Drug or alcohol addiction is difficult enough to lick if we are aware we are addicted, but if we haven’t recognized or admitted we are hooked, it is impossible to do so. I would like to make today our great “day of intervention,” when we are all confronted and made to face, by our spiritual family that loves us, this incontrovertible fact—”You are addicted to the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and it is killing you!”
In the Garden of Eden, the father of lies, Satan himself, told Eve the truth regarding the results of eating of that fruit: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5), but he did not tell Eve the implication of that act.
Being able to discern for themselves between “good” and “evil” was not only not among Adam’s and Eve’s God-given, assigned tasks, but God had told them, specifically, not to eat of the fruit of that tree. That capability belonged to God alone, and Adam and Eve lived simply by trusting their Father to show them what to do, not what’s “good” or “bad,” and then they did it, completely dependent on God for all decisions.
However, at the Tree, everything changed forever. The unrecognized implication of Eve’s choice that day, at its heart, was independence from God. It was choosing to decide good and evil—the “do’s and don’ts”—for herself as a way to live. God was no longer even necessary. Adam (setting the precedent for centuries of “Yes, Dear,” beta males to this very day), went right along, bringing all future generations, including us, with him.
So, we, and every single human being, all of us descendants of Adam, are born with this “fallen nature.” We come into the world addicted to wanting to be God ourselves, deciding for ourselves in every situation what we should or shouldn’t do. We may be non-Christian atheists or religious, Christian Pharisees; it doesn’t matter, because we all say, “I have free will, don’t I? I can decide for myself!” We see that self-determination as a “good” thing.
What we think may be different from others around us, but how we think is all exactly the same for all of us. We all see ourselves as “certainly nobody’s puppet” and completely free and independent to climb up the ladder of success on which we see ourselves. “Evil” is at the bottom and “good” is at the top, and my goal, through “good choices,” “discipline,” “developing good habits,” and “making myself accountable,” is to arrive one day as near the top as possible, recognizing, of course, that “nobody’s perfect.”
I find myself falling into this way of thinking, and I cannot change: I am addicted. But I am recognizing, more clearly and more frequently, when I do slip from trust to independence, allowing me to repent for playing God again. This returns me again to faith in Daddy alone and not the law to show me the way.
I have had vocational pastors who haven’t heard these ideas tell me, “How can you say we shouldn’t try as hard as possible to grow, be more obedient, and get as close to perfection as possible? You are just encouraging us to sin!” They, though seminary trained, have never heard anything any different. They are completely unaware addicts.
Paul was faced with this same objection: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?…What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Romans 6:1, 15). His abbreviated answer in Romans 6, in essence, was, “No, that’s not what I am saying!”
But he answers these questions (which are really just our attempts to excuse, ignore, and continue our addiction), much more fully in Galatians 2:20. I believe this is the “One-Verse Description of the Christian Life”: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
In God’s sovereign plan, Jesus died on the cross in eternity past to secure my salvation, but as I shared last week, my experience of that salvation began at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1950s. In experience, I was initially justified at OU, sanctified progressively as the Holy Spirit is changing me in time, and I will be glorified in the future at the resurrection of the body. Galatians 2:20, quoted above, beautifully demonstrates the sanctification phase of that process.
This verse says that it is only faith that unlocks the door to the experience of “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” nothing else. It is only faith that energizes the Holy Spirit who lives in me to actively express Himself through me, and that’s not simply a “I-believe-in-Jesus,-yes-I-do” kind of faith! Do I really believe what He says is true?
Do I, really, believe the Word of God as it comes to me in the Bible? Do I actually believe “For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). This verse actually says that God is (right now!) producing “want-to’s” in me in such a way that I actually (right now!) want to do “what pleases Him,” i.e., His will. Does it not say that?
The implications of this are enormous in light of our discussion of living, not by “do’s and don’ts,” i.e., written instructions, but by “faith.” How in the world do you do that!? It means, “Do you believe (trust, have faith!) that what God says in Philippians 2:13 is really true? Do you believe He really is (right now), ‘producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him?’”
An addict always says “Yes, but…” until one day he is overcome with joy at finding himself actually doing the very will of God unconsciously, proving with his life that it is the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). When this happens to this addict, he is on the road to recovery.
God’s commands for me to “do” in the New Testament suddenly become PROMISES of what the Holy Spirit will do as He lives through me. His promise to me is that eventually “…the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled IN US who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” Romans 8:4). The law of God has become a mirror to expose to me my sin and lead me to repentance, rather than a scrub brush to clean me up. As I conquer my addiction, the law is now also a catalog of promises that the Spirit will give me. Do it, Spirit of God!