The Danger of Over (and Under) Confidence
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
As the miserable consequences of 15 years of drug use rained down, I had an identity crisis regarding my faith. How could a Christian act like this? I was supposed to be a new creation in Christ, but I couldn’t understand how a real Christian could do such horrible, shameful things.
I was lost. In my previous attempts at recovery, I’d received two very different messages. Some Christians had told me that in turning to God, my addiction would be miraculously removed. I’d turned to God and still, I relapsed. The opposite message I got was from my first outpatient treatment group, where we all admitted we had a terrible problem, yet no one found freedom. These people were in treatment for the fifth or sixth time and their lives just moved from one mess to another. They were addicts and it seemed like they’d always be addicts.
So, which was it? Was I delivered or was I destined to always be addicted? Today’s passage was one of those that helped me see that both views contained some truth and both views contained some falsehoods. In the passage, Paul said that when we come to faith, we’re granted a new, perfect spirit life as the light of Christ shines in us. However, we carry that gift in a flawed vessel – our Earthly flesh. As Christians, we have a new life, but, while we’re in these bodies, we retain the flaws of the old one as well.
What this meant to me in recovery, was that I might always have the capability of struggling with drugs. I do not however, need to live enslaved to that nature. Because of Christ in me, I can choose to follow him to freedom. I have a new life and an old one and daily, I must pursue one or the other. The results will be predictable.
The danger in believing that I’m delivered is that if I refuse to acknowledge my persistent flaws and if I don’t continually put the old life to death, I’m destined to return to disaster. The problem with failing to understand my new life in Christ though, is that I’ll never find transformation and freedom.
Recovery means understanding both truths. I’m not going to be perfect in this life. I am going to struggle with my old nature. Because of the light of Christ in me though, I don’t have to live enslaved to that old life. If I daily abandon me to follow him, I can experience the freedom of the new life.