do. In some of us our unmet need reveals itself in extremely strong sexual desires. It did for me.
Lust and sexual pursuits are evidence of our need to experience the presence of God intenselyó24 hours-a-day. God knows how strong and driving your need isóHe designed it that way in order to draw you closer to Himself. The Bible calls this a "thirst" for God.
Jesus commanded about coming to Him and repeatedly "drink" from Him (John 7:37-39). The longer you wait to repent and turn to drink from God, the more overpowering your sexual desires can become. This can be as true for Christians as for unbelievers. Just because a person is a Christian it doesn't mean they have "come" to the Lord and are drinking as Jesus said. My observation is that most Christians don't know how -- especially men. This site and the materials available are for correcting that problem.
Part of why you can trust that you can draw near and receive God's presence is because your need for freedom sexual sin is so strong. God designed you with those urges, but He also wants to be pleasure to you. By repentance you can teach yourself to replace the benefits you find from sexual pursuits with an intense enjoyment of God's presenceólavished all around you by His grace.
Don't ignore the fact you have an underlying need that is so driving and over powering that it must be met. The honest truth of the matter is that God can meet that need so much that sexual pursuits just aren't as desirable anymore. I know this sounds strange but by applying these principles it becomes almost easy to keep on saying, "No" to sexual sins.
If you are like I was you drift back and forth between two extremes. One is that of desperately wanting freedom. The other extreme is a hopelessness that makes it seem like you have no choice but to enjoy sexual sin as the best you can get. This is not true. You can have freedom. You have to decide you are going to jump into what the Bible says about repentance, learn it, and then keep on applying the principles until you see change.
What the Bible says about repentance will work for you. It has to. What other options do you have? Everything else hurts too much. The thrill and pleasure of sexual sin doesn't compare to what you get by staying near and drinking from God.
(Long, but worth it--not yet cut down from book 1 in the series)
Of Lust and Sexual Desire
What is it about sex that makes it so attractive to us? Iím not talking, of course, about sex between a husband and wife. Iím talking about sexual things outside of that relationship. Why is lust and sexual sin so attractive to us? Is it purely biological? I donít think so. Our unmet need for God leaves us desperate and wanting. I am convinced that drives and desiresórelated to our unfulfilled need for the presence of God, contribute more to our sexual urges than biological causes.
Lust and sexual pursuits are a way of reassuring ourselves by feeding on the human glory of another person. A womanís hair has glory (1 Cor. 11:15) and the glory of human beauty and strength are both attractive. Glory is always attractive. However, the glorious beauty and strength of God are greater than any earthly glory you or I could ever see, feel, taste, hear or want. We can feed ourselves with God because His presence can be intimately close and is readily available. You only have to get your heart to hear and believe it enough to act on your belief, draw near, and open up to letting Him draw near to you.
When Adam and Eve sinned, even our gender was marred in the fall. Our unmet need for God leaves us feeling so desperately wanting that lust and sexual sin have become ways we try to reassure our fallen maleness or femaleness. At times, sexual sin can seem worth the price even if we might have to pay severe consequences later. You donít have to live this way.
A twisted sense of power from lust and sexual sin can feel reassuring, especially for men. The intimacy of sex can make both men and women feel wanted and loved. Having someone desire you and being pursued can be reassuring. But meeting your need this way is far short of what is possible with God. Rather than through lust and sexual sin, you can learn to reassure and soothe yourself by taking refuge inside an intense closeness of the Holy Spirit. Jude wrote, "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:21). You can redirect your affections by nurturing faith to enjoy the intimacy of Godís love wrapped around you. Doing so is vital to the purity of your walk with God.
If you want freedom from sin, then drawing near to God is not an option. Along with that, you have to drop your guard enough to enjoy the Holy Spirit as a refuge that reassures you. Otherwise, it wonít matter whether it is sex, or money, or any other earthly thing that you allow to reassure you: the result will always be an overall decrease in your resistance to sin. When you look to earthly sources in one area it paves the way for others.
Lust is Evidence of Your Desire for God
Sometimes we try to quench our desire for God by lustfully feeding ourselves with the glory of how other people appear. Lustfully feeding on the appearance of other people is a form of stealing. The robbery that happens make us the predator and them the prey. Afterward, we reassure and pride ourselves on how well we took advantage of them without getting caught. But God always knows. It hurts Him deeply when we feed on sexual things because we could have so much more, something so much better.
Sometimes we feed ourselves with daydreams about the lustful ways we think other people look at us. At times it might feel reassuring, but this too is only pride. Donít settle for so little as to substitute your desire for God with a longing for lusty-glances from other people. Learn to quench your thirst with God: "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually" (1 Chron. 16:11). Reality is this: there is coming a day when the Lord plans to "defile the pride of all beauty" (Isa. 23:9).
Our passion to be intimately close to beauty and strength is evidence of our need for the presence of God. We were designed to love intimacy with beauty and strength. However, the beauty and strength we long to draw near will never be found through lust. We were designed for something better. You donít have to fill your need for God by lust for human beauty or strength because "God... gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God" (Ps. 68:35)!
Work it from both sides. Pray that God would increase your hate for personal sin. Thank the Lord that you donít have to make earthly substitutions for His presence.
Thank God that you donít have to look at someone and then wonder if you are "enough" for them to want you. Whether the answer is "Yes," or "No," temptation will be strong to try and find reassurance through some form of sexual sin. The problem is your unmet need for God. That is what makes you feel insecure enough to wonder about questions like these. Thank God often that you donít have to feed yourself from how well you measure up; you can have God.
If you draw near and purpose to keep drinking, you can be confident that God will give you enough of His Holy Spirit to keep you wanting Him and able to resist temptation. The Bible says, "Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary" (Ps. 96:6). We donít have to try and fill our need for God with the beauty of other people because "Around God is awesome majesty" (Job 37:22). You can experience God drawing near to you (James 4:8). Trust you are looking at Him and thrill yourself with the beauty and strength that you see by faith (Ps. 63:1,2). Listen to your praise toward God until you believe His glory and delight in Him.
The Love and Caress of God
Concerning His love, Jesus said, "Abide in Me...abide in My love" (John 15:7,9). Love is more than an adjective that describes God. The love of God is God Himself: "God is love" (1 John 4:8). The love of God here is His presence around us. For now, the thought of it might make you afraid, but take courage: if you want to make God your refuge, the path you must take will lead you to deal with your fears until you drop your guardedness and learn to stay inside the presence of Godís love. You will have to come to the place where you submit into believing, "The Lord loves His people" (2 Chron. 2:11).
For love between people it often starts as a feeling. God has feelings for us too: "The Lord takes pleasure in His people" (Ps. 149:4). But God also demonstrates His love for us. Jesus died on our behalf (Rom. 5:8). If you are willing to recognize it, He continues to demonstrate His love for you in many ways. Another way God demonstrates His love is in His drawing near to you and holding you in His arms.
When youíre in love with another person you enjoy it when they hold you with their arms around you. It can be the same way with God, only better. Your desire and longing to be held by another person is evidence of your need to be held by God. He longs to hold you. Will you let Him? Doing so requires that you become childlike enough to believe the scriptures and thrill yourself with Godís caress.
God is still the same as He was then. He still takes us in His arms. Jesus also said, "How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling" (Matt. 23:37). Work with your heart so that you stop holding back. Purpose to believe.
The Bible says, "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27). The more you let yourself delight in His love, the more you will find freedom to believe. The more you believe, the more you will let yourself be open to experience His presence as He holds you close.
God can hold us because Godís love has substance. We are told to "keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:21). The Bible isnít saying here that you should make sure God keeps loving you. With people that might be true, but not with God. Not at all! Instead, we are to keep ourselves inside the substance of His love. Jesus said it this way: "Abide in My love" (John 15:9). That means we should live inside it. The love of God is a substance that we can stay inside because the love of God is God Himself: "The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16). Direct your heart to refuge yourself in the love that shines from God.
God not only defines love, the love of God is God Himself: "God is love" (1 John 4:8). King David wrote of the love of God resting upon him: "May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you" (Ps. 33:22 NIV). Because the love of God is God Himself, I believe David was talking about the Holy Spirit. Peter wrote about something similar: "The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" (1 Pet. 4:14). When you are "in love" with God, you draw near to Him because you want to be near Him. When you draw near to Him, His love comes to rest on you, the closeness of His Holy Spirit becomes your delight. Thrill yourself with His presence.
It is right to depend on God for the love you need. Moment by moment, we need a source that constantly lavishes love upon us. Only God can do that. Reassure your heart that your need for love and to be held isnít greater than His ability to supply. Keep thanking the Lord until your heart becomes soft enough to hear and believe that "great is your love toward me" (Ps. 86:13 NIV).
Love the caress of God. Cling to His presence and hate trying to cling to anything else. You can trust God to lavish enough of His presence to quench your thirsty need for love. Otherwise, it wouldnít be possible for you to make God become your one and only pursuit. Your need would drive you to keep looking toward people who have the same need for God as you.
Though you canít see it, the caress of God is something that is real, something you can experience. Draw near to God by trusting you are entering the throne room. Think about being in the throne room and close to God as a reality that is greater than the material world around you. When you draw near to Him this way He will draw near to you because He is a fountain (Heb. 10:19,22; Ps. 36:7-9). Let Him be God to you; let Him hold you. And, donít be afraid if you become aware that He is pursuing you. Unlike many people you have known, God is good. Reassure your heart that God is not a predator with secrete intentions to hurt people: "O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" (Ps. 34:8). Stop fighting and submit to the truth. It is best for you if you trust Him.
If you are like me you will have to soften the soil of your heart before you find freedom to believe His love for you personally. Do this, by thanking Him for the truth in the scriptures about His love. Purpose to hear. Softening your heart with the truth will make you more open to what God is trying to teach you through circumstances and your experiences in life.
Purpose to Find Thrill and Pleasure in God
Set your heart to find the thrill and pleasure you need by enjoying God. You have to think about it this way because lust and sexual sin appeal to us on a basis of lies about power, thrill, and pleasure. Still however, the power from sexual sin isnít real because it is only lies about the power of rebellion and self-exaltation. These things are a false sense of power because we have to keep pursuing more or the sense of having it goes away.
Some people have learned to love the power they feel when they take advantage of others. This too is a lie. Dominating someone by lust is not power at all. It is only a twisted feeling of power from rebellion against God. Donít expect to reassure yourself with the presence of a powerful God if your heart is set on getting what you need from the feelings of power you feel through sexual sin. Keep thanking God that you donít have to feed on the power of rebellion toward Him. Thank Him also that you donít have to love the feeling of setting yourself in a dominant position over someone else. Doing so, is to love lies. You are not strong because of these thingsóyou only feel strong for a brief period of time. God is the standard of strength and power. The standard is not your ability to dominate another person. Purpose to stay turned toward God so you can keep finding the thrill and pleasure you need from His presence close to you. Love the closeness of His powerónot your own.
If you are a Christian man donít let your main thrill in life be the hunt for the next woman you can turn your soul toward and feed on through looking. You can do better. Enter the throne room and develop the habit of looking at Jesus. Rather than pursuing the glory you see in a womanís face or body, get your heart to believe that the glory of God is far greater: "Seek His face continually" (1 Chron. 16:11). Enjoy the strength and the power of God. Believe the greatness of the beauty in the sanctuary of God (Ps. 96:6). You can satisfy yourself with the thrill and pleasure of the Holy Spirit flowing through you.
The attraction there is in sexual sin and lust is also about possessing another person. Learn instead, to enjoy possessing God. Our desire to pursue other people is evidence of a strong drive to experience the presence of God. You donít need to want other people in sinful ways because you can have God. He is the one who designed your desire to be powerfully strong. Set your heart to meet your need with God. If you humble yourself in that way, you can be confident God will give you the Holy Spirit freely. He can meet your need!
It is a lie to delight in the power we feel when we take advantage of someone by lust. King David had it right when He said, "I love You, O Lord, my strength" (Ps. 18:1). Donít settle for the lie that lust lets you "hold" another person. Hate that kind of sin. Nurture a love and delight for God that makes you able to say honestly of Him, "My soul clings to You" (Ps. 63:8).
The way I see it, we canít hold back. We have to find all the thrill and pleasure that we need, in our receiving and possessing the Spirit of God. We have to delight ourselves in the abundance of the Spirit that God gives. We have to nurture believing the transcendent beauty and strength radiating from our Lord is better than anything we can experience here.
Purposely listen to your own thanks and praise for the truth about the presence of God being readily available to you. In this way you can stir up your obsessive and compulsive desires and direct them toward freely loving and enjoying God. His is the only power that is real. Godís is the only beauty that is worth possessing. In doing so, you will find, just like I have, that standing before the Lord and thrilling yourself with His presence meets your need. What I say here is not an exaggeration. It is the truth. We want God. Set your heart to find great thrill and pleasure in each and every one of His attributes. Nothing less will quench your thirsty soul. There is no thrill that is greater.
But letís be honest here. It has to work. You can be confident that it will. The Bible says, "Put on the armor of light...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Rom. 13:12 and 14). You will strengthen yourself against the lust of the flesh if you put on the Light God radiates upon you when you draw near. Hate sin in yourself. Delight in God. Love His power close to you. Love His beauty. Love His holding you. Reassure and soothe yourself with God. Doing so is to apply a powerful principle for cooperating with God: "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). But, the reverse is also true: If you donít put on the armor of lightóif you donít put on the Lord Jesus Christóyou will be making provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Deliver Us from Evil
The battle inside our own heart is the most important battle for us to win.
The Bible says, ďBut each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by
his own lustĒ (James 1:14). Let me use this verse again, ď...let us lay aside the deeds of
darkness and put on the armor of light...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
no provision for the flesh in regard to its lustsĒ (Rom. 13:12,14). Even as
Christians, we are our own worst enemy.
It was a Saturday night and no one else was home. Cautiously I
As soon as I said that I physically felt something
lift off the outside of me. My eyes widened in amazement. I remember being
It is ineffective to go after demons and ignore our need to feed on God. In the same way, we can't go after God and totally ignore the our enemy in the process. It is the truth that we do wrestle against demonic principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12). God has given us what we need to win.
In time, the battle with our own heart gets much easier. When that happens the enemies attacks decrease also. That is when staying pure from sexual sin becomes more of a maintenance issue than something that is destroying you. The battle doesn't totally go away, but it becomes realistic to have many years of continued success with little or no failure.
Nurture believing that Jesus has won the battle and that He has given you authority to tell them to leave. Then do it!
But if you are at a point where you aren't even sure if you want to tell them to leave then you have some other work to do first. You have to get your heart to hear, believe, and love that it is better for you to depend on the closeness of God than to feed yourself with sexual sin. Of course you know that in your mind, it is just that our heart is often times a long way from our head. Start thanking the Lord now that "I don't have to believe their demonic lies. I CAN and WILL get what I need from God."
Is Pornography a Problem?
All of the principles you read on this page apply to solving problems with pornography.
The important thing is that you learn to look at sin -- and ask yourself, "What am I trying to get out of this and how can I get it from God?
When asking those questions about pornography it becomes clear of our need to face toward God and look by faith at the greater beauty of His shining beauty and extreme majesty. Focus all your lust into enjoying the beauty of God.
God is using the pain from sin in order to corner you into giving up on empty sexual pursuits and getting what you need from God. It is time for you to cooperate.
Being in "Awe" of People
The awe we feel should be toward God because it is worship. Be careful of what I call the "Awe of Man."
Think about when you are strongly impressed, or feel respect with awe toward another person. You might not say it with words but it feels like "Wow, they are impressive!" It might be their appearance, strength, how smart they are, or whatever. The "Awe of man" can be a person of the opposite sex or the same.
When you let yourself feel awe toward people like this, you open up toward them in a way that allows you to be attacked with the demonic baggage that they are carrying around with them. When this happens you can be attacked with temptation and fall very quickly.
I have learned to be very careful to guard my heart so that my awe toward God is greater than any awe I let myself feel toward people. It is very effective and not very hard to keep doing - especially after you realize how dangerous the "awe of man" really is.
A Personal Note
Lust and sexual sin are very poor substitutes for the reassurance that comes from wearing the presence of Almighty God. I still have to be careful in this area, but in general I will say that my greatest weakness has become an area of strength.
Donít get me wrong. I have a truly wonderful relationship with my wife. I canít imagine anything better. I am only saying that even the best human relationship is a poor substitute for God. Quenching my thirst with God has made me much stronger in my ability to resist temptation. Sexual sin just isnít attractive like it once was. The same can be true for you.
Whenever I find myself looking at a woman with even a possibility of desire, I remember my need for Godówithout self-condemnation. More specifically, I trust I am turning toward God and looking at His beauty, His love, His closeness. In so doing, I have already agreed with God about sin, turned, and am trusting the blood of Christ to be cleansing me.
Either I can be vulnerable to lust and sexual sin, or I can turn my very soul toward the Lord, open myself up to Him, and let Him come near. Either I drink the Holy Spirit in a way that reassures me deeply, or I will be left weak and wanting. For me, it comes down to a choice to keep nurturing my ability to believe and have freedom to keep enjoying God. If I donít, sexual sin and lust will eventually become attractive enough that, out of painful desperation, I will try to reassure myself apart from God.
The thrill and pleasure of allowing the Holy Spirit to continually flow is a wonderful thing. In my desire to remain strong in this area, I soothe myself with God by thinking about the closeness of His beauty, power, and love. It is right to depend on God in this way. It feels good too. I think doing so is what it means to depend on Him as your one and only God.
How to Increase Your Love for God
Follow King Davidís example, "I love You, O Lord, my strength" (Ps. 18:1). The response of your heart will be to love God more if you note your fears and reassure yourself with the truth about your access to God and His glory, goodness, strength, and love.
If by thanks and praise you nurture believing the greater glory of Godís presence as a thing to be grasped and enjoyed, you will increase your pursuit and delight toward God and will decrease your desire to fill yourself by earthly means. The more effectively you rest into believing, the more you will love Him and be free to enjoy receiving His presence. By nurturing your faith in this way, you will learn experientially that "The Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11). In time, you will find that, like David, your very soul will cling to the Lord: "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me" (Ps. 63:8).
On Enjoying the Love of God
The way I see it, God loves us because He loves us. God is love. God loves us because love is who He is. Living according to grace means the pressure canít be placed on us. God is loving and He takes pleasure in His people. We only need to cultivate the soil of our heart until we hear and believe this wonderful truth. Soften the soil of your heart by thanking God for the truth of the verses below. When you pray these scriptures make sure you are listening to what you are saying.
Remember this: Godís love is God Himself. Godís love is much more than an emotion that He has sometimes. Godís love has substance. The substance of Godís love is His Spirit. When God is loving us, He comes close. In spiritual realms, He is pouring His Spirit onto us (Rom. 5:5).
We need to learn to say and believe with the psalmist, "Great is your love toward me" (Ps. 86:13 NIV). Doing so requires that we recognize our need for love. We also have to recognize what we do with love when we find it. In the natural realm we hold it close. When somebody loves us, we hold their love so close that we wear it around us. We make it our identity, our reason for feeling secure and confident.
In a very real way, we are trying to "abide" in their love. We try to put their love around us and stay inside of it. God has a better way. Rather than trying to "abide" in love from earthly relationships, Jesus told us to "abide in My love" (John 15:9). People can never love us enough. Their love doesnít have the substance Godís love has. That we are commanded to abide in His love is the guarantee that He will give us enough of His love to be able to stay inside it. Train your heart to trust His grace. Delight in the love that radiates from the fountain of God. When you do, you will be abiding inside God Himself. "God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God" (1 John 4:16).
I believe abiding in God involves trusting that we are before Him. We put on His love, just like when we come to Him in order to receive grace. When we stand open before the Lord receiving the Spirit, the substance of His love shines at us from His face.
Putting on His love this way means we are abiding inside His love. It means that we are abiding in God. When your hope and joy is to abide in Godís love this way, you wonít feel you have to look for love anywhere else. Put your hope in Him and nurture your faith enough to enjoy the presence of His love. "May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you" (Ps. 33:22 NIV).
When I finally came to believe in my heart that God loves me, the issue of my worth didnít seem important any more. It didnít begin that way. I started out trying to believe my worth. It seemed like I needed to believe I was worthy of Godís love before I could rest in His love. But that didnít work. There were always doubts. Believing that I was worthy of Godís love seemed to require that I had to pride myself somehow. I didnít want to do that because it didnít fit with what I knew about pride and humility before God.
Instead of trying to believe my worth, I worked to soften the soil of my heart with the scriptures about His love. I thanked the Lord for the truth even though my heart was fearful to believe it. In my case, before I actually found freedom to believe His love for me personally, I first learned to stand before Him and let His love shine down upon me. I did this because I felt it was important to obey the command to abide in His love (John 15:9). After that, God used some difficult experiences, to teach me to believe His love for me. Your path may not be the same as mine. But if you are struggling in this area I want to encourage you to begin now to soften your heart with the truth about Godís love. If I hadnít done that I may never have heard what God was trying to teach me though circumstances. I suspect you will need to soften your heart too.
Some of you may need to do what I did; you may need to draw to the throne of God even before you find freedom to trust His love for you personally. You will need to keep reassuring your heart with the truth about God. Calm your fears by thanking Him often for His kindness, goodness, and love.
The Problem of Making Comparisons
It is especially important to guard your heart against making comparisons. Avoid even slight attempts to determine how well you measure up. Use these comparisons as reminders and opportunities to turn to God. Let me explain.
Don't let yourself look at a woman -- or a man, and ask yourself if you would be enough for them. Don't let yourself look at another person and ask if he has more or less to offer sexually than you do. Other people can put you into comparing yourself because of the way they look at you. Note that these kinds of comparisons are seldom done with words. They happen very quickly with fleeting thoughts or with just a look at someone.
When you are trying to guard your heart against these kinds of comparisons don't try to watch for words you think about. Watch your feelings. The emotions you feel will give it away.
You may be driving or walking along and suddenly see someone. You look at them and they look at you -- sizing each other up. Inside you know a comparison has been made when you suddenly feel an increase of confidence or a sudden despairing sense of not being enough. These feelings may be slight but they reveal what is happening in your heart. They reveal that you are thirsty for God but are wanting to feed yourself with sexual pursuits.
The problem is that these kinds of comparisons reinforce a life of living according to how well you perform -- what the Bible calls a "works." The result is a subtle level of insecurity that powerfully demands reassurance. The problem there is that because you are already in a "works" mode you end up reassuring yourself in ways that are not right. The solution is to get out of that works/achieving kind of mode and begin to live by faith in the grace of God for the reassurance you need.
Whenever you sense comparisons are being made erupt inside with rejoicing that you don't have to compare yourself with others in order to try and decide if you are enough. Let your heart hear it. Thank the Lord that you can turn and reassure your maleness--or femaleness, with closeness to Him. Face toward the Lord and trust you are touching His presence and that He is close and touching you.
Clarification about "Pressing In"
At some point during the early days of my pilgrimage I heard Christians talk about "pressing in." I didnít really know what they meant by it. But I concluded that pressing in was something I should do in order to enter and experience Godís presence more fully. I donít feel that way today -- at least not exactly.
The best way to describe what I was doing was that I "pressed" into the throne room by pushing my inner being into standing before the Lord more fully. I thought that "coming" to the Lord meant I was to reach toward God with my inner being. It did not seem that my body should be part of the process. And, I concluded that the harder I reached and pressed in the better it would be.
After years of pressing inóand after the Lord used many scriptures to grab my attention, I had to admit I was wrong. Entering and standing before the Lord just isnít that much work. You just have to learn to believe what the scriptures say.
I was strongly corrected when God showed me that "...the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ĎDo not say in your heart, ĎWho will ascend into heaven?í (that is, to bring Christ down)í" (Rom. 10:6). It hurt me deeply when I realized I was in violation of this verse. It is not righteous faith to "press" ourselves into heaven in order to bring Christ down here. That is self-effort and works.
Part of the problem was that "pressing in" was so enjoyable it was addictive. It seemed right because it was spiritual and it felt good. But while the presence of God was very strong during those days, my standing before the Lord was not having the result that the Bible indicated should be my experience. I could feel Godís presence very strongly, but He wasnít letting there be any power in what I was doing.
Over and over God was grabbing my attention with scriptures about His being our shield and defender hereónot up in heaven where I was pressing in.
By my not including my body in the process of standing before the Lord here, I was not able to experience God as my shield or my fortress here. It seemed I was under constant attack by the enemy with very little protection. The harder I pressed in, the greater the spiritual attack became. At first I thought I was just getting the enemies attention because I was doing something right. It was years before I had to admit to myself and to God that the attacks were coming because I wasnít experiencing God as my fortress around my physical body. .
"Pressing in" is too similar to what we normally do during earthly pursuits. Even though I was doing my very best to "press in" to God, rather than helping me die to self, the "pressing in" seemed to make me even more alive to things of the flesh.
The results in my life of extended "pressing in" were totally inconsistent with the life and ministry of our Lord. I have abandoned the activity in favor of trusting that I can enter the throne room with my whole body and that the kingdom of heaven is all around me here. The Bible says that "He who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land And will possess My holy mountain. And it will be said, "Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people (Isa. 57:13,14).
Did you hear that? By learning to believe that you can take refuge inside the presence of God, then you will "possess" the mountain of God here! The "mountain" of God in the Bible is the place where God dwells. It is the kingdom of God. Heaven itself. So by entrusting ourselves to "take refuge" inside Him, God draws near to us by bringing heaven with Him and surrounding us here. This is all part of learning to "receive the kingdom" like a child and standing before Him as a priest.
Now, this may not make sense at first, but much of your problem with lust is that you are spiritually reaching out from inside of you in order to try and fill your neediness. You are reaching out in this case, to another person in order to rob them of their glory so you can have that close to you -- and because of that, the enemy is able to push more lust and sexual desire onto you because you are "reaching out" with something inside you, toward them.
" If we had forgotten the name of our God or extended our hands to a strange god, would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart" (Psa 44:20,21).
Instead of that, you have to learn to believe the grace of God for receiving His kingdom and presence around you here, then you have to learn to rest in that while enjoying God's presence close to you -- and not let yourself reach. If you reach for God, or "press in" like you are pushing yourself inside far away to where you think God is, (even if you get REALLY good at doing that) then even without your realizing it, you will often slip back into the demonic realm spiritually, and you won't be all the way into heaven, and lust and sexual desire will get worse because you aren't living in faith and the enemy will have much greater freedom to push a lot of yuck onto you because you are in his realm. The key is to believe what the Bible says, and by that learn to take refuge INSIDE the presence of God -- resting in Him -- restfully clinging to His presence and kingdom around us WITHOUT reaching.
"Restfully clinging" to God is like totally relaxing your physical arms at your sides, but in this case it isn't your physical arms, it has to do with resting arms inside you. Maybe it is resting the inner arms of our soul or spirit, but I don't really know: "Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit" (Pro. 25:28).
May God bless you with spiritual understanding in this area. And at whatever level I am able to do that, I bless you with it also.
An Important Assignment
Practical evidence tells us that we need the Holy Spirit close and intensely present so that we can depend on Himóand not be pulled away by lust. Thank the Lord often that you can trust God to lavish His presence upon you because of the scriptures and because of your practical need. Consider even slight feelings of lust as evidence of your needóright thenóto repent by turning to God and thrill yourself with His closeness to you. When temptation hits, remind yourself that the twisted nature of sin is only a desperate attempt to find a substitute for God Himself. God has made a way of escape (1 Co. 10:13).
Set your heart to meet your need with Godóand not by lust or sexual sin. Let me remind you again that you should, "put on the armor of light...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Rom. 13:12,14).
When you feel you have done something wrong, view it as evidence of your desperate need to reassure yourself with the presence of God. Thank Him that the power of His cleansing is greater than your sin. React to the unwanted behavior by thanking the Lord that you donít have to condemn yourself when evidence of your desperate thirst for His presence is revealed in your actions. Train your heart to believe that being angry at yourself for drinking by earthly means wonít help you to achieve greater purity. If you purpose to hear your thanks and praise toward God, it will become much more realistic for you to redirect your longings toward the Lord.
Reassure yourself often by thinking about the radiance from the fountain as being what reassures and soothes you. Soothe yourself by think about His being close and all around you. Enjoy the beauty and strength of God. Make it your intention to thrill yourself with God more than the pleasure you find in sexual things.
One section in Heart-training! is given specifically to the topic of directing your dependence away from lust and toward the Lord. But here again, as with any other specific problem area, you will have to target this and other related areas too.
(As of 10/2000 the heart-training section about lust is free but I have had to start charging for the Heart-training book itself. I am getting too busy with ministry and need an income so I can do these things full time. Thanks.)
Our problem of filling our desire for God apart from Him is always bigger than anyone symptom. For dealing effectively with the area of lust or sexual sin, you will likely also have to target the Heart-training! sections having to do with reassurance, thrill and pleasure, adequacy, security. The reason you have to re-direct your heart in these areas also is because these other areas are related to the same problem of drinking by earthly means rather than from God.
Beyond these sections, you may also have to address the sections having to do with confidence to glory in God and sabotage. Pray that God would lead you and keep moving. You may find it most effective to just start at the front of the Heart-training and go one section at a time.
I am praying for the Lord's abundant blessing on your efforts to direct your heart toward Him.
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Understanding Yourself ó Continued...
(C) Barry Hall 1999
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