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« What Happens in Vegas | Main | The Complaint Department »

Help! I’m A Recovering Sinner! 

It’s all about recovery today.  Substance abuse, alcohol, anger, eating, not eating, social media—you name it, people get caught up in compulsive behaviors and find themselves in the throat of a monster.  Fortunately (I think), some group, some agency or some social engineer has developed a strategy of regimented steps to rescue victims of addiction and steer them back to main street.  All it takes is extreme self-discipline, several thousand dollars, and possibly a court order. 

For the record, treatments differ widely.  There is inpatient treatment, residential treatment, detox centers and out-patient rehab programs.  Statistics tell the tale.  “Inpatient treatment costs $3,200 on average. 73% of addicts complete treatment and 21% remain sober after five years. Residential treatment costs $3,100 on average. 51% of addicts complete treatment and 21% remain sober after five years. Detox costs $2,200 on average. 33% of addicts complete treatment and 17% remain sober after five years. Outpatient drug-free treatments cost $1,200 on average. 43% of addicts complete treatment and 18% remain sober after five years.”  With the success rate hovering between a miserable seventeen to twenty-one percent, one can reasonably question the effectiveness of any of the programs. 

What’s the problem?  Simply that there is poison in the water that all addictions swim in.  It’s called sin. No matter what the compulsion, it originated in the moral corruption of our first parents.  “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15.  Sin operates like any other addiction.  No one can escape its power until he or she surrenders to a greater power!  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:16. 

The single, vital solution to successful recovery from sin centers around something called control.  You cannot trust yourself to control your appetite; you must turn your life over to someone else.  This is the beauty of the new birth.  God promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27. Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8.  

Just remember, you never graduate from the need for the Spirit of God to control you.  The human frame was created to function in relationship mode, not unilaterally.  No one can do this alone.  The minute an arrogant, independent attitude takes over, you slip from the control of the spirit to serve the desires of a despotic flesh in cahoots with an evil spirit.  Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.”  Paul warned the Galatians, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16-17.  When temptation calls, send the Word of God to answer the door.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. Recovery is not an endgame; it is a state of mind and heart.  “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Psalm 23:4.

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