Just Say No – Part 2
By John Glisson
In the last article, we discussed how the often-given advice, “Just stop!” is not very helpful to those who are struggling with an addiction to pornography (or anything else for that matter). If it were that easy, they would have stopped long ago. We also discovered that according to Titus 2:11-12 that it is grace, not willpower, that teaches/trains us to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Furthermore, grace enables us not only to say, “No” but to live an upright and godly life.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It [grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” – Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)
If we are not saying “No” and not living an upright and godly life, it is not simply an issue of willpower. Rather, it is a grace deficiency. We have not received, or are not walking in, the grace required to say “No” and live as God requires. Our will has to be empowered by God’s grace (see Galatians 3:3; Philippians 2:12-13).
So, what makes it so hard to live in grace? If grace is what trains us to live an upright and godly life, how do I obtain it?
Looking back to the Bible, we can see two distinct issues that cause a grace deficiency.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6 (ESV)
The first cause of a grace deficiency is pride. Pride is an attitude that says, “I know better.” It is an unfavorable disposition to God’s word and the call to walk according to it.
Any attempt to minimize/downplay, explain away or justify our sin is an expression of pride. Any failure to take seriously the warnings in scripture regarding sin, and especially sexual sin, is also evidence of pride.
When we walk in pride, God actively opposes us and withholds His empowering grace. This is a dire condition. We have placed ourselves in opposition to the only power that can train us in godliness.
We must intentionally humble ourselves to remedy this condition as quickly as possible! The best way to do this is through sincere confession. We should not only confess our struggles to God, but to others in a safe environment. In doing so, we walk out James 5:16 and 1 John 1:7-9, which brings healing, purification and cleansing to our hearts
Humility makes us candidates for God’s grace.
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
– 2 Peter 1:2
The second cause of a grace deficiency is ignorance. We must know God and the Lord Jesus to receive grace. This is how we appropriate the grace offered to us through humility. Once we humble ourselves, we take care to learn the truth of God’s word. Then we take steps, in faith, to put what we learn into action.
Biblical knowledge is not simply about facts and mental ascent. But, it is practical understanding that comes through walking it out. Notice the condition set forth by Jesus in the following verses
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32 (NIV emphasis added)
Obedient knowledge multiplies the grace offered to us through humility.
Habitual sin is not simply about willpower, but about grace. We have to aggressively seek to humble ourselves to become candidates for God’s grace. The primary way to humble ourselves is confession to God and others. This makes God our ally rather than opponent.
From there, we diligently immerse ourselves in God’s word, and apply what we learn. In doing so, we grow in our knowledge of God, thereby multiplying the effect of grace. In turn, grace will actively train us to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live an upright and godly life in the present age!
- Confess your sin to God and ask for His grace (Humble yourself)
- Confess your sin to a friend and ask for his/her help (Humble yourself)
- Set aside regular time to study the Bible. Read for application, not just to check it off a list. If you don’t know where to start, begin with the many verses listed in this article. (Knowledge)
- Apply what you learn in your study (Knowledge/Obedience)
- Trust that these activities, carried out consistently over time, will result in the grace to say, “No” to the sin that has been plaguing you and live! (Grace/Faith)