You know, the experience of being stuck in a pattern of sin is one of the most discouraging things a human being can experience. And I don't know that this is fair to say, but in my experience, I would say that people struggling with sexual sin, in particular, maybe even more so than drugs or alcohol or Facebook, or whatever the other addictions there might be, there's something just unbelievably discouraging about the sheer willfulness of it. The sense of, "I am doing something "I know to be wrong, I don't want to be doing it, "and I am just--I'm in it." And if that's where you're at, if that's where you're feeling, there's a demoralizing sense of, "Sometimes I get a little bit up, and I abstain for a period "and then I crash back down," in a way that feels like there is no hope. And I appreciate even the wording of this question, the sense of being back at square one.
And I think that's actually where I'd like to start by offering something a bit different. That idea of being stuck and back at square one I think is a very intuitive approach to what you're feeling, but it's not the right framework. There is no such thing as being back at square one. God's redemptive purposes for our lives does not operate with a, "How long have you gone without?" He's not looking for a certain level and standard of, "You have to hit this and then you're okay,"and "If you never do this again, "that's the only real success.” The Spirit of the living God is delighting in every single battle won, every five second period in which a momentary fantasy comes into your head and you say, "No, I don't want that. "Lord, help me.” That is radically different than a five second period in which you just sort of let run and then it sort of evaporates and goes away. There's something right about winning battles because the Spirit has laid on your heart a conviction that this is wrong and that you want to live in a different way. I remember just reading, recently, in a book by David Powlison on redemption from sexual sin and it was talking about the simple fact that your heart is grieved by your sin, rather than saying, "Yes, giddy up to the horse and let's go,” is a wonderful fruit of the spirit.
So there's no such thing as being back at square one. Every day, every battle, every fight, every victory, every little tiny fruit of the spirit that you are tasting is not square one. That is an advance in the kingdom of sanctification, of glory to God, of your heart learning to worship and hate what is evil and cling to what is good. And the more you see it that way, the less you're gonna end up in this despairing mindset of, "Oh no, I did it again; all past growth is now undone.” Instead, you realize, "God has given me grace daily. "I'm actually tasting His graces," and ironically, that is one of the most inspiring, powerful, motivating factors to help you move away from sin and actually live with purity that is deeper, longer, more profound. The battle line's moving in a better place where you are now advancing toward the enemy and your struggle is in a different place than it used to be. We'll all be tempted until the Lord comes. We will all have sins of pride, greed, selfishness, lust, until the Lord comes. But we eagerly desire that those battle lines keep being pushed further and further, and further away from action, further away from our willful patterns into moments of slipping, rather than moments of racing the other direction, and guiltless indulgence. Those little victories are the things to zoom in on and recognize if the Lord is present, and if you are learning to grieve your sin more, then there is no square one reset.