The Christian Recovery Scam
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Romans 6:12
I wrote yesterday of the spiritual transformation that is available to those who come to faith in Christ. As he was buried and resurrected, so we too, through faith, have been buried and born again into a new life. The old is gone and the new has come. I’ve experienced this. It’s through Christ that my appetite for drugs has been miraculously transformed so that today, I want the new life more than the old life.
As Christ’s followers, we can and should tell others of this resurrecting power. In doing so though, we often make the mistake of telling only half the truth. I’ve heard many Christians promise the addict that, in faith, his self-destructive appetite for drugs will be miraculously gone. Indeed, Paul seemed to say this. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6).
Just a couple sentences later though, in today’s verse, Paul explained the rest of the truth. Though we do experience a spiritual transformation in coming to Christ, we still live in mortal bodies which retain their self-destructive passions. The death and resurrection that we experience isn’t a literal physical death. It’s spiritual. Our flesh bodies, along with their sinful appetites, are still very much alive. Paul says we now must pursue the spirit life instead of the flesh life. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God. (Romans 6:13).
When we tell the addict that he needs to simply believe and be completely transformed, we do him a radical disservice by telling him only half the truth. We sell him a mirage in which he hears that he now has to do absolutely nothing. God does it all. So, he changes nothing and soon, he’s back at his addiction, realizing that we’ve sold him a scam.
It’s absolutely true that we receive a new spiritual life when we come to Christ, but the rest of the truth, is that we still live in mortal bodies which retain their destructive appetites. Our job daily now, is to do whatever it takes to live in the new spirit life instead of the old life. For the addict, that may mean treatment and radical life changes. Recovery and faith are miraculous, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing. If we want to experience the new life, then daily, we must do whatever it takes to live in it.