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Love Will Defeat the Power of Lust in Your Life

Who would have thought that getting into the needs of others would help a person overcome their sexual sin issue? In this interview, Ed Buch & Jordan Yoshimine open up about how the root of their sin problem was a life of selfishness and how the mercy of the Lord broke through that selfishness and broke the power of lust in their lives. (from Episode #559 - Mercy Destroys the Spirit of Lust | Key Lessons on the Road to Freedom)

Nate: Alright. So, it's time for another episode in our series, Key Lessons on the Road to Freedom. Today's key lesson is learning to meet the needs of other people. And the point of this lesson is that our lives should be at some level devoted to meeting the needs of other people.
        First off, let me just ask you guys both very simply, why is the mercy life a key lesson that we have to learn as we're walking toward freedom?

Ed: Well, the journey down that road to freedom requires us to deal with the roots of sexual sin. And at the root of sexual sin, there's a major preoccupation with self. That's just the way it is. Living with self at the center, serving self, taking for self and doing what feels good to self is all hand in hand with the sexual sin issue. So, in biblical counseling, we deal with any issue really with a three-pronged approach. It includes putting off the sin, renewing the mind and then putting on the new man. So, obviously with sexual sin, the put off is pretty obvious. Stop acting out the behaviors that are violating the Word of God with your sexuality. Renewing the mind happens through Scripture. The put on in this case comes through meeting the needs of others and investing into the needs of others. And if you never get to the putting on in this area, you won't really be able to sustain lasting victory over your sexual sin.

Jordan: Yeah. I had noted for this discussion pretty much the same concept. Put off, renew the mind and put on. But I also would add in Philippians 2:3, which says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NASB 1995). So we need to put off selfishness. We shouldn't be doing anything that feeds our self-lives, and we should actually be putting on getting into the needs of others. Then we should be doing what Colossians 3:12-14 says, which is to put on love and we should bear one another and forgive one another. So, I think that's an important aspect to remember. When you are battling against selfishness, you need to put on mercy and getting into the needs of others and put on love which is the bond of perfection.

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Nate: So, what you guys are saying is that the mercy life, or getting into the needs of others, or giving or serving actually is the thing that's chopping out the root that the sin is flowing out of.

Ed: That's right.

Nate: So, it's not just a matter of needing to put a filter on my phone or I need to have all these boundaries in place. Those things can help. But if you chop out the root, then you're really doing what is needed.

Ed: That's right. You're really getting at the heart issue of all of it and that's what you really want to do and need to do.

Nate: Yeah. And sexual addiction is actually a pretty hot topic these days. People are talking about it a lot. And a lot of people are trying to offer help, so inevitably they're going to start asking questions like, “What are the root issues?” And, “What is really going on that is giving way or giving rise to these addictive behaviors?” And I wonder how many places or people would bluntly just say that the root issue is selfishness in a person.

Ed: I don't think you’d hear that very often.

Nate: Yeah. When did the lights come on for you guys where you were like, “Oh my goodness, the reason I'm doing all this stuff is because I just love myself.”?

Jordan: I've shared my testimony before and it’s on our website, but there came a point in the program where my counselor asked what my biggest idol was. In that moment I couldn't come up with an answer that wasn’t surfacy. I said that my biggest idol may be my car or hockey, but after I walked out of the counseling office a light bulb went off in my head and I thought, “Wow, it's me. I'm the problem.” It was like the veil was torn back and I was able to see the reality of my condition. I was able to see the devastation that my sin had caused. It was very difficult to see all that, but it was necessary.

Ed: Yeah, I honestly did not see myself as the problem before coming to Pure Life. So, when I came to the Residential Program, what really opened my eyes was reading through the book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry. I think Chapter 6 in that book deals with the root cause of sexual sin, and I remember that section of the book pretty vividly because that's where Pastor Steve talks about how you need to quit blaming other things. He talks about how we can't blame our past. We can't blame the fact that we were sexually abused or any of those other sorts of circumstances or issues of our upbringing. On top of that, he talks about how we need to quit blaming other people. So, through that I saw that it wasn’t my parents’ fault and it wasn’t my wife's fault either. And as I eliminated all of the people and things that I was focused on and looking at as the problem, the only real problem left was me in the end.

        At that point I was left sitting there thinking, “Wow, OK. It really is me. I'm the problem.” And after that realization it is good for a man to couple that with some good solid teaching from the Bible about needing to be a giver instead of a taker and how he needs to deny himself instead of indulging himself. It is important for us to see that we need to put others ahead of ourselves. It’s also important to be receiving clear biblical teaching on those themes and then look at how we can't blame anything or anyone else. And that should lead a man to say, I'm the problem and I'm not doing things right at all.

Nate: Okay, so then you guys both came to a place of genuine repentance over your selfishness and self-centeredness. And then you had to learn a totally different lifestyle. What helped you learn to live the mercy life?

Ed: As I think about it, I would say it started with good teaching. There was some really good teaching that was assigned to me to read during my program. I was really impacted by another one of Pastor Steve's books called Living in Victory: Through the Power of Mercy. There was also the Mercy Studies class that we would have and still do have every Sunday evening during the program that uses the book, What the Bible Teaches About Mercy by Rex Andrews. And probably outside of Pure Life not many people have ever heard of that book, but there is solid teaching in there about getting into the needs of others and really making that a focus and a priority of the Christian life.
        But I really think I learned a lot more about living the mercy life toward others by seeing other people do it. That's one of the blessings as you're in the Residential Program. You have these staff members who are a little further along in their journey of freedom from sexual sin and you see how merciful they can be toward you as a student. There were staff members who would show mercy toward myself and others and there were even some odd examples of it that would really capture my attention. There is one that is a long story, so I won't tell the whole thing, but there was one staff member who had a reputation of being kind of gruff. And I was kidding with him one day about giving me some Oreo cookies. When I got back to my room the next day after being at my job, there was a bag of Oreo cookies on my bed and it was just a simple sort of gesture, but it told me that these people are really investing in others and laying down their lives for others.
        On top of that, probably nothing taught me more about living the mercy life than having to deal with difficult people. I was in this program with 70 men who were all at least as selfish as I was. And when you are in that situation something's got to give. You're either going to kill each other or you're going to learn something about putting others ahead of yourself and meeting the needs of others. You are going to learn to yield your rights away and put others higher than yourself.

Jordan: Yeah, I didn't even think of this when you mentioned it but Living in Victory was my favorite Steve Gallagher book in the program. And it was because in the last half of the book it talks about living out the mercy life and that was a completely new concept for me. It was foreign to me that I needed to consider others needs above my own and that that was part of the Christian life.

Ed: It took it from being just a mental idea of esteeming others better and it brought into light the need to actually put others ahead of myself by serving them and by doing something to practically invest into the lives of others.

Jordan: Yeah. And sometimes people can believe they are living the mercy life but they don't recognize that they have mixed motives. They may be doing things for others, but there is some benefit to them for doing their good deeds to others. But the book Living in Victory taught so well that mercy is doing something for others and considering their needs above your own without expecting anything in return.
        So when I was in the Residential Program, the thing that really impacted me was learning how to pray and becoming an intercessor. That was really transformational for me. I don't know if it's in that Rex Andrews book or where I heard it, but I heard someone say that 95% of mercy is in prayer. And so, it was emphasized in the program that we needed to spend time in prayer, but also you need to be praying for the needs of others.
       When it came to doing mercy through prayer, I got practical applications all the time. When I would complain about other students in the program, my counselor would ask me, “Are you praying for them?” And when he said that I thought to myself, “wow, that's something I can do.” And you can’t imagine the power that prayer has. The person you're praying for may not even change, but your perspective changes and your heart changes through prayer. You begin to see them through God's eyes and you really get into a flow of mercy toward them. Also, when you pray for someone, love wells up in you for that person and genuine concern. So, prayer and intercession for me are pillars when it comes to living the mercy life.

Nate: Yeah. So, if anybody's pretty honest and self-aware, they're going to say, “Wow, this is not natural for me to do.” Because it's not. It's not natural to live a life that is intentionally putting the needs of others above your own needs. And so, it can be taxing. It involves a lot of sacrifice. It can be tiring. It can be disappointing. When you get used by other people or the people that you've poured into just don't do well, it can be very discouraging at times. What keeps you guys going with that kind of focus? Where you can say to yourself, “I'm doing this no matter how difficult it is.”

Jordan: Gratitude. I tell a lot of the guys I counsel how vital it is to be living at the foot of the Cross, keeping your eyes on Calvary and remaining thankful for what Jesus did for you. When I look at Christ and His mercy, what rises up in me is, “Wow Jesus! You did all of this for me?” And of course, that causes gratitude to just well up inside me. So, when I'm discouraged or I have a counselee that's tough or one that's not responding, I always go back to who Jesus is to me and what He did for me. When I do that, gratitude fills my heart. And then out of that well of gratitude mercy just pours out towards others.
        When I look at the Cross, what do I have to complain about? What do I have to be discouraged about? The Lord experienced every grief I have known. He is so merciful. He is so lowly. He is so humble. And because of that I choose to be grateful. Yes, I'm going to face trials in this life, but gratitude is what drives the bus for me in this life. If I can stay in an attitude of gratitude, then things are going to go well because my focus is on Jesus.

Ed: Yeah, and I would agree with that. Gratitude always tends to take me back to the Lord because when I don't know what else to give thanks for, the four things I was taught is to give thanks for are Jesus, the blood, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. And usually that's how I'll start my gratitude portion of my prayer time with going through those four things and just talking to the Lord. Then throughout the day, when I want to change the atmosphere of my inside world, I just start thanking the Lord. And if I can’t think of anything new, I can always go back to those four things and end up with my focus on the Lord. And when your focus is on the Lord, it's not going to be on self or serving self.

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