Before we can start to expose the lies inside of us, we must first acknowledge our guilt. For example, if someone enjoys doing something bad, but they are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions and face the truth, they will always be deceived.
I am an expert on this topic because I was guilty of it. Oftentimes, I would make excuses to justify my behavior because I didn't want to stop doing it. I loved pleasure more than the truth. As a result, I was deceived and suffered the spiritual consequences.
If I'm being honest, though I am obedient now, I still feel the same temptations from my past. The truth is, we never lose our sinful impulses. They only become severely weakened and crucified with Christ, when we allow Him to lead us away from sin.
In my case, spiritual enlightenment began with facing and taking responsibility for my love of sexual lust. As a young man in my late teens, I enjoyed fantasizing about all kinds of women. It felt very good; how could it be wrong?
This attitude was tested when I started a serious relationship with a girl. Even though I did not believe in God anymore, I felt it was wrong to not be 100% faithful to the girl you loved; not just physically, but in your mind and heart as well.
Oddly, that passion for honesty did not carry over into other areas of my life. But in regards to the girl I loved with all my heart, I believed anything less than 100% faithfulness was wrong.
So, one day I decided that I no longer would have sexual thoughts about other women inside my head. I wanted to only have sexual thoughts about the girl I loved. Sounds simple enough, right?
To my surprise, sexual thoughts about other women kept coming inside my head. How could that be? If I made a conscious choice to stop doing something, yet it still happened, then it was no longer me that was in control. It also meant that the thoughts were coming from somewhere else, since they came against my will.
What was happening? I didn't know it at the time but God was helping to expose the works of Satan in my life. It wasn't until I turned my back on selfish, sexual gratification and embraced true love that I began to see the truth.
The reason I did not realize it before was because I enjoyed the sinful thoughts. My will and the devil's will were the same. Once I decided to resist the sinful urges, the devil's cloak of deception was lifted. Now I could clearly see his influence in my life.
As I continued to analyze my feelings, I discovered that even though I wanted to be faithful to the woman I loved, deep down I got a sick pleasure from the thought of sexually cheating with another girl.
So what does it mean, if deep inside I actually enjoy the thought of doing something wrong? It means my heart is bad; there is something wrong with it. When I read in the bible that we are all born into sin, I believed it because of my sinful heart.
It also meant that my feelings were a lie. Even though it felt so very good physically to have sex outside of true love, I knew it was wrong.
How did I know that sexual lust was wrong, even though it felt so right? Because when I engaged in sexual lust, the pleasurable feeling I received was selfish; it appealed to an evil and selfish place in my heart. I only had my own desires in mind, not the other person's feelings. I treated those women like sexual objects without feelings; they were there just to satisfy my urges. When I was done, I didn't care about them anymore.
In regards to our lifestyle choices, I don't believe it is my, or anybody else's job to lecture a grown adult about what is right or wrong. We should never do, or not do something just because someone else tells us to, if we are not absolutely sure for ourselves. Rather, we should ask God for clarity. We should open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to shine a light inside of us; to expose the sin that is hiding in the darkness and to teach us right from wrong.
When we can see for ourselves what is right or wrong, then it becomes easier for God to improve our lives. And, it makes it harder for dishonest people to deceive and take advantage of us.
This process is difficult at first. But when we practice spiritual discernment, in time we will recognize the thoughts of God from the thoughts of evil. Once this happens, we'll be able to make good decisions according to God's will.
If we open our entire hearts to God and are willing to give up anything for Him, He will transform our lives in a way we never thought possible. This has been true in my life.
There are many things I enjoyed doing that I was very reluctant to give up. These vain pleasures that were so important to me before, I now regard as meaningless. They are worthless, especially when compared to the wisdom and strength God has replaced them with. Just as Jesus taught, if we lose our lives for His sake, then we will find it.
Anybody who has received Jesus in their heart, did so to turn away from sin. By doing so, we acknowledged our way of living was leading us down the wrong path. Let us all be inspired to open more of our lives to God, so that He can show us where we are being deceived. If we do this to the fullest extent, the riches of God will overflow in our lives.
(Scripture references: Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalms 51:3-6, Proverbs 23:26-28, Romans 7:14-25, Matthew 16:24-27)