Holy Addiction!

March 23, 2013

We live in an addicted society. There are more types of addictions than you can imagine and a hundred books for each to tell you how to overcome them. Things that the Scriptures call sin and lusts of the flesh are now diseases or addictions that one cannot help doing and must be counseled by doctors of various “disciplines” to overcome these terrible diseases.

I do not know how one catches alcoholism or heroin addiction. I know that there are sexually transmitted diseases, but sexual addiction is not one of them. Hmm, is that a viral infection and how contagious is it? Sadly, you have a much better chance of overcoming ravaging cancer and Alzheimer’s than you have of overcoming these other “diseases” no matter how long, advanced or costly the therapy.

I have heard of a woman dying from just smelling the steam off of sizzling shrimp, but if you have a “allergy” or defective gene weakness to drugs can you develop the addiction by smelling the breath of someone that is high? If you kiss a person that has had a shot of Jack Black, will you catch the disease of alcoholism? Can you catch sexual addiction at the Movie Theater or from the public toilet seat? Odd how these diseases bear no resemblance to any other medical conditions commonly considered diseases.

No one has ever entered a cancer center and requested a hypodermic full of malignant tissue be injected. No one has ever entered a blood bank and asked for a shot of tainted blood with a beer chaser. No one has ever gone from kennel to kennel to pay to be bitten by a rabid dog or asking for E Coli infected raw meat at a diner. However, many have willingly stuck a needle filled with a narcotic in their arm and have smoked a rock or a cigarette and found themselves addicted. They have gone of their own volition into bar after bar partying themselves into a stupor until their body could not function without alcohol. Many have voluntarily bought porno magazines and movies and frequented brothels until the Law of Diminishing Return brings them into a jaded lifestyle of perversity seeking pleasure they will never find.

All these new fangled diseases have something in common with the old sins. Someone chose to start an activity that led to the addiction. They are not victims of a plague or epidemic. They are responsible for their problem and until they learn to take responsibility for it, they can never reverse their situation whether it is food or heroin addiction.

Having facilitated a 12-step program for emotional stability that was designed for drug addicts and alcoholics, the following verses jumped at me and I saw a means of obtaining a holy addiction that would be constructive instead of destructive. You get holy addiction the same way as the unholy ones. You purpose to partake of it until it controls you.

1 Cor 16:15-16
15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. KJV

They addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. The word addicted comes from a verb that means to arrange in an orderly manner or to assign or dispose themselves to a certain position or fate. They voluntarily assigned themselves to the position of saint ministers and purposed to do it no matter what the outcome of that task may be. They placed themselves in this position not knowing what all it may entail much like a missionary that sails to a foreign land. They allowed that ministry to control their lives and influence their every action.

That is exactly how we become controlled by unholy addictions. We arrange or allow others to arrange the pattern of our introduction to our particular sin and then we dispose ourselves to it until it controls us and influences every part of our life to our hurt.

It is time we submit ourselves to a holy addiction and a ministry to the saints is one we would do well to develop. Many times, we direct all our energies to the Lost or to the World and we neglect the saints. True some spend too much time on “we four and no more” but that is more selfishness than a ministry. They are so self-centered that none of the select are truly ministered to and they become sullen, bitter, backbiters, which do not properly care for anything or anyone. Theirs is a Ministry of Misery.

The usual case in a church that is truly seeking holiness and service is that the energies are being focused outward and no one sees the needs within the Body. This might be due to a misguided concept that the Lord will care for His own and an attitude of “God helps them who help themselves.” It is also assumed that those in need will speak up and ask so we think by saying, “If you need me, just call” handles the needs of the Body. Unless you have a very intimate spiritual relationship with that person or are part of the biological family, it is unlikely that they will call. You will need to act to reach them.

We no longer live in a society where folks are close to their neighbors hanging out at the fence for fellowship. We are afraid to pry and too content to let everyone live their own lives. This has spilled over or rather flooded the Church. We come into to worship, shake some hands, and then never see each other until the next corporate worship. This is a common problem in the large churches just because there are too many people. A pastor friend of mine was on vacation and visited a large church and a fellow asked him to usher. My friend said that he was a visitor but would be glad to serve. The usher gave him an odd, almost offended look and walked away.

While it is easy in a large church, this isolation is also possible in a small church. Small groups within the group form into cliques. Yes, we tend to gravitate towards those who have similar interests or with whom we serve together like choir members or deacons. This is not necessarily bad, but becomes so when we no longer seek to bring in other people to the group or we fail to “see” anyone else but ’that old gang of mine.” Some people will never see themselves as part of any particular group. They were wallflowers in their school years and are probably aloof in their workplace. They will follow the same pattern in church unless you and I seek to bring them into our smaller folds so that they will feel a part of the larger fold.

Sometimes, it does not take much. One fellow shortly after he was saved told me that he did not feel like he belonged in the church because he was not holy enough. I laughed and said, “Brother, just keep looking over at me. When they throw me out of the church, you might need to worry.” Much later, he told me that there were times that he had to remember that and that he looked over at me to see that I was still there. Praise God, he is now an evangelist that has been all over the world preaching and distributing bibles.

How much did my statement mean to him, I don’t really know, but if that kept him in church until God overcame his fears and settled him enough to be able to call him then I ministered to him by that statement along with my open hand and heart. However, what if he never made that statement? I would have never known his fear. Would he have fallen by the wayside? How many have fallen by the wayside because they felt unworthy or afraid they could not live the life, but could not voice it? We need to reach out to the silent as well as the vocal. We need to addict ourselves to the ministry of the saints.

Stephanas and his household were well to do. The ministry they devoted themselves was to use their wealth to minister to the saints. I am sure that they also ministered to them spiritually and by example. Hence, Paul could tell the saints to submit or obey these folks and others that helped in the ministry. They had the gifts of giving and administration, which is a good combination for good stewardship and meeting the needs of others. One without the other gets nothing done well.

We could use more folks like this today. Often rich people give of their excess or for a tax break so that they can continue their excesses much like the Pharisees. The early Church was not like this. They gave so that none had a need. (Acts 2:44-47) This action combined with daily fellowship led to great joy and souls being added to the church. May we be granted a large portion of that spirit!

I am not suggesting that we seek out the rich and try to find more like Stephanas. John Wesley said, “If the rich build the church then man builds the church. If the poor builds the church then God builds the church.” Sadly, many rich Christians see their wealth coming from their great ability and business acumen and bring that with them into the church along with some other follies and they seek to turn the Body into a business and the calling into a career. Bodies that turn into business die long before the doors close in bankruptcy because God blesses His Body, but not Church, Inc.

Indeed, the rich are not the only ones that suffer from fiscal folly. The poor are often that way because they do not manage well what they have been given. I have made some poor choices over the years and might be a bit wealthier had I managed what God gave me more efficiently. Instead of buying temporal trinkets that will become trash, we would do well to seek to be content with food and clothing and modest shelter that we might provide needs for others and increase our eternal rewards.

It will not happen unless we develop a holy addiction. You see an addiction compels you to do something whether it is shooting up, or knocking back a Jack Black or ministering to the saints or the lost. It becomes something that drives you or constrains you to do the deed.

2 Cor 5:13-15
13For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. KJV

The word constrain is not only used as to be compelled by an inner drive, but also to be arrested like a prisoner which is an external force compelling you to do what you might not willingly do. Paul not only had his inward desire to preach Christ and not live for himself, but He had the external, which was also an internal love, of Christ arresting him and compelling him to do so. It was external until he took it in on the Damascus Road where it became an internal hunger to know Him and serve Him! (Phil 3:14)
This is why we are to be addicted to the Holy Spirit rather than wine. (Eph 5:18) Wine is an external temptation until we take it inwardly and then it compels us to do things we would not normally do and things that make us look foolish or insane to the sober. As long as you leave it in the bottle, it cannot hurt you, but pop the cork and swallow, and the war is on and you will only end up in defeat.

The Holy Spirit comes into us at salvation, but often we keep Him bottled by stuffing grieving corks and resistance corks in the areas where He wishes to flow and control. (Eph 4:30; Acts 7:15) He is holy “firewater” but we quench Him with buckets of the world’s sewage that we have been imbibing and He cannot burn in our hearts like whiskey in our throats. (1 Thess 5:19) Keep Him bottled up or quenched and He cannot help you. However, allow your parched soul to pop the corks and drink deeply and the war is on, but this one will end in victory. (Gal 5:16,17)

Some might be thinking that I am asking them to become a fanatic. I might be. The word means to be moved by a frenzy of enthusiasm or zeal. Interestingly, fan like in sports fan is just a variation of fanatic. Enthusiasm comes from the Greek meaning inspired or possessed. I have seen sports fans and music fans looking and acting like they are possessed. Should not then we who are not our own, but are bought with a price start looking and acting like we are possessed of God? Zeal also comes from the Greek meaning to boil. I have watched hockey players boil over into violence as well as various groups of fans. Want to get a black eye in Dallas? Say something about the Cowboys in the wrong place and I guarantee you will get one and if you give the lad or lassie one back they will wear it as a badge of honor because they were defending Da Boys. Should not the Word of God boil or burn within us until we can do nothing but contend for the faith and desire righteousness even if we end up with a few scars or marks of Christ like Paul? (Gal 6:17) Would you rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer with Him? (Acts 5:41) Wesley said that the secret to his success was that “I set myself on fire and people come and watch me burn.” O, that we may have Holy Spirit oil boiling in us until we burn half as bright as he did!!!

You say, “I will look foolish to the lost as well to many brethren”. No kidding? This old world is so wrapped up in nonsense that anything that was common sense fifty years ago would look foolish to them so don’t sweat it. So many of the “brethren” have bellied up to the bar of the world for so long they will also brand you a fanatic if you take a stand on anything. Their calls to be tolerant, loving, and moderate, would have been called by the 1st Century Christians as cowardly, compromising, and lukewarm destined to be vomited by the Lord. Frankly, I have tried the moderate route and got to where I wanted to vomit myself and was glad that God didn’t take me out for denying His Word in the name of unity and tolerance.

Verse 13 says that whether we be beside ourselves which means that we look like we are out of our wits or insane or if we are sober meaning sane or of a sound mind it is for your cause. Whose cause is it? The saints’ cause or that which will bring them to a mature life in Christ that loves and serves. Paul did not care what people thought of him. He was addicted to winning the lost and ministering to the saints. He was filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit and constrained by the love of Christ.

What are you controlled by or addicted to? Is it hurting or helping you? Is it keeping you from service? Then switch to a holy addiction of ministering to the saints which will make the Body stronger and spill over to the lost. We are do to good to all men, but especially to the saints. (Gal 6:10) Will you purpose to put yourself under the influence of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to control you like you have allowed other things control you to your hurt? I pray that we will do so and may that addiction destroy the flesh so that we will no longer live to ourselves but that the life we shall then live is Christ living in us by faith. (Gal 2:20)


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