DJ: Fight to Freedom.

Below is another article that Dennis Jernigan wrote about fighting for freedom, in the context of SSA and other sexual struggles.

Fighting For Freedom vs. Instant Gratification
Dennis Jernigan – http://www.dennisjernigan.com

(This article was written because I see far too many people begin their walk of freedom and then give up when the going gets tough. This problem is rampant across the various genres of bondage. People who struggle with sexual addiction, homosexuality, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, low self-esteem, etc. sometimes become overwhelmed with the onslaught of the enemy’s lies and simply give up their quest for freedom and give in to their old ways of thinking rather than fight through to God’s best for their lives. We have often heard it said as it relates to our national freedom that ‘freedom is costly’. Indeed it is…but spiritual freedom is just as costly – and just as ‘worth it’).

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
{And} my fingers for battle
Psalm 144:1 NASB

Because I share my story of freedom from same sex attraction so frequently, I hear from quite a few people who ask me if my healing was instantaneous or if it was a process. Quite simply, it was both. In an instant of God taking my mustard seed of faith and Him empowering me to become a new creation, I was born again. All my old identity passed away into non-existence and I claimed my new identity based on who my Father said I was. In that moment of my faith meeting His faithfulness I was signed, sealed, delivered – HIS!

The process has been quite a different story. A great picture of what that process looks like can be found in an incident from the life of Jesus and His friend, Lazarus. Lazarus became sick and passed away. Although Jesus could have no doubt healed him, He had not been there at the time of his friend’s death. When Jesus finally arrived, He called Lazarus from the dead…and he walked out of that grave 100% alive. The only problem was that Lazarus was not free to enjoy his life because he was still wrapped up in the grave clothes he had been bound in! Jesus told those around Lazarus to loose the grave clothes from him. It was only then that Lazarus could run around and jump up and down for joy in his new life!

My process of freedom looks a lot like that. As I came to life in Christ, I was still bound up in so many of the old clothes of my past death-life that, at times, it felt I was not free at all…but as I walk with Jesus (and toward Him) He faithfully reminds me to rip away the grave clothes of my past life whenever I try to wear them again. He often says to me, “Son, you do not look good clothed in that anger. That is not who you are. That angry attitude is part of the old ‘you’ – the old clothes of death. Let’s rip those away. Now look what’s exposed…a heart of peace and forgiveness. That peace and forgiveness is who you truly are. Now ‘be’ that!” Literally, that is what I’ve been doing since November 7, 1981…and that process is still underway!

I am convinced that most perversion is born out of real need. Perversion is meeting a real need in a way other than the way God intended. I needed to be loved…but perceived myself as unlovable and unworthy yet I found ways to seek love through sex. Sex outside of marriage is perversion. My need for male affirmation became sexualized and since I did not have that need met through my masculine relationships as a child, I learned to meet that need in a physical manner with other males. The only problem was that, when I finally got honest with myself, I never found true satisfaction in any of those relationships…and, in that same honesty, realized that I was actually being used for someone else’s selfish pleasure (as I sought to seek my own selfish pleasure). Yet I could not seem to help myself. Soon after I came into my new identity I became aware of the reality of Satan’s scheme to destroy my life…and I became painfully aware that my soul and my flesh were both at war with the enemy of God…and the battle was on…and that battle continues as part of the process of my healing. Simply put, the process is war!

Once I realized that the battle was on, I had to do some things to prepare myself – to set myself up to WIN! When I saw how much ground the enemy had already stolen from me (sexual purity, mental stability, emotional peace, relational health, etc.) and how much damage this caused to every other area of my life, I became quite angry! I determined that I would take back that stolen ground…and THEN some! Little did I know of the great battle that would ensue. The enemy was not going to let go of me that easily! One of the first things I had to do was to determine that my freedom was indeed worth the fight! One of the greatest tragedies I see befalling fellow strugglers is that they grow weary in the battle and become so worn down that giving up and giving in seems to be the easier route (if only they could see far enough down the road to see the actual consequences of this decision!).

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand
firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}
Ephesians 6:10-12 NASB

Even though my physical body and my soul craved to have those old needs met in the old ways, I determined early on that if God was God and He had valued me enough to give His own life to make me His own then He was worth me giving up my old life. Part of that meant trusting Him enough to believe that He wants my best – even when life seems to be living hell – and that He is NOT the author of confusion! Part of my understanding of warfare and battle came when I determined to allow Him to be the Captain and I would be the soldier. His commands to me? “Cut off all wrong relationships from your past.”

“Ouch!” said my soul.
“Meet your physical needs in a holy way and cut off the old ways of meeting those needs.”
“Oh, no!” said my physical body.
“Throw away, burn, destroy all photos, gifts, trinkets, and mementos that were connected to your old life.”

I could no longer frequent the places where I had been so tempted in my old life. I even gave up music – literally gave it up – from 1981 until 1993. During this period of time, I so wanted to cleanse my mind that I decided I would not listen to any other music – whether secular OR Christian. I would simply listen for what God would sing over me (Psalm 32:7; Zephaniah 3:17) and would only sing back to Him what I needed to sing to Him. As I committed to follow the Lord in obedience, the pain began to lessen and joy began to replace the pain. When I became conscious of all the ways I had replaced the Lord in my past with things that were not even real – just ‘things’ – I began to realize that I had actually placed idols before the Lord!

Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
Psalm 24:8 NASB

As I took back stolen ground my freedom, at least at first, appeared to be quite costly. I had lost friends. I had lost money. I had lost many things I thought I could not live without. With each old thing I rid from my life, I took back stolen ground. With each acre of ground I gained I also gained a little more freedom to think God’s thoughts rather than the lies the enemy had planted in my mind so long ago. Of course, I would periodically fall back into an old thought pattern and attitude and subsequent sin, but rather than wallow in self-pity that I had ‘ruined everything’ (isn’t that just like human wisdom to think we actually have the power to replace God with our own self?), I simply learned to get up from where I fell and turn right back to Jesus and run toward Him with all my might! It has been almost 27 years that I have been on this journey and in this battle. It is quite easy now to look back and see what I would have sacrificed had I not thought the battle was worth it. My marriage would be non-existent. My children would be non-existent. Massive numbers of people who have heard my story would not have heard about the possibility of freedom if I had given up. I could go on and on with the consequences of what would have happened had I not chosen to fight for my freedom. In a nutshell, God saves and gives us a new identity. The enemy of God – Satan – has come to kill and destroy through deception. Because of sin and Satan we must fight to maintain our freedom just as Christ fought the powers of Satan and hell to secure our initial freedom. The good news, though, is that we are not alone in that battle! We are in relationship with Him.

Freedom is costly…but it is worth giving up momentary flashes of pleasure to gain the constancy of His grace and presence. It was worth it simply to overcome the bondage of my past life. Freedom is costly…but it is worth giving up even what the world now calls normal and acceptable to walk in true abundant life that is not dependent upon the whims or fleeting pleasures of the world. Freedom is costly…but it is worth giving up the desire to be pleasing to men and embracing the healing power of simply knowing I am pleasing to God. Freedom is costly…but it is worth giving up the old ways of thinking to gain the mind of Christ to not settle for anything less than God’s best for me.

So why would a believer give up if momentary pain of the struggle could potentially mean a truly fulfilling and abundant life, free from the sorrows of sin? Could it be that our unwillingness to let go of the old familiar ‘need-meeters’ is what keeps us from freedom? Could it be our own selfishness? Could it be fear of what others might say? Could it be we have become so comfortable in our old ways that it’s easier to switch teams than fight? Could it be we think the cost is too great? Could it be that we begin the journey but become overwhelmed with just how long it might take? Reality is this: we cannot serve two masters. We need to choose which team we are on…which army we serve in. Either we fight with Christ or we surrender to the enemy. It really is that simple.

Bottom line? Knowing Jesus Christ intimately has been (and continues to be) worth every vile sexual thought I may have to overcome to get to the mind of Christ. Knowing Christ intimately is worth every moment spent in prayer and praise as I actively take the battle to the enemy rather than wait for him to expose himself. Knowing Christ intimately is worth every manner of insult cast at me each time I dare to declare that freedom is possible in a world that says otherwise. Knowing Christ intimately is to know and actively seek freedom…and freedom is costly.

A warrior runs TO the battle…not away from it.

A warrior finishes the fight…

A warrior takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…as many times and as often as necessary.

A warrior of God does not believe the propaganda of the enemy and clings to the Truth even when everyone else around him does not.

A warrior practices the presence of God by praising God in both good times and bad…through storm or fiery trial…whether facing down a giant or cutting off the head of the snake.

A warrior follows the Captain of the Hosts of God (Jesus Christ) into the fray because he knows well and is confident in the fact that Jesus Christ is victorious…always victorious!

A warrior is willing to lay down his selfishness and self-focus and to refocus on God and upon meeting the needs of others.

A warrior is willing to lay down his life – because His Victor laid down His own life.

A warrior of God takes no prisoners but, rather, cuts off the head of the enemy by putting off the lies and replacing them with the Truth of God’s Word.

A warrior mentally prepares for battle daily by putting on the full armor of God…covering his mind with the helmet of salvation (true identity in Christ)…the breastplate of righteousness (meeting his needs in a holy God-intended manner)…girding his loins (where life begets more life) with the belt of Truth…covering his feet with the warrior’s shoes – the Gospel of peace.

A warrior does not give up until the battle is won.

A warrior defends others who are in the battle.

A warrior is faithful to get back up and fight – even after they fall.

A warrior goes to the Great Physician when wounded…and receives healing for their wounds.

A warrior knows he is running a race…a long distance race. He knows the battle will be on until the day He meets Christ face to face…but knows his hope is in the fact that Christ has already won. Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

A warrior knows the real battle he is in is a battle of the mind. The human mind is the battleground where Satan’s lies must be put down with the Truth of God’s Word.

A warrior knows that when he begins taking back stolen ground from the giants of his life, more giants will follow. But the warrior knows that any giants can be dealt with because one of his God-given names is ‘Giant Killer’.

A warrior knows the joy of fellowship with the Champion and takes great comfort in His presence…often…and deeply. The flames of a warrior’s passion are fanned by the passionate love he receives from his God.

A warrior wins. No matter what…if he does not give up or lose heart.

Something to think about: Is momentary self-pleasure worth an eternity without fellowship with God?

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand {men} to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”
Luke 14:26-31 NASB

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