I Need a Miracle Now
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Revelation 1:5-6
In the gospels, Jesus was recorded to have healed lepers, paralytics, and the blind. He even raised some from the dead. From reading the gospels, it’s easy to get the impression that miraculous healing is the norm. The actual number of recorded healings though, isn’t all that many (20-30). When I consider all the people who lived, met Jesus, and then eventually died, I get a little clearer perspective on healing. The death rate, even for those who were healed once by Christ, was still 100%. Everyone dies. No one is healed from all illnesses for all time.
Still, when it comes to addiction, I’ve seen Christian ministries expect and teach 100% cure rates for those who come to Christ. The Bible does of course, teach that we’re made new when we come to faith. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is often misunderstood by well-meaning Christians, that if someone is addicted to drugs, all he (or she) must do is profess faith, and all his problems with chemicals are magically removed. If he relapses then, he must have not had an authentic faith.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I prayed relentlessly for instant, miraculous deliverance and didn’t get it. You likely also know some who’ve experienced this miracle though. It’s not wrong to pray for a miracle. Not experiencing the miracle however, isn’t necessarily a failure of man or God. The instant miracle is, by definition, not the normal, everyday experience. Even those who do find immediate deliverance from one addiction still experience other life struggles or go on to develop other addictions. We’re not made perfect when we come to Christ and all our flaws are not removed.
So, what does God offer to the one struggling with addiction? The Bible teaches that before we know Christ, we’re spiritually dead and that in coming to faith we find a new spiritual life (John 3 and Romans 6). In confessing faith, we’re born again into a new spiritual life. Now, we have a freedom we didn’t have before. In faith, we may daily pursue and experience this new life. We’re also free however, to pursue the old life. This is where a lot of Christians go wrong in trying to help the addict. They assume that freedom in Christ means that the old life is automatically and forever gone, but it’s not. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11). As long as we live on this Earth, we’ll all struggle with our self-destructive flesh nature that wants to drag us back to the old life.
Still, we can and should experience new life in Christ who has freed us from our sins by his blood. God has done his part. He’s given us new life. Now, it’s our job to daily pursue, live in, and experience the new life. This, by definition, means that we must continually do whatever it takes to leave behind the old life. We do have freedom in Christ. Unfortunately, many of us abuse this freedom to indulge in the old life, becoming enslaved to it.
In my own addiction, I wanted freedom to mean that I simply had to profess faith. Faith, in my mind, was a magical ticket to avoid going to treatment, confessing, or changing my life. Christ did provide me with freedom, but I abused that freedom to remain enslaved to the old life. Only in exercising my freedom, did I finally do what it took to abandon the old life for the new one. Now that I’ve experienced this freedom in Christ, I can’t believe it took me so long to find it, and I never want to go back. In retrospect, I can now see that I got the supernatural help from God that I needed. It just wasn’t what I expected, and it certainly wasn’t instantaneous.