How Much Does Freedom Matter to You?
*The following transcript has been slightly edited from the original audio text for readability purposes. All speakers’ original intent has been maintained to the best of our ability.
Brad Furges has joined us in the studio. Brad it's so good to see you again.
Brad: Good to see you too Mike.
We want to talk today about the importance of really desiring change for the person who is looking for freedom from sexual sin. I know that you have a quote that you want to share as we get started.
Brad: I got a quote from Frank Worthen that I've always liked. He says, "When we reach a point where we realize that our own efforts are getting us nowhere, we accept the conclusion that we can't change ourselves. The next question to ask is: Do we really want our lives to be different? God usually does very little in our lives until we get honest with Him. He knows if we're asking Him for deliverance when we really don't want it. Often we have an investment in our problems. We've spent years becoming comfortably adjusted to our situation. Keeping our sin has its benefits. We get a certain amount of sympathy. It allows us to escape responsibilities and it provides a form of excitement. Often we'd rather rearrange our thinking to accommodate our sin than tackle a seemingly impossible problem. If change isn't happening in our lives, we may need to admit that we really don't want change." Typically you can tell right away when a person comes to you who really doesn't want change because when you start offering ways out or giving them suggestions, then they start back-pedaling. You see early on this person is going to have to go around the mountain a little more and bump their heads. A lot of times people want change for various reasons or they express that their motives for change may be to please someone, to win their wives, to keep their ministry, or to please their pastor. But for the type of change that God is looking to work in any person's life, a person needs to be desperate for change because they're desperate for God and they really want to serve God, to love the Lord, and to love others.
Kathy: When change costs something that's when I think people bump up against 'Do I really want to change?' I think a lot of us want change. We don't want the consequences is probably a better summation of it. We don't like the consequences, but like Frank Worthen said, we have spent years adjusting our thinking to the way we live our lives now and to undo that is radical. It would have to take radical and determined effort on our part to let God do that, and do we really want to go through that I think is the issue for people.
Change comes at a price. There is a price to be paid for change. If nothing else, it's giving up ourselves and giving up our life in this world. In order to be able to do that we've got to be able to trust the One that is going to be doing the change and of course that's going to be God doing the change in our life. How do we know that God is trustworthy? How do we know that change is going to happen if we're willing to pay that price?
Brad: We know based on God's word. He has put into motion a principle that we've heard of before called the 'if-then principle'. I'll give an example. A verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 says "If my people which are called by name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." There are many, many conditional promises throughout the word of God if we would take the time to really look at them. God's going to do His part, but our job is to see if we are doing our part. God is true to his word. If we come under his mighty hand, God is going to fulfill every promise that He's set forth. For someone who is steeped in sexual sin and in horrible bondage, if they desperately want to change all they have to do is line up with God's will and His Word; and the change is going to come and they're going to be in tremendous freedom.
Brad, you've been counseling for a number of years. Let me just throw this question out to you. For the person who has at some level gone to God and wanted change in their life but they haven't experienced an answer - they've tried to do something, but they haven't sent that response that you're talking about - in your experience what usually is the problem?
Brad: Many times we'll have men who will insist that they have tried everything, and they almost imply they have tried everything and God has failed them. But because we know that God is good, that He's merciful and that He causes all things to work together for good for those who really love Him, we know that if the person hasn't gotten the answer that they're looking for, the Lord in His sovereignty allowed that person to wallow a little longer until they got really serious and wanted out. Or maybe that person is really not being honest with themselves - they're really not that desperate and they really haven't resisted temptation and sin to the point of shedding blood, as we hear in the word. My experience in counseling is that men really haven't done everything, because typically how God will deal with men in the program is He'll actually bring them to the point that maybe He's brought them to before they came to the program and He'll say 'Now are you willing to go this way or that way?' It will be an issue that the person's whole life they've always turned away when God was going after that one thing or one area.
At that point where they really could have begun victory...
Brad: Yeah, they could have had victory before they got to Pure Life Ministries, but God says 'Okay. Let me work you through this, but we've got to go back to kindergarten one more time.'
So it really goes back to how much do they really want change and what is the motive for wanting that change.
Those have got to be nailed down in order for us to be able to see this faithful God responding.
Brad: A good biblical example of this desire for change is David. You compare David and Saul. Saul blew it. He just wanted 'Look, please forgive me so I can look good. I don't want the people not to see me in a good light.' But when David was confronted, his repentance was extravagant in Psalm 51. He was serious. He was desperate for change. He wanted God. 'Please! I'm guilty.' He took responsibility for his sin, but he went to the only One who could really answer him. He was desperate and God heard his desperate cry.
How important is that crying out to God as you mentioned that David did?
Brad: It is very important. I think about the people who are in great need and they knew Jesus was in the area. Think about the blind beggar. Think about the lepers. They cried out. They made a ruckus. They're like 'Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!' They're such a powerful example. They didn't get denied. Jesus stopped and said 'You know what, bring that person here. They have a need.' I'm sure there were other people around who had needs, but that person really stood out because they cried out; and they were actually humbling themselves. They didn't care what people thought of them.
And they cried out in faith. They cried out believing that Jesus would do what they asked him to do. How important is that faith in crying out to God?
Brad: Oh, that's very important because the word of God says that if we don't have faith we can't please God - it's impossible to please Him. We need that faith to cry out. Why would you cry out to someone you don't believe in and you don't trust. I wouldn't do it.
Kathy: That's not faith.
Brad: No, that's not faith at all.
What is that faith based in? I know over the years there have been times where I knew I didn't have the faith. I tried to generate it and it didn't help because I didn't have any more faith after I tried to generate it than I did before. What is that faith rooted in?
Brad: The very center of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. When you have an encounter with Jesus, you begin to have an idea that Jesus was God's answer for your problem. I watch 'The Passion of the Christ' and I see the brutality that he was willing to go through for you and for me; and I say 'Lord, for me? This amazing love?' When I begin to see this great God that I've heard about that maybe I've been in fear and trembling in the wrong sort of way, that He loves me with an everlasting love, then I don't know why I don't trust Him. Then the transformation starts to take place. That faith is based on a knowledge of who God is - His character and what He's like.
Okay, so we're looking at how much do you really care. We've laid down that it's absolutely necessary that you nail down do you really want change. You need to nail down what really is your motive. You need to cry out to God, and you need to cry out to God in faith. Doing all of those things Brad, what does it really boil down to in a practical experience for an individual? You've got this enormous mountain in front of you and you mentioned the mountain when we started out today. What is the experience of getting up this mountain as you have traveled?
Brad: I'd rather look at it another way. When I was in the program and going through it Steve pulled me aside and said 'Brad I know you see your struggle with sexual sin as this huge mountain. It's there. We know it's there. But I want you to get your eyes off of the mountain itself and just get your focus on Jesus and pursue Him.' Over time that mountain becomes smaller and smaller and smaller, but the key thing is focusing on God, focusing on Christ, and being determined not to give up.
Brad Furges, thanks so much for talking to us today.
Brad: Thanks for having me Mike.
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