“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ~Jesus
I’m in recovery for alcoholism, that is, the flesh’s cravings and my old thought processes. For years I drank way too much, way too often–even as a Christian. No I didn’t “get all religious” to try to stop drinking, I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid. I just didn’t start to show Jesus any real respect or love until about 2011, and little by little, by allowing Him to renew my mind, He’s molded me into who I am today.
However, I was religious while drinking. Heck, I would testify with a beer in my hand, drunk as a skunk! The whole time not thinking there was anything wrong with such behavior. And really, there’s nothing wrong with alcohol in itself, it’s just a liquid. Even Jesus enjoyed wine. If you look at His first recorded miracle in John 2, that wasn’t grape juice He created. It was the best wine the people had ever tasted!
The grace-confused Christians want you to think that alcohol wasn’t fermented in the Bible. This is silly. Even Paul said, “Don’t get drunk on wine because it leads to debauchery” (see Ephesians 5:18). You can’t get drunk on grape juice. People drank wine back then like we drink water or soda today, they had it with nearly every meal. Water wasn’t readily available or always clean to drink, wine was. So when Paul advised the church in Ephesus to not get drunk, it was because he knew what drunkenness leads to: debauchery. What is debauchery? It’s bad, stupid, immoral, regrettable stuff. It’s what you do and how you act when you get smashed.
Although there’s nothing wrong with alcohol, there is something wrong with me drinking it. I can’t. I don’t have an off-button. My body wants more!
However, if a person doesn’t have a problem with alcohol–and this is a big if–go ahead and have a drink or two. It’s not a sin to drink, it’s a sin to get drunk. It’s a sin to do moronic crap while drunk. If you have to constantly ask yourself, “Do I have a problem?” then more than likely you do.
Some people can have a little wine or one margarita and be done. They won’t even think about it anymore. Me? Ha! It’s like lighting a powder keg! “We going down tonight!” I want to polish off that bottle of wine! I’ll have the entire Margarita pitcher and shots! Oh, and some beers too!
Now I can try to fight it, but I’d be fooling myself. I. WANT. MORE. That is, the addiction of the flesh as well as the unrenewed pockets of my thinking. It’s not me, me–the real me. I’m a perfect, holy spirit (see Colossians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s the urges of my body and my off-kilter thoughts. I want to be clear about that.
I want to make sure you understand that as saints–us Christians–we are spirits who have souls, and we live in a body. We are heaven-ready this very moment but our souls are constantly changing depending on our choices and attitudes. Our physical bodies are innocent–they are neutral. They are shells for our spirit. There’s nothing wrong with our bodies whatsoever. They have cravings and impulsive desires which are activated by their five senses.
My tastebuds enjoy the flavor of alcohol. My physical brain enjoys the euphoria of drunkenness. But this is not me. I am a spirit. I’ve been taken out of the flesh and placed into Christ! (See Romans 6:6-7, 8:9). Sin is activated through the flesh, but sin is not in us as perfect spirits (see Romans 7:17). Do you see it? Even my hands enjoyed the touch of a cold bottle of beer, and my lips did too. Sin comes to life through our physical senses acting on sin in itself. But our body is not sinful, it’s a tool for our spirit to use in this temporary physical realm.
Understanding this separation is so important because you will be able to divorce your who from your do. This distinction between spirit, soul, body, and sin, will help anyone recover from any addition, not just booze. Christian, you are not what you do–good, bad, or indifferent. You are who you are.
So when I controlled my drinking, I couldn’t enjoy it; and when I enjoyed my drinking, I couldn’t control it. Once I started, I was off to the races! I’m either going to drink a ridiculous amount and then binge-eat and pass out, or, I’ll be grumpy and extremely agitated if I couldn’t get access to more!
I liked to drink because it relaxed me…“Ahhhhhhh…” (Again, remember this is not the real me. This is how I thought and felt). There was nothing quite like that first beer and shot, but then after I was nice and relaxed, I’d become overly excited! I’d become the smartest man alive with “Great business ideas!” I look back now at Old Matt–the version of me who hadn’t yet allowed God to begin renewing his mind–and I want to grab him, hug him, and say, “Hey, you weren’t made for this. You were made for so much more.”
I was only fooling one person and that was myself. Unbeknownst to me, at that time in my life I was being a puppet for the devil. Not that he was in me, that’s impossible. Satan can’t even touch believers (see 1 John 5:18). But I didn’t recognize his voice. Therefore, my choices were selfish and arrogant. I refused to take responsibility for the damage I was causing. This happens to countless people as their lives unnecessarily fall apart. They get advice from friends and family who can’t even manage their own lives. These people dole out terrible counsel, never saying, “You need to pray about this. God will lead you in the right direction if you’ll listen to Him.”
But problem drinkers drink for one main reason. If someone says otherwise, they’re lying to you because they’re stuck in denial. Here it is: We want to feel different. That’s it. If we are sad, we want to feel happy. If we are stressed, we want to feel relaxed. If we are uncomfortable, we want to feel comfortable. If we feel like a failure, we want to feel like a winner. If we are bored, we want to feel entertained. Truth be told, if we are already extremely excited and happy, we want to feel even more excited and happy! We want to keep our buzz going strong! Why do you think we stay sloshed until the wee hours of the morning?
We’re not trying to hurt people, we just want to feel different. Most people who struggle with alcoholism are extremely caring and sensitive; two very reasons why we drink. Being extremely caring and sensitive can lead to accepting unacceptable behavior from others on a grand scale. It can lead to enabling and people-pleasing, which always leaves us hurt.
Our way of thinking is off. If we can get our thoughts lined up with the truth of God, sobriety will happen organically. However, when we stay in our addiction it’s because the enemy has convinced us of a huge lie: “You will only like yourself by getting away from who you think you really are!”
What a liar! We are God’s children! We are set apart and seated in the heavenly realms! We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing! We are God’s masterpieces! (See John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, Ephesians 1:3, 2:6,10).
But yet, if we don’t know these truths about who we really are, Satan easily festers fear in our minds. He confuses us. This mental instigator heaps mounds of condemnation and low self-worth into our thought processes with each sip we take. “Just look at you. You are only likable when you have a buzz. You can’t do anything without alcohol. You can’t even function! If only you could stay drunk permanently, then you’d finally be yourself!”
What a freaking liar.
Friend, ignore that garbage and stay focused on the truth! How do you know the truth! God’s Spirit in you teaches you the truth! (See John 14:26, 2 Corinthians 3:8). He teaches you who you really are, sober! You are very special, sober! Even more special, sober! Even more interesting, sober! Even more confident, sober! Even more attractive, sober!
You can unlock your full potential, sober! You can reach your highest goals and achieve your dreams, sober! You can love others on the deepest level possible, sober! You can love yourself as God loves you, sober! You can forgive authentically, sober! You can live out who God has created you to be in your spirit, soberrrrrrrrr!
Please, believe me. You are sober. You are not a drunk. You are not addicted. You are free! (See John 8:32, Galatians 5:1).
You are God’s very own child, if you believe Jesus is your Savior. If not, believe and tap into the identity God longs to give you.
So today, my friends, know this: How did I beat alcoholism? I learned who I was. That process is still ongoing, and it will not end on this side of heaven (see Philippians 1:6, Romans 12:2). In the beginning, it felt like torture. But that’s only because God was reshaping my thoughts with the truth. His seed inside my soul was growing and getting stronger as it broke out of the dirt and darkness. Shooting up and out, into the light of day, I was stretching into my true self! Do you know the truth about your self? Christian, you are free, you really are. The prison door is wide open, just walk out.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, oh how far I’ve come. As I reflect on the process of allowing you to renew my mind into the truth of who I am–my goodness, what a journey. What pain. What comfort. What growth. Thank you so much. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them are hurting. So many want to feel different, and you know that. Sadly, they’ve believed the lies of the enemy for far too long, and they just want some peace. Let them know where permanent peace can be found–only in Jesus! If they believe in Him, He’s been with them the whole time. Each drunken episode, He was there. He’s never left them. YOU’VE never left them because you and Christ are one. This is the foundation of their future sobriety! Your commitment to them! Help them to understand the truth of the New Covenant! Help them to realize just how amazing they are–and how free! In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!