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To think like Jesus: Addictions

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     Once there was a man who was such a golf addict that he was neglecting his job. Frequently he would call in sick as an excuse to play.

One morning, after making his usual call to the office, an angel up above spotted him on the way to the golf course and decided to teach him a lesson. “If you play golf today, you will be punished,” the angel whispered in his ear.

Thinking it was only his conscience, which he had successfully whipped in the past, the fellow just smiled. “No,” he said, “I’ve been doing this for years. No one will ever know. I won’t be punished.”

The angel said no more and the fellow stepped up to the first tee where he promptly whacked the ball 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Since he had never driven the ball more than 200 yards, he couldn’t believe it. Yet, there it was. And his luck continued. Long drives on every hole, perfect putting. By the ninth hole he was six under par and was playing near-perfect golf. The fellow was walking on air.

He wound up with an amazing 61, about 30 strokes under his usual game. Wait until he got back to the office and told them about this! But, suddenly, his face fell. He couldn’t tell them. He could never tell anyone.

The angel smiled. [1]

          What poetic justice for the golf addict! To play a perfect game without being able to brag about it!

          There are those who would wish their addiction carried such light and comic consequences, but the truth is that real addictions rarely do. I was curious about the rate of addictions in America, so I did some looking and was just overwhelmed! Did you know that Americans are the most addicted people in the world! That means that are more things to become addicted to in America than any where else in the world! When you hear the word addictions you usually think about drugs, right? Well Drugs are still the most addictive and America leads the world with the most drug addicts, yet there other forms of addiction just as fatal. Gambling is one. It is on the rise in America. Of course Smoking with never cease to be an addiction in America. Alcohol is another that will always plague America. The average age of first time drinkers are now 12 in America. Two new addictions are on the rise to  pass drugs use. The first one is Obesity, which is an official addiction by the US government. The other is Web addiction. An addiction to surfing the net just for the passing of time. The hours of surfing the net has almost passed the amount of hours children under the age of 12 watch television!

          And the shocking thing about all these statistics is that out of all these millions of American that are addicts or on their way to becoming addicts; many of them are Christians. How sad and yet how true! It is no stretch of the truth at all, when we think that out of the 120 million

Americans that are addicts, some of those are Christians.

          Such thoughts are truly depressing yet our God has not left us without counsel! God has a word for Christians who have found themselves addicted to one thing are another. That word comes from Jesus Himself. Notice again v7-8, Jesus spoke about offences which are in the world v7 and then he spoke about offences that hit much closer to home, in ourselves.

          But first a word or two about “offences.” There are two meanings of this word in the bible.

1. That which prompts a person to blow up with indignation or disgust. This type of offense may in fact be from God, according to its usage in the Bible. The apostle Paul spoke of "the offense of the cross" (Gal 5:11). The Jews were offended because faith without Jewish legal observances was offered as the only means of salvation.

2. Offense also refers to those things which cause a person to do something against his conscience. This type of offense may be from Satan or from men. Its effect is to entice a person to sin (Matt 5:29; 17:23; 18:6-9). It is this kind of offense which can be produced by the "grey" areas of the Christian life-those practices which are right for some but wrong for others, usually called stumbling blocks, because it causes someone else to stumble or trip up into sin. (Rom 14:13; 1 Cor 8:13)[2].

          I personally think that Jesus has in mind here, addictions, habits that cause us to stumble into sin! What better way to describe the addictions of Christians, than those things which cause ourselves to stumble away from God and into sin? We offend ourselves, when some habit, some known sin is allowed to continue on because for some strange reason we think that we can’t live without it! Therefore that is an addiction, which causes us to stumble habitually in our walk with God!

          If there will be any hope for recovery, we must first start to think like Jesus concerning these things which bring offence into our lives.         

                    There are two main thoughts here addictions or offences.

I. The offences come from in the World not from ourselves   v7

          Jesus starts from the very board range of the entire world. Now, you must discern from the world as it relates to mountains, creeks, valleys, meadows and such from the world system that operates in the hearts of the lost. Because the two are different. God created the landscape but man has created the world system.

          These offences that Jesus speaks of doesn’t come from the world of creation but from the world system that is driving lost mankind. In fact, getting away from it all would probably do more good than ever thought for your walk with God. Getting away from the world system is what a true vacation is about. This world has its own set of offences, addictions that have always plagued man.

 But notice what Jesus says about offences or addictions.

A. Addictions originated from the world. v7a

1. The first man to leave God was Cain. Adam was the first man to sin, but Cain was the first man to leave God! The bible says of him that after he slew his brother and was marked by the lord that he “…went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.  And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city…”, Gen 4:16-17

          There you have the beginnings of the world system that has left the knowledge of God behind. Cain started an entire city, an entire society that had nothing to do with God! The world and its addictions was enough! So they lived, prospered and strayed further away from the God that created them.

2. The world of men was corrupted by their addictions, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen 6:5 

 So far gone were they that God had to start over with a man named Noah!

3. Even after the flood of Noah, the offences abounded, addictions soon crept back into the world putting men away from, so God called a man, Abram to come out of the world leaving its addictions. So God started to deal with a single family calling them to live differently fro the world around them. 

B. Addictions are inevitable in this life v7b

Jesus said that offences, addictions, things that will cause us to stumble are inevitable, i.e. we can avoid them if we remain living in the world!

1. Man is a fallen creation.

2. The world is wayward. They world doesn’t think about God, until Easter and Christmas.

3. As long there is a devil, the world will always hold for us things that offend and bring us to sin!

Jesus said just except it! Offences things that cause us to sin will always be found in this world!

C. Addictions are picked up   v7c

1. The idea is that since offences are in the world and they come ever so often, Jesus says woe unto the person through who they come. i.e. Woe unto the person that teaches others around to sin and stumble by their life!

2. Parents, friends, the home, school, the street, from anyone that has influence over you, whoever they may be it matters not, but the one sad fact is that they maybe caused you to stumble into sin at an early age making it ever so ingrained into.

Jesus pronounces a special word of woe to those that offend child, v6!  

          Some would say that we waste our time protecting ourselves, protecting impressible children for the cruel world, because they are going to have to learn how the world is sooner or later, they say.

          They are right to a degree, children do learn unfortunately how the world is. But I say that they can learn how the world is from someone else besides their parents! 

          Why is it important to know that these offences which can turn into addictions come from the world and not from ourselves?

It is so important to realize that!

          Did you know that every baby and every one of us for that matter came into this world with exactly zero habits and zero addictions! Babies are born sinners, but that sin manifests itself in the ways it learns from those around them! Due to these offences that come through the world is why we have the problems we have today!

You didn’t get too close to a water fountain and bam, you caught this sin or that sin. Sin is no disease, it is an offence that comes through the world. To say to yourself about the sin that plagues you, “Well that’s just the way I was born, so there’s no hope or help is wrong thinking! 

That’s why it is possible for you to be free of those habits that drag you down spiritually.

II. The Radical Cure for Addictions  v8

          This verse has always been the center of controversy for ages it seems. William Tyndale is known as the father of our English bible. He translated Luther’s German NT into the first English copy ever! William Tyndale critzied the Catholic church of his day because the bibles were in German, or Latin so only the priests were educated enough to read or even have a bible. The common people went without one. Once Tyndale had two bishops over for supper and openly asked why the bible was not copied and given to the masses? They replied that “the common people were so ignorant, that the nation would be full of one eyed, one armed persons!” They were referring to this scripture in Matthew 18:8-9! But Tyndale said, “I will make the bible so plenteous that the ploughmen and milkmaids will know more of the bible than you!”

          These verses are really not that hard if you interpret them right. When Jesus said to cut off your hand or foot and pluck your eye out, he wasn’t condoning mutilating yourself. That would be the literal interpretation like the Catholics like to believe. However, Jesus was speaking in a figurative way here! Jesus was saying one must remove whatever is offending; whatever has become an addiction in your life, whatever that causes you to sin! To keep the worlds’ offences from becoming addictions, radical changes are often necessary. Just like if you went to see the doctor with a spot on your arm. The doctor sees it and rushes you into surgery because it is cancerous and has to be taken immediately!

          The point is, whatever that is in your life which is causing you to trip up and sin, remove it at once! Cut it away from your life, uproot it, separate as far as you can from your life! That’s the only way recovery will ever start to take place in ourlives. Yes you may sin again, but at least you have some sort of a buffer zone where you know you won’t stumble back into sin!

          A radical break is needed more than you believe if you have problems with the same old sin! Something is causing you to stumble back into it and until you remove whatever that is, you plan to fail!

          It is unless for me to try to quit drinking if I still kept some drink at home! Which causes me to stumble back into it!  

           It is unless for me to try to quit Tobacco if I still went back to the same old stores where it is sold! It’s just a matter of time until the tobacco is bought again!

          Jesus has in mind here a clear cutting away with our addictions as Christians. I know Christians that watch too much TV, it is an addiction, they have to find out who’s sleeping with who? It robs then of time with God. It implants thoughts which breed only discontentment with their present life because they aren’t like those who they see on TV.

          Some Christians hunt too much, fish too much, golf too much, work too much, are apart from their families too much, sleep too much, eat too much, talk too much, etc!

Closing:

Realizing that you are not like the Doctors and Physlogists say, that you were born with this or that disease, that you stood a little too close to water fountain as a kid and now you’re a drunk, or have problems you have! You had not habits or addictions when you came into this world!

   What is needed is a clean break! Cut off the offending member, pluck out whatever it is that is causing you to stumble back into sin. That’s not what I think about addictions, that’s what Jesus thinks about addictions.

          What he thinks is what should matter.


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[1]Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

[2] (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers) 

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