Many of us already have prayed to accept Christ as our Savior, so why do we still struggle so much? Where is the so-called “freedom?” Why is it so hard to defeat sexual sin? Why are life’s circumstances so difficult? Since accepting the John 3:16 truth of salvation, for some reason we still don’t feel “free.” We all have so many questions. Many of us often wonder, “Could I possibly have any special part of what God is up to?” “Is there even a noble cause worth fighting for?” We have our doubts, because we men often feel thwarted as husbands, as fathers, as friends, as Christians, and in our careers. Deep inside we often feel dirty and wretched and too unworthy to be used by God in any meaningful and glorious way.
“Does God really have a good plan for my life,” we ask? “If there is a God,” we sometimes question, “it’s hard to trust that He has our best interests at heart. Why all the struggle? Why the heartache?” And when we do muster the courage try to move through the difficult circumstances of our lives in a “healthy” way, it’s as if our efforts will never be enough. No one, including our wives, typically notice the good things we try to do. Our efforts feel futile. We men are tired, discouraged, weary, and deeply thirsty.
“We are never free from the recurring waves of invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or the lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion….” Oswald, My Utmost, Jan. 27
Most men have lost heart. Because life is so hard, we often retreat to our inner secret and dark worlds. In other words, we go into hiding. So many of us have lost heart that there is anything better to fill our God-given thirst and passion than pornography, illegitimate sex, alcohol, drugs, or the insatiable pursuit of power and money. We often fall into quiet, addictive behaviors – living secret lives to shield our shame from others. “They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness.” (John 3:20) Yet we know deep down that a sinful lifestyle is not truly satisfying. Instead, in those sinful caverns of our hearts we feel like cockroaches or rats scurrying about in the dark corners. Surely we were made for something more – something better - something more heroic.
In our shame and frustration we slowly move away from God and from other God-given relationships – such as our wives, children, and friends. No one really knows about our inner struggles – and our loneliness! As C.S. Lewis remarks, "rather than drinking the finest wine that is being offered, we have been fooled into believing that we should drink from the cesspools of life." “But where is this fine wine?” we lament.
In our craziness, we sometimes feel incredible anger and rage inside our hearts – because our stories were supposed to be different. As small boys, we never dreamed of being a “cockroach” living in the darkness. No – we always desired to be one of the heroes depicted on television or in the movies. We dreamed of wearing the white hat and being a rescuer by defeating those who were the perpetrators of evil. And our boyhood dreams of living a good life that matters – to fight for a noble cause – still lingers deep within our hearts today. But the hardships of life and the overwhelming sinful temptations have made us cynical. And our efforts rarely feel heroic. Too often we have been knocked down and cannot grasp the strength to get back up. It feels too shameful to tell anyone about all the dark struggles. “If they really knew everything about me,” we lament in our shame, “how could they still love and respect me?”
So we often feel abandoned by God. And in our desperation, we try to take control of our lives – often shutting out God and others. “What went wrong?” we wonder. “Weren’t we created in the image of God?” “Why is life so hard?” “Where is the hope?”
There is something better!It’s time to put on the white hats again! There is an heroic mission that men are being called to join. This is a noble cause for which each of God’s image-bearers were uniquely created and designed to be a part.
We are being called to be brothers of Christ – the King of kings and Lord of lords; to follow Him into battle; to become more like Him; and to rule with Him! What an amazing heritage! “So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers.” (Heb. 2:11) And we each have an important, necessary, and yes – heroic role to play. So why will so many Christian men settle for the “cesspools of life?” What do we have to do to be “made holy” so that we can become more like Christ? Why have we gotten distracted by the lure of what the world offers – which has no eternal meaning or value?
We get bombarded with constant lies about who we are from Satan, “the great accuser.” “How could God use me – a cockroach?” we hear in our minds. “Look at all the horrible, dark, and sinful things I do!” The battle against our sinful nature feels relentless.
We all can identify with the apostle Paul’s lament:
“I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” (Rom. 7:18-19)
Satan would like for us to simply give up – to stay knocked down – to believe that the old sinful nature will win the “war with my mind.” (Rom. 7:23) Yes, there is an awful being that hates us to our very core and will do everything to destroy, discourage, and mock us. Satan does not want us to embrace the freedom offered by Christ and to live out our God-given heritage. Evil desires that we live in bondage, oppression, and rebellion. Sin in our lives will separate us from a perfect God, and our sinful lifestyles are the greatest obstacles to living out our God-given purpose. Satan and his demonic forces fear the day when the veil of hopelessness will be removed; when his fearful lies will be exposed; when the darkness of his temptations are brought into the light; and when we finally raise up our swords with anger and rage against our sinful lifestyles and embrace our true heritage as image-bearers of God.
The Bible teaches that there will be a day when men will pull out their swords and unite for freedom’s sake – when men finally will embrace the atonement of the cross and choose to no longer live in the dark bondage of sin – and when we clearly see that what the world has to offer is meaningless. Satan knows when this happens, Evil will be destroyed! We are close to that day!