Do I Still Have Cravings?
But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:14
After eight years of sobriety, I’m occasionally asked if I still struggle with cravings for my old pills. Particularly when I speak of the power that drugs once had over me, others want to know if some remnant of that hunger still exists. I think there’s simple curiosity behind the question, but there are bigger implications for me and for those asking. Can our appetites change? Do we still have a sinful nature. Will we always struggle?
I’ve met many Christians and even Pastors, who teach that, as Christians, we no longer have a sinful nature. To be sure, there are passages in the Bible that seem to back this up. In Romans 6:6, Paul said, 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. Only a few verses later though in Romans 7:18, he also said, I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Paul taught that we experience a spiritual transformation when we come to Christ, but also, that while we live in these bodies, we’ll continue to have earthly struggles.
James was perhaps more pragmatic. He didn’t speak of lofty theological paradoxes, but rather simply pointed out this reality – We all have evil desires that pull at us. Even as Christians, we still hunger for the unhealthy, sinful, and self-destructive. If donuts, illicit sex, and drugs felt good before coming to Christ, then donuts, sex, and drugs will still feel good afterwards. That doesn’t change. Our bodies still like those things. To say otherwise is simply absurd, ignoring reality as well as the Bible’s teaching on the subject.
So, back to the original question – Do I still have cravings? I once prayed for miraculous removal of my appetite for pills. Some people get that miracle. I did not. Rather, God asked me to do whatever it took to abandon my addiction. As I did so – going to treatment, changing my life, and denying self – he gradually changed my appetite. Now, I speak of it this way – God daily delivers me from my self-destructive appetite as I follow him. Today, by the grace of God, I don’t hunger for pills. I still make a daily effort though to abandon my way for his. If I stopped doing that, and if I returned to a life of following me, my self-destructive appetite for pills would return. Today though, because of Christ’s work in me, I desire the new life far more than the old. So, today, I’ll continue to pursue my new life in Christ.