Spirituality

Who Is in Control?

“Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral. We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior. We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel.” -Counsel From the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson

We would all agree that a “sex addict” is controlled by evil desires. More accurately, a sexual sinner is control by what they want. What about the rest of us? Paul said “we all once lived in the passion of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3). All of us, whatever our family of origin, have this same influential sinful background. We all lived in the passion of our flesh, doing what we wanted. That is, we were controlled by what we wanted. The biblical view is that sin comes from within. Past events may trigger sin, but they don’t create the triggers. We are internally driven by a commitment to carry out our own desires. The desires that controlled us were the desires of the body and the mind. The truth is that those who are not really following Christ are controlled by what they want. Outwardly a Christian, there is no change from the inside out, just a level of external conformity!

Every man wants respect. That desire is often expressed in having a successful career or ministry. Is he controlled by what he wants? Our true motives are not a deep mystery. Wrong motives and desires will never bear the fruit of righteousness. There will be bad fruit exhibited in handling competition, criticism, neglect of wife and family, along with anger and depression. This is the fruit that indicates that the man is controlled by what he wants.

The problem of unfaithfulness also illustrates my point. Betrayal and deception always go together when a spouse is unfaithful. No longer wanting to be deceived, a wife, discovering her husband’s unfaithfulness, wants to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She wants the honest truth, but is she controlled by what she wants?

We all have desires, but sinful desires often disguise themselves as our expectations, felt needs, goals, wishes, and longings. Legitimate desires can conceal the truth that we are ultimately controlled by what we want. When we follow the desires of the body and mind we can fall into sexual sin. But those same desires of the mind can rule a person as strongly as an “addiction.” In fact, legitimate desires for money, reputation, security, love, success, comfort, looks, career, and meaningful marriages are so subtle and deceitful that we easily justify such desires and end up being controlled by what we want.

How do we know if we are controlled by what we want? The wife wants the “honest truth.” Yet once that honest truth is told, despair often increases. “How do I know you are being fully honest with me?” “How do I know you will be honest with me in the future?” If she is being controlled by what she really wants—never to be deceived again—she will not find peace. “A sinful fear is the craving for something not to happen” (David Powlison). What is the true motive of her heart? If a wife wants her husband to change and be sexually pure in order to control her fear—getting what she really wants—she will reveal the true motive and desire of her heart by being manipulative, fearful, angry and suspicious. This is the fruit that is certain indication that she is controlled by what she wants. On the other hand, if her desire is to be faithfully loved by her husband and to have him right with God, she will reveal the “hidden person” in her heart and the “beauty of a gentle quiet spirit as she loves and respects her husband. Such beauty, with love and respect is the fruit that reveals that God is in control.

The problem in the heart isn’t that we want something. We could want something good, something bad. In either case, the core problem is that we demand to have what we want. Everyone who has been betrayed must forgive the past without attempting to control the future so that it never happens again. The desire is right, but being controlled by the desire destroys the relationship. It will put the person in a position of suspicion and fear and leave them spiritually and sexually immature.

I can hear all the objections: “What’s wrong with wanting my husband to be faithful?” There is nothing wrong with desire! No one wants pain, rejection or abandonment. What is wrong is when that desire rules you rather than God. That results in the obvious outward displays of anger, complaining, and despair. Real truth brings peace and contentment in all circumstances. True followers of Christ in difficult circumstances “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work” (Col. 1:10). A husband and wife in the difficult circumstances of marital unfaithfulness can, through the work of God in their hearts, come to see what rules them. They can repent and find God’s grace that brings real change from the inside out. God doesn’t take away our ability to desire. He has promised to change what we really want; to want what He wants. We can have new desires and motives that rule our hearts and dramatically change behaviors and relationships.

Recommended Resources

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, by David Platt. This book is radical because it will challenge you to look at how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our needs. What does the Christian lifestyle actually look like? Pastor Platt gives sound biblical answers.

The Sovereignty of God, by Arthur W. Pink. Are you confused about the sovereignty of God? This doctrine is so “diametrically opposed to the natural pride of the human heart” we need to by faith develop it in our hearts as a sound doctrine and then live responsible lives.

Twitter
Follow Dr. Schaumburg at twitter.com/lastport

Standard
Undefiled

Sexual Redemption?

After nearly three decades of helping individuals and couples, and based on a continual study of the Bible, I’ve reached this conclusion: To be spiritually mature, you must be sexually mature; to be sexually mature, you must be spiritually mature. That in brief is the message of my new book Undefiled and the essence of sexual redemption.

Sexual redemption involves more than resolution of sexual problems and challenges. For example, most Christian couples know that God designed fulfilling sex for marriage but many fail to experience it. Trying “seven tips to enhance your love life” may bring some excitement but there’s more to sexuality than romantic techniques. Sexual redemption is larger than a fulfilling sex life in marriage.

And how might sexual redemption relate to childhood sexual abuse? I started my counseling career working with incestuous families and since then have counseled hundreds of men and women sexually abused as children. The violation of another person sexually is very harmful. Forgiving your abuser is an important first step, but there is more to understanding our fragile sexuality than that. Sexual redemption takes us beyond the healing of past wounds and calls us to glorify God spiritually and sexually.

Sexual redemption also addresses any clinging shame related to premarital sex. Of the three thousand people of counseled through our intensive counseling program, 40 percent were in full time Christian work. Yet I estimate conservatively that less than 20 percent were virgins when they married.

Remaining a virgin until marriage, a practice all but lost within the church, is still God’s standard. But being a virgin or a “technical virgin” on your wedding night isn’t all that God intends. Sexual redemption is living spiritually and sexually for a purpose other than a self-seeking agenda.

The way we handle our sexuality and spirituality is meant to show the supremacy of Christ. We know—or we should know—that this is true, but do we really understand it and own it in our hearts? Every person is a sexual being, created in the image of God. Now that sounds inviting, but the truth is we also are all fallen sinners. If we separate our sexuality and spirituality into different compartments, we not only diminish our sexual beauty, our sexual purity, and our sexual meaning but also our very soul. Our soul and our sexuality are profoundly connected, and yet we have lost this correlation between knowing Christ and sexual wholeness.

Knowing Christ is to govern all of our sexuality and all of our spirituality in a way that expresses the image of God and demonstrates that we are walking worthy of our calling. The loss of holy spirituality and holy sexuality brings into question our sexual redemption and whether we know God as we should.

Undefiled is about a full sexuality and a full spirituality that can only be found by finding satisfaction in God and God alone. This book is also about dedicating your sexuality, your spirituality, your life—all for His highest. Sexual redemption begins at the cross, is rooted in a change of heart, and is lived out in a relationship before and after two sinners say “I do.”

There’s no shortcut through the process of acknowledging sin and experiencing redemption. But there’s also no need to think that the process will take years before true change begins! No follower of Christ ever has to say about any problem, “I guess I will always be an addict or trapped in bondage to sin.” No, no, no, no! That is not the message of the gospel.

Let God work. Regardless of how you got to where you are, don’t limit God now because of your fears. Your marriage may be hanging by a thread. I know you may be thinking, We’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. Why should this be any different? Nothing is going to change!

All I ask is that you not limit God. He cares and I can tell you that I have seen incredibly real, lasting change in many, many couples.
So boldly ask the question: “What sexual redemption would I like to see in my life and marriage?”


The above article is an excerpt from Undefiled: Redemption From Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships (Moody Publishers, 2009).

Undefiled by Harry Schaumburg

Moody Publishers is shipping Undefiled. Order your copy at Amazon.com. Tell you friends, pastor and family.

Sexual Redemption: Life Changing Spirituality & Sexuality
by Harry Schaumburg

This is an all new 15 week personal study for individuals and couples based on Undefiled. It is available exclusive at www.restoringsexualpurity.org for download.

Standard
Undefiled

Keeping the Marriage Bed Undefiled

We all probably know at least one person who has been unfaithful to their spouse, or their spouse has been unfaithful to them. Still, it is hard to get a handle on how many married people have been unfaithful, given the inherent secrecy. Many of the statistics about infidelity floating around the internet are dubious. Some say that as many as 50% of wives and 70% of husbands have cheated on their spouse. The following are statistics I found online:

  • 22 percent of married men have strayed at least once during their married lives.
  • 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives.
  • Younger people are more likely candidates; in fact, younger women are as likely as younger men to be unfaithful.
  • 70 percent of married women and 54 percent of married men did not know of their spouses’ extramarital activity.
  • 90 percent of Americans believe adultery is morally wrong.
  • Up to 37% of men and 22% of women admit to having affairs.
  • Recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship.
  • About 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair at some point in some marriage.

Statistics are disturbing to read but can be held at arm’s length until they become personal. When a couple becomes part of the statistics and is battling the horror of adultery in their marriage, it is very, very personal and the agony is real. Through the study of scripture and counseling hundreds couples struggling to survive unfaithfulness, I’m convinced that adultery is preventable. I recently taught a seminar for pastors at the Moody Bible Institutes’s Pastor’s Conference: “Keeping Your Marriage Bed Undefiled.” Click the following link to purchase and download this seminar. My book that deals with this subject from a biblical foundation, Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships, is available with a pre-order discount on amazon.com.

Pastor Joseph Garlington, Senior Pastor, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh
says this about Undefiled:

“The often quoted saying, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’ holds true in this recent work of Dr. Harry Schaumburg. The Church of Jesus Christ is thoroughly enmeshed in one moral crisis after the other, and we have been in desperate need for a truly biblical answer to this crisis. Several thousand years ago, someone said, “…Increased years should teach wisdom.” It is evident that Dr. Schaumburg’s years of experience and his commitment to a thoroughly biblical approach to dealing with this issue has produced a work that shines with penetrating light into the one of the darkest areas of 21st century Christian life. I commend this work as a handbook for study in every church, as a resource to every pastor who has or will face this matter in their ministry and as a diagnostic tool for personal evaluation of one’s own life and walk. No pastor’s library should be without this wonderful tool. If Undefiled is taken seriously, it could produce a sea change in Christian behavior.”

Standard
Uncategorized

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out

Sin is never acceptable to God! Putting ourselves first is wrong for in so doing sin is always a disregard for God and others. While we justify the public expression of such sins as anger, gossip, malice, enmity, strife, jealousy, slander, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, and lying, the Word of God is very clear: “You must put them all away . . . “ (Col. 3:8, 9; Gal. 5:19-21). Consider the warning “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). Paul’s point is that those who make a practice of doing such things are showing a pattern of life and giving clear indication of their inward, hidden, spiritual status. Simply put, they are not born of God; they are not children of God. True believers do not habitually violate what is planted on the inside.

Realize that such public sins are always exposed; obviously to God, but also everyone who cares about a breach of righteousness. Sins are committed in the open, we don’t care who sees. We don’t care if God sees and hears it all, nor do we seriously consider what people think. This is supreme arrogance! Without question, your sins have found you out. What is in the heart has been revealed.

Secret sins are no different. This sexual sinner is just more foolish. He or she knows that the sin, if discovered, will be denounced by all: a marriage could be lost, a family destroyed, a career ended, health ruined, finances decimated, and some will be incarcerated. We shouldn’t be surprised by the lies and level of deception used to hide the sin. After all, sinful arrogant logic dictates a cover up. The stupidity in this type of sin is not the harmful lying in and of itself, but the level of foolishness that is indicated by the cover up. No one said it more directly than the Apostle John, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil (public or secret sin), the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Enter the technological age of the Internet, cell phone, and digital camera. In the dark ages of pornography−not that long ago−you could throw the porn away after looking at it or succeed hiding your stash. Those days are gone. Once the Internet became the primary means of accessing pornography, discovery went up dramatically. It wasn’t long before wives found the evidence of cybersex, children stumbled on to their parent’s problem, and employers got wise to the misuse of time. God, in His providential knowledge and sovereign oversight, uses technology to let others know what he knows. God wants to expose sin. With arrogance we foolishly respond with the new “porn mode.” On August 25, 2008, Microsoft officials confirmed that the company would provide private browsing, a k a “porn mode,” with Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Beta 2. With its private browsing feature called “InPrivate,” Microsoft is allowing users to cover their online tracks. Don’t be fooled; God is bigger than Microsoft. Your sins will still be found out because God is full of grace and mercy toward the sexual sinner.

Teenagers are now “sexting” with their cell phones. I can’t imagine teens in my day taking indecent Polaroid pictures of themselves or of one another and passing the photos out at school. This is child pornography and a crime, and now teens are being arrested for such activity. Be sure your sins will find you out.

Street View isn’t as good as God’s surveillance of our secret lives. Nevertheless, you have to be impressed with how God uses technology to expose sin. A wife filed for divorce after spotting her husband’s car parked outside another woman’s house. In and of itself this is not new, but with Google’s Street View the wife was able to confirm her suspicions by the surveillance of a friend’s home and seeing her husband’s car there. Watch out; God sees everything. While we have a long way to go before we match His ability, other sinners are now catching sinners on camera. The motives and intentions of the heart are definitely at work for both the sinner and the suspicious spouse. No telling who is watching what!

“You have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The actual rendering is “you will suffer for your sin.” God reigns, not chance. He is visional; He sees all! Be careful what you do; “there’s a Father up above looking down in tender love,” as the children’s chorus goes. He knows whether you are faithful and He doesn’t tolerate unfaithfulness from anyone. This is not a human judge who determines the merit of the evidence collected by a third party and renders a guilty verdict if evidence is admissible. This is a Judge who sees the crime himself and sits in final judgment. The verdict is never in doubt. The marvelous wonder is that Christ himself has borne the penalty of our guilt!

If we know Christ, it is an all-out war against all sin, because it is an all-out war against the devil; therefore a fight against the practice of all sinning. There is no neutrality. Which side are you on? “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col. 3:5, 6). You can’t run; you can’t hide. Be decisive and make a break from the practice of sinning. Your life depends upon it.

Coming in September−Undefiled: Redemption From Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships, by Harry Schaumburg, bestselling author of False Intimacy.

Amid the chaos of cybersex, impersonal sex, adultery, homosexuality, and sexual dissatisfaction in marriage, Undefiled calls readers toward a new kind of sexual revolution. Sexual impurity creates a vicious circle, one that springs from misconceptions about Christ and further taints our understanding of Him. Yet another circle is available to men and women trapped in sin, a circle of sexual redemption.

When practiced as God intends, spirituality and sexuality both draw us closer to Christ. Spiritual maturity and sexual maturity go hand-in-hand, and together they hold out the promise of redemption and restoration needed by everyone who has been damaged by sexual sin.

There is hope. Real change is possible; true intimacy is available. To the person who has failed time and time again sexually, God’s message is simple: You, too, can be undefiled.

Standard
Uncategorized

Fireproof Your Life and Marriage

In the movie Fireproof, a powerful statement is made about the power of God to transform sexual behavior and a troubled marriage. For eighteen years, our Brief Intensive Counseling program has offered the same truth and witnessed the same power in the reality of countless hundreds of marriages destroyed by pornography. In my new book, Sexual Redemption, to be released next year by Moody Publishers, I spell out the details of God’s transforming power.

Our ministry not only attempts to meet the felt needs of lives and marriages broken by sexual sin, but also to awaken faith and courage when evil prevails. To live in the truth is always rock-solid; to live in perpetual comfort and fulfillment is shifting sand. Our purpose for everyone who comes for help is to convey an understanding that sin and evil, no matter how horrific, never nullifies the purpose of God. In fact, horrific sins exist in God’s unfathomable providence and by them His purposes come to pass. If this is the rock-solid truth on which we stand, then with our worst enemy—including an unfaithful spouse—we can learn that, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love is always active, never passive. It covers all things, patiently endures all things, always supports, never gives up, and it always endures. Peter writes, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). This is not a soft love without wisdom and discernment; rather, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).

Fireproofing your life and marriage is more than living by the superficial tactics of many of today’s Christian gurus or reading the best-selling Christian self-help book. The path to fireproofing your life and marriage is through death; the death of our sin, the denial of ourselves and a life-long commitment to the purpose and glory of God. The secret simplicity of fireproofing our lives and marriages from all sexual unfaithfulness, whether of the heart or physical, is found in the following seven biblical essentials:

1st Biblical Essential: A Consistent Diet of “Meat” Heb. 5:11-14

  1. To be skilled in the word of righteousness
  2. To have the powers of discernment
  3. To distinguish good from evil

2nd Biblical Essential: A Rigorous Training in the Grace of God Titus 2:11, 12

  1. To renounce ungodliness
  2. To renounce worldly passions
  3. To live self-controlled, upright and godly lives

3rd Biblical Essential: A Well-Established Heart James 5:8-11

  1. To be patient
  2. To not grumble
  3. To remain steadfast

4th Biblical Essential: A Determined Effort to Supplement Faith 2 Peter 1:5-11

  1. To increase these qualities
  2. To not lack these qualities
  3. To practice these qualities

5th Biblical Essential: A Strict Departure from the Old Life Col. 3:5-14

  1. To put to death what is earthly
  2. To put away; put off the old self
  3. To put on the new self

6th Biblical Essential: A Restless Diligence Heb. 2:1; 3:12

  1. To avoid unbelief
  2. To not be hardened
  3. To be firm to the end

7th Biblical Essential: A Concerted Effort Must Be Made Heb. 12:15-16

  1. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.
  2. See to it that no root of bitterness springs up.
  3. See to it that no one is sexually immoral.
  4. See to it that no one is unholy like Esau.

On a biblical basis we must hate our sin, repent of our sin, and seek to kill our sin. The process must be promoted in our hearts; not for self-serving purposes, the avoidance of serious consequence, or for the preservation of a marriage. This is all done for the glory of God. Any attempt to deal with sexual sin must be founded on the admonition of Paul: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” Romans 8:13.

Standard
Uncategorized

Pornographic Addiction

You’ve done it gain. You looked at pornography on the Internet knowing it’s wrong, but excused and justified your actions to assuage the guilt. You may have asked God to take away the problem and the desire. At times you make some progress, but the behavior keeps happening. God knows the bondage you are in, and you wonder why He would make you this way. Does God really want to see you overcome it? Will your marriage survive if your wife finds out it’s happened again?

Pornography hasn’t always been as accessible as it is today. It used to be an indulgence of the rich and until several years ago, a man had to drive across town, walk into a video store, and ask the store owner where the secret stash was. It’s a different world now; porn is accessible virtually anywhere, anytime, from a laptop to a cell phone. The potential for personal/relational destruction has dramatically increased as frequency and accessibility make it more likely that you will get caught. Increasing numbers of people are losing jobs, marriages and families. The future looks all the more bleak for the next generation when we realize that 90% of 8-16 year-olds have already viewed pornography on the Internet. Many accidentally run into it while doing their homework, but more often, mothers report that their sons are finding evidence of the father’s pornography.

The Scriptures clearly indicate God’s standard for sexual intimacy, which He created specifically and solely as an expression between husband and wife. From Genesis, to the Song of Solomon, to the teachings of Jesus and the writings of Paul, sexual intimacy has a divine purpose that cannot be found in false intimacy. In 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Paul lays out a mutually satisfying and God-glorifying picture of sexual intimacy in marriage. Many Christian couples fall well below that experience. Is there a solution?

In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus raises the bar higher than His listeners previously thought by declaring that “…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (vs. 28). Then He states “If your right eye causes you to, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (vs. 29). This severe demand shows us the true nature of Jesus’ teaching on the subject and our radical need to solve the problem, and solve it completely. Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation. Your eyes don’t make you look at pornography again and again; the desire comes from your heart and mind. Therefore, just turning and looking away is never going to work. Jesus is saying that the situation is desperate; you could lose everything. The act of adultery must be avoided at all cost, but so must all the things that lead to an attitude of looking.

Real change seems impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Bouncing your eyes, following twelve steps or some form of behavior management is limited at best in conquering the problem and saving a marriage. The solution is based on a number of key elements:

▪ Cease resisting the sovereignty of God in the painful events of our lives, past, present and future.

▪ Come to believe that all lust is a problem of unbelief due to a disregard for God and others.

▪ Recognize the deception of our own hearts.

▪ Kill sin before it kills us.

▪ Identify the self-centeredness of our hearts and understand that it is expressed in many forms besides sexual sin.

▪ Understand the power of self-pity in setting us up for the justification of our sexual sin.
Cultivate a deep love for others in thought and deed.

▪ Accept the verdict that “…if you live according to the flesh you will die” (Romans 8:13).

▪ Believe the prescription that “…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

There are many varieties of resources, programs and counselors available. Stone Gate Resources offers a program that has been considered uniquely effective for over seventeen years, especially for those with a history of repeated failure in counseling. The program takes place in a private retreat facility on the front range of Colorado. A person does not need to spend years in counseling or recovery. Lasting change is possible through a program that is biblically grounded, relationally focused, and spiritually challenging. The program includes private counseling, seminars and a comprehensive guided study program.

Copyright 2008 Harry W. Schaumburg. For web posting, please link to this page on our website. Any exceptions must be approved by Harry Schaumburg.

Standard
Sexual Sin

Are We Powerless Over Sexual Sin?

This is an extremely important question. A sound biblical answer is needed if someone wants a foundation for total freedom from sexual sin. Before presenting a biblical view, lets look at the concept of powerlessness within the recovery community. For the sex and love addict, recovery requires that they come to the point of believing, “We admit that we were powerless (emphases added) over our sex and love addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.” Addictionology teaches that the person has to surrender to the paradox of this understanding; that is, to accept that every attempt to control the sexual behavior actually intensified the problem. The person must give up trying to control the behavior by any means possible and admit they can’t stop it. Continue reading

Standard