Still an Addict?
Romans 13:3 I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.
I have been chastised a couple of times lately, by other Christians, for referring to myself as an addict. They feel it is inaccurate and harmful to use such caustic language to define myself. As a Christian, I am to identify as one saved by God’s grace. To identify with the old self then, is untruthful and may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you are an addict, you will act as an addict because you refuse to accept that you have been delivered.
While I absolutely know and accept that I have a perfect spirit life in which God sees me as righteous, I still live in this flesh and thus, I still have a flesh nature. To deny this, is not helpful. The most destructive defect may be to remain blind to the fact that I still have defects. I will not be made perfect in this life. Though I carry the perfection of Christ in my spirit life, I carry that gift in an earthen vessel, full of defects and imperfections.
When I look back on my destructive behavior, it would be ridiculous for me, I think, to deny that I am an addict. There is little other explanation for my pathologic behavior. I have a disease, which when indulged in, causes horrible consequences. I am not now engaging in active drug addiction, but the underlying defects that brought about my drug use remain. If I stopped pursuing God daily and started following self, I could and would easily return to active use. To deny this is to flirt with disaster.
This is what Paul said in today’s passage. In the sixth chapter of Romans, he explained in great detail how, in our spirit lives, we have been made new and perfect, but here, in Romans 12, he insisted that we are to be to continually offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Reflect on yourselves in sober judgement. Do not, in your pride, be blind to who you are. Self-absorption is the enemy of self-awareness. Know your defects and your assets. Continually acknowledge and crucify that which distracts you from God.
If I insist that my only identity is perfection in God, I will be blind to my sin. Sticking my head in the sand and denying my life problems is not constructive. Being a disciple of Christ involves two steps. I daily, must first deny self and then follow Christ (Luke 9:23). If I refuse to acknowledge that which distracts me from God, I will never take the first step. I will wallow in whatever defect I refuse to see and I will be perpetually frustrated by my lack of ability to follow Christ. I will never take the second step as I refuse to take the first.
Acknowledging my defects is necessary, just as it is necessary to realize that my greater reality is in my spirit life. My spirit life, where I do have the perfection of Christ, is my eternal reality, the only one which will matter a thousand years from now. The rest of my life then, is to be spent, daily acknowledging and crucifying the old defects in order to align my earthly life more and more with my spiritual reality. Denying my defects exist does not make them go away, it only makes me ignorant. The only way to crucify my defects is to daily acknowledge/abandon them and follow Christ.