Who are you relying on to help you along your recovery journey? As I have said in previous posts, it is important to establish a network with strong, knowledgeable and experienced sponsors and accountability partners. As important as this is, it is even more critical for us to be certain who these people are and what their worldview consists of.
In reading some recovery material from Reformers Unanimous (http://www.reformu.com/), I came across their “Ten Principles to Conquer Stubborn Habits,” and wanted to cover just three of them today.
First, Principle #6 states, “Those who do not love the Lord will not help us serve the Lord.”
This is very similar to some other adages I have heard over the years, particularly that one cannot take (lead) someone beyond where they have already gone themselves. If we want to have true freedom in Christ from our various addictions and compulsive behaviors, we must ensure we surround ourselves with those who, at a minimum, (1) believe in and love God and, (2) have already experienced sobriety and recovery through Jesus Christ. Far too often I have participated in and/or observed recovery meetings which were clearly not grounded in God’s Word, with little focus on actually working towards overcoming their addictions. In fact, there were many occasions where it seems these meetings were opportunities for the group to meet and have various participants laugh and joke about how they did various evil and addictive things, with no remorse or accountability in evidence.
God’s Word addresses these situations in several Scriptures. Amongst them are Psalm 1:1, 6, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; … For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (NKJV) In addition, Proverbs 14:12 warns us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,” and 2 Corinthians 6:14 admonishes us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Next, Principle #8 tells us, “It is not possible to fight a fleshly temptation with fleshly weapons.”
This principle ties in nicely Principle #6 in that, not only can we not fight fleshly temptations with fleshly weapons, we cannot rely on the counsel of fleshly/worldly/carnal people (see Psalm 1:1, 6 above…). If we try to attack these temptations in our own power, we risk being drawn away as we become distracted and attracted by the very thing we are trying to overcome. James warns us of this trap when he says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14)
In order to successfully overcome these fleshly desires and temptations, we have to be ready and willing to become fully reliant on God and His cleansing power, while surrounding ourselves with a strong, godly, support network:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Similarly, Principle #4 observes, “It is not possible to fight a fleshly appetite by indulging in it.”
While this should be a “no-brainer”, I am continually amazed at how many people think they can wean themselves from their addiction by gradually reducing the amount, frequency, etc., a little at a time. There is almost no way that such a tactic could ever hope to be successful. Proverbs 26:11 tells us, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
The only way to beat these addictions is to:
1) Starve them or completely amputate them from your life. It only makes sense to feed those things that you want to GROW, and starve those things you want to DIE.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
2) Fully reject your old ways and habits and adopt God’s ways and His habits.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)
“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Taking Every Thought Captive!