While many long time Christians are deeply mired in sexual sin and allow it to fester as a life-dominating part of their lives, many new believers find a way to break free. Kent Hekel’s story is an example of how Christians—whether newbies or old-timers—can gain freedom.
Anyone who knows Kent is keenly aware of his fervent love for God and his enthusiastic, joyful, soul-winning witness. He came to our church in Escondido after a powerful conversion in 1986, eventually becoming an elder. In 2001, he moved to Montana where he has continued to shine brightly, even pastoring a church for some time.
His dramatic conversion and God’s faithfulness in his life is beautifully documented in a new book: “I Will Manifest Myself”
Although it is by no means the main theme in Kent’s testimony, he does recount that after having fallen deeply into sexual sin before becoming a believer, God had delivered him from this. This sparked my curiosity and I asked Kent to elaborate. You can read his detailed response below.
Two thoughts and a question jump out at me from Kent’s story:
- Kent was diligent as he dealt with his sin. He took it seriously and confronted it in a biblically proper way. Like many other new believers, he recognized and faced it head on. All the excuses and rationalizations that cripple so many long-time believers were set aside.
- Kent experienced victory over lust. He did not get stuck in sin. Without this victory, Kent’s story and the many lives he has touched over the years would have turned out much differently.
Kent’s story gnaws at me. Why do so many long-time Christians (thoughts of my own story come rushing in) fail to overcome lust and as a result do not enter into the joy and victory that Jesus promised? Does this come from ignorance, deception or a lack of obedience? (Same question, two ways of asking it)
What do you think?
Here is how Kent describes how he was able to overcome lust:
- First off, my dramatic conversion at age forty-one, after having committed the heinous sin of adultery for several years, caused me to deeply fall in love with Jesus. He became the passion of my life. I really understood the depravity of my sin nature and what Christ had done on the cross for a wretch like me. There was a healthy fear of God and a passionate love for Christ. Reading, hearing, studying, and meditating on His word became a 24/7 reality for me. He did manifest Himself personally to me during this time as I relate in my book. I knew He was real and had saved me. God forbid that I would consciously and habitually sin again (Luke 7:47-50)—in thought, word, or deed. I consciously resisted the “illicit sexual buzz” as you describe lust in your book. This would have been betrayal all over again (except it would be a betrayal of Christ as well.)
- Secondly, during those early years before I remarried, I read a book by Watchman Nee entitled, “The Normal Christian Life” which was essentially a commentary on Romans 6-8 and how to live the victorious Christian life—much like your own. This book was treasured truth and impacted my new nature in a sanctifying way. I recommend it to you. (see earlier post about this)
- I was accountable. During the early years, Elliot, who was mature Christian, helped me through times of testing and into victory over lust.
- I made no provision for the flesh–no secular movies, TV, magazines, and later, pornography on the internet. I remember while touring Israel in 2007, I decided to use a hotel computer to check my email. To my shock graphic porn images came on the screen. I immediately turned off the computer and neglected my email the remainder of the trip.
- I learned how to deal with thoughts and desires. I found especially helpful hearing something Pastor Chuck Smith said early on: Unholy thoughts may enter your mind like birds flitting in and out, but you must not let them nest there. Temptation is not sin. Later, when conducting Bible studies, prayer classes, or sermons and I became aware of an attractive woman and a sense that it was potentially dangerous, I would—as a safeguard—openly express my affection for my wife, verbally and publicly, referring to her as my “sweetheart” or “my gift from God” and how much I appreciated her, a Proverbs 31 woman (truly). There were a couple of occasions when attractive women in the church who would seem a bit too interested in me as their pastor and this would cause me to feel vulnerable. I would then pray from my heart for our gracious Father’s help during these times of temptation. He has answered with His strength in my weakness. We have tremendous resources at our disposal (our prayers, the Spirit’s prayers, Christ’s prayers, the living and powerful Word of God, the indwelling Spirit’s conviction, and our new nature), but as you most correctly say in your book, we are not robots and the world, our “old man”, and the devil are formidable foes. BUT GOD is greater than any adversary and is faithful to help when we admit our weakness and cry out to Him in times of temptation or any other need. Answered prayers give much joy, peace, comfort, and assurance. Amen.
- I had no fellowship with “the world” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). “Evil company still corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 12:26). Jesus came to “seek and save” and that is our goal as well in all interactions with “the world”.
- I refused to counsel or spend alone time with any woman without my wife or the woman’s husband or fiancé present. Of course, this is just common sense.
- I found that there was no substitute for obedience, abiding in Jesus’ person, love and word (avoiding the many distractions that would drain our energies and make us unfruitful). This is my goal despite my failures.
- Lastly, I learned to deal with my sin. Yes, regretfully, I have at times over the last many years, sinned in the area of lust in my thought-life. However, whenever this occurs, I have taken God’s remedy: confession, repentance, sorrow, and prayer for strength in my weakness. But it is the rare exception, not the rule of my life. Thank God! Though I do not see perfection in my life, I certainly do see a direction and an intimacy with God that makes my heart sing. His “touches” have been priceless, reminders of the unspeakable glory to come.
In summary to the extent I have had victory it comes from biblically:
- KNOWING the extent of Christ’s work, the atonement and its nature (crucified with Him and resurrected with Him),
- RECKONING this to be true in my life, and then
- PRESENTING my body (and mind) to Him as instruments of righteousness–in prayer and as a conscious act of the will (a living sacrifice), as taught in Romans.
- Lastly, ASKING Him to help me in my weakness so that all the glory goes to Him. Praise the Lord!!!