Does God Heal Me or Do I Need to go to Treatment?
Luke 4:40 All those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.
Within Christianity, there is a debate regarding how God heals us. There are those who feel we are promised immediate healing from all our defects when we come to Christ and there are those who feel we have an ongoing struggle with our flesh nature. From reading passages like the one above, it would be easy to build a theology in which Jesus wants to remove all the thorns of our flesh miraculously and instantaneously.
I once claimed this healing from my addiction, only to return to that behavior. What does that mean? Does God promise deliverance from my defects or do I struggle on with them? Do I need treatment or do I just need God? In my destruction, I had well-meaning Christians tell me that I did not need treatment or the 12-steps, I just needed Jesus.
I do know those who report that God has delivered them miraculously from addiction. They feel that they will never again struggle as God has set them free, without working the 12-steps or going to AA. I applaud them and I am thankful for how God has worked in their lives, but I do think those who live free from addiction have several things in common.
First, they all live radically different lives than they did previously. They make conscious choices to actively deny self and pursue Christ daily. Second, I think they would all admit that if they chose to stop following Christ, they could easily return to their destruction. Third, though they may have overcome one defect, I think they would all agree that they still have many other defects of the flesh with which they still struggle.
No one in their right mind would claim that God has delivered them from all their defects and that they no longer need God. If God made me perfect today, I would become a monster in my pride tomorrow.
So, how does God heal my addiction and free me from slavery to myself? Does He heal instantly, or do I need to work at it? Again, from the passage above, Jesus appears to prefer instant healing. The blind see and the lame walk when they meet him. It is important though, to understand several things about Jesus’ work here.
Even though Jesus healed his followers from specific afflictions, they all eventually succumbed to their decaying flesh and met death. Jesus did not deliver them from every defect of the body or the flesh nature. Even Lazarus died a second time. None of us are promised complete freedom from the flesh until we leave these bodies. We are all subject to the decay of our flesh. The miracles that Jesus performed were miracles because they were exceptional circumstances in which God worked. They were not the norm.
Paul begged God three times to remove a thorn from his flesh and three times, God refused. We are not told if it was a physical ailment or a lust of the flesh. Either way, God allowed Paul to remain in his need so that he would remain dependent on God. As long as Paul used his need to turn him to God instead of self, he was free from slavery to it. Thus, Paul was continually delivered, though the specific defect was never removed.
So, the question remains, how does God free me from my addiction? Do I need God alone, or does He work through processes like treatment and the 12-steps? This is getting long though, so that answer must wait until tomorrow.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.