Why it's Better that Freedom Comes Slowly
*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 me and Kathy Gallagher in the studio. Brad, thanks for joining us today.
Brad: Thanks for having me Mike.
Brad we want to talk today about this subject "Freedom Comes Slowly for a Reason". Now we know that when we look at men who are struggling with sexual addiction, that there are those cases where God just supernaturally sets a man free, but for the most part that's not how it happens is it?
Brad: Not at all. Our experience has been that most of the men who come to us look for a quick miracle, a quick pill, a quick fix because we live in a “microwave society” and they want God to heal them right now so they can get on with their life. The miracle that they're looking for starts when they repent and they make a decision to turn, but the process of being set free...it takes time to really come into true freedom. It's not an easy thing at all.
That really shouldn't be surprising because so many of them - and us included - were in it for so long that it's going to take a long time to work our way out, or to really let the Lord work us out of the hole we've dug ourselves into.
Brad: Right. The way I've shared with counselees is that there is a reaping what you've sown. You repent, you come to the Lord, He cleanses you, and He gives you a new start; but part of the reaping for all the years of being in self-will is fighting out of that rut. God is in it with you though, if you truly repent.
Kathy: The process of all the years that they spent thinking a certain way, that got them to the place where they could actually do the things that they do - it took time for them to come into that. It wasn't like all of a sudden they woke up and they were in sexual sin. It took years of ingrained thinking to get them to the place where they would actually cross certain lines. Victory is that same way. It will take time for God to change the way you think and to give you a pure heart and a pure mind.
I like the example Steve Gallagher uses. He'll talk about the “switchboard of wires” inside all of us. The enemy comes in and messes and mixes up all the wires as we're in pornography or whatever it is we're into. But as we spend time in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit comes along and pulls one wire out and puts it back in the right place. The next time we're in the Word of God, He takes another wire and corrects it; and it just takes a long time to get all those wires put back where they're supposed to be.
Brad: Think about drugs and alcohol. After you've been off of them for a couple years, they're pretty much out of your system. Now think about sexual sin, and the number of images and experiences that are ingrained that seem to stick with you for a lifetime. You have to live a life of controlling your mind and your thinking. These men who are wanting to come out of sexual sin must realize what they're dealing with. You have brain damage that's going to take years of turning to God and His Word and His truth to really come into some sanity and freedom.
You mentioned the “microwave society”. I think one of the reasons that God does take us through this lengthy process is that if He were to heal us instantaneously, there is a great danger of us just as instantaneously going right back to where we came from.
Brad: Yeah, a tremendous danger, because it's almost like "Oh God will set me free, so I'll just go right back to it." The human heart naturally gravitates toward sin and what the flesh wants, but it's good that the Lord does do that. I know from my own personal experience, I appreciate the difficulty and all the discipline from God. I appreciate that it wasn't an easy thing. I appreciate that I had to cry out to God, pray, believe, have faith, wait, and watch to see God perform a miracle in my heart.
Kathy: And you're not so quick to let it go, as well. You understand what it is going to cost you to go back there.
Talk to us Brad about how God develops a reliance on Him by going through this (sometimes) very painful process.
Brad: Another statement I often make in counseling is that it's un-American to rely on God. "In God We Trust" is on all our money, but really it's un-American to truly rely on God, or to even rely on another person. We prefer to be self-sufficient for the most part. One thing God has to teach every man and every woman is how to really rely on Him and come to a place where even if your life isn’t out of control because of sexual sin, you still need God - you still will rely and depend on Him. The process of God bringing a man or woman out of a life of sexual sin teaches that person that they need Him, whether they struggle with that specific sin or not. We learn to draw close to God. We learn to want to be near Him. When we get a sense that we’re away from Lord, we start seeking Him quickly because we’ve experienced the blessedness of having Him and knowing that He's there for us to help us through our trials.
There is a sense that the sin we've been involved in really is a blessing that God uses to show us all of that, isn't there?
Brad: Right. We hear that thundering from the pulpit a lot from Mrs. Gallagher. The sexual sin was God's excuse to get men to the place where they see their need for Him. I want to say personally I'm grateful for it. If God would have either let me get away with my sin or not allow consequences for it, or if I didn't have a struggle like this at all, I doubt I would have been needy for God. I would've just lived my life the American way and would have been away from the Lord. I wouldn't have known Him. Who knows where I would have ended up.
Well talking about the way that God does use it, so often those of us who have been in sexual sin come into this change process with the idea that sexual sin is the thing that needs to be changed, but again the reason that God takes us through this process is because He sees there's much more work to be done.
Brad: Yeah, He sees the whole picture. Typically when a man is at his wit's end with sexual sin, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath is a solid core of deep rooted habits and thought patterns that God is going after, more so than He is about the outward thing that a person is struggling with. That's what we try to get the men to see at Pure Life when they go there. I remember when I called in many years ago I wanted to make sure they could deal with my issues, and the counselor responded "Listen, just get your things and get here. God will take care of everything." When I got to Pure Life, we didn't sit down and just talk about my little issue, my problems, what happened in my family, my relationship with my parents, and all that. I was led to the Lord and God immediately started dealing with the issues of my heart - namely pride and selfishness, along with lust and the other things that brought me here.
I think that's one of the reasons that going through this process can be so painful. There is a sense of grief in giving up your sin when that sin has so permeated who you are and your identity has been so wrapped up in it. But when you go below the sin, and there's all these other issues and all these other things that you've been holding on to, it is very painful to let go of all of this.
Brad: Right. When all the props are taken away from you, and the things that you have stood on or held onto are gone, you're like "What do I do now?" Well God comes in and He wants to build a new foundation. That's the best place, but it is very, very painful.
Kathy: That's what people are afraid. I think in our heart of hearts we know that has to happen, and we're terrified of that.
How important is it to fight? You're dealing with guys all the time at different levels - each of them with a different willingness to really do what needs to be done. How important is it for someone coming out of sexual sin to be willing to fight?
Brad: Very, very important, because we live in a “microwave society” and we really don't want to fight for much other than our own selfish gain. When it comes to fighting against sin and seeking to please God, that's something that men have to be trained and encouraged to do. In this walk, throughout the New Testament, there are references about fighting and striving to enter into the narrow way, fighting against sin, crucifying the flesh, putting off the old man - some tough language. For believers, you come to the Lord, and God does His part; but we have our part. And a large part is fighting. The fighting might be getting rid of the Internet, throwing away your T.V., cutting loose your friends, staying accountable with someone - that's really what you call fighting, in addition to choosing not to give over.
We do kind of have this sense of Christianity today where it's similar to watching television, which is totally passive act - you sit there and it feeds you whatever is coming out of it. We sometimes look at Christianity that way - that if I just kind of sit on the couch and listen to the preacher on Sunday, that it's all just going to get in me. But we really do have a part in that, don't we?
Brad: You're in sin if you're lazy and being a slob spiritually - if you're not willing to fight against what's in your heart.
Kathy: James said that if we are just merely hearers of the word and not doers we deceive ourselves. So if you're just sitting there listening to it, but you're not actually doing what the Word of God says, nothing's happening.
So often Brad I know the question comes up "How long is this going to take?" What are some of the factors involved in how long this process does take for an individual? Obviously one would be how long they've been in sin, and we’ve already talked about that. But what other factor might be involved?
Brad: Another factor would be if the person really is determined to break free at any cost. Sometimes we minister to people and meet people who really are wanting to be free, but when you lay out a plan of something that might work, you see that maybe they're not ready just yet. Often we've had calls from people and we've counseled them to come into one of our programs and they've said "Well I can't do it right now. I've got some things going on." Then maybe two to five years later, they come and their lives are worse than ever. They wish they would have come earlier, but then they're ready and are desperate to do whatever it takes to break free.
You take a man who is desperate, who really does see his need, who wants more than a quick fix, and who will really press into God; and your experience is that God will honor that and will respond to that.
Brad: Yes, because God is true to His word. It's just not like the Lord to forsake someone who is diligently seeking Him and striving for righteousness. He's just not like that.
So there's hope for them?
Amen. Brad Furges, thanks so much for talking to us about why freedom comes slowly.
Brad: Thanks for having me.
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