Duck Test

Birds 0010

He was the leader of the world’s only superpower. He had subdued enemies, conquered lands, captured cities, built spectacular palaces, and oversaw a thriving economy.

And then one day things went sideways. And before it was all over he could add to his accomplishments adultery, treachery, betrayal, and murder.

His name was David, King of Israel. Most people know the story: He slept with and impregnated his neighbor’s wife, and after a hastily planned scheme to cover up the consequences failed, he orchestrated her husband’s death.

You don’t have to agree with David’s actions to understand how they came about. Hopefully we’ve not been down the path that led to adultery and murder, but we’ve all been down paths where we would never have ventured with a clear head.

But here’s what I want you to see about David: When he finally came to himself, David called it like it was.

David’s prayer following the fallout from his actions is the prayer of a broken man who was done with maneuvering and making excuses.

See, we need to be honest with God in our confessions.

We need to learn to say simply, “I sinned against You.”

I didn’t ‘have a weak moment.’ I didn’t ‘make a mistake.’ I didn’t ‘falter’ or ‘stumble’ or ‘lose a battle.’

These phrases are accurate, and in proper perspective can help us press forward. Because our weaknesses combined with the barrage of influences we face, sometimes lead to bad choices. We can’t live a perfect life, and God will never give up on us (even after all this, David’s character is still immortalized as “A man after God’s own heart”).

But the duck test says “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck”

Like David, we need to learn to be raw and honest with God and say,

“For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:3-4).

When he says “against You only have I sinned,” he’s not dismissing the fact that other people were hurt by his sin.  In this case Uriah, Bathsheba, the unborn baby, and many others close to them, were hurt terribly by his choices.

But it was primarily God against whom he sinned.

Every sin is first and foremost an offense against a holy God.

So let’s be careful to maintain balance.  We can’t spend our time condemning ourselves for our mistakes, wailing and wallowing in our filth, expecting ourselves to live the perfect life and never slip up.  But we also can’t use our flawed humanity to smooth over or minimize the fact that we hurt God and others by our actions.

Living like new means constantly renewing our mind and spirit through self-inspection, confession, and trusting that God lifts the penalty for that sin from us.

It’s “Freedom 360” – freedom from excuse-making and freedom from condemnation.

It’s a package deal.

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Temptation Does Not Equal Transgression

One of the most clever ploys of the enemy is blurring the lines between temptation and transgression.

Let me set up a scenario.  Say you have had an issue with lust.  You’re in the grocery store picking up a few things.  You walk past the magazine rack.  Inadvertently, a certain magazine cover catches your eye, and there staring back at you is one of the most beautiful bikini-clad ladies, or speedo-clad men, you have ever beheld.  Your eyes linger.  You feel that all-too-familiar stir within you as admiration quickly begins to turn to lust.  You want to pick up the magazine and see more, your mind wants to go racing to other images in your memory banks, or you want to go home and get online to find some ‘old haunts’.  But what you choose to do is lift it up to Jesus and ask Him to take it away.  You turn your eyes from the magazine cover, walk a little faster down the aisle, block out past images, douse the budding flames of fantasy, and vow to definitely not turn on the computer when you get home.

Yet you come away from this situation feeling dirty, wicked, sinful.  Why?  You did everything that you could have done to walk away from the temptation.  You had no control over what crossed your field of vision, and that initial lingering gaze was more automatic response than conscious choice.  Realistically, you reacted well.

But here’s the deal: Satan is very adept at convincing us that temptation is equivalent to transgression.  Especially when it comes to things we’ve struggled with in the past.  He has drawn more people back into sin patterns with this tactic than we’d care to count.  He leverages labels that we have assigned ourselves – pornography addict, drugee, alcoholic, relationally dysfunctional, sexually deviant, uncontrollably angry – and an in-the-moment urge toward that habit or lifestyle suddenly becomes a reason to say “this is the way I am.”

But this is not the way you are.  Paul says you are “beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).  Peter says you are a “His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9).  And John says whoever “is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4).  You are not destined to be defined by your weaknesses.  You are destined to be “more than conquerers through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

From freedom’s perspective – being tempted is never the same as transgressing.  The determining factor regarding victory is what you do with the temptation, not that you were tempted in the first place!  Don’t let the lure become the lie that reinforces the label. Stand in His truth, and live free!

The Warrior’s Freedom

Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”

That is the tagline of this ministry.  It is the core idea that everything in Freedom Rising Ministries is built around.

Rising into freedom means understanding that our freedom does not come from our win/loss record.  Our freedom comes from God’s declaration that we are free.  From there, the fight commences from a position of freedom, not from a position of trying to gain freedom.

We are never going to escape temptation in this life.  We will always deal with the weaknesses of our flesh, though Christ gives us renewed strength for the fight as believers.  There will be bad days, and there will be failures.  When we fight from a position of freedom, we can take them in stride and acknowledge that we are still free because our freedom is based on Jesus’ declaration and not our achievements.

But we must be cautious not to fall into the trap of resigning ourselves to failure.  That is not God’s intent.  There is no growth or fulfillment in that.  If we look further down in Galatians 5, verse 13 says “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

In other words, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to indulge sin.

If you are actively indulging in sin patterns, address it.  Christ’s freedom is not a call to continue on in your sin with a prayer and a shoulder-shrug and a ‘that’s just the way I am’.  Because He replies “No, this is the way you are…free!”

After writing extensively on the subject of the free gift of God’s grace, Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

And later in Romans 6:14-15, we find:  “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?  Certainly not!”

A warrior is free to fight on the battlefield.  The battle will not always be easy (even for the best of us…see Romans 7:15-23).  And the warrior will not always win.  But that doesn’t mean he hoists the white flag at the first sign of setback.  A good warrior, recognizing the position of freedom from which he fights, picks his sword up and charges back into the battle.  So pick up your sword and get back in there…every time!

Think of the particular temptations and struggles that you combat daily.  Are you just letting them win because you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you can’t attain real freedom, or are you standing firm in the promise of Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:1 and fighting from a position of freedom?  What battle techniques work for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.