Discernment In Recovery

wolves-in-sheeps-clothingSupport is an important element in our recoveries, and there are any number of groups and organizations available dedicated to assisting us in developing a support network to help us through and over the rough spots.  Equally important, however, is ensuring any network we do develop provides proper support in a safe environment that also encourages our Spiritual growth and health.

On the job, we are the Sheepdogs, watching over the sheep entrusted to our care.  However, when it comes to recovery and dealing with addictive and compulsive behaviors, we need to transition from being the Guardian to being the Guided and, hopefully, the Guarded.  In so doing, we allow those who have gone before us to guide our steps down the path of recovery and restoration.  It is here that it becomes imperative we exercise discernment in determining whom we are allowing to lead us; we must be able to determine whether those leading us, as well as those ‘supporting’ us, are fellow sheep or Wolves in sheep’s clothing?  Jesus warns us of this very thing in Matthew 7:15, when He states, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”  Likewise, Jude provides a similar warning in verse four when he writes, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Be clear on this, those who don’t love The Lord will not help us serve The Lord since it is not possible to fight fleshly temptations with fleshly weapons, or by following the advice or counsel of fleshly/worldly people: “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 10:4-5)

This is especially true when dealing with the spiritual aspects of our addictions since, as Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12, our struggle extends beyond our physical bodies: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Unfortunately, if we are not careful we can hook up with an individual (or group) that only pays lip service to overcoming their various addictions, treating their weekly meetings as merely a social gathering with no discernable effort made to break free from their besetting sins.  It is not possible to fight a fleshly appetite by indulging it, just as it is not possible to lose weight on a diet by eating unhealthy foods, or to break free from alcoholism while having an occasional drink.

Carefully observe the behaviors and character of those you might potentially collaborate with to ensure they are truly following God and leading their groups to seek His face for their delivery.  We are warned in 1 Timothy 5:22 not to appoint (ordain) someone to a leadership position without fully examining their character and commitment to God and His Word, and it is equally important that we do not to rush into an accountability partnership, either with a group or an individual.  We see additional guidance as to whom we should associate with when we read Paul’s words to the church in Corinth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?”  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

The bottom line is we are all accountable for how we conduct our own recoveries and the choices we make along the way.  Do not blame your poor decisions on others, or even God, which is something the Scriptures specifically speak to in James 1:13-15, where it says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God “; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  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.”

Be cautious whom you join yourself to as you continue working to achieve and maintain recovery.  Remember, God loved us even when we were at our worst and were under the direction of “the prince of the power of the air” and, through His mercy, “made us alive together with Christ”.  (Ephesians 2:1-9)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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About Scott P.

Scott is a retired Military LEO and a Volunteer Chaplain with Serve & Protect (www.serveprotect.org) where he seeks to provide transition services for First Responders and Military personnel by mentoring and connecting them with local 12 Step or similar Faith-Based recovery programs, local Chaplains, and Trauma Therapists to continue their recovery journey following residential care treatment. Scott contributes these devotions to the Serve & Protect ministry Facebook page: Guns'n'Hoses (https://www.facebook.com/GunsHosesMinistry). Scott has been involved in Faith-Based recovery programs since 2006 and has a Bachelor of Science in Religion through Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Fredericksburg, VA, and can be contacted at spipenhagen@liberty.edu.
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