A Lenten Challenge the Devil will Hate You For
Lent makes me uncomfortable. Every year, I am challenged to ask myself what sins and bad habits I’ve complacently allowed to remain in my life. But I embrace that challenge because I know turning away from sin is not an option if I want to be a follower of Christ.
This also applies to sins of lust. Fact: Two out of three men and one out of five women look at pornography on at least a weekly basis. Not far removed is the struggle with masturbation.
Perhaps you’ve been battling sins like these for years, wondering if freedom even exists. Whenever you fail, the devil is quick to infiltrate your mind with lies, telling you to give up the fight:
“You will never be free.”
“You need to keep this a secret or everyone will think you’re a hypocrite.”
“You’ve failed time after time before — why bother to try again?”
But these thoughts of despair could not be further from the truth. Real Talk: Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross to leave us trapped in bondage to sin and death. When we turn to Him, He gives us the grace and the strength to reject sin. In the words of St. Paul: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
Challenge: Give up self-reliance for Lent.
To live in that freedom, I challenge you to form an accountability system with others who are close to you this Lent. It can work as a partnership with a close friend, with a small group or perhaps even within your FOCUS Bible study. Vulnerability can seem scary at first — but if you are serious about breaking free from sins like pornography, it is essential to turn to others and allow the Mystical Body of Christ to strengthen you in your journey.
Our sin is not much different from that first sin of Adam and Eve. Have you ever noticed that, when the devil first tempted Eve and convinced her to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (an irrational action which would destroy her relationship with her loving Creator), she was all alone? I’ll bet you anything the devil knew that if he tempted her while she and Adam were together, they would’ve reminded each other of the promises of God and stood strong through that temptation.
So the devil came to Eve when she was alone because, like the rest of us, Eve was weak when she was without the support of her companion, prone to believe the lies of the devil. Sin thrives in isolation.
So, this Lent, I challenge you to give up self-reliance. Give up trying to break free from pornography, masturbation, etc. on your own. It doesn’t work. It’s what got us into this mess of original sin in the first place!
4 things the devil will hate about your accountability group:
That said, the devil could care less if you have alleged accountability partners, all the while staying trapped in the grips of sin. So, how do you make your accountability group super effective? Make these four commitments, which will help you to live in the freedom of Christ:
1) Daily or weekly check-ins: Set a plan and put it on your schedule! During moments of temptation, the greatest motivator just might be the knowledge that your accountability partner will call you in a couple hours to see how you’re doing!
2) Fight the real enemy with prayer and fasting: Daily prayer is essential. Especially during Lent, practice putting the demons to flight by fasting! One idea is to have each person in your group commit to offering up a day of fasting for the gift of purity for all in your group.
3) Bring the darkness of temptation to light: This is a vital step to rob the devil of his power! Remember how we said that sin thrives in isolation? It’s crucial to recognize moments of temptation as the most important time to be a little vulnerable and to reach out to your accountability group.
4) Safeguard your computer with accountability software: Covenant Eyes is a great way you can link up with your accountability partners and keep your computer porn-free. It’s an investment which, if you’re serious about finding freedom from pornography, you frankly can’t afford not to make.
Remember that the devil is satisfied to keep us slaves in the darkness, just as he is doomed to an inescapable darkness. Want to get back at him? Go ahead and bring what’s been hidden in the dark into the Light of Christ. Then we can truly rejoice with St. Paul: “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).
So, challenge accepted?