In the phone calls and conversations I’ve had with hundreds of men, one of the most common statements and themes is how the men have been trying to win their fight over addictive behaviors by themselves.
As one of our daughters is well known for saying: “I do it myself!”
Just like she did, these men finally ran out of options or it became too difficult or painful to keep working at building community.
So, what keeps us from asking for help?
Why do we continue to believe we can “manage” our sin or struggles on our own?
There are a number of reasons and they usually travel in pairs or more. Let's explore a few of them and I’ll give you a few ways to confront the lies that these reasons tend to communicate to us.
Losing my marriage/relationships
Losing my job
No else will understand
How other people will respond
Being spiritually shunned
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but covers many of the reasons men keep trying to handle their struggles alone.
The truth is none of us are meant to do life by ourselves. Most of us have heard this message before. Not everyone however. And we have an enemy who's out to steal, kill and destroy and his primary target is the truth.
I’m growing increasingly convinced that Satan is far more interested in keeping the truth out of our minds and hearts than he is trying to sew lies into our minds. He can compound the lies we already believe about ourselves by keeping the Truth out.
When truth is held at bay and lies of our identity and worth take root, we become the toughest bully we could ever face. We punch ourselves over and over again with self-abusive lies, such as, I’m unlovable, I'm defective, I'm worthless, I'm stupid and the list goes on and on.
After we have heard these words spoken over us by others loud enough, long enough and frequently enough we accept them as truth. At this point, Satan can then shift his focus on keeping out the truth.
In his book, “The Screwtape Letters”, C.S. Lewis wrote in letter 21:
“Yes. A period of sexual temptation is an excellent time for working in a subordinate attack on the patient’s peevishness. It may even be the main attack, as long as he thinks it the subordinate one. But here, as in everything else, the way we must be prepared for your moral assault by darkening his intellect.”
Lewis is also the author of Mere Christianity. This book graces the presence of my bookshelf in my office. One of the most influential books for many a Christian.
Yes, I understand the Screwtape Letters is fiction, yet Lewis writes as one who studied the Scriptures deeply as a lay theologian and served at Oxford University as a faculty member of the English department.
Back to the Garden
The serpent spoke to Eve in a way to get her to disbelieve the truth she’d already heard from God Himself!
Genesis 3:4-5 - “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
He works against the truth Eve heard and then sticks in the mix the deceit and lie that she can become just like God through the fruit and Adam follows suit, failing to protect Eve and the Garden God had charged him to manage.
In Romans 8:24-25 the Apostle Paul wrote addressing our exchanging the truth for a lie and it’s consequences: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
What or Who is Truth?
Jesus the Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)
“And you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
God’s word is truth. Jesus is the truth and he came to testify to the truth.
Is it any surprise that Satan aims to keep you and I from knowing and believing the truth of Christ?
The truth is that Christ paid the penalty for every sin you have committed or ever will commit.
When Christ said, “It is finished”, it was finished. Done. Paid in full.
You will find this verse at the end of each of my emails: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Here’s some truth that you may need to be reminded of today. As a man or woman who has confessed Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, who stands forgiven understanding it is Jesus finished work that forgives your sin, God says you are HIS child.
You are an adopted and beloved son or daughter of the King of kings, the Creator of heaven and earth. That's the truth that Satan would love to steal, kill and destroy from within your mind.
Coming back to where we began
Here’s where we return to one being too small a number. When did Satan come after Eve? When she was alone. (At least she was acting like she was alone...)
When did King David fall and sin grievously against the Lord and commit murder? When he was alone.
When did Moses kill an Egyptian soldier? When he thought he was alone (unseen).
We are vulnerable to fall just like these heroes of the faith when we are alone.
Life is meant to be lived in connection -- in community. God exists as a Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Community.
Recovery and transformation into a free man (or woman) is meant to be done in community through connection. One is too small a number for this journey.
God called out Adam in the Garden. Nathan called out King David and Moses was called out for his murderous act.
Community is Where Healing Begins
James 5:16 says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Ecclesiastes 4:10b “But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
And if these verses don’t convince us, remember Jesus began His ministry on earth by recruiting 12 men to walk with, teach, comfort, help and do life with. The gospel was taught and shared in community.
You need others to walk with you on the road to transformation. Someone else may need you to walk with them on their journey road to redemption and transformation.
One is simply too small a number. We need one another. Bear one another's burdens and watch God work.
He is faithful and will do it.