“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“You’re such a good boy,” I say to my yellow lab, Harley, as I hold his face and scratch his head. “You are too, Charlie. I love you too, buddy.” My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel needed to be reassured as he looked at me with jealous eyes because I was loving on Harley. I adore these two dogs. They are more like kids than dogs–they think they are anyway.
These two furry boys of mine always greet me in the morning when I get up. They want to be scratched all over and then let outside. So I do just that, and then I make my coffee. It’s very early here on Saturday morning, the sun is still asleep as well as the rest of the neighborhood, but I like it that way. I like my mornings, a lot.
Used to be, I didn’t get to see many mornings because I was only about 3 or 4 hours into my sleep at 5 am. And I know most people don’t get up this early, but even back when I was still acting on my addiction of binge drinking, mornings were not an enjoyable time for me. They were painful.
Hangovers were a regular thing, denial about my hangovers–“Oh, it’s not that bad today”–was an even more regular thing. “Why can’t you just have some self-control?!” I’d say to myself, but I didn’t know how to respond. The fact of the matter was, I did have self-control. I just wasn’t allowing it to come to life.
As a Christian, the Spirit of God was in me. He had been in me from the time I first believed as a young boy. Therefore, I had quite a few heavenly characteristics on the inside of me which were dormant, and I made them dormant. I refused to let them grow.
Paul informed the Galatians about the truth of who they were inside because of Christ living in them. These same traits are embedded in the supernatural DNA of every believer in Christ, right now, today–because they’re coming from Christ in them. Here they are:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (see Galatians 5:22-23)
As you can see, we have wonderful attributes as Christ-indwellers! Paul calls these traits fruit because fruit never forces itself to grow. Fruit happens naturally. Same with us as Christians. Anything we produce in our lives should be happening from a state of rest. We are branches. Branches never work hard to grow fruit, neither do they muster up enough self-discipline. No, they simply be themselves, and that’s what we are, branches, being who God made us to be! Jesus tells us this:
“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.” (John 15:5)
Where do branches get all of their sustenance from? The vine. They can produce no fruit by themselves, they need the vine. If you think about it, the branch has it pretty easy. Its only job is to just be, to just hang out. It didn’t create itself and it doesn’t grow the fruit. The vine grows the fruit through the branch.
The confused person who thinks they’re producing “amazing” fruit by their own efforts and gifts, they’ll look at John 15:5 and immediately rebuttal, “Yeah Matt, the key word there is to remain! You gotta do your part to remain in Jesus! If you don’t, you’re out!”
Friend, from the very first time you are in Jesus, you can’t un-remain. You’re in Him for good (see Hebrews 7:25, 2 Timothy 2:13, Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17). Only those who have never been a part of Jesus “can do nothing” and we have become a part of Him through one step: We’ve believed He’s forgiven us (see John 1:12-13).
But I want to stay on track here, this devotional is not about our salvation. This devotional is for the people who are struggling with an addiction. For me, it was quite a few things, but the most obvious was my alcoholism. If you glance back up at the verse I quoted from Galatians, I’ve underlined the last fruit of the Spirit, self-control, that’s what I want to focus on today.
If you are struggling with an addiction and you believe Jesus has forgiven you, listen to me very closely…you have self-control.
“But Matt I’ve tried a thousand times to quit! How can you say I have self-control?!”
Because you do.
Why do you think you want to quit? Why do you think your addiction bothers you so much? It’s because you weren’t made for it. Your addiction will never be okay with you because your spirit is perfect and not addicted. The real you, your heaven-ready spirit, will be bothered until the day you die, letting you know you weren’t made to be out of control when it comes to anything.
To understand this, you must separate your who from your do. To even be able to make this distinction, you must also understand that you’re a three-part being: spirit, body, and soul.
As a Christian, your spirit is intertwined with God’s Spirit like fabric. You and He are one. God only did this–became infused with you–after you allowed Him to kill off your old spirit and give you a new one. In the spiritual realm, you have literally been crucified with Jesus, buried, and resurrected as a new, holy being. That’s who you really are! (See Romans 6:6, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Colossians 1:22, Galatians 2:20)
Although you have new desires coming from your new spirit, your mind is being renewed over time (see Romans 12:2). It’s exactly as it was before you received your new spirit. The good news is you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts can be matured. You can learn and grow!
Understanding this about myself changed so much! I am not what I do! I am not what I think! Neither are you! We are holy, set apart, and sealed with God’s Spirit, right now! (See Hebrews 10:10, Ephesians 1:13). Over time, as I began to learn more about my true identity, the Holy Spirit began to reveal many things to me about my drinking:
“Matthew, you weren’t made to keep getting drunk all the time. I’ve got a better plan for you. Some people can drink, but for you, I don’t want you to drink a single drop.”
“Matt, the reason why your hangover is so physically and emotionally draining is because you weren’t made to be controlled by alcohol. Stop drinking so you can enjoy peace.”
“Son, you are right. You have tried to quit many times and you’ve failed. That’s because you can’t quit, but you can begin. You can begin living out who you really are inside, a self-controlled person. Self-control is there, you just have to trust me. Feel your pain and anxiety and choose not to drink. I’ll help you.”
The Spirit of God was teaching me who I really am and I was actually starting to believe Him! The religious people had taught me the opposite. If I was truly a Christian then I’d never get drunk. Therefore, my faith was fake. It’s no wonder why so many people hate Christians; it’s because of the lies from those who are supposed to be representing Jesus. We have to start telling believers who they really are: self-controlled saints! Once they begin to understand this truth, only then will they organically start living that way.
So today, my friends, know this: The reason why you should give up your addiction is because you have self-control. Self-control is a part of your heavenly genetic structure. Sure, there are many other reasons I could list off as to why your addiction should go, but those reasons will be in the drop-down menu of Self-Control. If you’re saved, your addiction will never feel good or natural, no matter how long you deny it. So why not begin today? Why not begin being yourself?! In your spirit you are not addicted to anything! You are free! (See Galatians 5:1, John 8:36).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for my sense of peace. I know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit and it’s a very sweet fruit. You and I both know how non-peaceful so many mornings were for me when I was not living out my self-control. Thank you for teaching me who I am inside, sober and under complete control of my actions and attitudes.
Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Lots of these dear readers don’t have a drug or alcohol addiction, so they might not understand the agony of waking up the morning after a binge. However, if they knew about the torment we feel, they’d empathize. Some of them are dealing with an addicted person and they are DONE. They’ve had enough! I pray for them to be able to stand up and set boundaries. Help them to create new barriers of protection, and to make it very uncomfortable for the addicted person to continue. Teach them new ways to react. I ask that you remove any form of codependency or enabling. If they’re addicted to the addicted, set them free.
And God, for those who are in severe pain today because of acting on an addiction yesterday, help them begin to understand the truth of who they are inside. If they’re believers they DO HAVE self-control, they just gotta let it come out! As they trust Jesus and allow Him to transform their thinking, they will learn to be themselves! Reveal that they ARE free, they just have to step out of the prison door! The door is wide open! Step out and be yourself! I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!