The Deadly Handshake
It first appears when you’re bored, or distracted, or perhaps even when you’re doing perfectly fine and it simply catches your attention. It has an initial appeal; and seems mostly harmless. If you indulge it only once. What can it really hurt? Just once, to bring a little pleasure to the doldrums of the day, to give you a little excitement. After all, it’s a small thing. It’s not really a big deal. There it stands. It smiles at you and extends a hand, bidding you to simple, harmless, handshake.
As times goes by, you’ve indulged in the particular sin that came for you more than once, many more times than once. And your shame has grown. The guilt is starting to pile up. But the good feeling, that temporary pleasure and burst of energy you get from passing along the gossip (speaking ill of someone), from taking that 4th or 5th drink that brings the fun buzz, or the once-again secret viewing of illicit images that makes you feel alive, lasts but a brief time and then the shame washes over you. The sense of how rotten you are. The enemies voice telling you, “Give it up! You’ll never be a worthy follower of Christ. Just go back to sin – you might as well, you’re a failure anyway.”
And your heart breaks. Your joy is crushed. You pretend to be an all-together moral person when your Christian friends are family are around, but you know it’s a lie. You’re terrified that if they really knew about you they’d condemn you and leave you. Then you’d be alone. Rejected. Lost. Unloved.
It’s addiction. And it’s a foul, from-pit-of-evil plan to absolutely destroy your life.
You may not now be in this fix, but chances are you know someone who is. But there’s good news. There is help; Godly, Gospel, Christ-help!
First, God still loves the person who’s addicted, no matter what the enemy’s voice declares. Christ died for you, spilled his precious blood for you. He wants you to be whole again.
Second, you do not have to live in prison for the rest of your days. It’s time to tell someone. Yes, face that darkest fear that you will be found out and tell someone you trust what you’re going through. Sin gains exponential power through secrecy. Tell a trusted friend or your husband or wife. Tell a counselor in the confidentiality of the meeting room. But whatever else you do, don’t stay silent any longer. That one act will set you on a path to wholeness again.
Third, see what God wants for you:
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 ESV). He wants you to have a new mind, with new thoughts and feelings, and a new way of relating to Him and other those you love. Ask God to transform your mind. Now, you might not be able to do this alone. So, seek help: a pastor, counselor, trusted friend, etc.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11 ESV). The good shepherd, Jesus, died for you. He shed his precious blood for you, so that you may have life now and forever.
There are other Christian sources of help. I recommend a book by Edward T. Welch, who is a part of the Biblical Counseling movement. Its title is: Additions: A Banquet in the Grave. Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel. Click on the title to be taken to Amazon.com. Here’s a summary:
A worship disorder: this is how Edward T. Welch views addictions. "Will we worship our own desires or will we worship the true God?" With this lens the author discovers far more in Scripture on addictions than passages on drunkenness. There we learn the addict's true condition: like guests at a banquet thrown by "the woman Folly," he is already in the grave (Proverbs 9:13-18).
Can we not escape our addictions? If we're willing to follow Jesus, the author says that we have "immense hope: hope in God's forgiving grace, hope in God's love that is faithful even when we are not, and hope that God can give power so that we are no longer mastered by the addiction." Each chapter concludes with "Practical Theology," "As Your Face Your Own Addictions," and "As You Help Someone Else."
Don’t wait to start on the path of Gospel freedom, or to help someone else become free from slavery.