Every Relapse Gets Worse
The last state of that person is worse than the first. Luke 11:26
Years ago, shortly after I began abusing pills, I sort-of addressed my problem but didn’t really change anything. I just stopped for a while. My relapse was slow in coming and took years to build to any apparent consequence. Addiction’s natural course is to progressively worsen though, and so, eventually, I had to deal with it again, and again, I stopped for a while.
This pattern continued, but with each relapse, my sobriety time grew shorter. With each episode, the drug use accelerated so that there was less time between relapse and growing consequence. Finally, five years ago, it was only a few short months between relapse and massive destruction. I had my chances to figure it out, but I kept pushing, until I hit the wall.
This seems to be the principle that Jesus taught in today’s passage. In it, Jesus addressed demonic influence and possession. He said that when an unclean spirit leaves a person, it eventually returns. If it finds a void to fill, the evil spirit brings along seven of its evil friends and the person is worse off than he was at the beginning.
This is a spiritual reality that we must understand. The first time we indulge in a destructive appetite, our conscience objects and we may stop for a time. When we’ve done it once though, the return is easier. With each return, we go further down the spiral and at a faster rate. Every Relapse into destruction gets worse.
Usually, once it’s too late, we discover the horrible consequences. For the addict, this can mean profound loss or even death. The lesson is, that we must be ruthless and radical when we are convicted of sinful, destructive behavior. It’s far easier to crucify a new behavior than to destroy a habit that has been years in the making.
We must do what it takes to abandon our destructive behavior and we must find our joy, purpose, and meaning in God alone. We must abandon our way, following his. If we just stop indulging only for a while, and fail to change anything, we’ll remain empty and will eventually return to our destructive path. In doing so, we travel further down the spiral. Only in radically following God’s plan, do we interrupt this downward cycle, finding true life, faith and recovery.