Homosexuals Anonymous: "Lord, Set Me Free!" - Step 7
We resolved to entrust our lives to our loving God
and to live by faith,
praising Him for our new unseen identity,
confident that it would become visible to us in God's good time.
Gordon Dalbey writes, "Neither the liberal nor conservative view regarding homosexuality serves the healing purposes of God.... The conservative temptation simply to condemn and reject the homosexual...not only hinders his healing, it exacerbates his problem. ...The liberal effort to excuse his actions...only hinders the homosexual's healing process, which requires that he accept responsibility for his actions.... To celebrate a homosexual's 'free choice' is as counter-productive as to condemn it. For a little boy simply does not have 'free choice' regarding the emotion of his parents or the inherent ungodliness of the world into which he is born....
"The homosexual, meanwhile, may declare, 'What I'm doing can't be a sin, because I was born that way!' Yet the biblical faith understands that all of us are born into sin, and are unable by our own natural power to fulfill God's will for our lives. The Good News of our faith is...that the inborn brokenness of our human nature has been overcome and redeemed by Jesus, that the power to walk in His victory is accessible to those who surrender their lives to Him....
"It is not a sin to be born of a...distant father, nor to have consequent homosexual fantasies. It is a sin to refuse to surrender yourself to Jesus and let God begin to shape you into His image as a man." [Gordon Dalbey, Healing the Masculine Soul, p. 105-107]
We have seen that in spite of our helplessness and emotional turmoil, God loves us, forgives us, and accepts us, and is willing to bring good out of all our trouble. He has broken the power of homosexuality at the cross. The idea that we are homosexual and can never change is a lie! God created us heterosexual. While sin has distorted His image in us, Christ died to redeem us from all iniquity and to restore us to God's image and the liberty God wants for all His children. God is for us! We have solid hope!
To enter into all of this, we must work through certain questions: Will we entrust our lives into those hands that were pierced for us? Will we commit ourselves to doing His will rather than our own? Are we ready to trust His guidance rather than our own ideas of what is best for us?
If we have acknowledged that our lives have been "unmanageable," we must have realized that they have been under the wrong management. Now we learn how to give them over to the only One who can properly manage them. We may have tried to entrust our lives to Him before and failed. We may have entrusted them to Him at one time and taken them back. Whatever may have gone wrong before, now we seek a life of faith that brings the freedom promised us in Christ as we walk with Him.
1. How important is faith for me?
"The only reason people are going to hell is because all life long they have told God that they can live just fine without Him. On the judgment day God will say, 'Based on your own decision to live life separately from Me, you will spend eternity separate from Me.' That's hell. God will not violate our will. If all life long we have said, 'My will be done,' then on the day of judgment God will say to you, 'your will be done for eternity.' G. K. Chesterton put it this way: 'Hell is God's great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice.'" [Cliffe Knechtle, Give Me an Answer, p. 42]
"It has been said that earth is as close as a person who rejects God will ever get to heaven, and as close as a person who knows God will ever get to hell." [R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me, p. 59]
"As so much prominence is assigned to faith in the Scriptures, as all the promises of God are addressed to believers, and as all the conscious exercises of spiritual life involve the exercise of faith, without which they are impossible, the importance of this grace cannot be overestimated." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology III, p. 41]
2. What am I to believe in?
"If I had my life to live over again, I would just believe God." [Henrietta C. Mears, Thoughts For All Seasons, p. 9]
"Some years ago at a dinner party I found myself seated beside a brilliant young woman. There was a religious discussion, at the close of which she thought to sum matters up in these words: 'My guess is as good as your guess.' Well, I did not dispute it. I had no reason to be proud of my powers of guessing. For all I knew, her guess might be better than my guess. But her guess was not so good as my knowledge; and that I can say in all sincerity because I can recall a time when I sat exactly where she sat--guessing, speculating, balancing intellectual probabil- ities. I could have serene faith, so it seemed to me, if only...questions were answered which weren't answered. But certitude is not getting one's questions answered. It is something differ- ent, something more.... It does not come as the result and reward of a process of reasoning. It springs from a relationship." [John Henry Strong, A Man Can Know God, p. 2]
"...Mark...what glorious names the Lord Jesus gives to Himself. He says, 'I am the way, the truth and the life.'... Christ is 'the way,'--the way to heaven and peace with God. He is not only the guide, and teacher, and lawgiver, like Moses; He is Himself the door, the ladder, and the road through whom we must draw near to God.... Through His blood we may draw near with boldness, and have access with confidence into God's presence. (Ephes. iii.12.) Christ is 'the truth'... Without Him the wisest heathen groped in gross darkness and knew nothing rightly about God. Before He came even the Jews...discerned nothing distinctly under the types, figures, and ceremonies of the Mosaic law. Christ is the whole truth, and meets and satisfies every desire of the human mind. Christ is 'the life,'--the sinner's title to eternal life and pardon, the believer's root of spiritual life and holiness, the surety of the Christian's resur- rection life. He that abideth in Him, as the branch abides in the vine, shall bring forth much fruit. He that believeth on Him, though he were dead, yet shall he live." [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels II, p. 287-288]
"Put yourself in those pierced and bleeding hands, and know yourself forever secure." [W. E. Sangster, They Met At Calvary: Were You There...?, p. 105]
"Faith, for Paul, means taking God at his word in Christ. It is the complete response of the soul to the good news of God embodied in Christ. Such faith is directed not to a proposition but to a person--sometimes God, oftener Christ, the living Christ with the virtue of his atoning death in him. It is not only an act but an attitude--the attitude of a whole life (Gal 2:20) and where it is true faith, it is a creative ethical force: faith 'works through "love"', and a faith which does not so express itself is a sham..." [A. M. Hunter, "Romans," Torch Bible Commentaries, p. 29-30]
I John 5:9-12
"There could hardly be a more distinct statement of the Scriptural doctrine as to the nature of faith. Its object is what God has revealed. Its ground is the testimony of God. To receive that testimony is to set our seal that God is true. To reject it is to make God a liar." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology III, p. 66]
"We all accept human testimony. Otherwise we would not be able to sign a contract, write a check, buy a ticket, ride a bus or do any of the thousands of other things that constitute daily living. 'Well then,' says John, 'why should we not believe God whose word alone is entirely trustworthy?...' Certainty also comes in a second way. Those who believe God have an internal assurance that what they have believed is trustworthy." [James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 433] Theologians call this internal assurance the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.
3. Must there be some knowledge before there can be true faith?
"Faith need not be a hopeless leap into the dark. True biblical faith is a step into the light. In the light of God's truth we can discover who we are, why we are here, and where we are going. We can encounter the fullness of life the Father has wanted for us all along." [R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me, p. 23]
"Scripture knowledge is the candle without which faith cannot see to do its work." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 176]
"The Bible everywhere teaches that without knowledge there can be no faith.... On this principle the Apostles acted everywhere. They went abroad preaching Christ, proving from the Scriptures that He was the Son of God and Savior of the world. The communication of know- ledge always preceded the demand for faith." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology III, p. 86]
"Knowledge carries the torch of faith.... True faith...knows whom it believes, and why it believes. Faith is seated as well in the understanding as in the will. It has an eye to see Christ, as well as a wing to fly to him." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 203]
II Thessalonians 2:13,14
"In our ordinary human relations do we trust a person of whom we know nothing? Especially when that for which we trust him is of grave importance for us, we must know a great deal regarding his identity and his character. How much more must this be the case with the faith which is directed to Christ; for it is faith against all the issues of life and death, of time and eternity. We must know who Christ is, what he has done, and what he is able to do." [John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 110]
4. What is faith?
"Where can we rest our faith but upon God's faithfulness?" [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 101]
"The...constituents of faith may be illustrated from the thought, feeling, and action of a person who stands by a boat, upon a little island which the rising stream threatens to submerge. He first regards the boat from a purely intellectual point of view,--it is merely an actually existing boat. As the stream rises, he looks at it, secondly, with some accession of emotion,--his pro- spective danger awakens in him the conviction that it is a good boat for a time of need, though he is not yet ready to make use of it. But, thirdly, when he feels that the rushing tide must otherwise sweep him away, a volitional element is added,--he gets into the boat, trusts himself to it, accepts it as his present, and only, means of safety. Only this last faith in the boat is faith that saves, although this last includes both the preceding." [Augustus H. Strong, Systema- tic Theology, p. 839]
"Faith means abandoning all trust in one's own resources. Faith means casting oneself unreservedly on the mercy of God. Faith means laying hold on the promises of God in Christ, relying entirely on the finished work of Christ for salvation, and on the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God for daily strength." [Leon Morris, "Faith," The New Bible Dictionary, p. 368]
"Faith is knowledge passing into conviction, and it is conviction passing into confidence. Faith cannot stop short of self-commitment to Christ, a transference of reliance upon ourselves and all human resources to reliance upon Christ alone for salvation.... Faith...is not belief of propositions...respecting the Savior, however essential an ingredient of faith such belief is. Faith is trust in a person, the person of Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the lost. It is entrustment of ourselves to him. It is not simply believing him; it is believing in him and on him." [John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 111-112]
I Timothy 6:17
"...Faith is the empty hand of the soul..." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 455]
5. How do I begin a life of faith?
The agnostic Gamaliel Bradford wrote, "The simple fact is, that, if God does not exist, the universe is but a wilderness of barren horror. If He does exist, life should be but one long effort to know Him and be at one with Him. Separation from His is the most terrible punish- ment the mind can conceive." [D. L. Moody: A Worker in Souls, p. 304]
"...Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car." [Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 109]
"If Shakespeare were in you, what poetry you could write! If Beethoven were in you, what music you could compose! If Christ were in you, what a life you could live! If? There need be no if about it. You can't have an indwelling Shakespeare or Beethoven. You can have an indwelling Christ. You can say with Paul, 'I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.'" [James S. Stewart, The Strong Name, p. 67]
6. What attitude of heart comes with faith?
"Let no one imagine that he will lose anything of human dignity by this voluntary sell-out...to his God. He does not by this degrade himself as a man; rather he finds his right place of high honor as one made in the image of his Creator. His deep disgrace lay in his moral derangement, his unnatural usurpation of the place of God. His honor will be proved by restoring again that stolen throne. In exalting God over all he finds his own highest honor upheld." [A. W. Tozer, A Treasury of A. W. Tozer, p. 108]
"'I thank thee, Lord, for forgiving me, but I prefer staying in the darkness: forgive me that too.' --'No; that cannot be. The one thing that cannot be forgiven is the sin of choosing to be evil, of refusing deliverance. It is impossible to forgive that. It would be to take part in it.'" [George MacDonald: 365 Readings, p. 93]
"...Man....tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor--that is the only way out... This process of surrender--this movement full speed astern-- is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all.... It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means...undergoing a kind of death.... This repentance...is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could simply let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back with- out it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen." [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 49]
"...Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 98]
"We should repent of what we have been, but rejoice in what we may be." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXII, (1886), p. 337]
"Saint Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them." [Gerald May, Addiction and Grace, p. 17]
Some refuse to repent saying "we know ourselves...too well to promise...much to God! ...That is bad theology. It is also bad spirituality. For God calls us to promise ourselves to Him in a lifelong commitment of faithfulness and obedience. He does not regard our failure...as a becoming modesty, or an understandable reticence. He has other names for it: disobedience, disloyalty..., faithlessness." [Sinclair B. Ferguson, A Heart for God, p. 164]
While it is true that the faith with which we believe must be a repentant faith, it is also true that the repentance with which we turn to Christ must be a believing repentance. George Whitfield taught that even the tears of our repentance need to be washed in the blood of Christ, and Robert Murray McCheyne urged his hearers to take one hundred looks at Christ for every look they took at themselves. The gospel calls men out of themselves unto Christ!
7. Why is it sometimes difficult to believe?
Unbelievers have sometimes been quite candid about the reasons for their unbelief. Aldous Huxley wrote, "I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.... For myself, the philosophy of meaning- lessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political." [Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, p. 270ff]
"Choose well! Your choice is brief, yet endless." [Andrew W. Blackwood, Preaching From the Bible, p. 70]
"People often ask, 'If Christianity is true, why do the majority of intelligent people not believe it?' The answer is precisely the same as the reason the majority of unintelligent people don't believe it. They don't want to because they're unwilling to accept the moral demands it would make on their lives." [Paul Little, How To Give Away Your Faith, p. 81]
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." [G. K. Chesterton in The Portable Curmudgeon, p. 66]
"The 'unbelieving heart' mentioned here is not a heart that has not yet come to belief, but a heart that departs from belief, 'a heart not firm in faith' (Aquinas), the evil nature of which is displayed in an act of wilful apostasy. It is not a question of a quasi-passive falling away (as our version might seem to suggest), but of a deliberate, rebellious secession from the living God (cf. NEB, 'wicked, faithless, heart of a deserter'; JB, 'a wicked mind, so unbelieving as to turn away from the living God').... To forsake the living God is always to fall into idolatry. Not that the recipients of this letter were in danger of transferring their worship to images of wood and stone: the constructions of human philosophy and speculation are no less idols, man-made and powerless to save. The essence of all idolatry, whether primitive or sophisticated, is the abandonment of the truth about God for a lie and the worship and service of the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).... And, as Peter Lombard observes, 'to depart from him is to forfeit life, because in him alone is life.'" [Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 145-146]
8. Will I need God's help to believe?
"Until the Father draws the heart of man by His grace, man will not believe.... His inability is not physical, but moral. It would not be true to say that a man has a real...desire to come to Christ, but no power to come. It would be far more true to say that a man has no power to come because he has no desire or wish.--It is not true that he would come if he could. It is true that he could come if he would.--The corrupt will,--the secret disinclination,--the want of heart, are the real causes of unbelief.... The power that we want is a new will. It is precisely at this point that we need the 'drawing' of the Father." [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels I, p. 383-384]
There are several truths taught in the Bible that we must remember as we consider this verse:
"(a) We must never suppose that the doctrine of this verse takes away man's responsibility and accountableness to God for his soul. On the contrary, the Bible always distinctly declares that if any man is lost, it is his own fault. He 'loses his own soul.' (Mark viii.36.)...
"(b) We must not allow the doctrine of this verse to make us limit or narrow the offer of salvation to sinners. On the contrary, we must hold firmly that pardon and peace are to be offered freely through Christ to every man and woman without exception. We never know who they are that God will draw... Our duty is to invite all...
"(c) We must not suppose that we, or anybody else, are drawn, unless we come to Christ by faith. This is the grand mark and evidence of any one being the subject of the Father's drawing work. If 'drawn' he comes to Christ, believes, and loves. Where there is no faith and love, there may be talk, self-conceit...., but there is no 'drawing of the Father.
"(d) We must always remember that God ordinarily works by means, and specially by such means as He Himself has appointed.... We cannot pretend to explain why some are drawn and others are not drawn. Nevertheless, we must carefully maintain the great principle that God ordinarily draws through the instrumentality of His Word. The man that neglects the public preaching and private reading of God's Word has no right to expect that God will draw him. The thing is possible, but highly improbable.
"(e) We must never...waste time in trying to find out...whether we are drawn of God the Father. The first and indeed the main question we have to do with is, whether we have come to Christ by faith. If we have, let us take comfort and be thankful. None come to Him unless they are drawn.
"Augustine remarks: 'If thou dost not desire to err, do not seek to determine whom God draws, and whom He does not draw; nor why He draws one man and not another. But if thou thyself art not drawn by God, pray to Him that thou mayest be drawn.'" [ibid., p. 390-391]
I Corinthians 2:14
"You might as well try to describe a sunset to a blind man, play music to a deaf man, talk to a dead man, as to discuss the deep things of God with an unconverted sinner.... We might as well try to catch sunbeams with a fishhook or talk nuclear physics with a monument in a city park. The most erudite Ph.D. cannot take it in any better than a hillbilly; it is casting pearls before swine. As far as spiritual realities are concerned, a man who has not been born again is blind and can't see, deaf and can't hear, dead and can't feel." [Vance Havner, Pepper 'N Salt, p. 27]
II Corinthians 4:3-6
"It is here taught, (1.) That wherever and whenever Christ is preached, the evidence of his divinity is presented. The glory of God shines in his face. (2.) That if any man fails to see it, it is because the God of this world (Satan, the one the world worships) hath blinded his eyes. (3.) That if any do perceive it and believe, it is because of an inward illumination produced by him who first commanded the light to shine out of darkness." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology III, p. 73]
"God pours the golden oil of mercy into empty vessels." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 97]
9. Should faith be a daily attitude of heart?
"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done." [Letters of C. S. Lewis, c. September 1949]
"The promise of a kingdom, says Chrysostom, is not made to them that heard Christ or followed Him, but that continued with Him." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 287]
The Greek verb tenses which the writers of the New Testament use with the word "believe" help us understand the nature of faith. "The aorist tense points to a single act in past time and indicates the determinative character of faith. When a man comes to believe he commits himself decisively to Christ. The present tense has the idea of continuity. Faith is not a passing phase. It is a continuing attitude." [Leon Morris, "Faith," The New Bible Dictionary, p. 367]
It is so easy, even after having made a wholehearted commitment, to stop trusting God. We can do so almost without realizing what is happening. Old habits reassert themselves and suddenly we find ourselves trying to follow our own ideas instead of God's Word, trying to work out our own solutions instead of God's plans, trying to realize our own desires instead of God's will.
When we discover this, we may grow discouraged and be tempted to give up. At such times we need to remember that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin and that the righteousness of Christ makes us fully acceptable to God, even in our weakness. His love is unconditional. We do not need to try to earn it. It is given gladly and freely. God will joyously forgive us the moment we turn back to Him and He will again begin to give us the freedom we seek.
10. How is Abraham a good example of faith?
"All temptation is primarily to look within; to take our eyes off the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is always meeting a mountain, a mountain of apparent contradiction in the realm of tangible fact--of failures in deed, as well as in the realm of feeling and suggestion--and either faith or the mountain must go. They cannot both stand. ...The trouble is that many a time the mountain stays and faith goes. This must not be. If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan's lies are often enough true in our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contradicts God's Word and maintain an attitude of faith in Him alone, we shall find instead that Satan's lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word." [Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, p. 56]
"He knew not whither he went, but he knew with whom!" [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 180]
11. Will true faith change my life?
II Chronicles 20:20
"All the recovery programs say that in order to recover, we have to be willing to put our sobriety first." [Anne Wilson Schaff, Escape From Intimacy, p. 130]
"Every man carries his kingdom within, and no one knows what is taking place in another's kingdom. 'No one understands me!' Of course they don't, each one of us is a mystery. There is only One Who understands you, and that is God. Hand yourself over to Him." [Oswald Chambers, If Ye Shall Ask, p. 56]
"Faith melts our will into the will of God.... It not only believes the promise, but obeys the command." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 204]
"I hear the words of Love,
I gaze upon the Blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.
"'Tis everlasting peace,
Sure as Jehovah's name;
'Tis stable as His steadfast Throne,
For everyone the same." [Horatius Bonar]
"Holiness is constant agreement with God." [Theodore L. Cuyler, God's Light on Dark Clouds, p. 137]
"Faith is not only a declaration of dependence, it is also a vow of allegiance. The sick man's faith in his physician is shown not simply by trusting him, but by obeying him. Doing what the doctor says is the very proof of trust.... Faith is self-surrender to the great Physician and a leaving of our case in his hands. But it is also the taking of his prescriptions, and the active following of his directions." [A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 838]
II Corinthians 5:14,15
"A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is so affected by a sense of the love of this incarnate God as to be constrained to make the will of Christ the rule of his obedience, and the glory of Christ the great end for which he lives." [Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 133]
"...Belief that has no practical result ceases to be belief; it is fantasy." [Stephen Brown, If God Is in Charge, p. vii]
"Nothing matters but this: does Jesus have the utter absolute first and final say in your life?" [Vance Havner, Day By Day, p. 173]
"Faith...is a divine work in us which changes us.... O it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly.... Whoever does not do such works...is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are.... Thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire." [Martin Luther, "The Preface of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans," Luther's Works XXXV, p. 370-371]
12. Will faith give me strength for my struggle?
Faith can open our eyes to things we have not seen before too. Dr. Earl Wilson notes, "...As persons have experience with homosexuality, they...reach a place where they accept the label 'homosexual' or 'lesbian,' and from that time forward will interpret all the things that happen to them from that perspective.... Stimuli which suggest heterosexual tendencies are denied... The brain tries to clear up ambivalence so...heterosexual input is filtered out as irrelevant. I find that many of my counselees have blanked out their memory of periods of heterosexual activ- ity because it does not fit with their newly acquired belief that they are gay--and gays have not and never will be attracted to the opposite sex--so the experience cannot be considered. They are often shocked when they are helped...to remember more clearly these experiences which have been filtered out." [Counseling and Homosexuality, p. 68]
Not only can filtering make people blind to what is taking place in them, it can lead them to misinterpret what is going on around them. It leads many to interpret all their same-sex contacts as either potentially or actually sexual. Until corrected by faith, all this distorts reality and makes the development of healthy same-sex relationships difficult and the development of good heterosexual relationships impossible.
Faith gives sight! As we, through faith in God's Word, reject the lie that we are homosexual and cannot change, and embrace the truth that we are heterosexual by creation and in Christ, reality can be clearly seen and healing can begin.
"Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt." [William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, I.iv.77 in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, p 461, #21]
"Our Lord did not rebuke His disciples for making mistakes, but for not having faith." [Oswald Chambers, The Love of God, p. 116]
"Virgil said, 'Birds fly because they think they can.'" [Abraham Twerski, When Do the Good Things Start?, p. 56]
The great psychologist William James said, "The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." [Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 318]
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." [Theodore Roosevelt in Good Advice, p. 73]
I John 5:4
"Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." [Calvin Coolidge in Good Advice, p. 250]
This is certainly true when it comes to the matter of freedom from homosexuality. Dr. Irving Bieber, reviewing the work of 77 psychoanalysts working with 106 male homosexuals, many of whom were not seeking freedom, found that only 7 percent of the patients whose analyses were of fewer than 150 hours became heterosexual; 23 percent of the patients whose analyses were of 150 to 349 hours became heterosexual; while 47 percent of those who had 350 or more therapeutic sessions achieved the shift to heterosexuality. "These statistics are not necessarily final since 26 H-patients who had not become heterosexual were still in analysis at the time of the last follow-up report. Some patients in this group may yet become heterosexual as a result of continuing treatment. All such additional 'terminated heterosexual' cases would necessarily fall into the 'more than 350 hours' category and the 47 percent rate for this category would rise." [Irving Bieber et al., Homosexuality, p. 278]
This last figure is especially encouraging when one remembers that "in 1967 the American Psychoanalytic Association released their...long-term sociologic and statistical study of the results of treatment by psychoanalysis and analytic psychotherapy. While 97% of the patients were judged by their therapists to have improved in total functioning, and a similar number of patients agreed, the over all rate of symptom cure was only twenty-seven per cent." [Karl Lewin, Brief Encounters, Brief Psychotherapy, p. 250]
This means that people seeking freedom from homosexuality have more hope of recovery than those in therapy for other conditions--if they have a good support group, a skilled therapist, and persevere!
"Do not be impatient, for, as Emerson says, 'No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.'" [Andrew Carnegie in Leadership, p 166]
13. Can faith help me deal with the problem of depression?
"True happiness is to be found not in ways of man's own devising, but in the revealed will of God." [A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms, p. 3]
"One has to give up dreams, because they stand in the way of happiness." [Walter Trobisch, Love Is a Feeling to be Learned, p. 12]
"Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it." [George MacDonald: 365 Readings, p. 58]
"The life-script I had been taught was 'don't feel.' And this meant not only holding feelings in; it meant not even experiencing them, if possible.... Tears are necessary to psychological, physi- cal, and spiritual health. Emotional tears are unique to human beings and, I believe, are unique- ly intended to restore mind and body to sanity, relieve stress, and restore balance in our lives." [Archibald Hart, Healing Adult Children of Divorce, p. 178-179]
There are times when all of us who seek freedom from homosexuality will experience despres- sion. As Dr. Scott Peck says, "...The feeling associated with giving up something loved--or at least something that is a part of ourselves and familiar--is depression. Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenom- enon. It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the process." [M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 69-70] "Even in slight things the experience of the new is rarely without some stirring of foreboding." [Eric Hoffer in A Trea- sury of Business Quotations, #205]
So, when you hurt and are tempted to give up, walk by faith in the promises of God. When you find yourself thinking of turning aside, remember that to do so is only to postpone your recovery and to make the process ultimately more difficult and painful. Feel your pain, deal with it by faith in the promises of God, and press on to the freedom God has promised.
St. Augustine prayed, "God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, we beseech Thee; turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Thy honor and glory." [in Carl Hermann Voss, Quotations of Courage and Vision, p. 13-14]
"We would rather blame someone or something else for making us feel unhappy than take the steps to make us feel better. We even talk about our own feelings as if they were visitors from outer space. We say, 'This feeling came over me,' as if we were helpless creatures overwhelm- ed by mysterious forces, instead of simply saying, 'I felt that way.' We speak as if our feelings change from sunny to stormy like the weather, over which we have no control. This meteoro- logical view of our emotions is very useful; it takes us off the hook for the way we feel. We diminish ourselves, just in order to push away the chance of choice." [Mildred Newman, Bern- ard Berkowitz, and Jean Owen, How To Be Your Own Best Friend, p. 10]
"Faith is simply the bringing of our minds into accord with the truth. It is adjusting our expectations to the promises of God in complete assurance that the God of the whole earth can- not lie." [A. W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian, p. 27]
14. Can faith help me deal with the problem of anxiety?
"Peace, perfect peace,
In this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus
Whispers peace within.
"Peace, perfect peace,
By thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus,
This is rest.
"Peace, perfect peace,
With sorrows surging round?
On Jesus' bosom
Naught but calm is found.
"Peace, perfect peace,
With loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping
We are safe, and they
"Peace, perfect peace,
Our future all unknown?
Jesus we know,
And He is on the throne.
"Peace, perfect peace,
Death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death
And all its powers.
"It is enough:
Earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to
Heaven's perfect peace." [Edward H. Bickersteth]
"What an imperturbable certainty there is about the man who is in contact with God!" [Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Whither, p. 129]
II Timothy 1:12
"Upon the walls of a mosque in Bagdad is inscribed the motto: 'What a man believes he will die for; what a man thinks he will change his mind about.'" [S. Parkes Cadman, Ambassadors of God, p. 266]
I Peter 5:7
"Faith is refusing to be burdened because we have cast our burden upon the Lord." [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sermon on the Mount II, p. 157]
15. Can faith help me deal with the problem of discouragement?
"In all forms of warfare the loser is beaten in spirit before he is beaten in fact." [David J. Rogers in Leadership, p. 146]
There is an old story which says that God saw that the devil had too many weapons in his armory and decided that they should be drastically reduced. The devil was allowed to choose only one of all his weapons with which to try to maintain his power. Satan decided to keep discouragement as his one weapon because, he said, "If only I can persuade men and women to be thoroughly discouraged, they will make no further moral effort, and then I shall be enthroned in their lives." [James Stewart, King For Ever, p. 95]
"He who wishes to advance must always begin again.... Patience with oneself...is the founda- tion of all progress." [Romano Guardini in Leanne Payne, The Healing of the Homosexual, p. 26]
I Samuel 30:6
Dr. George W. Truett told of a man whose wife was taken from him after a brief illness leaving him with a five-year-old daughter. The two returned home after the funeral and the little girl cried late into the night while her father tried to comfort her. After awhile the little girl, trying to relieve her father's grief, stopped crying. "And in the darkness of that quiet time the big man looked through the darkness to God, and said: 'I trust you, but, oh, it is as dark as midnight.' And then the little girl started...sobbing again, and the father said: 'Why, papa thought you were asleep, baby.' And she said...., 'Papa, did you ever know it to be so dark? Why, papa, I can- not even see you, it is so dark.' And then, sobbing, the little thing said: 'But papa, you love me, if it is dark, don't you? You love me if I don't see you, don't you papa?'... He reached across with those big hands and took the little girl out of her crib, and brought her over on his big heart, and mothered her, until at last, sobbing, the little girl fell to sleep, and then when she was asleep, he took his baby's cry to him, and passed it up to God, and said: 'Father, it is as dark as midnight. I cannot see at all. But you love me, if it is dark, don't you?'... And then the darkness was like unto the morning! God always comes to people who trust Him." [A Quest For Souls, p. 24-26]
II Chronicles 32:6-8
"God makes a promise.
Faith believes it.
Hope anticipates it.
Patience quietly awaits it."
[D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 179]
"Fear knocked at the door, faith answered and no one was there!" [Harold Sherman, Your Key to Happiness in Dave Johnson, The Success Principle, p. 13]
16. Must my faith be perfect for God to bless it?
"...The efficacy of faith does not reside in itself. Faith is not something that merits the favor of God. All the efficacy unto salvation resides in the Savior. ...It is not faith that saves...; strictly speaking, it is not even faith in Christ that saves but Christ that saves through faith.... The specific character of faith is that it looks away from itself and finds its whole interest and object in Christ." [John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 112]
"A weak faith may receive a strong Christ." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 220]
"To a large extent this man, with more doubt than faith in him,...represents the age in which we live.... It is conscious of its misery and woe and sin....but it is not...sure that He can help. It is not confident that He can heal.... John Bunyan, in his immortal dream, pictures some men of sturdy and almost aggressive faith--men like Great-Heart and Steadfast, and Valiant-for- Truth, and Hopeful and Faithful, and the rest. But he also gives us the picture of men whose faith is timid and trembling, who scarcely believe, in the persons of Mr. Little-Faith, Mr. Fear- ing, and Mr. Feeble-Mind, and Mr. Ready-to-Halt.... So let us take our doubting, distrustful hearts to Him, and say, like this distressed and troubled father, 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.' And what mighty power there is in feeble faith. 'If ye have faith as a grain of must- ard seed,' said our Lord, 'ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence unto yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you' (Matt. xvii.10). As a grain of mustard seed, weak, tiny, infinitesimal. That is all this father had. But look at the result. A mighty exercise of power and a restored son.... The Lord is wonderfully compassionate.... He gives even to Little-Faith, and Mr. Fearing, and Mr. Ready-to-Halt, the victory and the abund- ant entrance." [J. D. Jones, The Gospel According to St. Mark III, p 227-230]
17. Will my faith be tested?
"Why is temptation so attractive, unrelenting, and powerful?... Surely God...could make it easier for...us.... I'm not saying that God causes us to sin; nor does He tempt us as Satan does.... But God does test us; He also allows Satan to tempt us.... Why...? Temptation, with all of its frightful possibilities for failure, is God's method of testing our loyalties. We cannot say that we love someone until we have had to make some hard choices on his behalf. Similarly, we cannot say we love God unless we've said No to persistent temptations.... God ....is allowing us the luxury of difficult choices so that we can prove our love for Him. These are our opportunities to choose God rather than the world." [Erwin M. Lutzer, How To Say No To a Stubborn Habit, p. 11-16]
"'When you see a dog following two men,' says Ralph Erskine, in one of his sermons, 'you know not to which of them he belongs while they walk together; but let them come to a parting road, and one go one way, and the other another way, then you will know which is the dog's master. So, at times, religion and the world go hand in hand. While a man may have the world and religious profession too, we cannot tell which is the man's master, God or the world; but stay till the man come to a parting road; God calls him this way, and the world calls him that way. Well, if God be his master, he follows religion, and lets the world go; but if the world be his master, then he follows the world and the lust thereof, and lets God, and conscience, and religion go.'" [John Whitecross, The Shorter Catechism Illustrated, p. 66]
"Our faith must be tested. God builds no ships but what he sends to sea." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 201]
"Being a Christian means joy, peace, and contentment, we are told. We happily misconstrue that to mean a Christian never has problems or pain. We'll be protected by our all-powerful Bodyguard from losing our jobs, suffering from illness, or having accidents that happen to 'other' people. We want to believe it, so we do. This one lie may be the most insidious religious falsehood in Christendom. ...It....becomes a source of bitterness and anger the moment life turns sour. God often becomes the scapegoat for all the hurt we feel when he doesn't come charging to the rescue.... The truth...is that life is difficult. Faith makes it less difficult, not by solving the problems through rescue, but by giving us a resource to handle the problems." [Chris Thurman, The Lies We Believe: The #1 Cause of our Unhappiness, p. 143]
"Faith...will trust Him where it cannot trace Him." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 12]
I Peter 1:7
"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks." [Phillips Brooks in Good Advice, p. 266]
18. How can faith express itself?
"I...believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts do not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein the envious man 'wishes' to be happy; but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good." [C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 127]
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." [G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England, p. 59]
When we feel helpless...
we can praise God that HE HELPS THE HELPLESS!
When we feel ungodly...
we can praise God that HE LOVES THE SINNER!
When we feel anxious...
we can praise God that HE BRINGS GOOD OUT OF TROUBLE!
When we are tempted...
we can praise God that HE HAS BROKEN THE POWER OF HOMOSEXUALITY!
When we feel confused about our sexual identity...
we can praise God that HE HAS CREATED AND REDEEMED US HETEROSEXUAL!
"Thank and think...come from the same root word. If we would think more, we would thank more." [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Rich, p. 141]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 7
Somehow I managed to confuse knowledge with faith. I thought the more Bible I crammed into my head, the more faith I would have. So I studied the Bible morning by morning, faithfully attended Sunday School and church, went to a theological seminary, and entered the ministry. I filled my head with Bible truth only to find that my faith was still not strong enough to withstand the blows that came to me in life.
Please do not misunderstand. Knowledge is necessary to faith. You cannot trust in One you do not know. Knowledge alone, however, is not enough for faith. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17), but faith is not merely hearing. It only comes by hearing.
Knowledge is the beginning of faith, but it is only the beginning. Truth must filter down from our heads into the very fiber of our souls. This does not happen quickly or easily. It is not attained by mere human effort. It is the gift of God's grace over time. I learned this slowly, painfully. I am still learning.
In the past, when life overwhelmed me, I turned for comfort to homosexual activity. This only led to greater woe--guilt, shame, fear, blackmail, exposure, prison, the loss of family, friends, ministry, nearly life itself when I attempted suicide. I came to doubt that I had ever had any faith at all. I feared I was lost forever--that God had abandoned me, and that Jesus' final word to me was, "'I never knew you: depart from me' you who have been so sinful" (Matthew 7:21-23).
And then, at the lowest point in my life, God Himself reached out to me. I cannot explain or describe it. Words are inadequate. But He took the truths I had learned (that study was not in vain!) and began to apply them to my heart. Tenderly, the Spirit of God applied the balm of His truth to my soul, and slowly I began to revive.
Not only did God minister to my heart directly, He also used others--a Christian counselor, a godly pastor, gracious friends--to open the eyes of my spirit to the meaning of His word for my life. He taught me to meditate on His truth until I could see how it applied to me and then to praise Him for the love and mercy and grace I experienced as a result of this process.
And thus, from study, through meditation, to trust and praise, the truth passed from something outside of me into my heart, and I found the God-ordained way to life and ever-increasing peace, joy, and freedom.
Please be assured I still have much to learn. I am only a child in these things. I write, with the Apostle Paul, "not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 7
1) Read your Bible each morning until you find a verse which speaks to your situation. Write it on a 3 x 5 card and carry it with you throughout the day for meditation. As you ask God to show you what this word from Him means for your life, jot the thoughts that come to you on the back of the card. Prayerfully write these thoughts out more fully in your journal at night and conclude with a written prayer of thanksgiving to God for what this truth means to you. Share some of these thoughts with your step coach.
2) Listen to the tape Let Go, Let God! and read the brochures Bolt That Door and In God's Good Time under "STEP 7" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 8 and finish the book your step coach recommended to help you with Steps 1-7 while continuing to work in your workbook. Journal what you learn from all this and share what you have written with your step coach.
3) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
Augustus M. Toplady