When I Feed an Addiction
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17
In conversation with a friend, I recently had cause to look back on some of the more shocking behavior I engaged in while addicted to opioid pain medications. It’s difficult now, seven years sober, to comprehend how I got to that point. I didn’t start out diverting pills of course. When I began, using was just a small part of my life. I got a couple of sample pills from our clinic’s sample closet, and I tried them. In my mind, it wasn’t a big deal. Perhaps it would have been easy to kill it back then if I had tried. I didn’t try to kill it though. Instead, I fed it. As I fed my drug use, it grew like a cancer, eventually consuming my entire life.
When disaster struck, and my life fell apart, I had to perform some serious introspection, asking how I’d turned into a thing that I hated and didn’t recognize. I was a Christian. I wasn’t supposed to act that way.
Today’s passage explained my situation. In it, Paul taught that as a Christian, I have two lives in me. As long as I live on this Earth, I have a flesh life which retains its self-destructive desires. As a believer in Christ though, I have a new spiritual life. These two realities are opposed to each other, existing in perpetual conflict.
The choice that I must make daily, is to feed one or the other. Every day, I make decisions that turn me towards myself or towards God. In following myself, I grow my self-destructive flesh life. In following God, I grow my spiritual life. The consequences will be predictable.
This isn’t just about drugs of course. We all must make these choices daily, growing one life or the other. When we indulge in lust, inappropriate relationships, gluttony, greed, or resentments, we grow those behaviors. As we follow our will, we move away from God’s will, pursuing and finding internal conflict and misery. If we want to know the life, joy, and peace for which we were made, then daily, we must feed our spiritual life instead. Daily, we must invest in our relationship with the father, obeying him and loving those he’s put in our lives.
As Christians, we all have two opposing lives locked in conflict inside of us. Daily, we feed one or the other. The one we feed is the one that grows and defines our lives.