We can partner with the Holy Spirit to change behaviors like sexual sin.
How? By rewiring our brains!
Our brains have complex networks of connections called neural pathways. Brain cells talk to each other.
Psychologist Deann Ware, Ph.D., put it this way: “the messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over begin to transmit faster and faster.”
Cells that fire together wire together.
We call these patterns habits.
And sexual sin can become a devastating habit.
Today’s verse beautifully articulated that truth thousands of years before science caught up.
“Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house”
Proverbs 5:11 NIV
Build Paths Around Sexual Sin
This proverb focuses on avoiding temptation to sexual sin. The writer used the analogy of an “adulteress” to represent the allure of temptation.
To paraphrase, he was saying:
“Young man, we both know you have no business going by that woman’s door. If you walk down that street, you know what’s going to happen. You’ve done this a thousand times. If you start down that path, you’re going to fall to sin.
Instead of doing the same song and dance, change your route. Take a new path far away from that sin door. Break the cycle by not putting yourself in temptation station to begin with!”
How Our Sin Patterns Work
When I was addicted to pornography, there were patterns—or pathways.
It would usually begin with YouTube or social media when I was alone. I would “innocently” watch things that got closer and closer to the proverbial “doorway of sexual sin.”
Eventually, this would trigger my escape into pornography.
All of our addictions have rituals like mine did.
When we then perform the sinful behavior, those neural pathways fire, strengthening their connection. Increasing their efficiency and the speed with which they communicate.
Over time, this becomes devastating, overwhelming, and can feel inescapable.
Just like an addict should avoid friends who use or places they used, we should avoid those “doors” to our sexual sin.
However, don’t forget: WE ARE NOT ALONE IN OUR FIGHT AGAINST SIN!
The Holy Spirit helps us. God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God provides new pathways physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Renewing Our Minds
Ultimately, this is part of the process Paul talked about in Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If you’re contending with sexual sin, outline the pathways you take. How does it start? What is the first “street” you walk down? What alternative pathway is the Lord providing for you?
Remember, not only does the Holy Spirit help us, but we can walk together in the light to be rescued from the darkness and torture of sexual sin. Instead of isolating in shame, bring it into the light. Share this devotion with someone you trust to help you, and let them know you’re ready for change.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.