“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
This is our big one. When you suppress the activity of the Spirit when he raises need to the conscious level. The initial instant we are conscious of some attitude that might need be considered wrong, we figure out a way to justify, to make it acceptable, or at least to make the motive clean. Is it a TV program that doesn’t pass the 4:8 test? “Whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely.” (Philippians 4: 8, authors paraphrase). “Well, but I’m so tired,” you sigh. “I need a little relaxation; it’s not that bad. Besides, I need to know what the people I minister to are being exposed to.” You see we are pretty good at rationalization! What’s the solution? Eternal vigilance with a good dose of skepticism about your own purity of motive. Most of all, sensitivity to the still small Voice.
There’s a practical approach you may find helpful. When the debate starts up in your mind about whether something is right or wrong, cut short the debate by deciding to treat it as wrong, whether it or not it actually is, since you will rarely suffer harm that way, and may well suffer damage if you go with the self-justification.
The person in bondage to an addiction may finally come to the place of recognizing it as a bondage. At that point, for the first time, deliverance becomes possible. Yet it’s anything but certain! Still, in seeking victory, the addiction seems to be a twilight zone. When they continue in the destructive behavior, it seems neither “unconscious,” on the one hand, nor “deliberate, “ on the other. Certainly they are painfully conscious of it, and don’t really choose to do it. It’s compulsive, almost involuntary. Perhaps, the model may not be that helpful to those with compulsive behavior. Still, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that the same approach to seeking success in the Christian life has proven effective in this kind of bondage, too. For some, there has been instant deliverance when a person turns in faith and makes an unconditional commitment to God, as in the case of deliberate, voluntary sin. After all, the beginning stages of addiction were deliberate choices. But for most addicts, deliverance comes through the growth pattern for overcoming unintentional sins. Therefore, we can really bypass the question of which category it fits. Furthermore, the strategy for overcoming temptation will prove effective for compulsive, addictive behavior as well as more common temptations.
The bad news is that nowadays, virtually any behavior is dumped into the discard bin of “addiction.” Sex, consumerism, anger, lying- you name it! If it’s habitual and difficult to root out, define it as an addiction. Isn’t that true of all strong temptation, though? Sin is powerfully addictive! I call it the “discard bin” because, by blaming our behavior on an uncontrollable addiction, we deflect the blame from ourselves. After all, we are powerless to overcome. If you are victim, you feel you are not quite as responsible for the personal choices as you once were. That’s why, when you look for deliverance from a pattern of bad behavior, resist the temptation to create a special category and call it compulsive or irresistible, consider it more appropriate to reserve the category of “addiction” for some kind of chemical dependency. Otherwise, any kind of habitual behavior can be put in a category that shields us from the responsibility to engage the sin-bully in our lives with the firepower of the Spirit. In any event, there are two things to remember
- You are responsible for your attitudes and actions.
- God can deliver you from any sin.
The weapons of our warfare are the same for this kind of enemy and our responsibility is to grasp those weapons with courage and fortitude, expecting our all-powerful inside partner to win out!
It’s all-out war, however, and for that we don’t need a “touch of the Spirit.” We need the Spirit full strength! That fullness and how to experience it is our theme. Hopefully you are excited with the realization that you can have total success in saying “yes” to God, and “no” to sin whenever given the choice, and you can expect to “spiral up” in every way in which you unintentionally fall short of Christ likeness. If you are grateful, why not tell him so now?