Worse Off than the Addicted?
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10
Early on in my drug use, I didn’t realize I had an addiction. I was just a physician, taking medications to help me relax and sleep. Eventually though, I couldn’t deny that I had a problem. As I required more drug to get the same effect, and as I experienced withdrawal, I realized I needed to stop. When I tried to stop and found I couldn’t, I knew I was in trouble. As my behavior surrounding my addiction became worse – the lying, hiding, and stealing – I began to hate myself more and more. I felt like the worst person in the world. I had one thing going for me though. I understood I had a life-destroying problem and eventually, I came to realize that I required a radical solution if I wanted to find recovery.
I look back at this now as a gift – to realize how badly I needed God. Before my addiction, I still lived for myself and I needed God just as much. I just never realized it because I wasn’t that bad. Up to that point, I’d lived a pretty good life as far as anyone would have observed. Still, I simply followed my will above all. It’s just that up until my addiction, my will wasn’t obviously that self-destructive. It was only in the calamity of my drug use that I realized how much I needed God.
In today’s passage, John described those who are actually worse off than those who know they’re addicted. In the passage, he spoke of those who claim to be just fine on their own. Everyone struggles with something. Everyone fails. Everyone follows their own will above God and thus, everyone sins in some way. So, if anyone claims to be without sin, John said they’re deceiving themselves.
To repent and come to faith in God, one first must realize that he (or she) has something of which to repent. If a man doesn’t understand that he is a sinner, following his own way above God’s, then he is incapable of repenting. This person is farther away from God than the addict who knows he must change. At least the one who understands he’s addicted knows he’s got a terrible problem that requires a radical solution.
I’m not thankful for the pain I caused in my addiction, but I am thankful that God used it to show me how badly I need him – both back then and now.