Thursday, January 31, 2013


     For everyone struggling with addictions, perhaps the deadliest and most destructive word in the dictionary is relapse! I can only think of one word possibly deadlier. Unsaved! By comparison, the most positive, constructive, and creative word in existence would have to be “Saved”! There's "Saved", as from drowning in water, only to continue drowning in our sinful behavior of addiction. Or the word “Saved”, regarding our Eternal Salvation, which can only be achieved through another very unpopular word, which is “Repent”! (Acts 26:20)
      For many of the unsaved, struggling with addictions, relapse is just another word describing daily life. It’s as common as “hello”, or “have a nice day”. Not that anyone in relapse can possibly be having a nice day! Outside of their state of denial. We can be having a nice day one minute, and as soon as we relapse, our nice day turns very ugly! If we’re still in a state of denial, we don’t even recognize this phenomenon. It’s become a routine part of our dysfunctional daily life. It’s even acceptable and normal behavior in our eyes and minds. If we don’t recognize or understand the deadly and destructive consequences of our addictions, we certainly can’t recognize or appreciate the Eternal life giving gift from God, of Salvation through our surrender to Him, and repentance of our sin.
       While Salvation is an undeserved free gift from God, and available only through His Grace, we must want it and ask for it by declaring Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.(John 3:3) It is not something we deserve or can earn, or that God passes out randomly. (Eph.2:8-10) There is, however a cost. Oswald Chambers states in “My Utmost for His Highest” on June 16, “Salvation is easy because it cost God so much, but the manifestation of it in my life is difficult. God saves us, fills us with the Holy Spirit, tells us to go about our work for Him, and honor Him, in a world designed to dishonor Him." God wants us to obey Him, (repent), and serve and Love Him. This cost should not be confused with the idea that we can buy our Salvation. Salvation is a free gift through God’s Grace and our surrender to Him. The cost to us, however, may be in our blessings, according to His will, they may be in direct proportion to our obedience and service to Him, through our Love for Him. ( Jer.17:5,7, 2Tim.2:12, Deut.27:26,28:2) There should never be any expectation that He owes us anything or that we deserve anything. His Grace should always be sufficient for us. (2 Cor.12:9-10)
      If we’re still in denial, and don’t recognize or understand the deadly and destructive consequences of our addictions, we certainly won’t appreciate the significance of words like relapse or repent. One, relapse, can mean death, while the other, repent, is a requirement for Salvation, and Eternal Life! What a simple truth! And yet many people struggle with this life or death decision every day! Many in recovery, including Christians, who claim to be out of denial, continue to struggle with addictions and relapse for many years, even lifetimes, when all they need to do is repent and surrender fully to God. Be saved and be “Set Free”. (John 8:32-36)  And all of this simple Truth is our choice.
      Relapse is, more than likely, a probability, without God directing your life. Without repenting, God  will not be directing your life! Until we repent and turn from our sin, and to God, we, nor anyone else, will see much of God’s presence in our lives. ( Acts 26:20, 20:21, 17:30, Mark 1:4, 14-15, Math.1:21, 3:2 , Luke 3:3, We can no longer be ignorant of this truth, and expect God’s blessings in our life. Yes, we may still, according to His will, and through His Grace, receive some blessings, but we should never expect any. If we’re Christians, and still struggling with relapse in our addiction recovery, we probably need to repent.
      “To repent, means to stop going in one direction, to turn completely around and go in the opposite direction. Repentance involves a dramatic and decisive change of course. Repentance will save us from disastrous consequences. Repentance indicates a complete change, not merely a wishful resolution. We have not repented if we continue in our daily sin. A desire to change, is not repentance. It’s only the beginning. True repentance involves a radical change of the heart and mind. The evidence of repentance is not words of resolve, but a changed life!” (These quotes are from “Experiencing God’s Devotional”, June 3)
      The word repent seems to have become a “dirty word” in many of our churches today. We’ve become a “cultural church, rather than a biblical church”, according to Patrick Morley in his book, “Man in The Mirror”. Where, “A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ, without forsaking the world”. (A.W. Tozer)  Repentance, and it’s relevance to our Salvation has become an unpopular word and topic, that we rarely hear mentioned from the pulpit today. God forbid, we might empty out our churches auditoriums and consequently the bank accounts, if we tell our congregation that they have to give up their cherished sin to be saved! Better a church filled with “cheerful supporters”, than one ½ filled with mature believers seeking the Truth!
      Repentance is critical to our salvation and our addiction recovery. An obvious indication that we’ve not genuinely repented, is when we make excuses for our sinful behavior. As long as we continue to blame others, or our circumstances for our failures and relapses, we’ll continue to have them. Genuine repentance can’t exist until we take full ownership of our sinful behavior. Repentance is a complete change of the heart, and only you and God know if it is changed. If it isn’t, relapse, and all it’s consequences are inevitable.
       Many of us struggle with this dilemma for years, if not forever. We can’t seem to take full ownership, or turn completely around, or make a complete change or commitment. Until we do, we won’t experience God’s full blessings. It doesn’t tell us in scripture to turn part way to God, or surrender part of ourselves over to Him, or to turn from some of our sin! As long as we continue to only give God part of us, we’ll only receive part of His blessings. ( James 4:3-10, 2:14-26, 1:19-27, 6-8, Heb. 12:14-17)  
       As always, we have a free will, and we have a choice to make. God gives all of us the information, guidance, and directions we need to live a blessed life, free from addictions, and equipped to serve Him, but we must make the choice to do it! (Prov.16:20) Do we want to surrender all of ourselves to God, or just a little? Do we want to receive all of His blessings, or just a little? Do we want to be set free from our addictions, and sin, and experience Eternal victory over it, (1Cor.15:54-57) or continue existing in this living nightmare of continuous relapse? The choice is ours. (1John5:3-5)  or … “Choose today who you’ll serve”, (Josh.24:15)  Most of this chapter can be summarized in 3 verses from the book of Jeremiah 17:5-7, “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. But Blessed, are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their Hope and confidence. NLT, also  (Deut.27:26,28:2, and 2Tim.2:12).
      Relapse is a direct consequence of our irresponsibility. When we ignore or disobey God’s laws, we’ll fail to receive His blessings. We shouldn't  however, confuse God’s blessings with God’s Love. Just because we’re not receiving His blessings, doesn't mean He doesn't Love us. He is Love and His Love is unconditional. He Loves us even when we’re not loving Him. (1John 4:7-21)  We are God’s heirs, and heirs of His glory. But if we’re to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. (Romans 8:15-17)
      Complacency will also lead to relapse. While the dark times of life often lead us out of denial, and into recovery, the good times can often lead us into complacency, and right back into relapse. A solid, close personal relationship with Christ, and fellowship with Christians, can keep us from that tragedy. (Mat.22:37, 2Tim.2:22 , James 1:12 , James 5:16 , 1John 1:3 ,1:7 )
     Pride also leads to denial, and then relapse. (Prov.3:7, 16:18) Denial is pride! (Romans 12:3 , Prov.11:2) Without God’s Grace and humility, we’ll never get beyond denial, and until we do, we’ll never find Eternal recovery! There’s nothing on this earth more impossible for man, than to admit that there’s something he can’t do! Pride! Hence: Addiction, “we can’t just say no, because we don’t have a problem!” Or if we do have one, We can fix it! Millions suffer with addictions to the brink of death because of pride. Our unwillingness to admit that we have a problem we can’t fix or control, is little less than suicide. We’ll gamble our lives, health, careers, fortunes, and even our families, for the sake of pride and denial. Pride is sin, just as addiction is sin. We continuously fail and relapse because we fail to yield and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. We don’t “Give Our Utmost for His Highest”! (Oswald Chambers 1/1) Until we do, we should expect less than His Utmost for us! We don’t give Him our utmost because we don’t fully trust Him., and we can’t fully trust Him until we get to know Him personally, and fully develop our faith in Him. Faith is trusting God! Faith is believing God and everything He says! Not questioning it and debating it. Faith is knowing that our best interest is His will for us. Our faith is developed only through our trials and tests, and how we respond to them. Our reliance upon Him to carry us through them. We need to grow to where we can say “I consider it all joy.” (James 1:2) We need to be able to “turn our desert experiences, into an oasis.” (The Truth Project) We need to read Hebrews 11, and examine it, word by word, verse by verse, meditate on it, and devour it as if it were our last meal! It just might be! I, nor anyone else, except Jesus Christ Himself, through the Holy Spirit, can convince anyone of their need to understand the importance of their faith in Jesus. Without faith, we should expect little from God. ( Romans 14:23, Heb.11:6, Jer.17:5, John 11:40)  Our Faith is vital to our daily Christian walk with Christ, to our growth and maturity, to the blessings we receive, and certainly to our addiction recovery. Abraham never questioned God after he received the most unimaginable request God’s ever made to anyone, to sacrifice his son on the alter! (Gen.22:1-18)  And yet whenever we’re asked “to go, or to trust,” our response is “who, me”? Then satan opens the encyclopedia of excuses. And we wonder why God’s not returning our calls!  Ye of little faith!  Again, we can choose to live according to God’s Word, trusting Him, and seeing men like Abraham and Job and many others as our mentors, or continue to be cursed, crawling through life, struggling with  addiction because of “our little faith”!  (Jer.17: 5-7)
      The degree of our surrender and commitment to God will affect the degree of the blessings we receive from Him. We shouldn’t expect to spend one hour a week on Sundays worshiping God in church, and expect much in return. Especially if we leave church and stop for a beer on the way home! There are many today who do little more. They measure their spirituality by their good deeds and expect Gods blessings because they donated some extra canned goods and old clothes to a homeless shelter.
      If we’re truly seeking God’s help in our addiction recovery, We need to trust God 100%, ( Proverbs 3:5-6) we should be on our knees until they’re bleeding! This is the degree of commitment God is looking for. And we should expect relapse until we’re ready to give it! God didn’t say, “all aboard” for a free trip through paradise!” He did say however, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) “whoever does not, is not worthy of me, and cannot be my disciple.” (Mat.10:38, Luke 14:27) To “take up our cross”, means to be willing to die for Him! To “deny ourselves”, means to surrender our lives and wills to Him, and to turn from and repent of our selfish sinful behavior. Once we reach this point of commitment to, and relationship with Him, out of our Love for Him, rather than a selfish motive, we’ll begin to experience His blessings abundantly in our lives, according to His will for us.
       We should now be well on the road to recovery. This is where God begins to prepare us for service and sharing with others. In addiction recovery there will be some very demanding circumstances we’ll encounter along the road to recovery. These will require special wisdom that only God can provide through time and testing in the trials of our lives. “Life’s many challenges conquered, with Gods direction, make us who we are.” There are no “crash courses”, or “online studies” that can teach us how to minister to a hurting brother or sister, who’s just relapsed.
Only a softened heart, led by the Holy Spirit can do that. We must prove ourselves worthy, before God can use us for particular circumstances. (2Thes.1:11) Service to others and sharing God’s Good News with others, is vital to our ongoing recovery.
      In summary, and as Christians in recovery, we have many important decisions and choices to make regarding our recovery. As Christians, they should be relatively simple decisions, because we have God to guide, advise, and direct us. On the other hand, if we’re ignoring Him, we’ll have to go it on our own. Again, the most important question we’ll ever be faced with in recovery is, do we want to repent? or…relapse?  Or, do we want to live or die?  If you’ve taken more than a second to contemplate that decision, you’re in trouble, and should immediately begin the process of “making your knees bleed”!!!! It’s your choice!

No comments :

Post a Comment