Why I Decided To Quit Drinking
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
The title of this devotional is “Why I Decided To Quit Drinking,” but to be honest with you, I almost titled it, “How I quit drinking.” I went with the first, because I can include the how in with the why…So let’s go.
I heard it once said, “The ‘ISM’ in ‘alcoholism,’ stands for: Incredibly Short Memory.” That little nugget of wisdom is true. We forget. We forget how bad the episodes can get when we drink. Either because we’ve blacked out–therefore forgetting what happened–or, we forget on purpose.
Forgetting on purpose is better known as denial.
Another one-liner that us veteran problem-drinkers know is, “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” That could not be further from the truth! For me, I was the Michael Phelps of “Denial.” I swam through it like a fish, I was the best, and I was the fastest.
I was the best at ignoring what my “casual” drinking was doing to my health, my parenting, my marriage, and my relationship with God.
As I type this, it’s very early Saturday morning, the sun has barely peeked out. For some strange reason–which, if I think about it, it’s not really strange, it’s the Holy Spirit activating my ministry gift–on Saturday mornings, I always want to write about my alcohol recovery.
I guess it’s because I can still feel the remnant hangovers from Old Matt’s life, the most debilitating ones being on Saturday mornings. Why were my hangovers so painful on Saturdays? Because my alcohol addiction flared up the most on Friday evenings. To celebrate a successful workweek (or any other excuse I could come up with), I’d drink more heavily. And the devil always placed the excuse in my mind, “You don’t have to work tomorrow, so you can drink more.” So, I would.
Saturday mornings hurt…bad.
I would try to act like they didn’t, but truth be told, I wasn’t just in pain physically, but also mentally, emotionally–and because I was grieving the Holy Spirit with my binges– I was in pain, spiritually.
As a Christian alcoholic, because I was blatantly ignoring the Holy Spirit each time I put a bottle up to my lips, I grieved Him. Just in the same way a loving parent grieves their child’s behavior who is on heroin–or any other drug–God still loved me infinitely, but it hurt Him each and every time I pounded beers and shots.
The Bible says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30 my emphasis added).
Another version says, “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
That one is easier to understand. “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live!” That’s exactly what I was doing each time I popped a top! I just kept ignoring Him!
Now, I want you to notice the second sentence in that verse because it’s very important–it will help anyone recover, because it proves that we can always try again–ALWAYS–as long as we are alive, no matter if we are 9 or 90, God let’s us begin again: “Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
Do you see that? My addiction, my alcoholism, did not remove my guarantee of heaven! And it doesn’t remove yours either, if you have an addiction of any type as well! OUR ACTIONS–GOOD OR BAD–DO NOT CHANGE OUR POSITION WITH GOD! Had I never stopped drinking, I’d still get to go to where He is when I die–the day of redemption!
Because of my faith in Christ, I’ve been “identified as his own” and “guaranteed” that I’d be “saved.” It’s right THERE! The grace of the Cross supersedes EVERYTHING! This is the only way!
The religious Christians won’t agree with this. They’ll say that if you keep sinning, or if you’re stuck in a sin-pattern–because of a tendency–you will lose your spot in heaven, or, you’re not really saved.
Well, the Bible says that is incorrect. They’ve not earned a THING. It’s all been free for them as well, the devil simply has them convinced their religious actions makes them acceptable to God…they are in for a big surprise.
On that day of redemption, when they walk in with their barrel of religious works, set it down in front of our Creator, and say, “Look at what I did,” I believe God will say, “So what. Tell me, why did you do these things?”
WE DO EVERYTHING BECAUSE WE LOVE GOD! Nothing added, nothing taken away!
That’s why I’m here to help the alcohol–addict! The drug–addict! The sex–addict! The ___________ (fill in the blank)–ADDICT! I’m not here to stroke the egos of the religious Christians, or fall in line, just so they’ll approve of me or say nice things about me.
I’M HERE TO HELP THE LOST FIND THEIR WAY OUT OF THE DARKNESS! I’m not here to be a good little Christian boy so I’ll get patted on the head!
I’M HERE TO SHAKE UP THE RELIGIOUS WORLD FOR JESUS!!!!
The Christians who REFUSE to get out into the world and help people find what WE have, they are more lost than the lost! DO SOMETHING! DO ANYTHING! THIS LIFE AIN’T ABOUT US “GOING TO CHURCH” or getting dunked in water! It’s about us getting off our polished butts, getting our hands dirty, and SAVING PEOPLE’S LIVES!
THEY NEED US!
*ahem*…Sorry about that.
I get worked up when I think about religion, how it’s destroyed so many lives. All the rules and judgment and members-only clubs. COUNT. ME. OUT. I’m all for the truth, but I’m also all for love. Jesus spoke both at the same time, that’s my goal. And I’ll rest in His grace with confidence as I speak this out.
I want to get in with the people who are hurting; the ones who have been lied to about Jesus. I want to show those who don’t really understand His grace…His grace. And if that takes me upsetting some religious Christians in the process, so be it. If it takes me airing out my own dirty laundry, to make me relatable, so be it.
My friend, if you’re addicted, your addiction does not define you, your Creator does. I want to tell you something that is really neat: You look like God. Yep. You look like Him. The Bible says we were created in His own image (Genesis 1:27). So that fact should make you feel at least a little better, if you are struggling today.
But this Good News (that’s what the gospel means) doesn’t stop there! God not only created you in His own image, but He loved you so much, that He joined you here on His own created planet! (See John 1).
Why? For many reasons! First of all, He wanted to pay off all of your sin-debt with Him–personally. Imagine if you were standing in front a judge in a court of law and you are guilty and you know it. Convicted of the crime, the judge says, “Guilty,” but then he stands up and pays off your fine…that’s exactly what Jesus did!
HE LOVED YOU SO MUCH HE TOOK THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH FOR YOU! And you have access to this gift, by grace, through simply…believing (see Ephesians 2:8,9).
Besides our free sin-punishment-pay-off, Jesus also lived the life that we should try gracefully to live. Why? Because He was perfect! Because He was, and is, God in the flesh! He laid out all the principles, ways, and truths we should follow! He set the standard for all humanity! He saw that we couldn’t get it right, so He came down and showed us how to live, forgive, and love others properly!
And by faith alone–through His Spirit–we can do the same.
Will we still mess up even after we place our faith in Him? Yes. And God knows that. That’s why Jesus completed all of the required work, laws, and commands of God for us (see Galatians 3:13, Romans 10:4, Matthew 5:17). It is now our job to simply live by faith in Him, through His Spirit, and enjoy this awesome gift of being adopted into the family of God! HOW EASY! HOW SIMPLE! HOW AMAZINGLY GRACEFUL!
SO! Let me answer the question that is the title of this devotional, “Why I decided To Quit Drinking.”
Simple: Because I love Jesus…absolutely everything I do, or don’t do, is because I love Him. And I love Him because I can’t stop Him from loving me, even if I was still binge-drinking all the time.
And then the next question, “How did I stop drinking?”
Simple: Because I love Jesus.
A prayer for you: Well good morning, Lord! MAN, I have a lot of energy today! I know that this energy is a gift from you through me being obedient to the Holy Spirit by NOT getting plastered last night. With over two years of sobriety now, I can see this is what you wanted for me all along! THANK YOU! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. I understand that everyone reading today’s devotional is not an alcoholic or addict, but some are. First, for those who aren’t, help them to understand that us addicts are just in need of some serious mercy and grace–but also, we need firmness. We need people who will call us out, and stand up to us! If there is any hint of codependency or enabling in ANY relationship here, please begin to give them the tools they need to set healthy boundaries for the addicts in their lives–and give them the strength they need to enforce those boundaries with love.
And for those who are hungover right now, or who may have made some terrible choices while drunk or high last night–in the name of Jesus–I REBUKE SATAN’S GRASP ON THEIR MINDSET AND LIVES! I DEMAND that he leave them alone! BREAK THEM FREE! RIGHT NOW! Give them the extra grace needed to simply begin. Not quit, but begin a new life in Christ! And most of all, show them that you will USE this difficult season for their purpose! Thank you in advance! I SPEAK FREEDOM OVER THEIR LIVES! In Christ’s name, amen.
For more of my teachings, pick up one of my books!