“Hello, my name is Ron, and I am a drug addict.”
As it was a closed meeting, I felt the need to lie in order to be there with my friend who was a drug addict. I had been referred to about 3 different therapy & mentoring programs myself, and I decided to check this one out. It occurred to me at that time that if I attended these meetings every week, as was recommended, and verbalized that “I am a drug addict”, surely before long I would become one. Negative reinforcement is powerful.
On another occasion I attended an open group session for gays, but somehow it did not grab me. Then visiting a church on yet another occasion, I was ushered to what turned out to be a therapy & mentoring group for the Bible Study class. There I was made to feel very uncomfortable as the leader informed me that this is normally a closed group discussion. The circle of members took a vote to allow me to stay. Listening to all the stories of continued struggles and failures, feelings and emotions, the despair and desperation, and the many years of “being in recovery”, I found the class to be very depressing and vowed to not attend that one again.
Years later I attended an “Addictions Conference” at a very prominent university, for I recognized that what I had overcome in my experience had truly been an addiction. There were a number of exhibitor booths promoting programs as if there were “Designer Remedies”, each addressing one individual addiction. Lengthy testimonies were given of perpetual struggle, ups and downs, successes and failures, and many years “in recovery”, causing me once more to leave due to the depressing atmosphere in that auditorium.
“Where was the victory?” I asked myself. “Where was the healing in all these ‘Designer Remedies’? Was this the best one could expect, controlled behavior, but without being truly set free into newness of life?”
Thinking back to my brush with death in my youth with a ruptured appendix, I remember being rushed to the emergency room, then to emergency surgery, and waking up “in recovery”. From “recovery” I was moved into a regular hospital room from which I checked out a couple days later and went home to continue my recuperation. Eventually I was no longer in recovery mode, but healthy and free to go back to work.
What is my point…? Well, as important as the recovery mode is, if I were to still be “in recovery” all these years later, would I not still be ill? Could I reasonably think of myself as being healed, as being well, as being able to effectively minister to others from a position of sound health? Or, would I still be needing the constant care of others as a patient?
This perpetual “recovery mode” of spiritual experience seems to be what the Apostle Paul was talking about with the man of Romans 7. (7:15) … for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (7:18) …For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (7:19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (7:23) … I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (7:24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Paul continues on with the answer: (7:25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord… (8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.(8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (The wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23) (8:4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (8:9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Earlier I referred to “Designer Remedies” – my term for a special program designed as a remedy for one sinful behavior, for one addictive behavior, singling it out for exclusive attention. In such a program this sinful, addictive issue becomes to someone like me an almost insurmountable mountain that all in the group, all in the club, all in the program are struggling with, but without victory. The best that can be hoped for is suppression and control of the behavior, and that with forever weekly group sessions, and a mentor, and a higher power of one’s own choosing, for “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” “Once a drug addict, always a drug addict.” “Once gay, always gay.”
We reject the notion and doctrine of “Once saved, always saved” as without foundation in the Word of God. I would propose that “once an addict, always an addict” is equally without foundation in the Word of God. For it is in direct contradiction with Scripture stating, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) In other words, the new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies, and a genuine conversion changes hereditary and cultivated tendencies to what is wrong. (RH 04/12/1892; Letter 105, 1893)
Based upon the Word of God I would contend that we confuse and complicate the process of overcoming sin by creating multiple “Designer Remedies” for each of a myriad of sin issues rather than adopting “The Designer’s Remedy”, the One Remedy for all sin issues. For all that God calls abomination in the Bible, He also has the remedy. Otherwise, would he not be viewed as impotent rather than omnipotent?
God advises, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity…, …and I will heal your backsliding.” (Jeremiah 3:13,22) It was not until I came to understand and acknowledge that in my life of degradation and self-destruction I was dealing with “iniquity”, a “sin issue” , that I was able to apply the exceeding great and precious promises* of God, turn away from my addictions and walk in newness of life with Jesus. God’s One Remedy for sin applies to all sin issues.
“Those who believe that Jesus can and will save them personally from sin are the elect and chosen of God, His peculiar treasure. They obey His call and come out from the world. They separate themselves from every unclean thought and unholy practice.” (RH 08/01/1893)
“If the Son therefore set you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36)
*(See www.victorjadamson.com, Featured Articles, “A Rainbow of Promises”)