by Edmond Ng
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For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. (Galatians 2:18 NAS)In the movie 'Fireproof' (2008) by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sherwood Pictures, Captain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron), a heroic fireman, was seen facing a marriage crisis resulting from a deteriorated relationship with his wife over various matters. Through his spiritual journey to reconcile the marriage, Caleb confronted his addiction to pornography. The storyline continued as it centered on this addiction as part of the conflict between Caleb and his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea). True to reality, the actor was able to convey the difficulty of overcoming the habitual sin in his struggle to avoid the images that cause him to lust.
Habitual sin such as pornography, gambling, drinking, smoking, drug addiction, gluttony and others is seldom easy to get rid of even with Christians who may be walking faithfully with God on everything else. Like Caleb in 'Fireproof', some of us may have overcome a particular habitual sin before, but may have fallen again into the same recurring sin because of the temptation to go back to our old ways of sinful indulgence. This may be due to strong enticement or an urge that lures us as once fallen creature to our former self. Such is often the overwhelming power of sin that draws us into habitual sin.
In the book by RBC Ministries, When We Just Can't Stop, Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson wrote that ‘addiction’ is an enslaving destructive dependency. Random House was quoted in the book defining addiction as "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma." This definition helps us understand the extent of the difficulty face by the ones who are addicted and usually helpless when it comes to pulling away from sin's enticement and urge. Notwithstanding this understanding, we must however still recognize habitual sins as an area we need to work towards getting rid of in the strength of the Lord.
Not too long ago, the Lord brought to my attention a passage in the Bible to understand it from a different perspective. Although the primary message of the passage is about justification by grace and not by law, it also teaches something about habitual sins.
But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. (Galatians 2:17-21 NAS)This passage states clearly that if we as believers in the Lord seek to be justified in Christ and yet are found to be sinners, we are in fact rebuilding what we have once destroyed to prove ourselves to be transgressors. But now that we have come to know God, how is it that we turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things to want to be enslaved all over again (Galatians 4:9)? Just as the Bible says a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11), it is foolish for us to repeat the sins of our past. This being so and we having been crucified with Christ, we need no longer live in sin because Christ lives in us, and the life which we now live in the flesh should therefore be lived by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself up for us. We should realize that no matter how deep we may have got ourselves into trouble, when we cry out to the Lord, He hears us and is sure to deliver us. Nothing we can do will ever nullify the grace of God because Christ had not died needlessly.
If we are facing troubles of addiction and habitual sin, therefore, we should seek help. One of the places we can find such help is the web site of Setting Captives Free. Setting Captives Free is a ministry that provides free Christ-centered courses that aim to help people find freedom from habitual sins like impurity, over-eating, substance abuse, gambling, smoking and more. We should at the same time also pray and seek God earnestly to grant us the strength to overcome our habitual sins that we may live our lives victorious in Him.
Dear Lord, forgive us for sinning against You and against our loved ones. Help us Lord to overcome our weakness when we are faced with the overwhelming temptation that draws us back to our former ways. Remove from us Lord the ever enticing urge to rebuild what we have once destroyed, that we may no longer be transgressors, but be holy just as You O God are holy.
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Edmund, Thank you for this great and timely post. I have a friend struggling with an addiction at present.I thank you as well for listing the Addictions help website. God bless You brother!
I do not believe that there is one person on this planet who is free from all habitual sin. I feel everyone has at least one (and when there is one, there is bound to be a few others.). This must be true, or else we would be experiencing the second coming, since we would have the privilege of being graced with such a human's triumph (with gods ultimate help of course). If we do have a second coming, I wouldn't doubt it's because someone born into this world of sin finds the heart and grace to make themselves pure through and through, which, again, I feel has yet to be achieved, even with all our saints and good people.