Breaking The Bondage Of Addictions / More Than Conquerors Lesson 5
Give Them Up Completely
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:57
In lesson three (New Birth-New Allegiance), we talked about separating ourselves from those who are not believers and also from the works of unrighteousness of this world. It is because we have become a child of God and now bear Christ’s name. Psalm 23:3 “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This fact alone can help us to give up completely the sins that would keep us in bondage and also keep us from looking and acting like the Lord Jesus Christ. Being led in the paths of righteousness also requires a change of habit. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (II Timothy 2:19c)
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (I Thessalonians 5:22)
It truly is about who you know.
It is human nature to acquire a set of habits that facilitates our manner of living. When you no longer frequent the places that fed your previous lusts, your absence will speak volumes to your friends about your new life in Christ and guard you from unnecessary temptation. “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” (I Peter 4:4)
This will be discouraging at first because we all like to have real friends and their acceptance. But now it is more important to please God alone and “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (I Peter 3: 16-17)
Another important principle is that “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” (II Peter 2:9)
God will help you with the temptations. That is what we are studying about. Yes, God is concerned that your friends come to Christ, too, but we must always choose God’s way to do everything. Invite them to come to church with you, but drop the gatherings at home from your schedule. Otherwise the devil will use these old “friends” to pull you back into the life of sin you just escaped. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)
Proverbs 4:14-15 warns the believer “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” And Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
Your new life in Christ could be called the “Victor’s Protection Program”. You get a new name, a new identity and, for certain, a new life. Then there is the forever restraining order on the enemy when we walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Where to Live when you are Released
But you may be asking, “What happens if my home is where my worst influences live? Where do I go? What should I do?”
The Word of God supplies the wisdom, comfort, strength, and instruction to help us in every circumstance and the answer for every situation. Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” To acknowledge God in all our ways means to trust Him for His wisdom in every decision we make whether great or small. Remember Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” [Roll thy way upon the Lord.]
A dear friend of ours would tell us, “When you can come to the point of telling God that ‘it doesn’t really matter to you’, then you are ready for God to show you His will.
Also, in Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” A New Testament verse gives the same assurance in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” And it does mean “things” of this world, particularly food and clothing, if you read the entire chapter. But here is the main point.
When you are preparing for release, those who are guiding you will make demands on your decision-making which are intended for your good. Where you will live after your release is a major decision and will have to be approved by your authorities who are responsible for you. Trusting the Lord to direct your paths through your earthly authorities may be the greatest test of your faith. But remember “…if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold [many & various forms] temptations [testing]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (I Peter 1:6-7) Those who refuse the good counsel of the authorities not to go back home are usually right back in prison…or worse.
Do not do a tailspin when the Board’s opinion comes back different than what you were hoping and praying. Romans 8:28 is for all of us: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” When God says “No” it is because He has a better way, a better place, and a better time.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Peter 4:12-13)
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: and Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Do not forget what Peter said, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”(I Peter 3:17)
Another good thing to remember is “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”(I Peter 3:12)
Walking in truth and living by faith is not a promise of a life without problems. Rather it is God’s opportunity to try you and purify you so that you will be the perfect or complete reflection of Christ to others.
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4)
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Who is in charge here?
In Lesson Six, we will refer briefly to the matter of having a new authority. For most of us, that means we can no longer be the ultimate authority in our lives, but we must have God as the only authority. While the correctional system in our country does not claim to be perfect, it is under the authority of God and you are under its authority. God has ordained a chain of command throughout His creation. We see it in the church, in marriage and family as well as in government and employment. He even tells us in His Word that we are to “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem [consider or think of] other(s) better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).” And in Ephesians 5:21: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This is speaking of having a humble spirit. Humility is a willingness to obey instructions and do whatever we are asked. (James 4:6)
God wants us to submit to Him and the other authorities that He has created for our protection. So when the time comes for you to plan for your release, completely surrender yourself to God and let Him lead you through your authorities. He knows what is best for you. He knows what you are ready for spiritually. He knows where you can thrive spiritually and where you will not be overwhelmed by ungodly influences in your very own home. It does matter who picks you up at the prison gates and it does matter where you will be living and working. Want what God wants. Often employers in the community want to give folks a second chance. God has provided them to help you.
God demonstrates His principle of secure leading in Exodus 13:17 when getting ready to lead Israel out of Egypt. He did not take them the shortest, fastest route. He took them a route suited to their spiritual capabilities. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent [or turn back] when they see war, and they return to Egypt: [the world symbolically].”
God puts authorities over us to guide us through difficult times when we especially need help making decisions. God has an advantage over us in that He can see around corners, over hilltops, behind unopened doors and, yes, He can see the end from the beginning. You must be surrendered to God completely and search His Word to let Him guide you in these decisions. In order for you to be able to fulfill your God-given responsibilities to your family, you must be equipped spiritually to do so.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) Your language will change as the treasure of your heart changes from an abundance of evil to an abundance of good. Matthew 12:34-37 reads “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Never forget that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21)
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying [building], that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Colossians 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”
Flee also Youthful Lusts
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (II Timothy 2:22) This small verse contains so many ways to completely give up sin habits and begin putting on the righteousness of Christ in their place.
- FLEE youthful lusts. This is not ambling along taking in all that the world tempts us with, rather it is running away from all temptation with the speed of a man trying to escape an angry grizzly bear. It’s that serious.
- FOLLOW righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them…not the old crowd, but…
- THEM THAT CALL UPON THE LORD. These are other believers who can lead you into a closer walk with the Lord and help you to know how God wants you to walk. Finally…
- OUT OF A PURE HEART – that is your job, maintained each day by spending time in the word and prayer. II Corinthians 7:1 “…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,…”
Isaiah 55:7 “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14) As in previous verses we are instructed to first yield to Christ instead of our sin. To “put on” is literal in the sense of “sinking into a garment”.
The next step is also the Lord’s way. “…make not provision for the flesh.”
When we are on a diet, we try to eliminate from our food supply all those things which will defeat our effort to lose weight. The same thing is true with any other vice. We remove from our home, office, car and so forth, all the stashes and remnants of the temptation: all forms of tobacco, beer, strong drink, drugs and paraphernalia. Whatever can be a trigger to entice us back into our “brand” of bondage must be removed from our area of daily routine and destroyed.
Years ago a teenager who had gotten saved off the street attended a Bible college. One day a shopping trip to the local mall created temptation for her. The music that was being played in one of the stores triggered old memories and aroused cravings. She had to “Flee youthful lusts…” by leaving the mall immediately to guard the “ear gate” of her heart. “Keep [guard] thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Even longer ago another Bible college student had to change the usual route he took home from work when it was late enough to see the sinful images on the big screen outdoor theatre. He was protecting the “eye gate” of his heart and died to sin.
After we are saved we are no longer of the night where “…men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19c). Rather, “Let us walk honestly [decently], as in the day; not in rioting [carousing] and drunkenness, not in chambering [sleeping around] and wantonness [unbridled lust], not in strife and envying.” (Romans 13:13
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14) While the saved person no longer wants to do the evil things that tempted them in the past, we can still be tempted by those things. All the help that we need to overcome temptation is the power of the Holy Spirit which resides in each believer.
“There hath no temptation [testing] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
Too often people major on the “above that ye are able” aspect instead of the fact that God is able to deliver us. “Oh, God just gave me too much and I couldn’t resist!” It is not about us. The way of escape that God provides is His grace and our faith in Christ. God wants to demonstrate His grace and power in us that He might be glorified. Our job is to “yield ourselves unto God”. (Romans 6:13)
Remember that we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37), super-victors through Christ “in all these things; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them…the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to ‘separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:39).”
And again Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4-5)
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4)