By Chad Prigmore
When reading the writings of some of the earliest Christian believers it becomes clear that there is a damage caused by the modern Christian recovery movement that we don’t often recognize. That damage is a lost joy in Jesus Christ and a lost amazement at the wonder of how by God’s grace a sinner is raised from the dead and brought to life as a new creation in Jesus Christ. After so many years of the modern Church becoming man centered rather than Christ centered, of entertaining “seekers” while believers starve for the meat of the word, working on addictions rather than repenting of sin; when we read of an early believers rapturous joy in being born again in Jesus Christ and the ensuing praise pouring forth from this glorious truth - we should mourn for a modern Church that embraces the world rather than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Consider the response of Augustine, who after years of sin and struggle and fighting against the only truth in Jesus Christ is brought to believe by the power of God’s amazing grace.
Augustine writes, “But who am I, what am I? Is there any evil I have not committed in my deeds, or if not in deeds, then in my words, or if not in my words, at least by willing it? But you, Lord, are good and merciful, and your right hand plumbed the depths of my death, draining the cesspit of corruption in my heart, so that I ceased to will all that I had been wont to will, and now willed what you willed. But where had my power of free decision been throughout those long, weary years, and from what depth, what hidden profundity, was it called forth in a moment, enabling me to bow my neck to your benign yoke and my shoulders to your light burden, O Christ Jesus, my helper and redeemer? How sweet did it suddenly seem to me to shrug off those sweet frivolities, and how glad I now was to get rid of them - I who had been loath to let them go! For it was you who cast them out from me, you, our real and all-surpassing sweetness. You cast them out and entered yourself to take their place, you who are lovelier than any pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, more lustrous than any light, yet more inward than is any secret intimacy, loftier than all honor, yet not to those who look for loftiness in themselves. My mind was free at last from the gnawing need to seek advancement and riches, to welter in filth and scratch my itching lust. Childlike, I chattered away to you, my glory, my wealth, my salvation, and my Lord and God.”1
Such passion, rapture, and absolute joy are Augustine’s in Jesus Christ his redeemer. Where has all of that gone? Why do so many in the modern Church, instead of forsaking the world and pointing only to Christ as our victory over all sin and struggle, look to the world in compromise and apathetic resignation? Is it not time, as everything in this sinful world crumbles and falls apart to look only to Christ and honor and worship and praise Him at a level hardly experienced in such a long time?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Make a stand. Be the one who exposes the heresy in the Church that snuck in the door in the guise of recovery. Be the one that points to Christ, who stands on the authority and sufficiency of His word and nothing else. Be like Christians used to be - bold, courageous, confident, and powerful in God’s word, rejoicing always, praying ceaselessly, and thanking God from a heart in love with Him.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. - John 3:3-15
When considered deeply from a Biblical perspective, the reason that the modern recovery movement has been allowed to infiltrate the contemporary Church is largely due to a severe lack of faith in the Lord and in the power of God’s word in proclaiming the gospel. This truth is evidenced by the most common responses provided by those claiming to be in Christian ministry but mainly focused on programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery. When these people are shown how the recovery programs they support and promote are proven to be apostate when held up to the light of scripture they either angrily reject the proof presented outright, or claim that there is no way anyone trapped in alcoholism or addiction could come to grasp the Christian message without first working through a program in order to heal them and bring them into a coherent state. They simply do not have the faith necessary to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ with power and authority and instead rely on man made concepts and programs which contradict scripture. This is why not just recovery programs but the entire worldly concept of recovery is contrary to the Christian message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
In the story of Jesus and Nicodemus we see the response to the gospel from a man who was a teacher at the highest level of Jewish society. Nicodemus probably knew all there was to know of religion except for the main point and purpose of it all - the doctrine of salvation. This man prefigured what so many have suffered from down through the centuries - the danger of knowing about Jesus but not knowing Jesus.
Nicodemus had to be brought above the limitations of his mind and what he thought he knew. Jesus presented to him a truth that was beyond his mind’s capacity to understand and accept. But in spite of this fact did the Lord water down the truth or try to come at it from a different angle? No, Jesus presented the truth simply and without compromise obviously knowing that understanding and belief come by the working of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:8
Nicodemus became a believer.
Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. - John 19:39-40
We must witness and share the gospel with faith in and reliance on the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. We must stop inventing new ways to pitch the gospel and just proclaim it. We must have faith and trust in the Holy Spirit to save those lost in sin and darkness. If we, as individuals are truly faithfully seeking the Lord and striving to be conformed to His image, His light in us will be the only attraction needed for those in the darkness. And we must have absolute faith in the sufficiency of scripture and throw out all of the worldly programs and concepts that have slithered into the contemporary Church.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. - Hebrews 4:12-14
The fall into idolatry that so much of the Church has made can be very incremental and subtle. Beware of worshipping another Christ, another Christianity, or a Church, or a program, or a Pastor. Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is not a concept - it is the transforming, re-creating, life-giving, loving power of God saving us in Christ eternally. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so that those who looked upon it might live (Numbers 21:4-9), we must lift up Christ and His gospel looking only to Him knowing that whoever believes in Him will be saved and have eternal life.
Look to, seek, follow, worship only Jesus Christ as revealed to you by the working of the Holy Spirit through God’s word.
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. - Matthew 7:24-29
In this wonderful parable of the builders we see that for both the wise and the foolish the rains fall, the floods come, and the wind blows and beats on both their houses. We will all face storms. The deciding factors are the rock and the sand.
This lesson that culminates Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount is such a simple one. But unfortunately, one that is commonly neglected. To truly hear the word of God requires much more than just ears, and doing the word of God requires much more than just acknowledging.
Only by the power of the Holy Spirit do we truly hear.
For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. - Matthew 13:15,16
We learn of the tragic consequences of hearing God’s word but not doing it in the story of Jesus’ interaction with a rich ruler.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'"
And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth."
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." - Mark 10:17-27
The rich ruler was a good man by man’s standards. But Jesus knew there was a love and a worship of wealth and power in this man that would be his demise if he did not forsake it and turn and follow Him. The man’s wealth here in this world would contribute to his eternal destruction because it kept him from looking to and following Christ, and therefore Christ lovingly commands him to do what must be done. But the man only hears with ears that can barely hear and therefore he does not understand and turn to Jesus but instead continues on in the worship of his deadly idol. He was unwilling to do the word of God as we all are unless we are blessed to understand that “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God”.
You will not hear this teaching in most of the contemporary Church because man has been taught to rely on the mind of man rather than the spirit of God. Instead of resting faithfully on the promise that all things are possible with God, the modern Christian is instructed to work through their worldly afflictions through programming and self help. And this faithless, cheap Christianity has become so ingrained that many modern Pastors cannot see beyond it to the truth of the power of the gospel and choose to defend the teachings of man over the word of God.
The way through the narrow gate that Jesus teaches about in Matthew 7:13&14 is by hearing and doing the word of God. To hear and to do is to truly die to self and live for Christ. And the vital point for Christians to understand is that the hearing and the doing are not burdensome but the richest blessing.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
The world is what piles weight upon men’s shoulders - not Jesus.
We must build our house upon the rock. The Church must do so and so must every believer. And we build our house upon the rock by hearing the word of God, by knowing the word of God, and by doing the word of God. Everything other than Christ and His word is just sand. Everything the world offers will eventually fail and lead to destruction.
Ephraim has said, "Ah, but I am rich; I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin." I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast....Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds. - Hosea 12:8,9,14
So many hear the word of God with ears that barely hear and never do the word of God. The contemporary Church and especially the “Christian recovery” movement epitomizes the heresy of self worship, self promotion, and selfish gain as an endless parade of “Recovery” ministries and programs strive pathetically for the limelight of Christian celebrity.
"As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, 'Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.' And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. - Ezekiel 33:30,31
The fool hears the words of Jesus but does not do them. But the wise hears and does the words of our Lord. There is only one truth and there is only one final authority - the word of God. The words of Christ will stand forever.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. - Ecclesiastes 12:11-13
If we desire on that final day to hear Jesus say “I have known you,” then we must hear His word and we must do His word. And our house will be built on the indestructible everlasting rock.
By Chad Prigmore
We as believers must engage in the spiritual battle faithfully knowing that God is on our side and that we stand on the power of His truth.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
First of all, understand that to engage in spiritual warfare and to fight back against the oppressive assaults of the enemy is very much a part of genuine true Christianity. Those apathetic, complacent, lukewarm "Christians" being entertained in "seeker sensitive" and "purpose driven" entertainment centers posing as Churches each Sunday are probably no longer even on Satan's radar - he has already gained much of the victory over those lives. The battles are fought by those on fire for Jesus Christ.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. - Revelation 3:15-16
When oppressed by the assaults of the enemy we must remember who's we are, who loves us and who we love, who's name we are sealed with, and seek the Lord completely - forsaking all else. Our aim must be to gain the victory and that God may be glorified through it. Remember and meditate on God's never failing promises.
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. - Psalm 50:15
Prayer must always be our first course of action whether in a time of trial or triumph. When faced with the attacks and oppression of the enemy we must seek the Lord more diligently through prayer and the prayerful study of His word. As Christians prayer should be something that we are always engaged in - we must literally pray without ceasing as God commands us in scripture.
pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Be in Christian fellowship constantly. Never become a complacent Sunday Christian who only fellowships and converses with the brethren occasionally. The Church is not meant to be a social club. Instead, pray for doors of opportunity to open for fellowship and aim to be in fellowship far more than not. Care for those in need and share your burdens with those the Lord blesses you with for strength and edification.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
If you are suffering and oppressed get the elders of your Church involved. Allow them to pray for you and over you that God's grace may be multiplied to you.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. - James 5:14
Consider what might be encouraging demonic activity in your life and remove it.
These are just a few recommendations. The armor that God gives us in Jesus Christ is beyond description and far more than enough to gain victory in the spiritual battles we face. Seek the Lord radically, pray for a deeper belief and stronger faith. Reject and cast away anything contrary to the gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Remember who's you are and who's name you are sealed with and rejoice in the Lord always!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39
Is it really possible to have victory in these battles?
Just how far should we go in order to obtain the victory when faced with demonic assaults and oppression?
Because so much of the modern Christian church culture has moved toward seeker sensitive entertainment and watering down or in some cases neglecting the gospel altogether, it may come as a surprise to many to learn that as Christians we are to be directly engaged in battle against the enemy.
One of the main reasons the heresy of Alcoholics Anonymous and other "recovery" programs like Celebrate Recovery which is based on Alcoholics Anonymous have been able to slither into so many churches is because the teaching and arming of the saints for spiritual warfare has been completely ignored. So instead of faithful prayer and the seeking of God through His Word for victory, so many sinners under the lash of Satan are instead led into false man centered programs.
Let me share a story with you about a very good friend of mine who has spent his life in the service of the Lord as a missions Pastor. This man has reached people all over the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
About ten or twelve years ago this man's son somehow in spite of being raised by good Christian parents in a good Christian church was lured into the sin of drug addiction. He had always been a very good child and young man, but over a period of time he began to withdraw from his family and after a while it became clear to his father that something was very wrong. It finally reached the point that it was obvious to his father that his son was using drugs.
The addiction reached a point that there was no longer any attempts to hide it and the son admitted to his father that he felt he was being sucked into a whirlpool from which he could not escape and that he was dying. The son was at a point of being nearly destroyed and his father was suffering miserably and his faith tested to the breaking point as he felt powerless to help his son. But this man is a man of God and he went to God in order to engage in this battle for his son.
My friend looked into all of the recovery options he could and saw that none of them were Christian - even the ones marketed as such. He knew the options presented would not be able to save his son. So this man did what a father must do when their child is in grave danger from a deadly enemy - he engaged in battle against the enemy knowing that God was on his side.
This father, in order to see his son saved from the evil forces of sinful addiction entered into a strict period a fasting and prayer that lasted for forty days. He told me those forty days were the greatest period of spiritual warfare he has ever had to endure. But he went as far as he needed to go, faithfully looking to the Lord in prayer and fasting, and after that forty days his son was set free from the addiction he had been trapped in, and has been free in the Lord for over ten years now.
So, to answer the two questions at the beginning of this article:
Is it really possible to have victory in these battles? Without question - yes. Christians standing in faith on the power of God's Word can destroy the strongholds of the enemy.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. - 2 Corinthians 10:4
Just how far should we go in order to obtain the victory when faced with demonic assaults and oppression? We must be willing to go beyond what we could naturally do, because by God's love and grace we are empowered far beyond our natural limitations.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, - Ephesians 6:10-18
There will never be enough - that’s the truth that blows the lid off of our modern pre-manufactured, commercialized, consumer driven society. Regardless of how much you earn, how much you buy, how good you look, how famous you are, how sexy you are, how successful you are, how high you are - there will never be enough.
Does that seem like a crazy over generalization? Just take a look at all the fads and fixes that have come and gone in your own lifetime. Look back over the last twenty to fifty years and look at all the self help programs, religions, drugs, medications, fad diets, therapies, books, cults, twelve step programs, motivational speakers, etc… that have come and gone - and yet the world and the people in it are more frantically screwed up now than ever before.
Addiction now grows at a frenzied pace and seems to be just a part of modern life. Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, TV, the internet, Facebook, cell phones, energy drinks, the list goes on and on and on - moderation does not even seem to be considered or attempted anymore. What used to be a large sized soft drink cup at a fast food restaurant twenty or thirty years ago is now quite often smaller than the modern small sized cup! The modern medium and large sized cups don’t even fit into the cup holders in some older cars! Just how much can we consume? And why are we so obsessed with more and more and more?
Look at the stark reality of so many of the people that seem to get through the mass of striving humanity and actually become rich and famous and then completely implode or in the worst and far too often instance kill themselves. Why is such a sad and destructive end so common for so many that have achieved so much of what the world covets? What is missing?
Imagine the horror of spending years of toil and struggle to get that golden ring the world holds up over the heads of the masses, convinced that when you finally have that ring firmly in hand - when fame, fortune, everything you want is now yours and you look in the mirror and realize the pain and fear is still there. Then where do you go? What do you reach for? How do you get rid of the desire for more when there is no more to desire?
When you take all of this and look at it honestly it really becomes clear that the human heart, the core of who we are is really a screwed up mess.
So, as you read this you are either on top of your game and have it all together or, maybe the world has kicked you in the teeth for a while and you are suffering and fearful, maybe numbed up and addicted or drunk. For those that have it all together, then the questions become:
For those with the kicked in teeth and unhealed war wounds - have you just checked out? Have you given up to a chemical or to booze or some other worldly obsession? Maybe you did give up and then started working a recovery program, got some of your life back together - but there is still something out of whack, so you work and work and work that twelve step program and live from one meeting to the next foolishly telling yourself you have serenity and are living spiritually as you watch the revolving door of relapse and death swing back and forth for those on the same dark road you're on as you all spiral downward together.
This may all seem dark and cynical, attacking and negative. But is it not true of the human condition we see all around us?
Thousand of years ago, the wise and wealthy Solomon saw the futility of man's stubborn attempts at self repair. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:14-15, "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted."
And the prophet Jeremiah nails the cause of why humans are so desperately lost when he says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The heart of the issue is that the heart is the issue!
The human heart is a storm of sinful chaos, striving to find some semblance of peace and calm in a world intent on intensifying the chaos and confusion. People without genuine eternal truth are like tiny boats tossed about in a tempest without an anchor, without any bearing or eternal direction.
...having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
...tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:14)
However, there is an anchor that never fails, that will hold us through any storm we face. When you take hold of that anchor and forsake all that is in contradiction to it you step into the light of truth.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)
the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:16-17)
There is only one sure and steadfast anchor that is grounded in absolute unchanging truth and that anchor is genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of any storm our faith is the anchor that holds us in Christ, and by grace the Holy Spirit through the Word strengthens our faith.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will close with more wisdom from the writings of Solomon. Consider his words when the world through heresies like Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, self help books and all the rest try to convince you that God's Word and the steadfast anchor of faith in Jesus Christ is just not enough - that something more is needed, remember these words of Solomon and simply stand firm in your faith, grounded in God's Word, protected by His love in the arms of the Lord.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-13)
When you break it down, victory over the sin of addiction is victory over temptation - the temptation to sin. Our natural fallen desire to sin must be transformed into a righteous desire to please God which from a purely human capacity is impossible and in direct contradiction to our nature. It is only by the supernatural power of God's grace that a person's natural desire to sin can be transformed into a desire to please God in righteousness.
The prophet Jeremiah explained perfectly the human condition without the transforming power of God's grace: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
But even as Christians, saved and transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we still struggle against temptation for the time that we are here in the flesh. So the question becomes, "Just what is the most powerful way, as we grow in sanctification, to obtain victory over the temptations of the flesh"? This question - especially during the time in which we live, in which so much Christian teaching has come to look outside of the Word, or added to the Word from the teachings of psychology, psychiatry, new age philosophy, secular recovery, etc... is a very important one to address. And, with the hope of not seeming to overly simplistic, might we now consider turning back to the founder and perfecter of our faith and casting aside the influences of this world for the needed victory over the age old battle against the temptation to sin? Might Jesus our Savior have provided the means of victory for us in this battle?
Consider the greatest single onslaught of temptation that any human has ever had to endure - the temptation that Jesus faced in the desert and the victory He claimed over it. Also, as you read through this section of scripture please bear in mind that when Jesus faced these temptations he had fasted for forty days and forty nights out in the desert by Himself. Jesus also knew what lay ahead for Him in just three years. He knew that He was moving toward the time when His closest followers would desert Him, when He would be betrayed by one of His own apostles, when He would be arrested and accused falsely, then spat on, ridiculed, tortured, and stripped naked and hung from a cross by those He came to save. But beyond all the ridicule and physical pain Jesus knew as Satan tempted Him that He would have to take on Himself the sins of all mankind and endure the wrath of His Father in order to atone for our transgressions - in order to save us from that horrific and justified wrath.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."
But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple
and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."
Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. - Matthew 4:1-11
All the Lord had to do in order to avoid what He knew He would soon endure was to give in to Satan's temptations. But by giving in to Satan, the Lord Jesus would have been abandoning us to eternal damnation. Because of love for us He stood firm, fought of the temptations of Satan and the devil left Him.
When we are faced with temptations, why would we ever consider looking for a solution other than what Jesus Himself shows us so clearly in His Word? Jesus, when tempted declared "It is written" in response to each temptation and the power of the Word proclaimed faithfully gave Him the victory. For whatever temptations we struggle against, for whatever attacks Satan unleashes on us through the enticements of this world, Jesus shows us the way to victory - through His Word!
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. - Hebrews 12:2
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