Quitting addiction is like winning a motorcycle dirt race. Imagine a grand 10 day race. A race through the muddiest swamps in the world. A race where there is a narrow straight road that is very tough to stay on.
10,000 riders join this race – 500 are paid 1 million dollars and 500 are paid $500,000. But despite the huge prize pool only a few will finish this race strong. The problem is that you are allowed to go through the mud if you want to. It seems like the faster way but it never is.
When you leave the straight and narrow road you feel the excitement. Water and mud are splashing everywhere. For a very short time you are passing other riders and having fun. But very quickly the fun ends and you are stuck in the mud. For some being stuck in the mud is just a short delay. People come by to help and you are on your way – a bit behind but back in the race. But for others being stuck in the mud causes bigger problems. While flying through the mud you did not see the stump. You hit it and your bike broke – but just a minor repair. Still it is a pretty big delay. But for others being stuck in the mud causes real injuries – your bike got stuck so fast that you kept flying and broke your arm. For others you were flying so fast through the mud you saw the tree – you turned to avoid it. But you smashed right into the tree. Your bike is pretty mangled. Now you are 5 hours getting repairs. For others you were flying so fast you left all help behind. You drove deep into the mud, crashed and were stuck in the mud and were all alone.
Jesus has things for you to do. You can’t do them if you get struck in the mud. You know that if you get back into your addiction it will drive you relentlessly until you are exhausted and depressed. Satan will do anything to convince you that a few moments or hours of his pleasures are worth it. But Jesus is waiting right there for you today. To give you rest and joy. To help you stay on the straight and narrow so that you can do what He wants you to do. Religion will tell you that it is an option to do the things Jesus has for you to do. John 15:1-6 will tell you to do them or you will be like a branch that is thrown in the fire and burned.
John 15 New International Version (NIV)
The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
But when we do what Jesus wants us to do the results are exceptional.
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Many have such habitual sin habits that it takes a long time for us to shape up enough for verse 7 to be true for us. My attitude for verse 7 is – if it is not coming true for me, I still have too much habitual sin for it to be true. However, lately for me I am reading the Word more, getting the sin out more, investing time in prayer. Shockingly, verse 7 is more true for me today than I ever could have imagined.
Memorize John 15:1-6
Negative emotions lead to relapse.
Which emotions lead you to fall
Write out what coping skill you will use when you feel each emotion that causes you to relapse. For example if anger is a problem say. When I get angry and am tempted to smoke I will read “Battlefield of the mind” by Joyce Meyer. Or say, when I am bored and tempted to lust I will call Bill or play chess.
If you don’t have a list of 6 or 8 activities to do when tempted to use you should do that today.
If your addiction is severe you should practice these coping skills with a group or with your counselor. If you are on your own practice twice a day for the next three days saying “if I am tempted to smoke because of being down after getting angry I will _________________ (read Battlefield of the Mind). Give specific coping solutions based on the emotions that get you the most.
You must take instant action when you see a warning sign that temptation to smoke is coming. If you don’t you will fall.
David Quackenbush said the following:
“Today we will look at “Temperance”.
There are times when our conduct is quite exemplary and other times when it can be deplorable. At times we are exemplifying the epitomy of control and at other times we are like erupting volcanoes.
1. TEMPERANCE DEFINED
The dictionary refers to it as:
1. moderation or self-restraint in action, statement, etc.; self-control.
2. Habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion.
It is true that Temperance means self-control. It is control over the whole man (spirit, soul, and body) which enables us to live a victorious life. As 1Cor. 9:25 implies And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.
Ned H. Holmgren said “Temperance means the abstinence from all that is evil, and the moderate use of all that is good.” (www.sermoncentral.com)
Discipline and temperance can often look very much alike but they do not necessarily produce the same end results. For instance two men walking by a book store in the airport both notice pornography books on the shelf. The first man says to himself, I shouldn’t look at that stuff. It’s wrong. So while he feels the strong pull of his carnal man he steels himself and continues walking away.
Now the second man he sees the same books and immediately feels a prick in his heart. He feels the old man’s desire but his heart responds with, ‘I don’t want to go there, I love the Lord and not only is this not be good for me, but it will break God’s heart.’
The first man and the second man both walk away and by appearances they have the same result. But did they. The first man is merely using his will, but the second man used not only his will but the “love for God”
2. Maturity Dictates Temperance
“One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of self-control. Not only do babies need diapers, they must be carried because they lack the necessary control and muscle coordination to sit up much less walk or run. If babies are healthy and normal, in time they will develop more and more self-control—a sure sign of growth and maturity.”
So too in our spiritual life. If we are to mature in Christ, then it necessitates that we become more “Self-controlled.” By self- control I mean the controlling of “self” by submission to the Spirit of God. How then can you or I develop this “Temperance” in our lives.
If you want to develop the fruit of self-control, you have to do a couple of things:
1. Stop believing the lie! The lie that giving up that which will bring temperance in your life will be too painful.
(1) “M. Scott Peck writes in his book “The Road Less Traveled: “I spent much of my ninth summer on a bicycle. About a mile from our house the road went down a steep hill and turned sharply at the bottom. Coasting down the hill one morning, I felt my gathering speed to be ecstatic. To give up this ecstasy by applying brakes seemed an absurd self-punishment. So I resolved to simultaneously retain my speed and negotiate the corner. My ecstasy ended seconds later when I was propelled a dozen feet off the road into the woods. I was badly scratched and bleeding, and the front wheel of my new bike was twisted beyond use from its impact against a tree. I had been unwilling to suffer the pain of giving up my ecstatic speed in the interest of maintaining my balance around the corner. I learned, however, that the loss of balance is ultimately more painful than the giving up required to maintain balance.”
2. You must honestly answer these questions:
A. What am I a slave to?
• Food? Lust? Power? Money? The Past? Drugs? Alcohol? Gambling? Jealousy? Anger? You fill in the blank?
• Unless we are prepared to be honest with ourself and acknowledge areas in our lives where we do not have this kind of “Spirit Control” then we will remain enslaved
B. What do I have to say “no” to right now?
• In order to be free there are somethings we need to say no to
• Some things need to be removed from our lives
• The abstinence of all evil as Ned Holmgren put it
• Paul says all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient
• Sometimes we need to say no to things that are not necessarily evil in themselves in order that we may say yes to the things that are best
C. What do I have to say “yes” to right now?
• The Spirit’s promptings are not just about removing things from our lives
• It is also about saying yes to the right things
o Like attending church or bible study regularly
o Like reading your bible daily
o Like prayer
o Like attending mid-week home groups
o Like tithing
o Like serving
o You fill in the blank… what do you need to say yes to…
3. Then we need to confess them to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and help in light of these questions.
God is waiting eagerly to respond with new strength to each little act of self-control, small disciplines of prayer, feeble searching after him. And his children shall be filled if they will only hunger and thirst after what he offers.”
Read John 25, Proverbs 23 and 2nd Corinthians 9