Sin thrives in isolation.
For me, that simple statement is packed with meaning and memories. I’ve shared my sin story several times now, and it is getting easier to state the facts without feeling the punch. I became addicted to porn at 8 or 9 years old. I struggled with addictions to pornography, cybersex, mastrubation, and sexual fantasy for 10 years. I can say that without crying.
But when I type out that phrase: sin thrives in isolation.. my eyes fog up.
Isolation is feeling like you are the lowest scum. That if anyone realized what you were really like they would be repulsed. Isolation is knowing that your body is sexually stimulated by watching something that is degrading, that is directly linked to things like human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, and not being able to hate it no matter how many horrible facts you learn.
Isolation is knowing that you have disappointed everyone you respect. It means everyone looks at you with a wariness in their eyes, and carefully avoids certain subjects when they talk to you. Isolation causes feelings of depression, suicide, running away, giving up.
And that is where sin thrives. It is like a cesspool where Satan whispers lies and emotions swamp out truth. You feel like you are completely alone, no one understands, no one cares.. and sin chips a foothold into your heart and gives you something to ease the pain that really drives you further down the spiral.
That’s why we need community.
And not just Sunday morning fellowship, not just sitting beside other believers. Real community that helps us overcome sin is characterized by being known, being loved, and being spurred on toward Christ.
Here are some tips for finding or creating that type of community:
Being known requires confession. You need to identify who is safe to share your heart with and then start sharing. You can either discuss an accountability arrangement or just share heart to heart as friends. But confess the sin or struggle in your heart and pray together for God’s power, grace, and forgiveness to flow freely over you.
If you aren’t truly known, you will always doubt if you are truly loved. You’ll always second guess and wonder if this person really knew the ugliness in your mind if they would feel the same way about you.
Being loved in spite of being known is one of the great mysteries about God, and one of the characteristics that we are called to share with him. As a community, when we recognize our own shortcomings we are able to embrace others who sin too. Loving a sinner is about choice. You can’t base your love on their actions, because you need to keep loving them if they fall and fall again. Look to God’s example and pray for the grace to love your community unconditionally.
As the sinner in need of being truly known and loved, you need to trust God and your community to love you. Sin thrives in isolation, and you will be tempted to withdrawal from being known and loved when you are tempted and you feel worthless. TRUST YOUR COMMUNITY AND YOUR GOD that your worth is not valued by your sinlessness.
Spurring each other on toward Christ is the mark of truly loving a person. Not only do you know them and love them at their worst, but you are an intrical part of their spiritual growth. You are one of the ways that the Holy Spirit is working in their life, so take that seriously.
Learn to balance truth and love. Learn to pray before you speak. Learn to look for your own beam before you call out their speck, but don’t ignore their speck because you have a beam. Approach your friend in humility and ask for their help to spur you on as well.
Surrounding yourself with this type of community, whether in real life or online, is a powerful method to overcome sin in your life. When you feel yourself withdrawing from people, know that isolation is not where God has called you to be. You can trust him to bring the right people into your life to help you.
Many Sparrows Sisterhood Facebook group is a great place to start if you are looking for authentic Christian community.