‘Recovering Alcoholics’; ‘Recovering Addicts’. Most of us probably know, or know of, some really fine people who fall into that category. Some may be our close friends or relatives. Such dear people are afflicted with a disease for which there is no immunization nor is there any cure. Some of them may have been able to achieve a degree of victory through an ‘overcoming’ desire within them. But, for those afflicted with that particular disease, the power and allurement of alcohol and/or drugs never goes completely away. Apart from a miracle of God the tendency is still there and always will be.. They can only be described as ‘Recovering Alcoholics’ or ‘Recovering Addicts’. We can only imagine the constant battle that is raging within them, and the ceaseless temptations that today’s society places in their pathway.
I would venture that the majority of us do not fall into that category. We should praise the Lord for that! But that is certainly no reason for boasting on our part; that surely doesn’t mean we are disease free—No Siree! Not by any stretch of the imagination! We all have inborn weaknesses. We all have chinks in our armor. We are all natural born ‘sinners’! We are all addicted to sin! And, sin of any kind, whether mental or physical, is also a disease for which there is no immunization, nor is there any cure. We may have achieved a degree of victory over one or more of our natural, inborn weaknesses, but the tendency is still there; we can only describe ourselves as ‘Recovering Sinners’.
I would love to report that for those of us who are born again Christians, the Holy Spirit living within us is a be all, do all remedy for the addiction to sin. But that is simply not the case. There will always be a war raging within us. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would (Galatians 5:17 RSV).” Even the great Apostle Paul acknowledged the war that was always raging within him. He confessed to the Christians in Rome, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:19 RSV).” Hmm, does that strike a nerve in any of us?
That being the case, the apostle Paul offered this bit of advise: If we are to achieve any degree of victory over various sins, we must avoid people, places and things where we could so easily become addicts. In that regard, he also told the Christians at Rome, “… make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.(Romans 13:14 NASB).” Wow! That Scripture should be in all caps, “MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH IN REGARD TO ITS LUSTS!!!”
Allow me to offer a crude illustration if I may. Suppose I was a big ole trophy bass, and I was mentoring a younger bass—a small fry. One of the first things I would tell him, “Son, do you see that big fancy bass boat over yonder? STAY AWAY FROM IT!!!. Those guys might look harmless enough, but they have a whole pantry full of tasty looking morsels that they will dangle in front of you. They can be unbelievably alluring to you. You might be able to resist some of them, but they’ll keep on going to their pantry until they find one you can’t resist. And the next thing you know, you’ll find yourself in their frying pan.” Surely you have had some friends that have ignored the warning signs. In other words, by flirting dangerously close to those shiny bass boats, they were making provision to satisfy the lusts of their flesh, and their natural weakness got ’em.
That translates so easily to us. Country singer, Tom T. Hall wrote a rather humorous song outlining the various areas of our lives in which we have inherent weaknesses, areas in which we can so easily become addicts: It’s ‘Faster horses, Younger women, Older whiskey, More money’. That sounds overly simplistic, but it brings to light four familiar problem categories affecting so many of us. These are common pitfalls that trap so many of us.
FASTER HORSES! Oh yeah! We may not give a whit about horses, but it certainly serves as a microcosm of of our ego driven desires. So many of us are burdened with the desire for bigger, better, fancier, newer, costlier houses and autos and clothes and toys than our peers. We wish for less gray hair, less wrinkles and more libido. We want better jobs with more prestigious titles and associated privileges. And the society within which we live often measures our degree of success by our material possessions, rather than upon our state of contentment and happiness. Taking that a step further, to be content with our possessions and our station in life is considered by many as having no ambition. Hmm, I wonder how our society would judge the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “….I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: (Philippians 4:11 NKJV)”
YOUNGER WOMEN!! Sex! Whew! What a tempting lure that can be! And it seems the older we become, the more we long for the days of our youth and the pleasures our young love afforded. (Please note; I can only speak for men, because I are one!) Many are the men who develop the ‘middle age crazies’, trying to hold on to their youth with both hands. Even though many of us are beyond our prime, we still desire to be appealing to the sexy young chicks. It’s a male instinct. Pharmaceutical companies are capitalizing on that weakness and are making a mint selling us performance enhancing hormones. But here’s the bad news. What I’m saying next is so very elementary, but it doesn’t cost anything to remind us again: Unbridled sex can be, and often is a very dangerous allurement. It can break up homes; it can produce a myriad of STD’s; it can result in a lifetime of regrets, and it can draw the wrath of God almighty. It ain’t worth it! Thus, in 2 Timothy 2:22 we are exhorted to, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts (NLT).”
OLDER WHISKEY! Drunkenness! I will catch a lot of flak over this, but part of me understands those who enjoy a cold beer after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day. I can also understand those who enjoy a glass of red wine with their various Italian dishes. I can even understand those who enjoy a mixed drink to relax before enjoying a nice dinner. I would venture that such practices in and of themselves are not a sin (other than the bad influence they might be to someone who is watching). However, the ‘hidden’ danger in all these is that a single drink ofttimes becomes the bridge between sobriety and drunkenness. Admittedly there are a number of ‘social drinkers’ who are content with a single drink. But a large segment of those who enjoy strong drink are not able to stop until they reach some level of inebriation. Oddly enough, with many imbibers, drunkenness is actually their goal! Irish author and dramatist, Brendan Behan, once opined, “One drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough”. Thus the wise admonition, “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” ”Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1 NASB).” Just a little side bar to that: the same would apply to any and all mood altering substances. .
MORE MONEY! It should also be noted here that money, in and of itself is not evil. Money greases the wheels of business and technology, of medical research and development, of charitable aid and assistance, and many other noble endeavors. However, it also presents a potential pitfall. Please note here that Satan also has the power to ‘bless us’ with money. In many cases, he can make the prospect of more money be so unbelievably alluring to us that it becomes one of the strongest desires of our heart. We often feel that the degree of happiness we enjoy is directly related to money —the more money we have, the happier we’ll be. In such cases, God is left out of that equation. In such cases, our thirst for more money surpasses our thirst for a closer walk with God. Money has become between us and God. Without even realizing it, money actually becomes our God. “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10 NASB)”.
As the wise ole trophy bass would tell his young fry, “Son, see all them tasty looking lures over there? I know how delicious they always look. But, watch out! No matter how innocent they may seem, they are potential pitfalls. They all have the potential to trap you!”
So be wary of faster horses, younger women, older whiskey and more money! To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Remember, we are no more than ‘Recovering Sinners!”