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
By Justin James
The question of whether or not a "recovery program" is needed gets asked a lot. People tend to think that we NEED a plan in order to achieve recovery. The fact is, we don't need a plan.... a plan will do nothing but give you another routine to follow, and hopefully keep you sober a little longer. What we need is faith.
Isaiah 12:2 - “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
John 5:5 - Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Matthew 14:31 - Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Romans 10:9 - Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Psalm 116:1 - I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Matthew 21:21-22 - And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Luke 1:37 - For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Mark 11:22 - And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Romans 8:31 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
All of these verses address something that I struggled with so much during my addiction. I just could not rely on the fact that I didn't have to do anything other than have faith in God, and desire grow in Him. It can be done without a program. It can be done without having to constantly worry about using again. It can be done without having to worry about who your hanging out with, or what bars are around. It can be done in peace, and it only gets better. These are just a few of the many verses that assure us that if we have faith in God and we rely on His word, He will give us a new life with Him.
If you have trouble getting your head around the truth that recovery in it's worldly sense is not needed from a biblical stance - then you have a faith issue.
"Many people are willing to believe regarding those things that seem probable to them. Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The province of faith begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is - whether God has spoken it in His Word." - George Mueller
Consider that the more horrific and hopeless a sinners condition may appear, how by appearances there may seem to be no way that the simple gospel truth could ever have power in a mind seemingly destroyed by the power of sin. Then consider the awesome glory that will be brought to God by the transforming of that sinner into a shining child of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through the simple, faithful sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17
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.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14
The many and the few - everyone will end up in one group or the other. There is no middle ground in divine truth. One of the great errors in the contemporary Church and especially prevalent in the recovery movement that has infiltrated the Church is the idea of an all inclusive universal salvation regardless of what someone believes and whether or not they have truly been born again and follow Christ according to His word. Sadly, many Churches rely on Alcoholics Anonymous or its spin off program Celebrate Recovery rather than the gospel in an effort to help the alcoholic and addicted, completely unaware of the heresy put forth by AA. Consider that on page 46 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous it is stated that, “We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men". That is a complete contradiction of Matthew 7:13-14 and yet so many Pastors and Churches participate in and promote Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery.
But in truth we once again see the razor's edge of Christianity, the clear distinction that there are only two ways in life: right or wrong, good or evil, Christ or the world, faith in Christ or dependence on programs, the narrow gate to heaven or the wide highway to hell, death with the the many or eternal life In Jesus with the few.
The wide worldly gate to destruction is one of enticement, amusement, entertainment, ease, worldly prosperity, self worship, and is all inclusive - open to all without anything needing to be given up or repented of in order to pass through. The lusts and desires and passions of this world are welcome through the wide gate without question or running the risk of insult. The wide gate is easy to find because there is a constant mass of ignorant humanity fighting to get through it.
The fact that we must enter by the narrow gate has been cast aside in “Christian” recovery programs, and traded instead for the faulty idea that the goal is to get someone over their pain - then, when the suffering sinner is better they can be presented with the Christian message. What a destructive heresy man creates when by lack of faith and sinful pride the gospel is manipulated or ignored and the man made concept of recovery is set up as an idol above the commands of Christ. There is a reason the very first command recorded in Christ's ministry was repent.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 4:17
Christ does not command sinners to clear their head, fix themselves up, get their life back together, and then repent and follow Him. Instead, Christ commands lost sinners to repent and to follow Him faithfully on the hard path to the narrow gate that can only be passed through by grace through faith. But the wonderful paradox lies in the fact that although the gate is narrow and the way is hard - it is a way of inexpressible joy and true peace. Christ does a miracle in the transformation of every sinner that cannot be grasped or understood by the sinful human mind without the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. And that is where faith must be exercised in the sharing of the gospel. Unfortunately, for too long much of the contemporary Church has lacked the faith to simply and lovingly share the gospel with the lost drunk or addicted sinner and pray for the working of the Holy Spirit, and instead has devised man made programs that lead only away from the one true way to salvation. By relying on anything of man other than God even with the best of intentions conveys a severe lack of faith in the power of the gospel by the working of the Holy Spirit.
to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. - Acts 26:18
Consider this question: If someone has the greatest gift and you do not, and because you lack this gift you will die, would you want that person to give you the gift even if the giving of the gift may at first be painful and offensive? Is this what you wish others would do to you?
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12
It seems that if we truly are to do unto others as we would have done unto us that we will strive to love them as Jesus would love them, that we would love for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel according to the word. We would not lead someone astray with a false worldly connotation of love. Yet, that is exactly what so many do by leading the suffering sinner away from the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and into programs invented by man.
Jesus tells us that we must enter by the narrow gate, and that if we don’t we will enter the wide way to destruction. He also tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." - Mark 1:14,15
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. - John 16:24
As a Christian, affected by erroneous teachings so prevalent in much of the contemporary Church - how much of Christ do you lack simply because you have never known to ask, seek and knock? How much more glory to God through a vibrant living sacrifice could you send up to heaven if only you could overcome the limitations of your own heart and mind?
Step out of the world. Ask, seek and knock and the Lord will lift you up to heights beyond what you could ever have dreamed of. The burdensome influences and limitations of this world must be cast off!
We must pray and we must ask. Never doubt the radical transforming power of prayer.
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
Christian believers by the blood of Jesus Christ are protected from demonic possession. However, we may still be demonically oppressed and/or hindered. Paul the apostle wrote of his ministry being hindered by Satan in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18, "But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you--I, Paul, again and again--but Satan hindered us." Unbelievers are completely unprotected and in severe instances may suffer demonic possession. In this article I will mainly address causes of demonic oppression for believers which could lead in extreme cases lead to possession in unbelievers.
Besides being hindered in our Christian walk and ministry we may also be demonically oppressed through mental anguish or turmoil, fear and anxiety, financial problems, illnesses, despondency and depression, etc... As Christians it is a fact that Satan and his demons will do all they can to hinder and oppress us at every turn and opportunity. I have experienced this personally in my own walk and especially in ministry.
So what might expose us to demonic oppression? What tools does Satan use in an effort to sway us from the path leading to the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13)? His ways are usually much more sinister and subtle than that of the raging demons portrayed in modern films. Some of Satan's most brilliant deceptions may even appear to be of God for those without Biblical grounding and discernment.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. - 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
So what are some of the causes that could potentially expose a believer to demonic oppression and an unbeliever to demonic possession?
Obviously anything to do with the occult.
Occult meditation methods
Pornography is the sin of lust which may invite demonic activity.
Involvement with false religions such as Mormonism, New Age Spiritualism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc... which are the doctrines of demons.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, - 1 Timothy 4:1
Drug use - which I would like to expand on a bit as both legal and illegal drug use, reliance, and addiction are rapidly increasing in modern society.
We are commanded in scripture to be sober minded (1 Peter 4:7). Yet, drug use leads directly to the mind being out of control and into varying degrees of altered states. Also, consider that the Greek word for sorcery is "Pharmakia" from which the English word pharmaceutical derives. So from a Biblical perspective I think it is fair to conclude that mind and/or mood altering pharmaceuticals could very well be considered a form of sorcery. (See Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 9:20-21)
Now let's take this a little further and consider the modern obsession with psych meds from Satan's perspective. Because so often, when a sinner hears the gospel and begins to experience conviction of sin, they may go through a period of struggle and depression which may very well need to happen for them to come into the truth of and faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, in modern society - especially in America, the person suffering from even the slightest depression or mental struggle is quickly "diagnosed", drugged, and led into secular remedies and programs which nearly always fail and lead away from the gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ and instead to eternal destruction. The demonic influence was just subtle and insistent enough to lead the sinner from the truth of the Word and into a state of oppression, spiritual darkness and possibly possession.
There is a grief that all sinners must experience when faced with the truth of their sin that will lead them into repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The last thing Satan wants is for that to happen and he is a master at using pharmakia, schemes, and false teachings to lead souls from the truth.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. - 2 Corinthians 7:10
For believers, we must understand the danger of relying on drugs - especially for "psychological" or emotional issues instead of going to the Lord in prayer and the study of His Word. It may very well be that a period of depression or struggle may be a blessing in disguise intended to draw us closer to Christ. If we do not seek the Lord in times of anguish but instead turn to psych meds we may very well be opening ourselves up to demonic oppression.
Am I claiming that Christians should never use legal psychiatric drugs for any reason whatsoever? No I am not. However, I think it is very clear that there is an epidemic of reliance on these drugs that is far beyond any measure of sense. They should be a very last resort in obviously severe situations.
The point I am hoping to make to Christian believers is that we must put our faith, trust, and reliance in Jesus Christ before and above all else and with all that we are. There is nothing that our Savior cannot deliver us from regardless of how much society in this fallen and lost world strives to convince us otherwise.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2
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. - Ephesians 6:12
As Christians, we have true inner peace in Jesus Christ. Yet, we are engaged in a war against spiritual forces that seek to destroy our peace and lead us away from the Lord and His truth, and to hinder the proclamation of the gospel.
Satan knows that he is defeated and that his time is short. He is in a rage because of his impending demise and strives to destroy all he can in the time he has left.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - Romans 16:20
This world is Satan's domain and his influence permeates and slithers into the eyes and ears of every person through his relentless and growing prevalence. Take a look around at modern culture and Satan's signature is seen everywhere.
We must arm ourselves, our brethren, and especially our children. The hour is late and the battle is intensifying rapidly. Christians, the gospel, the Christian faith is under attack. We are surrounded by the enemy on all sides in the middle of a violent spiritual battlefield. Yet, the majority of the modern Christian church relies on worldly, secular methods in addressing spiritual issues. I use the word "addressing" because the church is not engaging in warfare. It seems one of the greatest problems in the modern church is rampant spiritual apathy in which no one wants to fight the battles but instead efforts are focused on worldly measures of success and new and innovative methods of compromise without any scriptural standards. The question must begin to be shouted, "Where are the men that will stand up and fight for the truth of the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ? Where have all the warriors gone?
"The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men, bold men, free men. The Church must seek, in prayer and much humility, the coming again of men made of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” - A.W. Tozer
There is nothing in or of this world, or of man that is of any value against the oppressions, afflictions, struggles, and sinful desires of man alongside the Word of God. Psychology, psychiatry, psych-pharmaceuticals, recovery programs, false religions - they all lead astray to varying degrees from the one absolute truth of saving grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12
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)
All of the articles here can be accessed by category on the Articles and Breaking Through Recovery Pages.