A lot of us have extra weight we’re carrying around, but it’s not necessarily physical, it’s spiritual. We carry around past hurts, regrets, and hidden sins that can cause anxiety and affect our lives. In this week’s message, we talk about how to lose that “soul weight” and live in freedom.
Good evening. My name is Harrison Ross. I am on staff here at Watermark, and recently I have started eating differently. Anybody else on this trend of changing what you eat? Recently, I have cut out gluten and dairy from my entire diet. Some people are celebrating me. Other people are judging me and going, "You hippie. What is your problem? Eat a burger." Hey, I'm all in on the burger, now without a bun and cheese. It's terrible.
Hear me out. A few years ago, I did Whole30. I did it kicking and screaming. Anybody else on the Whole30 trend? Anybody on Whole30 right now? No. We've all just said, "Screw Whole30." It's terrible. I tried Whole30. I hated it, and then I kind of loved it. It really started to change the way I was thinking. My wife was already not eating gluten and dairy because of some health stuff. It was something I kind of enjoyed and quickly bailed from. I got to 30. I ran away from it and was like, "This is not for me."
But now I'm back because of some other things, how it's affecting clarity of thought, other things like that, and partially because I have been haunted my entire life by this picture in high school. This is me. I know. There's not even judgment; there's just shame and sorrow. This is me on Easter. I'm a ninth grader in high school. I have frosted tips that I did intentionally. I'm wearing a rope choker necklace that I think I have a scar indent from because I was so chubby in the neck, and I definitely suffered from what's called moobs (man boobs). They are real. Yes. You shout because you understand.
This was my life in junior high and high school. I was the kid who was deathly afraid to go to the end-of-the-year school party at the Moss' house because it was a pool party. I was that guy. I was deathly afraid because of how I looked, because I was overweight, because I felt chubby, because I had puffy nipples. I'm serious. I did not want to go and submit myself to this. So here I am years later trying to change what I eat.
I think our society as a whole is obsessed…interested but really obsessed…with losing weight, whether that's changing how we eat through Whole30 or Keto (Which doesn't work; I'll fight you on it. It works for a little bit), Paleo, or getting on the CrossFit trend or going back to your Insanity DVDs that you had to dig out of your closet. He's going to shred you. We are obsessed with trying to lose weight, a couple of pounds here and there, a complete life overhaul.
We all know what it's like to have one or two or 50 too many chips when you go to Chuy's, and then to down the rest of the queso bowl before the rest of your table can. "No one else was going to, so I had to." We all have this little extra that we kind of grab here and there, that we don't think about. Late-night Sour Patch watermelon. Man, those get me. We kind of grab all of these things and hold on. There's the phrase (I have it on a coffee mug) that says, "A moment on the lips, forever on the hips." I have love handles to prove it.
We all can relate to that. We all have weight we want to get rid of. All of us walked in here tonight with something we're holding on to and a weight we want to get rid of. You're looking at me going, "Bro, speak for yourself. I look amazing. I looked at myself today. I posted it on Instagram. I'm incredible. I'm in summer shape." I want you to hear me again. Each of us walked in here tonight holding on to something, carrying weight we want to get rid of.
Tonight we're going to talk about how to lose the weight. We're not going to talk about how to lose physical weight; we're going to talk about how to lose soul weight, because most of you, if not all of you, walked in here carrying something really heavy, a burden, something that's overwhelming you, something that's wearing you out, making you tired, maybe even hurting you, depleting you.
What's soul weight? Soul weight are things from your past, struggles, maybe things that are happening currently. For most of us, that's sin. For most of us, it's the choices we make, the things we grab at, whether we're thinking about it intentionally or we aren't thinking about it, and it adds to our soul weight. The soul weight we carry is not just sin and struggles but it's emotional weight, emotions that well up inside us because of us or because of others.
It could be disappointments. It could be hurts that others have done to us, and we hold on to it. We carry it. It then begins to affect all of us, all of our body, not just sticking to our love handles but sticking to our heart and our soul and affecting the rest of the way we live our lives. It's heavy. Why do I need to get rid of soul weight? Why do I need to lose the weight? Because the weight you carry causes guilt and shame and affects the way you look at everything.
The soul weight you carry affects the way you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, it affects the way you look at others around you, and it even affects the way you look at God. Just imagine for a second if you didn't have to carry around the guilt and shame of your sexual sin, replaying over and over and over that one-night stand or the end of that relationship, lying in bed late at night replaying that tape or that mistake.
What would it be like to not have to deal with anxiety anymore? Could you imagine? To not have to deal with that crippling pain in your chest or that nagging, "Ah!" If it could go away, would you want to get rid of that weight? What would your relationships be like if you could fully trust people again and not assume that everyone was always going to hurt you?
What burden did you walk in here carrying? What weight are you holding on to that you need to lose? Not just so you can feel better about yourself. I want you to hear this clearly, and you're going to hear it throughout. Not so that can God love you more, because that's not the point, but so you can be free, so you can live the life God intended for you, so you can be healthy, so you can be fully who God created you to be.
God wants to free you of your burdens. Jesus said, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Do you want that? Most of us walk around, and we don't feel easy and light. We feel burdened from soul weight that we carry. So how do we get rid of the weight?
Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…" Right here. Let us lay aside every weight, every sin that clings so closely. "…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…" Let us be free. That's a command. Get rid of it! Run in freedom! So how do we get rid of the weight? Tonight we're going to look at how to get rid of the soul weight, the ABCs of shedding the weight.
1._ Admit you have a problem_. You just have to first be honest with yourself. Here's the problem you have. It's sin. It is coursing through your veins, and it will wreck your life. It will destroy you. It may not be sin you're carrying, but because of our sin we want to hide these things from others and even from ourselves. We want to pretend it's not there or mask it or control it or manage it in some way and just think that maybe if we move on it will go away.
Guys, every person in this room struggles with sin. Romans 3:23 says, "…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" Everybody is on the same playing field. First John 1:8 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." We all have problems. For me, stuff that I'm walking in here with just from today is I want to stare at every woman who walks by. I sat at a coffee shop today trying to spend time with the Lord, and a girl would walk by, and I would see myself wanting to go that way.
When I say stare, I don't mean like, "Oh, wow. Okay, there's a woman." I mean I want to gawk at, feast on. I want to linger long on a woman who's not my wife. I want to run to porn. Most days, especially on days when I'm feeling overwhelmed or tired or stressed or insignificant and insecure, I want to run back to the safety blanket I ran to for so long. Those are, like, today and recently in my life. Those are the burdens I carry every single day.
We have to admit to ourselves that we have a problem. It's as simple as this: "I like porn." Stop trying to make excuses. Stop trying to call it something else. Be honest and admit it to yourself. "I like porn." "I drink a lot, and I hate myself, and then I hate myself more, so it drives me to drinking continually." "I hate the way my body looks." "I don't like who I am." "I need to lose that extra 10 pounds that my mom always reminded me to lose growing up." Whatever it is for you, admit you have a problem.
Some of you who are in here right now are listening to me, and you are responding the strongest, not in writing notes but welling up in emotion of like, "Oh, come on. No! No, I don't have a problem." You're getting maybe pissed off at me for calling you out. You're like, "No! Get off me!" Well, you're who I'm most concerned about, because if this was a "lose weight" message, it's the guys like me who have a high metabolism and think they can eat whatever they want who are the ones who get diabetes and heart failure later down the road.
If you think you don't have something you're struggling with or carrying, then you're going to exhaust yourself. I want you to live in freedom. You don't have to carry that anymore. God wants to take that from you, because when we carry these things… A lot of you know, if you have real weight like I did, you want to conceal it. You won't wear the stripes and the plaids. We don't want to show people. I didn't want to go to pool parties.
So what we do with our struggles is just carry them around. It's like we're carrying a giant thing of weight all the time. If you can't tell from how hard it is to put it on, it's heavy. We measured it. There are 62.5 pounds on this vest. On here are the burdens we carry. Some of them are things I personally carry. Some of them represent the things you may struggle with. Again, I want you to hear this isn't just sin.
The weight we carry, the weight we need to lose, the burdens we have could be sin, could be emotions, could be disappointments or maybe hurt from recent or in the past that you're holding on to and carrying for far too long. You don't have to carry it. You can see these right now, but if I walked out of here the rest of the night, the rest of the week, you'd be like, "Dude, get that freakin' vest off you! That looks exhausting." That's the point of tonight's message. You have to admit you have a problem.
2._ Bring it into the light_. First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You don't have to hide it. You don't have to conceal it. You don't have to manage it. You can confess it and be free. God is not going to look at you and go, "Ah! Why did you do that?" He's not going to spank you. He's not looking to rip you off or to punish you. He wants to set you free.
We have to bring it into the light. We have to come to him and say, "Lord, will you help me with this?" But, guys, it's not enough to just go, "God, take this from me." We have to take it a step farther and bring others into our lives. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." God loves you and wants to set you free, but a part of his provision and healing for you is all around you. It's his people who will love you and walk with you and bear your burdens together.
So, guys, to bring it into the light, you just have to confess it and watch that weight disappear. One of the things I struggled with for a long time (and you heard I still am tempted toward it) was porn. I was addicted to porn for 12 years. In high school there were nights I could not go to sleep without looking at porn and masturbating, sometimes several times, and it wrecked my life all the way into college.
I have to confess it, and when I do, when I bring that into the light… For a long time, I hid it. For a long time, I didn't want anybody to know. I thought, "I'm this Christian kid who's struggling with this. Why do I have to do this?" I bought that lie of "Well, God knows. I can come to him, and he'll set me free."
Yes, I have eternity with him because of my belief in Jesus, but healing comes when I confess to others. In college, I finally let these guys in. I got over the fear of what they would think of me. I got over the fear of how I would look or feel once they knew this about me, and I confessed it. I brought it into the light, and that weight disappeared.
Another one I struggle with is pride. I'm full of myself. I love people and I'm nice to people, but deep down I am consumed with me. When I confess that, that weight goes away. The struggle doesn't go away, but I don't have to hide that and hold on to it anymore. I can be free.
The other thing is I want to be famous. I want to be known. I want to be celebrated and applauded. I want people to like me, and I have to confess that to a room of people who I want to like me. When I do, that burden disappears and goes away. Then I'm crippled with fear…fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of "What if I'm not good enough? What if I can't produce? What if I can't perform?" I can confess that, and that weight drops to the ground.
Because of those things, I'm riddled with insecurity, constantly thinking, "I'm not good enough. I can't match up. My gifts aren't good enough." I feel small in a room full of people, but I can confess and be free. Those are some of mine. What are some of yours? Maybe you really struggle with anger. Maybe you have these fits of rage in your house. You try to hide it, and you try to make sure your roommates don't see, but you're punching the pillow or screaming in your pillow. Don't hide it anymore. Let some people into your life and be free.
Maybe you struggle with anxiety. Anxiety is not sin. Before you think, "Oh, he's just going to cut it and it disappears," I want you to hear. Anxiety and all of these things don't just disappear, but you can bring others in so the burden you carry alone is no longer on your shoulders, and you can walk in freedom as you walk toward healing with Jesus. If you struggle with anxiety in any sort of way… When I say struggle, I mean if that's constantly in your head then find somebody and tell them and let that weight be lifted.
Maybe you're really into the party scene, whatever drug you can find, whatever party you can go to on the weekend to just smash yourself Friday and Saturday night, to forget whatever happened throughout the week, and you live in this constant cycle. You live this double life. Let people in and be free. Maybe you're a liar. Maybe you are constantly telling mistruths or close truths, and you're just a chronic liar, continually building a story and a fantasy, and it's this game you play. Live in the light. Bring it to the light and lose the weight and walk in freedom.
Maybe you have an eating disorder. You try to control your life and control your emotions and control the way you look by what you eat or don't eat or gagging yourself, and it is literally wasting away your body. You don't have to anymore. You don't have to hide. Be free. Walk in the light. Maybe you struggle with homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Maybe nobody knows. Maybe you're deathly afraid to tell somebody.
I would love for you to see people love you, whether it's this or any of the things that are on this vest. You can be honest with where you are, with where you're tempted, with where you struggle, with where you've been, and watch that burden disappear. Maybe it's sexual sin. Maybe it was that one-night stand we talked about earlier. Maybe you're living with your boyfriend or your girlfriend. Maybe you're confused about your sexuality and are contemplating making a change. Whatever that is, bring it into the light and walk in freedom.
Maybe you've had an abortion and the weight of that haunts you every day. The shame you feel, the weight you carry. Let people in to love you so we can help carry that pain with you. Maybe you're materialistic. You're consumed with what you buy, what you wear. I struggle with that. I stand in the closet for way too long. It's ridiculous. Maybe you're obsessed with buying stuff and continuing this addiction to stuff.
Maybe you're depressed. Maybe it's beyond anxiety that creeps in here or there. Maybe you are consumed. You are not just heavy; you are depleted. You are exhausted. Again, this is not something that disappears, but bring people into your life so we can help you. Shed the soul weight and bring it into the light.
Maybe you're suicidal. Maybe the burden you came in here with tonight is going, "Is tonight the night?" Maybe it was last night. Maybe it was one time in the past. Maybe it's a recurring thought. Jesus died so you don't have to. Bring that into the light. Confess it. Let us walk with you and walk in freedom.
Then there are other things. Maybe you have an addiction…drugs, alcohol, yourself. Whatever it is, be honest and be free. But there are other things we carry that can't just be cut off, things that have happened to us. It could be disappointments, it could be hurts, things like divorce. Maybe you were divorced. Maybe your parents were divorced early on and that really affected your life and the way you live, the way you have relationships with people, the way you date or don't.
Maybe somebody in your family got diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness or maybe you did and it's heavy and it's hard. Maybe there was a death in your family recently, death of a friend, loss of some kind of someone close to you. A few years ago, my wife and I had a miscarriage. That was hard for us. We didn't know how to carry that. The death of my own child was a weight I didn't know how to handle.
Those are things you can't just be like, "Okay, they're gone!" but we can still confess them and bring them into the light. Then maybe there are things you've tried to put behind you. Maybe there are things you've tried to just ignore from yourself, hurt that was done to you that you have tried to push away, not only from the world but even from yourself. It's not on the front of your chest; it's way behind you and buried in your life.
Maybe you were abandoned early on as a little boy or little girl by one of your parents or by a close friend or by a boyfriend or girlfriend or fiancé. Maybe you were abused…physically abused, emotionally abused, sexually abused…by a family member or friend or someone close to you. Those are weights that are heavy. Those are weights we tend to bury deep down inside of us. Guys, you don't have to carry that alone.
Galatians 6:2 says we are called to bear one another's burdens. We bring these things into the light. Then others come around us, just as you are coming around me now, and through community we can take those things and throw off these weights that hinder us and cast them aside, and the weight we carried that was so heavy and so burdensome and so hard… You can be free! You can be free tonight! You can shed that weight, the soul weight that clings so closely as you confess and walk in the light.
Here's what happens. I hope you do that tonight, but then we tend to walk away, and I do the same thing. We have these things we've confessed, but we want to then pick the weight up again. We want to pick up that struggle that was, and we want to grab on to it, because it kind of felt comfortable. We know it's bad, but it just feels safe. It feels known, even if it hurts us. Guys, this isn't a "get it off your chest" message. It's not just tell somebody once and move on. This is something we have to practice all the time, continually, so we can run as we're called and commanded to do, to get rid of the weight.
3._ Continue in community_. Not just do it once. It's not just a one and done, but then gather people around you who will love you and walk with you and help you walk in health and freedom in Jesus. This is not a message of "Hey, you have to sin less, and you have to do less bad things, and we just have to cut out the crap from your life." We want you to walk and run with Jesus, and to do that we have to continue in community.
Hebrews 3:13 says, "But exhort one another every day…" Another translation says, "Encourage one another every day." "…as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Not only are these weights we carry with us heavy; we are deceived because we're sinful people, and we quickly forget and quickly run to these things again and hold on to them and run with them instead of running in freedom and health.
So we need God's people around us, like Galatians 6:2, to bear one another's burdens, to carry them with us, to walk with us, to help us shed that weight, because we're going to want to run back to it. For me, recently, I had to come to my community and confess I was hashtag chasing on Instagramto try and find something sexy. It wasn't like a, "Whoa! That's nice," and then keep going. I was intentionally clicking to hope I'd maybe find something lucky.
Do you know what I wanted to do? Hide it, control it, manage it. "It's not that bad. It's not porn. It's nothing. It was one time. I'll move on." But then that turns into, "Well, maybe another time down the road. Maybe another time. How about a little longer?" Then I'm back on the road to addiction. A lot of people in here did Whole30. You guys have gone through these 30 days, and you cut everything out of your life, but for most people, when Whole30 ends, so does the dieting process. You just jump back into life.
That first night you celebrate. You're at Braum's, and you're like, "I love this stuff!" You're just taking it all back in, and within a couple of weeks you're close to or right back into fitting in the fat jeans you had. We kind of get into these fad diets. Confessing sin is not a fad diet. This isn't something we're just calling you to do once or do a little bit, but we have to do this continually. I have to sit with my community and sit with my wife and say, "Hey, I need to be honest. Here's where I went," because I don't want to continue down that road.
I don't want to carry this burden anymore. I want to choose to walk with Jesus. Even when I stray from him and want to run from him, I want to run with Jesus, to run the race that is set before me. In our society, most of us lose the physical weight so people will love and accept us, so we'll look better, look thinner, look cooler, whatever it is, or maybe so we can just stand in the mirror and love and accept ourselves.
God doesn't call us to lose the spiritual weight, lose this soul weight so he'll love us more. We can lose the weight because of God's love for us. We don't have to earn his approval. We don't have to look good for him. We don't have to look more spiritual. We don't have to look like we have it all together. He wants us to be free.
We read Hebrews 12 together at the beginning. I'm going to re-read verse 1, and then I want to give the key verse of verse 2. If you've never heard this verse or if you're looking for a verse to memorize, this is one to put in your head or put on the dashboard of your car, to write on your mirror, or to make the home screen of your phone so you don't forget. Here's what it says:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…" Right here. Lay it aside. Get rid of it. "…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…"
Not looking to your own perfection, not looking to what you can do, not looking to your own goodness, to your own spirituality, to your own "Wow! Look at how great I am at confessing sin." This is nothing you do. It is all what God is going to do in and through you by the power of Jesus Christ as you lay this aside.
"…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." God came down to this earth to bear the burdens we all carry, to live a life that we live, to walk as a man. Jesus came, and he lived it perfectly, and then he went to the cross for us to carry all of this junk we've carried for so long.
He took it upon himself, knowing we would choose this, knowing we'd run to our addiction, knowing we'd run to our pride, knowing we'd run to our self-righteousness or self-loathing, and he said, "I will carry it for you." The shame we feel, the shame we're holding on to, the weight that clings so closely… He said, "I despise that shame. I will put it on myself so you can be free. All you have to do is look to me."
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Rest for your souls, rest for eternity as we live forever with him for those who believe in him, but today you can be free. If you're in here and don't know Jesus, you need to know God is crazy about you. All this junk I carried and we carried… God doesn't look down on you and look at you with pity or sorrow or shame or disappointment. He looks at you and loves you.
He calls us to throw these things aside, to not try to fix our own weight, to not try to get all this stuff and try to carry it on our own, but to throw it aside and look to Jesus who endured the cross for us, who rose again from the grave to give us life so you could have life. Get rid of the weight. Get rid of the soul weight you're holding on to.
There's no easier time than tonight. Don't make the excuse of "I'm not ready" or "Maybe two weeks from now." Find somebody tonight. If you're not in community, then come find one of us. We'd love to help you find people who can come around you and love you so you can be free, because Jesus loves you, and he died for you to set you free.
Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank you that you love me in spite of my crap. Two thousand years ago, while I was still a sinner, before I had committed any sin, before I'd thought of any sin, before I was even born, you loved me. You chose me. You died for me. Thank you, Lord, that I don't have to come and get cleaned up and fixed up and look prettier or look more spiritual to come to you. I can come in my brokenness. We can come in our brokenness and fall before you and find life in you.
Jesus, will you help search our hearts, know our anxious thoughts, see if there is any grievous way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting. Expose our junk, Lord, and give us courage to bring it into the light so we can be free. It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.