I Should Celebrate My Sobriety with a Drink
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, . . . Galatians 5:13
In abusing opioid pain medications, I experienced tolerance (needing more and more of the drug) and withdrawal (feeling miserable when I couldn’t use). The withdrawal would last several days, during which time I experienced an intense craving for the drug. Sometimes I gave in, but many times, I made it through to the other side, at which point I felt fantastic. When I got my mind free from the drug and my body through the withdrawal, it was like a massive weight was lifted and I felt amazing. Strangely, it was during this time that I most often relapsed. I was free and I felt great. So, why not feel even better? Every time I promised myself that I’d only use one more time, but that was a lie . . . every time.
It was ridiculous. I was free. Why would I go back? It was like someone on a diet, celebrating their weight loss by eating a dozen donuts. It was like an inmate, released from prison by the judge, only to use that freedom to once again commit the same crimes that got him incarcerated in the first place.
This is exactly what Paul warned of in today’s passage. In it, he chastised the Galatians for returning to their old life when they’d already experienced the freedom of the new one. He insisted that they must use their freedom to live free, not to return to the slavery of the old flesh nature.
It is a ridiculous thing to go back, yet it’s something we all do. If we’ve come to faith in Christ, he’s broken our chains and he’s opened the prison doors. He doesn’t, however, magically transport us out of the prison. He asks us to follow him out. So many of us though, simply sit there, wallowing in the old life. Or, we walk out of the prison, only to turn around and walk right back in.
Why do we do this? We do it because we want to. We know the instant gratification or release that lies in the old life. We know there’s a price to pay later, but we do it anyway. The difficulty with the new life is that it often requires some sacrifice up front. To experience freedom, we must do what it takes to follow Christ, leaving behind the pornography, greed, gluttony, or drugs, but leaving the old life is hard, so, often we just sit, doing nothing . . . and going nowhere.
We’ve been given the gift of freedom. Now, we must live like it.