It’s Holy Week. So I’m writing today about something I know a lot about. I was the woman at the well. I was Mary Magdalene. I was the most immoral person I know. Really.
And I could get into why. I could talk about my childhood and my choices. But none of that matters.
The truth is, immorality is always, always, always tied to one thing.
Now I won’t blame you if you roll your eyes and snort and decide I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I’m telling you the truth. I also know that apart from God and His grace, not one person is able to change or overcome. But idolatry and immorality are so closely related. They follow one another with the inevitability of thunder and lightning. And I don’t think a person can actually change their behavior apart from changing their worship.
So the two passages I want to discuss are Romans 1 and the book of Judges.
Israel was a fledgling nation. A group of clans. The pattern you see in judges is that the nation would sin. Then they were sold. And then they would cry out to God to save them. And God would raise up a judge. The judge would deliver them. And then they would start the cycle again.
In any addiction, it kind of works the same way. The “sold” being the part where we experience the addiction.
That’s why AA works, because it teaches people to cry out to God. The Twelve Steps are “How to Repent 101”
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Anyhow. In our repentance from _______________. Whatever it is. It is a daily choice. It is not a one time thing. It is a daily dependence upon Jesus Christ. And it is a miracle. Make no mistake.
That is worship. I’m not talking about going to church every Sunday, though church attendance is good and part of it. I’m talking about from the moment you get up till the moment you go to bed, dependence and reliance upon the God of the universe to hold you up, direct your steps and help you to obey Him. Out of love, not fear. It’s a constant listening and responding to Him. It’s a life dedicated to Him.
In Judges, the nation was eventually given a king. And when we accept our King, we get delivered. Read Judges. You’ll see it.
Ok, so Romans 1.
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, [a]called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a [b]descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power [c]by the resurrection from the dead, according to the [d]Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship [e]to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as [f]saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ [g]for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be [h]established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am [i]under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed [j]from faith to faith; as it is written, “[k]But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Unbelief and Its Consequences
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [m]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not [n]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in [t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit [u]to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, [v]haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Do you see the progression? Not honoring God, not giving thanks, exchanging the truth of God for a lie. God gave them over. It’s the same thing that happens in Judges, now on an individual level. It’s tragic.
So to overcome immorality, a person has to turn from their sin and cry out to the King. With all that they are. Daily. It’s an easy concept, not so easy to actually do. And ask for healing, that is very important. We normally sin out of believing lies and out of wounds or pain. We need the truth and healing both to be able to stop. Truth alone won’t do it.
I’m assuming you’re here because you really want help to change. This is the only prescription I know of and I feel a little stupid writing it out. But there it is. My advice is to start the twelve steps (and pray and study) and go from there. Think of church like an AA meeting for recovering sinners.
That’s honestly what it is.