1975 was a miserable year for Joe Torre, then first baseman for the New York Mets. It must have seemed like a lifetime since he won the Most Valuable Player award only four years earlier. But that was then and this was now. Perhaps the lowest point of his career came during a game on July 21st, just three days after his 35th birthday. Four times, second baseman Felix Milan singled and each time Joe followed him by hitting into an inning-ending double play.
Torre finished out the year with a paltry .247 batting average and a measly six homeruns. Two years later he hung up his cleats, deciding to try his hand at managing instead. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better, as the Mets, under Joe’s leadership, won only 40% of their games during the next five years.
But Joe Torre is not a quitter. After a couple of other stints at managing, in 1996 he was offered the helm of the New York Yankees and promptly led them to a world championship in his first season. Eight out of the next nine years the Yanks won their division, including five more appearances in the World Series. Joe’s career had obviously taken a dramatic turn after joining the Yankees.
Are you Living a 'Defeated' Christian Life?
Perhaps you are at a low point in your “career” as a believer. Maybe last week you struck out a number of times in duels with the tempter. Nevertheless, I want to encourage you that you have a long career ahead of you. A bad season does not make a bad career, unless you willingly bury yourself with unbelief or self-pity. No matter how deeply you have fallen, it is not too late to turn things around!
If you are going to halt your long and dreary slide away from God, you must have a pivotal experience that will act as a turning point in your life. Of course, for someone bound up in sexual addiction, this means repentance. This begins with a thorough renunciation of the sin (including the destruction of anything that holds you to that sin, i.e. pornography), asking God to forgive you and making a commitment not to return to it.
No doubt you have done this in the past, but before long you found yourself floundering again. This time will be different, though, because this time you are going to experience real repentance. You see, repentance is a precious gift from God. However, too many people treat His gifts as though they were some trinket found at a flea market. As one preacher said, “Too many people expect million dollar answers to ten cent prayers!”
It is the Lord’s desire to grant you real freedom, as He has for so many others. But the freedom you long for requires you to fight relentlessly for it. Jesus supplied the essential key to this in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
He makes two significant points here: 1) The Father greatly desires to grant His gifts to those who are hungry; and 2) Although these gifts are free, they only come as a result of persistent prayer.
People who continue to give over to a sinful habit, especially one that has long since lost its luster, do so because each day is the same as the one before. Life for them has become a drudgery—one monotonous, uninspiring day repetitiously following the next. The answer to getting off this merry-go-round of temporary insanity is to create a special day that will change things forever.
A Day of Asking and Waiting
Friend, if you are in habitual sin, here’s exactly what you should do. Set aside a special day, within two weeks or so, allowing yourself some time to pray over it and build anticipation. You should also inform your wife, pastor and close friends so that they too can be praying for your big day. Of course, the sin must be stopped immediately. If you know that you have a special day coming, you can hold out when the temptations arrive. But even if you falter leading up to your day, you can still make this work.
The second part of the equation is a place to go. If it is the vacationing off-season, I would highly recommend finding a park where you can rent a cabin for the day. If this is not possible, then you might have to stay in a hotel. (If you do this, you must absolutely unplug the TV set when you get there!)
I don’t suggest spending the night—too many potential temptations. Plan on arriving in the morning and leaving late afternoon. Eat supper the evening before and resolve to fast until you return home. You should have about eight hours at your disposal to spend doing Bible studies, praying for loved ones, etc., listening to worship music and most of all, pleading with God to change your heart. At the end of your time, tell the Lord that you are accepting by faith that He has done an important work within your heart.
Admittedly, you may or may not experience emotional feelings during the day. However, DO NOT gauge the success of your venture on how you feel. In fact, don’t be surprised if you are besieged by an onslaught of sexual thoughts during that day and the following days. This means that the enemy is trying to make you feel as though you are no different. How many of your failed attempts at repentance in the past, I wonder, were because you kept falling for the same stereotypical tricks of the devil!
A Life of Claiming and Believing
Re-read the verses listed above (Matthew 7:7-11) over and over, reminding the Lord that He has promised to respond to your prayers. Find other promises in the Scriptures and recite them as well. Claim them by faith. It’s God’s heart to set you free once and for all!
Never, ever express doubt or despair when discussing this with others. Tell people that you believe God has done something significant in your life and you are holding onto it in faith. God’s Word claims victory for His children. Our faith is in His promises, not in practicing some contrived human belief system based on positive thinking. Nevertheless, one’s words do have the capability of influencing one’s faith. If you continually express unbelief, you will find your confidence quickly evaporating.
In the weeks and months that follow, you will find yourself pointing to this 24-hour period as a pinnacle in your history as a believer. You must always see it as the day things turned around for you—your watershed moment and the devil’s Waterloo in your life!
When temptations come across your path now, you will find that you are much more capable of standing in resistance. Not only has the Lord answered your prayers and done a significant work within your heart, but that day is something tangible you can “hang your hat on.” You will also find a strong desire not to lose what you fought for. The tedious succession of one day of defeat after another has been broken! Even if you should cave in to temptation one day, pick yourself right back up again, repent and get back on track.
Of course, it should be obvious that, in order to have the power of God consistently at work within your life, you must maintain a solid devotional life. You must also refrain from making any provision for the flesh. You are a new man now. Don’t allow ungodly television to play in your home. Don’t go to places where you know you will be assaulted with sensuous images. Don’t hang around those who are a bad influence upon you, who might entice you back into complacency and sin. These are the types of sensible decisions and tough choices people make who are choosing to walk in victory.
It would have been very easy for Joe Torre to give up on baseball after being fired as the Mets’ manager in 1981. But he decided to fight for what he wanted—that elusive success. As he managed the Braves and Cardinals in the ensuing years, he had his struggles, but he never gave up, and the payoff came. Your day of victory will come as well. Take that first step by faith and set aside a day to turn things around. Then believe God to fulfill His promise to you in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “……old things have passed away; behold, all things become new.”
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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