by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
“I can to some extent control my acts. I have no direct control over my temperament. If what we are matters even more than what we do—if indeed if what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are—then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about.” —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Romans 7:14-24 (NLT)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)
Our ‘me’dom problem originates and rages in our brain. There are chemicals firing in the brain that are fueled by desires, and along with the happenings and circumstances of our day-to-day, moment-by-moment experience, stimulate thoughts and feelings, triggering behavior. The GO system in our brain is always accelerating in drive and tends to disable the brain’s brakes (caution, judgment, and common sensibility), leading to harmful behavior, injurious to ourselves and to others. Our behavior affects others and events in our world, and the behavior of others, along with events in the world, trigger more thoughts and feelings resulting in sustained anxiety and stress. This vicious cycle of brain activity provoking us to react, so often perpetuates unfavorable consequences followed by inevitable stress, pain, and struggle. Then, patterns of pain in our life lead to beliefs about ourselves, others, and how we view the world that have a determining impact on our thought-life and behavior. What we want then is contaminated by the impact of our personal experience.
Temptation comes from our own desires (thoughts, feelings, intentions, will) which entice us and drag us away (belief/attitude of entitlement). These desires give birth to sinful actions (behavior). And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death (outcomes, consequences). James 1:14-15 (NIV)
Keep in mind that sin is not only wrapped up in our selfish thinking and behavior but that the sensibly realistic consequence of S.I.N. is Self-Inflicted N-sanity. Anyone caught up in the insanity of addiction will at some point be killed by it. Sin kills.
“What then about my ability to remain sensible and make healthy choices? Why do I compromise so much? How is it that I repeat the harmful choices that seem to sabotage the opportunity for goodness—even blessing—in my life? Why is it that I am willing to risk so much in the pursuit of my remedy? How is it that the “automatic” process in my brain rages on beyond my control? Why do I keep doing what I’m doing when in the end it is destroying me? What’s wrong with me? AM I ILL? What’s it going to take for me to get better?”
Why can’t I just choose to do right—to do good?
(This video presentation can be applied to the choice versus disease discussion regarding our addiction to selfish sin driven by the GO system in our brain.)
The Apostle Paul of the Bible was clearly pulled from both sides in the tug of war between his desires (flesh) and God’s (Spirit). He wrote that these powerful opposing forces are constantly at war with each other. Paul said that in relationship with Jesus Christ he was set free from the bondage of selfish sin. He also wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul is the same guy that said, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life dominated by sin and death?”
What gives? One minute Paul has learned the secret of being free and content and the next he’s discovered that he’s enslaved and miserably discontent. This problem we’re calling MEdom describes profoundly the human condition that defines our experience. Even when it seems we are content, we wrestle with the urge to satisfy unhealthy cravings. We are under the control of our self-centered ways of thinking and behaving; and, we can experience freedom from our ongoing and deepening dissatisfaction. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They asked him, “What do you mean set free? We’ve never been anyone’s slave.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16
Sin is the Bible’s three-letter word for our selfish intentions and behavior. In other words, the first time we gave into the drug of selfishness we became addicted to selfish sin; under its control, subject to its consequences. To obey God is to submit to His authority for our benefit. We can choose surrendering to the way of God as our bridge to freedom, with everything to gain while reaping a harvest of blessing; or we can choose to go our own way, believing we’re leaving it all up to random chance, reaping the consequences of false hope in ourselves and the world we live in; all the while living in denial of all that’s at stake.
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You stand to win everything! It’s your call. Choosing to obey God leads to righteous living. The word ‘righteous’ here is not exclusive to a code of conduct, but refers to the fact that God’s way is right and best for us and the promise is that God takes what we’ve messed up badly and makes it right again. There is nothing random about it. The certain truth is that Jesus Christ wants to lift the weight of our burden so that we can rest for a change. And the point of what Paul wrote is that it is in submission to the will and authority of God in relationship with Christ that we can experience freedom. The ongoing problem is my addiction to me, and despite what’s been promised to me (that I am no longer bound to the eternal consequence of my selfishness), I am locked into an irrational belief of what I perceive that I need.
Ambivalence might be best described as a kind of internal disagreement. Something is fun. Wow, is it ever fun! Over time it becomes less fun. Disagreement grows from within as to how fun the thing really is. What was fun is getting old and no longer fun. What was fun is actually becoming kind of painful. It’s really painful now. Have to stop because it hurts too much. After stopping it still hurts. Decide not to do that thing anymore since it hurts. Over time the thing becomes less painful. In fact, the thing really doesn’t hurt at all anymore. Remember when the thing was fun? Disagreement grows from within that the thing isn’t painful but it might be fun. Doing the thing again because it’s fun… Until it becomes less fun again and becomes increasing painful… and the cycle of ambivalence continues into addiction. Addiction when full grown is permanent destruction and death.
The trick is to use the ambivalence to disagree with the rationale (reasonableness) of addictive behavior that is attached to adverse consequence until it no longer makes sense to continue in it since it hurts too much with a certain degree of permanence. Choosing to challenge ambivalence is to identify beliefs that prove to be irrational and then rationally challenge those beliefs and justifications through recovery. It’s a choice between life and hell. To choose life is to choose to live in the glory and excellence of God’s best, available to all who commit to recovery from selfish ambition God’s way.
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4
That’s All I Need
We never seem to have all we need. Even Adam and Eve, who seemingly had it all living in an earthly paradise with God, when asked about it, turned their attention to what they didn’t have. When they were introduced to an idea that they could have more than what God intended for them their expectations changed. Their desire was to know what God knew, and be as God is as they bought into the deception to want and expect something different from what God intended. The more they came into knowledge of good and evil, the more their expectations changed into increasingly unrealistic expectations. And as they obsessed over what they didn’t have, they lost sight of who they were and what God had given them. Because what they wanted they believed could be attained and managed on the.ir own, they stepped outside of fellowship with God, forfeiting the best of what God intended for them.
So, what is the secret of being content? What is the truth that will set us free? Wow! You are only beginning your journey. Along the column on the right of this page you have the opportunity to explore Biblical truth to open a door to recovery from addiction to self into a new life experience. Go through the Applied Recovery Series, the New Age Living Series, and the Revolutionary Faith Series. The Sympathetic Savior Series will afford you the opportunity to know Jesus Christ from an enlightened perspective. May God bless your journey.