Encouragement for Today
“Addiction and the Self-Controlled Woman – Part 2”
Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Mark 8:33-34, “’Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”’ (NIV)
Here we stand with our strong habit – our addiction – in our arms. One part of us longs to toss it away and let its sting be gone forever, but another part wants to hold on to its familiar comforts. The teen wonders what his body will do without the drug’s high. The man wonders if his arms could ever be filled with as much as satisfaction as the woman seems to give him. And the young mother wonders how she’ll calm her edgy nerves without the liquor. They desperately wonder, What will Jesus do with this addiction? Can He really fill my emptiness?
Satan scrambles to keep his victims locked in stronghold. He feeds lies to his victims’ minds, each one specifically designed to nurse each wound. He says, “Jesus won’t heal you; you are too far into this thing. You’re an addict, remember.” Before you decide which path you will choose to take, let me draw your attention to two fundamental truths in our key verse of scripture for today. They can both be found in Jesus’ statement that commanded Satan to get behind him.
First, Jesus told Satan to get behind him because it is Satan’s sin that separates you and Jesus. Satan’s very name, in the original Greek means, “one who casts either himself or something between two in order to separate them.” Something has been cast between you and the healing power of Christ for the sole purpose of separating you from your Redeemer. So, Jesus commands the separation away by commanding the separator away.
Second, Jesus commands Satan because He can. Satan trembles at the voice of God and he leaves when Jesus tells him to. You see, Satan is a defeated foe. He has no power when God commands, because God is in control. What does this mean for you and me? It means that if you have accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, and if it is He who reigns supreme in your heart, then you have His power and control in you. That’s self-control’s reply. We have been given the Holy Spirit to indwell in us, and self-control is one of the fruits we bear that testifies to the Spirit’s presence in our lives. We too can look Satan’s addictions and sinful pleasures squarely in the eyes and say, “Get behind me!”
Overcoming an addiction is not something you can do in your own strength. Don’t fall into the trap of putting this kind of pressure on yourself. It is only through God’s strength that anyone can overcome an addiction. So what is your responsibility in all of this? Determine to fill yourself with more and more of God and seek the necessary Christian professional help you need.
Today I leave you with a promise. God began His good work for you when Jesus died on the cross, allowing forgiveness for all sin – past, present, and future. His good work began in you the day you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. This good work never stops and will be complete only when we meet Jesus face-to-face. Rest assured that when God starts His work in your life, He will complete it! Don’t let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ, or keep you from growing closer to Him.
My Prayer for Today:
Jesus…Redeemer and Savior, be my portion today. Be enough for me so that I do not feel the need to fill my life with things that would take the place of Your Holy Spirit’s power in me. Remind me that any control I try to gain out of addiction will and has already backfired – it is controlling me. I crawl to you in weakness as a broken vessel, crying out for your strength to be made perfect through me as I am made new. Help me to persevere even when I feel hopeless, for there is always hope in You.
Rest assured, to practice self-control does not just leave us where we are, hoping it works. Jesus further instructs us to do three things after we command evil away:
Deny ourselves. We must deny that we have any ability on our own to fill the hunger in our souls. Only Jesus can fill every nook and cranny. We must also deny the temporary pleasure of trying to fill ourselves. Otherwise, we can experience tremendous amounts of pain. Leave the filling and healing to Christ.
Take up our cross. To understand this, we must understand what Jesus did when He took up His cross. He died. But then He rose again, as a new being. To take up your cross means to crucify your old self with its habits, thought patterns, and addictions. For many of us, this will be a daily process as the old self tries to rear its ugly head. As new creations of the Living Savior, we must claim our new identities daily.
Follow Him. To really follow Christ, you must not only know the Father’s will, you must also follow it. That is when you will notice you are right in step with His Son…dancing to the same tune. That is when the Holy Spirit’s fruit of self-control whispers in your ear this sweet reply: “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll.” And you look at the face of your eternal Beloved and say, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8, NIV).
One day while I was washing dishes in the kitchen sink, I turned the water on and sprayed it over the dirty plates, utensils, and cups. One cup that was filled with red juice caught my eye. As I poured more and more water into it, slowly but surely the red juice dissipated and finally was gone altogether. Sometimes this is how our addictions will be cured by Jesus. The more His Living Water pours into us, the less room there will be for the junk of this world. It’s an exchange. Instead of food, alcohol, or drugs, Jesus becomes our fulfillment.
Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
2 Peter 1:5-8, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?, by Lysa TerKeurst
Focus on the Family: 1-800-A-FAMILY
Message of the Month Club
Originally published Thursday, 26 May 2005.