Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saying "No" to Our Addictions

Our back yard path to the river.

For 5 1/2 years at Redeemer Josh Bentley and I preached through the 4 Gospels. The emphasis was on "the kingdom of God." The KG is the hermeneutical key to the Real Jesus of the Gospels.

After that we preached through the Christological texts of the Book of Acts.

Then we began preaching through the Christology of Paul. We've done 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians (which became new and living for me), and now, the Christology of Romans.

Last Sunday morning Josh did a great job preaching on baptism out of Romans 6:1-7. After he preached we had baptisms. Something happened with the heater and the baptismal pool water was... freezing! Still, we really celebrated.

This coming Sunday the text is Romans 6:8-14. Here it is:

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

I've been meditating on and studying this passage for over a week. I'm excited to preach on it. My expectation is: some people will be set free from "besetting sins," i.e. "addictions."

I learned from Gerald May that the word "addiction," in French, is atache. Addiction is "attachment." Literally, atache means "nailed to." May writes: ""Attachment "nails" our desire to specific objects and creates addiction. In this light, we can see why traditional psychotherapy, which is based on the release of repression, has proven ineffective with addictions. It also shows why addiction is the most powerful psychic enemy of humanity's desire for God." (May, Addiction and Grace)

Our addictions "enslave us with chains that are of our own making and yet that, paradoxically, are virtually beyond our control. Addiction also makes idolaters of us all, because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment, thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another."

Wow. The addict is a worshiper who bows before the object he is attached to and says, "Yes, Lord." But the Pauline idea is that the addict can say "No" to his idol-attachment because the idol actually has lost its reign over us. Can it be true? Can it be that simple?

I have seen this happen, in me and in others.

I expect to see more of the same this Sunday.