Questionable grammar aside, the title of this old Don Henley song hits the bullseye when it comes to addiction recovery in general. Saying you’re ready to repent of a particular sin and doing it can be two different animals altogether. For the Christian addict, following what God’s Holy Word instructs us to do to de-idolize our “sin of choice” enables us to free ourselves from slavery to it. But are we willing to adhere to the discipline and self-denial required to overcome our obsession? Will we “walk the walk” or simply “talk the talk” as we continue to sharpen our hiding skills? Don’t buy the lie that insists merely reading your Bible daily, tithing faithfully and attending Celebrate Recovery meetings will, in and of themselves, make your cravings for sinful things/behaviors disappear like magic. It takes maintaining persistent determination to become righteous for as long as it takes, even if the process involves years or even decades of struggle. What you must ask yourself is this: How bad do you want to change? Bad enough to endure scorn, ridicule and/or ostracization by friends and family members? Sorry, but half-hearted attempts to let the Holy Spirit transform your heart and mind won’t work. It takes everything you’ve got. You have to go “all in.” And that means surrendering it all to God Almighty.
Frank Worthen wrote, “When we reach the point where we realize our own efforts are getting us nowhere, we accept the conclusion we can’t change ourselves. The next question to ask is, ‘Do we really want our lives to be different?’ God usually does very little in our lives until we get honest with him. He knows if we’re asking Him for deliverance when we really don’t want it. If change isn’t happening… we may need to admit we really don’t want it. Lasting freedom from sin comes when our motives are pure: when we don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. Our desire for a full, rich relationship with the Lord is the motivation which clears the way for real change.” Look, you can blame God all you want for not instantly taking away your destructive urges but it won’t alter the hard truth that you brought your addiction upon yourself via the dubious choices you made. The good news is that, despite the mess your sinful nature got you into, God will change you if you want change more than staying the way you are. How can you know with absolute certainty He’ll keep His end of the deal? The Bible is full of His promises and God doesn’t lie. Ever. “…If my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). “…Take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers. Commit your future to the LORD! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf” (Psalm 37:4-5). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Wait! There’s more! “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). In other words, if you do something about your affection for sin then the omnipotent God of the universe will reciprocate in kind by giving you the strength to start hating it. In my case I was forced to admit my lifelong secret addiction to pornography had stained my heart to the point where I’d turned into a horrible person no one cared to associate with. The night my wife confronted me with the shameful, undeniable evidence I sank to my knees and pleaded with God to heal me of my disgusting habit. I finally wanted change bad enough to give Him complete control of my life. At last I was ready to accept His terms for rehabilitation. Steve Gallagher wrote, “God guarantees freedom to His children, but it’s their responsibility to meet the conditions.”
Understand your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you to remain in the clutches of sin. He will answer your prayer to break loose from the bonds of addiction. His Word tells us repeatedly of His boundless mercy and unconditional love. It’s right there in black and white. Freedom can be yours! Check it out yourself: “…Whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Our Heavenly Father came through for His children ages ago and He hasn’t changed a bit since. And what’s true of God is true of His Son, our beloved Savior: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8). It was He who taught us, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:8-11). Have you had enough of your stinkin’ addiction to surrender it – all of it – to your higher power, Jesus Christ, whose power knows no limits? I used to tell myself I could stop patronizing the porn merchants at any time. But that was bull dookie. I couldn’t. It took doing it God’s way in order to quit. One day at a time.