Many people who struggle with stubborn sins believe they wouldn’t struggle if their circumstances were only different. They might reason that they struggle with porn because their sex drive is just too strong, or perhaps that their spouse is just not meeting their sexual needs—and so they turn to porn to “fill the gap.” If they are single, they might think that they struggle with porn simply because they do not have a spouse. Perhaps if God would provide them with an attractive and sexually willing spouse, rather than continually failing them in this area, they would not have to resort to porn as an outlet for their sexuality.
All of these ways of thinking have one thing in common. They represent a victim mentality. And a victim’s problems are always external to one’s self. Now of course, if one’s problems are outside of one’s self, they are simply a product of their unfortunate circumstances, meaning there is little they can do to fix the problem. For most part, one does not get to control their circumstances and what happens to them in life.
And here’s the thing about victims—as long as they remain victims, they will not change. In order to change, you have to take responsibility for your life and your choices, and realize that you have the power to affect the outcome. You have to recognize that, though you may have had tough circumstances at times, you always have choices to make, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy—and nobody can take that power away from you. Nobody.
There is a story in the book of Acts where Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. While in prison, despite horrific circumstances, they worship God and are filled with joy and peace. Why bring this story up now? Simple. Paul and Silas easily could have reasoned that God had failed them. They were in immense physical pain and had been wrongly treated in profoundly unjust ways. But rather than become victims of their bad circumstances, they chose to praise God in the midst of the difficulties they were facing. Even while in a physical prison, they were completely free.
They had a joy and a peace that was dependent on something so much deeper than their circumstances. No matter what you’ve been through, your circumstances do not have the power to control you.
If your freedom is dependent on your circumstances changing, then you are not free. You are simply a slave of your circumstances. But if your freedom comes from a deeper place—a place of being convinced that no matter what you go through, God is good, He can be trusted, and He is worthy of praise in the good and the bad—then you can be truly free.
Day 10 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read Acts 16 and Philippians 4, taking notes on how the Spirit of God empowers us to be free even when our circumstances are far from ideal.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:
- What excuses have you made to justify your struggles?
- Have you been a victim of your circumstances or have you taken full responsibility for your choices, realizing you always have a choice?
- If you have blamed circumstances, the past, or anything else for your struggles, what would it look like to move on from that and take responsibility for yourself and your choices moving forward?
Prayer Holy Spirit, I want a freedom that is so much deeper than just a change of circumstances. Whatever situation I find myself in, I want to be able to find contentment and a reason to praise you, rather than to run back into familiar sin. I recognize that at times, I have blamed others and blamed my circumstances for my struggles. I see now that no matter what has happened to me and no matter where I find myself, I am always responsible for the choices I make—whether for good or for ill. Thank you for redeeming me, giving me a new heart, putting your nature in me, and filling me with your Spirit. You have given me everything I need to live a godly life. Help me to walk by the Spirit so I will no longer gratify the desires of the sinful nature—which you put to death on the cross. Amen.