Never By Yourself
All by myself! For a child, it is a shout of joy: "I rode my bike all by myself!" For a young adult, it is a declaration of independence: "I'm getting an apartment by myself." For an older adult, it is a heart breaking cry: "My wife is gone and now I'm all by myself." And when sung by Eric Carmen, it is an unforgivably cheesy power ballad.
Let me warn you of one situation where it never works. You will never overcome entangling sin "all by yourself."
Every Christian suffers this temptation at one time or another. You find yourself in a web of sin that embarrasses and enslaves you. You feel the temptation coming. You know you will lose the battle. You give in. Then come the waves of self-loathing, shame and loneliness. You want to be free so badly you would do anything. Anything except one thing. You will not bring someone else into the struggle with you.
You see, you have a greater sin than even that one that entangles you. On the surface you feel your temptation with pornography, adultery, bulimia, gluttony, alcoholism or something else. But deep underneath you are a slave to independence. Your desire to save yourself (with Jesus' help, of course) is the most basic sinful desire you have. "All by myself" is the slavemaster.
But we love to quote bible verses: God will never let us be tempted by more than we can handle, he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world, etc. etc.
God promises that no temptation will overtake you without God providing a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way out will usually be a telephone, a friend, your church. If you honestly want to put to death the sins that entangle you, then lay down your pride and ask for help.
Nate Larkin describes a time when he ran into his sponsor. His friend asked how he was doing. He responded with the typical, "You know, I'm struggling." His friend then asked who he was calling. Nate said, "I'm calling out to God." His sponsor laughed and said, "Well the next time you call out to God, dial my number."
That may sound arrogant or even blasphemous. Of course, the friend was not claiming to be God. He was, however, claiming to be the answer to Nate's prayers. God has provided a way out of sin for you. The answers to your prayers are all around you. They are your friends, pastors, and family. They want to help you walk out of darkness into light.
The next time you are tempted to click the mouse, or stop by the liquor store, or lock the bathroom door, take a second and call a friend. You usually don't even have to say why you called. Just talk for a few minutes and regain your sanity.
Even better, confess your struggle to your friends and start praying with them everyday. Prayer and confession everyday is infinitely better than occasional "accountability."
Do not let the sin of independence lead to the spiritual death of adultery. Seek help daily. Let us walk together, not all by ourselves.