When Our Beliefs Keep Us from Faith and Recovery
A man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” — so that they might accuse him. Matthew 12:10
The Christian who struggles with addiction is often led astray by what he believes. He’s knows that we’re made new when we come to faith and he believes that God has promised to change us, so he believes that God owes him immediate and complete deliverance. He no longer needs meetings, treatment, or relapse prevention. I’m a Christian. I can’t be an addict anymore. His misguided belief actually makes him more likely to fail.
When he inevitably relapses, because he didn’t do meetings, treatment, or relapse prevention, he feels cheated. Why God? I thought I was a new creation in Christ! Convinced that he understood the truth, he doesn’t know what to do with his faith or his addiction. He feels God let him down, but it wasn’t God who was wrong. It was his immature, incomplete view of God that was the problem. He went to the Bible and cherry-picked the passages that supported his view.
This is similar to the Pharisees in today’s passage. In the story, Jesus entered the synagogue and encountered a man with a withered hand. It was a setup and the Pharisees pounced. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” They suspected correctly that Jesus would heal the man and wanted to once again accuse him doing work on the Sabbath day of rest.
The Pharisees believed themselves to be the religious elite, but Jesus spurned them, earning their contempt. So, the Pharisees turned to their twisted version of God’s word. It’s wrong to work on the Sabbath. Jesus heals on the Sabbath. Jesus must be wrong! The Pharisees, like the misguided addict, weren’t trying to be evil. They just misunderstood God and it prevented them from truly finding faith.
None of us imagine we are the Pharisees, but then the Pharisees didn’t think they were wrong either. We must always interrogate our beliefs when they keep us from obedience and faith. We can know the truth, but our minds are so biased by what we want to hear, that we must always handle truth with profound humility. If our understanding of God is leading us away from him, we need to reexamine it. Authentic truth always leads to God, faith and recovery.