The Great Lie
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 2 Peter 2:19
I frequently meet those who began drinking because it relieved their anxiety. It gives me a few hours of peace. I know it’s always there – relaxation in a bottle. I know it only lasts a short time and then I’m worse later, but it’s hard to say no when I’m stressed. We drink or use drugs for a reason. It does something for us. The problem of course, is that there’s always a price to pay later for immediate gratification now.
I began using because it helped me relax after a long day of work. I liked the feeling. I slept better. I had my reasons. I took my pills and a few minutes later, I felt fantastic. Initially, I actually thought that using made my life better. I’m doing what I want, and it feels good. I’ve found instant pleasure in a bottle. The promise of the pills was a lie though. Soon, I was addicted and began a downward spiral that eventually took my job and nearly my marriage and career.
This is how addiction works. Initially, there’s a promise of some reward. We use for a reason. We want to feel better, so we drink alcohol, we use drugs, we overeat, or we indulge in pornography. Our brains are rewarded with instant gratification, but the good feeling is temporary. Soon, it wears off and so, we must repeat the behavior. As we do, we remodel our brains so that the thing that was once a desire is now a compulsion – an addiction. We can no longer not do the thing. It’s simply what we do, and we cannot do otherwise. Even when we experience painful consequences, we cannot stop.
This is the great lie that Peter spoke of in today’s passage. The world tells us that freedom and happiness is found in doing whatever we want. The fastest route to addiction though, is to blindly follow our natural impulses. Not everyone who drinks will become an alcoholic. This isn’t just about drugs or alcohol. We all have self-destructive behaviors that have become habitual. We all have unhealthy ways we deal with the stressors of life and once we do those things repeatedly, we become enslaved to them.
If we want to experience authentic freedom, we must recognize the great lie. We must identify those unhealthy indulgences and we must do whatever it takes to abandon them. Then, we must daily go to God, asking him how we may find real peace. In doing so, we’ll often find that authentic joy is simply found in abandoning our way for God’s.