Set Free

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“As a kid, I grew up with bad social anxiety and felt very fearful as a result of hard circumstances in my childhood. My dad made the decision to be sober when I was in sixth grade after years of watching him struggle. Now, years later, he is still sober! This was the first time I really saw God set someone free from their sin, not because of my dad trying to be better on his own effort, but because He relied on the power of Christ through prayer. That would really impact me and my sin in my own life.

“When I went to camp in eighth grade, my counselor shared her story of how she trusted the Lord with her life. She shared the hardships she experienced and how, because of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, she was still able to be filled with so much joy.

“I remember finally realizing that joy isn’t based on circumstances. At that time, I put my faith in God, knowing I could have joy because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross.

“From there, I fell in love with God’s Word and saw it uphold me. His Word was truly a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), even in dark circumstances.

“As I began to read more of God’s Word, I read more and more about confessing sin. I thought of my own secret sin after being exposed to pornography at a young age, and I told myself I would never share it. God’s Word commanded it, but I refused. I felt isolated and like I had no one to share this with.

“I was then invited to DTown, Watermark’s in-town retreat for students. In one of the messages, a speaker shared with us how he broke free from the sin he felt so enslaved by. He shared James 5:16, ‘Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.’

“Immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to confess my own hidden sin. I proceeded to tell my friend about my struggles with pornography and how it’d been enslaving me for over seven years. My friend encouraged me in response, ‘There is nothing you could do or say that would change how I view you. More importantly, God does not change how He views you because Jesus has already paid the penalty for your sins and covers you in righteousness.’

“I felt God free me from my sin. My identity was no longer a slave to sin but an adopted child of God.

“There are many lies that I believed about confessing sin. I thought, ‘Confess your sins, and you will be judged. Confess your sins, and you will be rejected.’ But God promises in James 5:16: ‘Confess your sins and you will be healed.’ When you bring your sin to the light, the Lord will set you free. Satan loses his grip when sin is brought to light. ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)’

“Through reminding myself of the freedom I have in Christ, as well as being plugged into a small group at Watermark who pointed me to the gospel, I began to walk through a ton of freedom from that sin. I still loved God’s Word, but I realized how important it is to be surrounded by God’s people, too. He’s given us the local church and community to be reminded of what Jesus has done for me.

“This foundation was laid even when I experienced even harder seasons of my life and wondered where God was. The biblical community around me has reminded me of truth and prayed for me. In those hard times, I felt so much of God’s comfort and His provision for me. I can fear no evil even when things happen to me because He is with me (Psalm 23).

“As life has continued and I have suffered from chronic pain for eight years and walked through choosing sin over the Lord in a hard season, I am learning to struggle faithfully. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, ‘But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’

“I truly know God’s power more because of my pain. Whether it’s been the emotional pain of hidden sin, anxiety, and depression in my life or physical chronic pain, I am reminded that His power truly is made perfect in my weaknesses. My weaknesses and sin remind me why I need God in the first place. There’s nothing I did or can do to be made right with God on my own. I’m not strong enough or righteous enough. But praise be to God that even though my heart and flesh fail, He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73).”