As you well know, the world considers many people to be "recovering alcoholics," or "recovering anorexics," or "recovering sexual offenders," or "recovering compulsive gamblers."
Hidden in these labels are assumptions—"ingredients"—based on lies, fear, greed and the desire for control. If we were to require full disclosure in conjunction with the use of such labels, we would hear and see statements such as:
- Such people will never be free; they must always consider themselves to be in process.
- Some will need to be in continual therapy for the rest of their lives (especially if they are wealthy). Others will need a readily available support network or organization.
- Because recovering sexual offenders are a danger to society, they will probably require continual therapy for their "incurable disease."
- All those in various stages of recovery are really forever defective.
- Diseases qualify for insurance payments, but aberrations and captivities do not. Therefore we need to keep using medical/clinical language whenever possible.
- If you have been defined as "recovering," don’t ever be so bold as to claim that you have been set free. Experts say it is not possible.
In summary, people who accept the label "recovering" are really those who "cope" with life. They are without hope, controlled by passions and lust.
The Bible clearly says that no one needs to be stuck in an addiction, captivity, or bondage. It is true that there is only one way to freedom; and that way, discovered only in Scripture, involves more than forgiveness.
God’s path to freedom involves washing, sanctification, and justification (1 Corinthians 6:11) which result in receiving "the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17). With our acceptance of this gift comes a new identity—a new label—based on the truth of our new life in union with Christ.
Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, has set thousands free from such captivities throughout history. The Bible says in John 8:32, "and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Galatians 5:1 reads, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Romans 5:17 says, "... much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."
Full disclosure on this new label would reveal many assumptions, which are evidenced by the truth of God’s Word worked out in our lives. These assumptions are lovingly wrapped in statements such as these:
- God’s path to freedom will not be through therapy or secular treatment centers. (It is recognized that substance abuse changes the chemistry in the body, and treatment centers may be necessary for temporary medical care.)
- Those who think they know grace and the gift of righteousness—but are still "coping" rather than reigning—do not truly know grace, nor the gift of righteousness.
- The sicknesses (addictions), as the world terms the conditions listed above, are not diseases after all, but rather are slaveries or bondages.
- Truth, not self-help therapy, is the way out of bondage. Truth, in the Bible, is not only the answer to lies, but it is also the person of Jesus Christ.
- Grace is not available to the proud (1 Peter 5:5-6). Therefore if you have not experienced grace, which enables us to reign, it may be that you have not allowed the Holy Spirit to work on your pride problem.
- Reigning has to do with royalty, and such is the body of Christ. 1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Reigning is not descriptive of those in bondage.
- If you do not experience freedom from your "addictions," it may be that you understand the work of the blood of Christ (forgiveness), but not the work of the cross of Christ (deliverance or freedom), or perhaps the work of the life of Christ (victory and identity), or perhaps your position in Christ (rest).
- If you are a Christian, but still experientially in bondage (addicted), you may still be believing lies, without recognizing them as lies.
- If you are still a recovering addict, perhaps you do not know that although Jesus set you free, you can be enslaved again by yielding yourself to the thing that had enslaved you. Romans 6:16 says that to whomever you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the ones whom you obey!
The best the world can offer is the label "recovering," wrapped around a set of coping tools guaranteed to wear out within your lifetime. But we as Christians have a brighter future. We were destined for reigning in life. There is hope for us. There is life for us. There is freedom for us! Christ has come that you "might have life, and might have it abundantly."