“Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?”
There’s something about Saturday morning which is very special to me. This time of day each week makes me want to write about my past battle with the bottle. It also reminds me of the crippling hangovers. Although I’m nearly five years without a sip of alcohol, I can still remember the feeling of dread as I opened my puffy eyes on a morning such as this.
My face and fingers were always swollen from the large amount of salt consumed due to binge eating after hours of binge drinking, which was perpetually my nightcap. When I drank, devouring enormous quantities of food before bed was the norm. Some of my pants wouldn’t fit any longer and denial was how I handled my waistline expanding so much.
Although I’d get drunk during other days of the week, the worst occurrences began with “TGIF!” or the like, posted on my social media. The insane cycle of alcoholism and gluttony would peak on Friday. The steps went something like this:
- Tell myself I’m going to “control” myself and have a few beers because it’s the weekend.
- Have a few beers…in less than an hour. Truthfully, in less than a half hour.
- It’s still early and I’ve only had a few, why not keep going? Done and done.
- Why not have a few more, and why not some shots too? I’m already buzzed anyway. Check.
- Take more shots to increase the effectiveness of my buzz, then more beer, then tell myself I’m not really that drunk–and believe myself.
- I’m smashed. But because I’ve drank so much for so often, I can play it off like I’m not. I might smell like a dive bar, but I can look as cool as a cucumber.
- Say and do stupid crap in which I’d never say or do if I wasn’t drunk.
- Binge eat until I could hardly move.
- Go to bed or pass out on the couch, or on the deck furniture. When I wake up a few hours later, stumble to bed. But first, chug water due to severe cottonmouth.
- Sleep really good for a few hours because I’m completely inebriated, but afterwards, toss and turn all night, restless, as I come down from my buzz and my brain dehydrates.
My entire Saturday would then be ruined because I was hungover and bloated; bloated because of eating whatever at the end of the night, and lots of it.
As a result, I’d lay on the couch in the basement and feel sorry for myself all day because “I did it again.” This particular moment of the week had gotten to the point of grading my hangovers from bad to worse. All along, my body kept telling me, “Hey! STOOOOOP DRINKIIIIIIIING!”
Thankfully, the whole time I did this God never left my spirit. I had been saved from the time I was a boy. My lack of stupid actions and attitudes didn’t keep me saved, Jesus staying alive did (see Hebrews 7:25, 13:5, Matthew 28:20).
The only thing which could alter my perfect spiritual identity–causing me to become unsaved–was if Jesus went back in time, crawled back up on the Cross, unfinished the New Covenant, got off the Cross, became a baby, went back into Mary, and then back into God’s own supernatural loin.
That will never happen.
So my dumb choices would have to change for a much different reason: I was remade to not get drunk from the moment I was saved as a child.
Drunkenness is a sin, yet I’ve died to sin at my core, in my spirit. I had been taken out of sin and placed into the Spirit of Jesus Christ by grace through faith. Drinking is not a sin. People drank in the Bible all the time including Jesus. However, finding fulfillment in drunkenness is a sin because such is not of faith–and that’s what I kept doing (see Romans 6:1-11, 8:9, 14:23, Galatians 3:27, 5:19-21, Ephesians 2:8-9, 5:18).
I was still saved, miserable, but still a saint. No matter how many times I tried, getting drunk would never satisfy me permanently. And to be clear, I could have a blood transfusion of Miller Lite right now–beer coursing through my veins–yet that still wouldn’t overpower what the Cross had done to me the moment I believed in the mid-80s. For this reason, it never felt right each time I cracked open a cold shooter of American Honey or was handed a frosty glass of Corona. Christ in me repeatedly said, “Matthew, that’s not for you. Give it up. Trust me.”
He never said, “I’ll come and make my home in you unless you become addicted to Schlafly Pale Ale and Jameson.” No. He stayed in me because His blood had satisfied the Father’s wrath over my sins–all of my sins–not just my non-alcoholic sins (see Romans 5:1,9, 8:1).
Christ had died for my sinful drunkenness 2,000 years ago along with the rest of my transgressions. He had already paid for these terrible, licentious episodes of mine at Calvary. No more bloody sacrifice was needed, which is necessary for God to forgive sins (see Hebrews 1:3, 9:22, 10:26-29, John 19:30).
Even more, all my sins were in the future when Christ died, not just the debaucherous sins. Therefore, the moment I believed I was forgiven, all my sins were washed away, not only the drunken sins of my past, which I would have in the future. I had never drank a drop of booze when I was a boy, but I was already forgiven for what I would do later on in life as a man. Think about it, my future sins were banished from God’s memory, by His choice, because of my one-time belief in Jesus’ blood. How? Because all my sins were in the future when Messiah died, and so were yours, Christian (see Hebrews 8:12, Ephesians 1:7, John 1:12, 1 John 3:5).
Jesus was committed to me for eternity because of the promise He and the Father made to one another at the Cross and me becoming the beneficiary to that promise by faith (see Hebrews 6:16-19, 9:16-28, Galatians 3:29).
From the millisecond I knew He forgave me, I had been remade in spirit–reborn–and my tendency of alcoholism would never set right with me. Sure, I could stay in denial for 80 years–if I lived that long–but I would never be able to enjoy my perfect supernatural identity until I stopped drinking…not even a single beer.
Some people can have a drink or two and not think about it again, but for some reason the power of sin influenced me greatly when it came to overindulging. I’m not sure why, but it is what it is. I can’t drink.
Now that I sit here at 6:48am on Saturday, March 23, 2019, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this feeling I have, not hungover but energetic and content. I’m grateful for my family, my dogs included. I’m grateful for my good health, which I would not have if I still drank. I’m grateful for this delicious coffee I can enjoy with no regrets from yesterday.
Most of all, I’m grateful for Jesus’ commitment to me during my darkest hours of life. It was His commitment to me–not mine to Him–which caused me to change my choices and mature in my thinking. Why? Because He had already changed my identity a long, long time ago, as I sat on that cold hard pew.
Friend, if this resonates with you or maybe you’re hungover right now, just ask Jesus for help. He will help you! He promises! He’ll never turn you away! (See John 6:37). You’ll never get sober and stay sober through your own efforts. If you do, you’ll become arrogant or miserable because all the pressure is on you. Put that pressure on Christ. He can handle it just fine. All you need to do is bask in His grace, day by day, moment by moment.
I should know about sober arrogance and misery. I stopped drinking by my own efforts in 2004, white-knuckling it apart from the guidance of God’s Spirit. For a year and a half I didn’t drink. Eventually I shut off the world and became mad and resentful at everyone who did drink. That’s no way to live. We are to let Christ live through us peacefully. Other people’s drinking is not our business unless they’re crossing our boundaries by doing so.
Just be a branch and let Christ be the vine! The branch life is good! (See John 15:5, Philippians 4:13, Galatians 5:22-23).
So today, my friends, know this: If you’re a Christian and you have a problem with alcohol, you will get sober and stay sober in the most authentic way when you finally realize Jesus is committed to you forever. His commitment to us changes everything about how we live our lives, including never having to deal with Saturday morning hangovers ever again.
A prayer for you: Father, as I breathe in deep today, this moment, I am grateful for you. I hate that it took me so long to understand your commitment to me through Jesus. Had I known this all along, I would have given up drinking decades ago, but you revealed the truth to me at the perfect time. Those dark days are now being used to help others, so I’m fine with that. Thank you again. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who don’t have a drinking problem, give them extra sympathy toward those who do. But at the same time, teach them how to set healthy boundaries for the people in their lives who struggle with this sin. For the Christian reading this who wants to quit so badly, let them know they don’t have to quit. They simply need to begin; begin living the life you’ve already given them in your Son. He’s in them. Teach them how to let Him out through their actions and attitudes, not just with drinking, but in all things. We love you. Amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!