The devotional My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers for September 17th helps to make an important point regarding sinful addictions. It is based on 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…
Oswald comments, “Yet many of us suffer from temptations we should never have to suffer, simply because we have refused to allow God to lift us to a higher level where we would face temptations of another kind.
A person’s inner nature, what he possesses in the inner, spiritual part of his being, determines what he is tempted by on the outside…Because temptation will come to him in accordance with the level of his controlling, inner nature.”
Because recovery programs are humanistic and function at the lowest levels of the flesh, there is no real growth or progression spiritually. The programs/steps require life-long diligence in order to maintain sobriety because the participants never rise above the base level of sinful flesh where addictions and temptations to addiction reside. This is why those in recovery programs must believe they will never actually recover from addiction, but instead have just a “daily reprieve” from active addiction. In a way, what they believe is true for them because being “in recovery” traps them on the level of sinful addiction and the temptations to engage in sinful addiction.
For those who have been blessed with repentance, and have turned to Christ and away from addiction, there is a continual sanctification and spiritual growth. The base level of addiction and temptations to engage in addictive behavior is left far behind as a believer is conformed more and more to the image of Christ. There is no need to “maintain sobriety,” or participate in a recovery program, because they have moved far beyond any need to do so.
This is one of the reasons recovery programs in churches are such a glaring red flag that something is very wrong – because it signifies that the Church, at least when it comes to dealing with sinful addictions is functioning at the base humanistic level rather than at the highest level of the spirit through the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s as if God is saying, “I am far more than you can see and comprehend. So, I have given you my word in scripture so that through it you may see and know enough of me to keep you and guide you until I bring you home. Abide in me, abide in my word on your journey. Do not leave the narrow path that I have set before you through my word - and there will be many who will try to entice you to do so.”
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12
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
By Chad Prigmore
Struggle against temptation is unfortunately a battle that Christians must all engage in as we are in a dark sinful world in which temptation is one of Satan's most relentless attacks. In order to have victory over temptation we must understand that it is not in our power to defeat temptation - but only through the power of God's grace.
We must understand what the Bible teaches us in Ephesians 6:12, "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." These are the forces that tempt us and seek to entice us away from the truth of Jesus Christ. But we are told in Ephesians 6:10-18 how we are to arm ourselves against these attacks. Paul writes, "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,..."
We must be in prayer constantly, and prayerful study of God's Word constantly, seeking to grow closer to Christ and to be more and more conformed to His image. As we seek Him this way He will strengthen us and we will overcome temptation and the devil will flee from us in defeat.
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.