How long, O Lord? That was my initial reaction to recent developments in the land of the ‘free’, more specifically the Empire State’s stance on brothels and pimping. Lawmakers in New York have introduced a bill to fully decriminalise prostitution – the purchase and sale of sex. My heart bleeds for the victims who will suffer under this decision, for the men and women who are pulled into the sex trade by human traffickers, pimps and buyers. Undoubtedly, our world is terribly broken and its future looks pretty bleak.
But … I am reminded that this is not the end. I am reminded there is hope. I am reminded of the One who has overcome the world. I am reminded there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I am reminded that we have been given ‘the Advocate who will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment’. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
“The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” – Jesus Christ
Today’s news from New York has moved my heart yet again to the victims of human trafficking and the sex trade. This stirs up so much dissension. The demand for the sex trade is ever growing. So much so that it warrants decriminalisation. Why do people do the things they do? According to Harry Schaumburg, who has counselled thousands of men and women on overcoming sexual sin, freedom from sexual sin doesn’t begin with addressing past painful experiences. It starts with understanding our arrogant hearts. We attempt to deal with our pain when in fact, the pain itself is not the problem.
Jesus says our core problem is not what was done to us, but what resides in us (Mark 7:21-22). With sexual sin, real change can only begin with real repentance – a change of heart. Let’s filter this through the Word. Jesus says “it is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you” – Mark 7:20-23.
“Recovery is not repentance, and repentance is not recovery.”
– Harry Schaumburg
He goes on to explain that a change of heart brings about the higher motivation required for behavioural change. Note that it is a higher calling and not a motivation that arises from self-disgust or remorse over the harm done to others. Repentance involves a ‘turning from’ our self-seeking and self-trusting ways. It is not the trending ‘self help / self love’ programs that relies on mere human effort. True repentance requires absolute dependence and total reliance on Jesus as the lord of our lives each and every day. Remember, our ‘hearts our naturally wicked’ (Genesis 8:21) and we need God’s surgical procedure to replace it with a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26 says that God ‘will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.’
“In this age, sin will always be present in us. But in true repentance, the sinner’s life is no longer controlled by his sexual sin. Instead, he is governed by a longing to obey God” – Harry Schaumburg. New bills may be introduced that violates the integrity of human life (kills, steals and destroys souls) but we are still free to choose whether we support evil or not. End human trafficking. Ban sex buying. And since pornography is the groomer of prostitution and trafficking, end pornography.
We are at a crossroads. Two paths are set out before us. The one leads to death because it is the path of evil, perversity, wickedness, baseness, and trusting in wealth. The other leads to life because it is laid out for those who are made righteous through their faith in Jesus. The thief has come to kill, steal and destroy but Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Which will you choose today?
To live is Christ. I choose life.
“Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking.” Join in the fight to end it.
Harry Schaumburg. Can You Repent Without Changing? The Beginning of the End of Sexual Sin. Desiring God. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-you-repent-without-changing. June 2019.