Can’t Say No To Yourself

The Bible tells us that each of us is made by God as a composite of three distinct components:

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT).

In a world without sin, we would truly be blameless in these ways.  The word blameless means “innocent of wrongdoing.”  We would have no wrongdoing in our spirit or soul or body.  But unfortunately, that’s not the world we exist in.  This characterizes one of the most important reasons Jesus died on the cross – to pay the penalty for the wrong you and I have done (justification), and to satisfy God’s wrath toward us as sinful man (propitiation).

Scripture uniformly traces voluntary, intentional sin to its root cause in sinful human nature.  Sinful acts are the fruit of a “depraved” nature (see Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23), which is simply a nature bent toward impurity or immorality.

Man viewing porn on laptopSo, What Does This Have To Do With Acting Out?

As human beings, our Creator gave us a free will.  Sin created in us a depraved nature.  When our free will mixes with our depraved nature it creates a recipe for disaster!  Human history has proven that when humans allow shame to spiral to a progressively lower and lower state, depravity may manifest in ways we would have never imagined.

My pet method of acting out was to secretly view pornography.  Private, secret, not hurting anybody, right?  This was in the days before the internet was “invented.”  So, believe it or not, there were actually times I would go to a video store (my local Blockbuster) and rent not only a video, but also the VHS player to play it with!  Speaking of desperate.  I can’t even begin to tell you the lengths I went to so that I wouldn’t be found out.

I recently viewed a TV documentary that chronicled the story of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.  A quote from an interview with this man clearly illustrates the slippery slope of succumbing to the shame within us, no matter how seemingly small it seems at first: “With the clock ticking toward his scheduled execution, Ted Bundy tearfully blamed a growing addiction to pornography for fueling one of the most gruesome killing sprees in recent history… ”Pornography…was the fuel for his fantasies to do all of the things he did.”

If we don’t allow the darkness of our hearts to be exposed to the regenerative light of Jesus Christ, the inclination of our human depravity might lead us into choices we thought we could never make.

Needless to say, acting out can take the form of any or all of the three inborn components of our nature:  spirit, soul, body.  Consider these few examples:

SPIRIT   

Idolatry

Pride

Greed

Envy

Vanity

Witchcraft

SOUL

Anger

Hatred

Discord

Rage

Selfishness

Lust

BODY

Sexual immorality

Impurity

Over-indulgence

Laziness

Drunkenness

Self-harm

Is Anyone Exempt?

Some of you reading this book may be thinking to yourself, “Even my worst choices aren’t anywhere near as bad as these examples.”  Praise God.  I’m certainly glad they’re not.  But this information still may be for you.  None of us should accept being captive to a repeated cycle of shame and acting out, even if it’s as benign as compulsively reading romance novels or eating too many Oreos.  The issue is more than just the nature or extent of the behavior being acted out.  It’s the unchecked influence of our internalized shame that is driving us to do the compulsive behavior in the first place.  Even seemingly innocuous choices can keep the shame cycle spinning if they lead to greater feelings of guilt and shame, and the desire to conceal our behavior from others.

Your secret may be the compulsion to sneak a package of Oreos out of the cupboard late at night (which I’ve been known to do), hoping to relieve your feelings of rejection and unworthiness through your compulsion to consume your favorite comfort food in excess.  This may lead to feelings of guilt, which convince us to keep our behavior a secret.  Or maybe going on a shopping spree for things we don’t really even need, in hopes that this will placate the pain of loneliness we feel in the midst of a struggling marriage, all the while keeping the items and the receipt for what we purchased secret from our partner.

A powerful quote by Pastor Ravi Zaccharias very poignantly illustrates the topic of us acting out our shame: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

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