I had other things lined up for this week’s spot, however, this topic pushed to the forefront at 5 am on a Monday morning. The Holy Spirit reminded me of a post I saw last week from one of my favorite social media comedians, Will Johnson (@willjohnsontv on IG, you should go follow!) The post spoke to the reality of people refraining from sin only because they feel it’ll help them minster better in church versus allowing God to come in and heal that place. I loved the post simply because I could relate. Looking back, I can clearly see where abstinence fueled by hedonistic tendencies took the place of deliverance until transformation happened. What do I mean? The avoidance of intentionally acting on unwanted habits (that we are aware of) is necessary, usually in the beginning of any major life change. Walking with Christ, the decision of making the change is ours; then Christ comes to change our hearts to affect our perceptions and character, which in turn will change our behavior. When we avoid real change and adopt a temporary tactic to make a permanent impression so that we don’t actually have to be changed! All the while, getting the benefits of while looking as if we are, we’re delusional. It’s delusional to believe that being free of guilt and shame via avoidance is the same as growth. Not doing the work leaves us vulnerable, being defenseless against our own desires, we’re trying to suppress, in order to attempt to perform well. For one, anointing and power comes through authenticity to Christ and yourself. Doing just enough to get by denies the character of Christ alone. While no one on the praise team may know your intentions, the person who you were supposed to minister to will be left empty handed because you had nothing to fill them with. This is beyond acting, feeling and doing good. This is the necessity of transformation for the growth of the kingdom. Being delivered is a verb and adjective. It’s the result of living intentionally in Christ and committing to move forward. This isn’t a post condemning abstinence at all! It’s necessary and useful! Yet, relying strictly on abstinence to perform well in church without guilt and growth does more damage to ourselves and the people we’re assigned to.