4 min read
By: Shane James O’Neill
A Marriage Trapped in Lust
Recently, a family in their late 30’s with several children had me and some friends over for lunch. People were eating all over the house, so I went to the living room, finding myself seated beside the mother of that family. She asked about my work, so I told her I work for a sexual integrity ministry that partners with churches to see their people trained and equipped with resources to rebuild families and individuals through sexual dignity. (Of course, I told her that using more than one sentence…)
I got through my descriptive spiel only to realize she was crying. The hard sorrow in her eyes was enough to tell me she and her husband are going through the very thing Proven Ministries exists to heal. Her shame and hurt were apparent on her face and in her tears. She dropped her head and moved in, afraid to ask but needing to know, “Can we heal from this? Can he really get free?”
Her husband, like so many other men, developed an addiction to lustful practices early on in life. Consequently, he brought that sin into his marriage, as his wife inherited his shame, guilt, and all that comes from pursuing the flesh of others. He kept his sin secret and that secret wormed into his soul and into the souls of those around him.
By the time his wife discovered the issue, she was broken open. They’ve been working to rebuild their marriage since then. It’s been ugly, filled with old wounds being brought to light and new wounds lacerating the body of their marriage.
As a single guy, this was a sobering experience for me. I know the lie which says all of my issues will go away when I get married. To see a man who likely thought the same thing when he was single, and to hear her pain, it was like looking into my life 20 years from now.
David and Goliath
There’s a remarkable scene of insight in the David and Goliath story that speaks directly into our relationship with God and our relationship with lust.
The David and Goliath story is about a shepherd boy who discovered Israel was being taunted and terrified by a giant-of-a-man in the Philistine army. This youth came to the battle front, where the Israelite army was hiding from this challenger, and was appalled at the arrogance of Goliath, this man who would scoff at the God of Israel.
The shepherd boy, David, goes out and meets the challenge of this giant, not with sword and spear, but with rock and sling. As the giant runs toward the boy, the boy meets the giant’s charge and releases the rock, which sinks into Goliath’s skull. David takes the sword of the giant, likely with some difficulty, and decapitates the dying man. As David holds up the head of the mighty challenger, all of Israel finds their heart again, which the taunts of the giant had stolen from them, and they descend upon the Philistines, slaying them for miles around.
A boy, indignant that anyone would scoff at Yahweh-God, takes it upon himself to silence this great giant. Though all of Israel quakes in terror, and the giant stands with thousands upon thousands of Philistines behind him, David believes in the salvation of God.
Why, though? Why did he have belief? How did a shepherd boy gain such confidence in God to stand against thousands, even as his own kinsmen hide?
More to David and Goliath
Often, I hear the David and Goliath story as an exhortation about how God can do anything, that He is mighty, can vanquish any of our struggles, using the weakest of vessels, if only we believe. And that’s true, but it’s not the whole story.
If I’m exhorted to have the faith of David in this story, then I need to know how David was able to stand before a sea of enemies with a giant before him, without losing heart or blanching at such a terror.
Thankfully, David tells us.
While David was still a shepherd, unseen in the mountains, he would practice his faith by giving his heart to the Lord in song and by protecting what God had given to him, namely, sheep. When a predator would attack the sheep in his charge, he would hunt it down and slay it. Over the years, David had killed even bears and lions in the mountains. He would strike them dead and return the taken sheep to its flock.
Because David had developed faith with God in unseen places, he had faith in God to deliver him before an army.
Fighting in Secret
This is a living image of what Jesus calls his disciples (me and you) to practice.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven… and when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrite. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And you Father who sees in secret will reward you.
David practiced knowing God in secret places and was thus able to know God in public places. David made a history with God in the intimacy of private battles, thus he was able to trust God and know Him in war. Because David had seen the salvation of God in his own life, he was thus able to declare the salvation of God before a nation.
The call of Jesus is reflected in the life of David; know God when your struggles arise, the smaller enemies of lust throughout the day, know victory in the secret places of your mind and heart, and God, who sees into those secret spaces, will teach you to defeat the Goliath(s) in your life.
But you won’t ever beat your Goliaths until you first learn to fight against the smaller predators that attack your soul.
I don’t want to carry my secret sin into a marriage. I don’t want people I love to inherit my shame. So, today, I actively invite God into my secret hurt, my secret sins, knowing that my God sees into my secret places, and all He wants is for me to know Him there.
What are your secret places?
What does it look like for you to know God there?
And what are ways you can wage war in the secret places of your life?
Answering those questions will take you along way in defeating the giants before us.
If you want to win the war against your lust, know God in the secret places and first do battle there.
Join us at our October 19th conference in Lynchburg Virginia!
— axe throwing
— keynote speaker
— did we mention axe throwing??
Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.