When I got saved in my late twenties, one of the hardest things I had to deal with was celibacy. I’m sure you can appreciate the battle I was faced with when considering that I had been sexually active since my teenage years.
The sin of premarital sex had become such a habit or a way of life for me that I felt I could not manage to live without it.
In fact, I had felt God’s call on my life months before I actually accepted Jesus, but I delayed taking action because of the repercussions of that decision: I would have to stop being sexually active. During those months, I wrestled within myself with no end in sight. Finally things came to a head, and I just gave my life to Christ and hoped for the best.
As with any addiction, I experienced withdrawal symptoms when I stopped doing it. The worst part was that since our baby daughter was only a year old at that time, I was in ongoing contact with my ex-boyfriend. So the temptation was constantly present. My willpower failed me as time and time again I would find myself looking back, thinking about, wishing or contemplating sex.
The breaking point came one cold, rainy evening. My daughter had gone to sleep unusually early that night, and I found myself sitting in my room, in front of the fire, feeling lonely. Well, I don’t think I have to spell out A’s and B’s of the situation. Suffice it to say that the weather favored it, the mood was ready-made and the only thing missing was a partner in crime! It would have taken one phone call to turn a thought into a done deed.
I remember praying to God to help me. I told Him that I did not want to do what my body wanted me to do, and that I did not want to feel the way I was feeling. I remember how hard and long I cried because I could literally feel my body pulling me in one direction and my spirit pulling in the other.
What happened next astounded me! I will never forget it as long as I live!
As I was sitting in front of the fire, I felt a presence behind me. Instead of turning to see what was behind me, I just closed my eyes. Don’t ask me why; it just happened. After I closed my eyes, I felt this presence engulf my upper body; much like when a person is putting a blanket over you from behind. I could physically feel this “thing” cloaked around me!
I didn’t know what it was, and I still felt no compulsion to open my eyes! Involuntarily, I let out a huge sigh. I don’t know how long I sat like that, with that presence still around me! All I know is that from the time I felt that presence, my tears stopped, the pain in my heart ceased, the longing went away and I was at peace. When I no longer felt the presence, I got up and went to bed. Not once during that whole episode did I feel fear!
It never dawned on me to question that occurrence, because I knew the Holy Spirit was there with me that night! And since then, I’ve never again had such an intense attack! After trying and failing to stop by my own will power, the great Helper came and did the job.
I was reminded of the scripture in 2 Corinthians 3:17, which states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
He liberated me that night.
As I look back on that encounter, I am reminded of the life of the prophetess Ana, which is briefly recounted in Luke 2:36-37. Scripture tells us that after her husband of seven years died, Ana dedicated her life to God and went so far as to actually live in the temple the rest of her life. We are not told why she came to such a decision, but I would like to think that maybe the pain, disappointment and a myriad of other emotions led her to realize that only the presence of God would fill the void left in her life.
In a way, I felt like Ana. I had hopes that the relationship I was in would result in marriage. When I got saved, I had to let go of it. There was a lot of pain, and I had to make a decision like Ana did–to live in the temple of the Lord. In these New Testament times, the temple of the Lord is our bodies, as the apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:16. When I let the Holy Spirit dwell in me, His presence kicked out the appetite for sin.
Since that encounter, I have come to have such an appreciation for the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have come to depend on Him in every issue of my life. I’ve learned to think twice before I say I cannot do something. Because even if I am unable to do it, with His help I am able.
I truly believe that if we follow Ana’s example–dedicate our whole lives to God and let His Spirit dwell in us–He can heal any brokenness we have in our lives.
He will help us navigate this journey we are on.
He will assist us in confronting the many issues that we face in our lives.
As for me, I went from desiring sin to having a desire for the temple of the Lord–that is, His presence. What do you need God to liberate you from? Whatever it is, He is more than able to free you.