Addiction vs. Conviction
by Ennis Smith 4/13/2011 / Christian Living
The Lord Jesus never once promised saved Christians a life free of struggle and animosity. In fact, continued lessons in patience and long suffering seem to be a recurring theme in the lives of the faithful, as we live our lives to the best of our ability while following the guidance of the Holy spirit. Trouble is an inevitable byproduct of the Christian faith. After all, we are bound (by our faith in the Lord) to lead our new lives in direct contradiction to the patterns of the world at large. That choice to follow the Lord's direction invites trouble to our doorsteps.
Now don't misunderstand me here; stay with me. No one wants a problematic lifestyle, and I'm not suggesting that becoming a Christian is to purposely invite trouble our way. But you have to recognize the truth. While Satan is and always has been a liar, he was also given restricted authority over this world, when he was tossed from heaven. With those facts in mind, realize that once you begin to question the motives and practices of the world at large, you're gonna make the devil angry. Once he's angry, he's coming after you relentlessly. And the problem there, is not so much his blatant attacks, but his subtle crafty advances. No one deceives better than the devil, and one of his greatest tricks ever was convincing the world he doesn't even exist.
Subtlety is his main weapon of choice. That's how he gets to us. I'll give you an example:
* If a guy holds a sharp blade up close to your mouth, you will choose to struggle away from the swipe that will sever your tongue. That's a blatant attack, agreed?
* OK, so let's say, this same guy is dressed in a Baskin Robins uniform, donning an angelic smile, while dangling a free ice-cream cone inches from your face. He says, "Take it. It's national free ice-cream cone day". You grab that cone and start licking haphazardly, never noticing the razor-blade tucked neatly into the middle of that cone. Never once did you stop to consider whether you should have taken the free cone, until you notice the piercing sting and flowing life blood spout from your wounded mouth. That's the subtle attack.
Unfortunately for Christians and non-Christians alike, too many of us have fallen victim to the subtle attack of Satan in any one of many forms. The most common form for a lot of us, is the addiction. Sex, alcohol, smoking, eating, peeping, etc., the addiction cripples the mind into foolishly believing that the activity of the addiction is actually good for us. In reality, the action quite literally curses our souls into Satan's possession.
Ladies, how many times have you said to yourself, "I'll only see him one more time, and then end it"? Guys, how many times have you taken an innocent peek at the half naked woman on the internet? How many chocolate candy bars have you eaten since you said, the last one was going to be the last one? How many times have you reached for that fifth of alcohol to ease your stress level after a long day of work?
Sometimes, when confronted with the ugly truth of who we really are, we can't stand the sight of ourselves. We tend to ignore the danger of the addiction, for the illusion of control over it. And there-in lies the very power of the devil; convincing us that the addiction doesn't even exist. We willingly give ourselves over to him. By the time we figure out that our behavior is self-destructive, it's too late to change the pattern on our own. We're locked into it.
The beauty of GOD is his unfailing ability to forgive and save. There is so much happening in the world today, that I can't possibly keep myself from unwittingly falling into any number of Satan's traps, on any given day of the week, including Sunday. But through the Lord, I find myself blessed with the ability to deal with the devil's temptations successfully. Jesus grants me a target to focus on, in times of joy and trouble. He grants me conviction. I find that, if I'm focused on him through the guidance of the Holy spirit, my attention is nowhere near the devil's temptations.
It isn't always easy to focus on the Lord, because the devil is crafty; he switches tactics in a heartbeat. He knows the route to my deepest carnal desires, and once he finds that button, he puts his full weight on it. But the conviction of the Lord proves to be stronger every time. There are days when I fall victim to Satan's enticements; days when I'm weak. But GOD picks me up, dusts my shoulders off, and carries me through the storm I allowed myself to fall into. And with each triumph over the devil, I find myself even more convicted to focus on the Lord. He never gives up on me, and I will forever love him for forgiving my flaws, and treating me as if I deserve to be alongside him. His conviction toward keeping me close to him, inspires me to remain convicted toward him.
When I made the decision to take Christianity seriously, I found myself bargaining with the Lord; telling him what I would and would not be able to do for him. I wanted to set some ground rules on what I thought he was going to have to accept in me. Silly, Ennis. He simply said, "OK, we'll do it your way and see how things work out". Turns out, I'm not as smart as I sometimes like to think I am. He let me fall; let me scrape my knees; allowed me to continue a lot of my bad habits, while convincing myself I was actually in control. He let the devil tempt and seduce me. But he was always there, to keep me from really hurting myself or the ones I really love. He's always been around. In retrospect, each time I fell, and each time he picked me up, I learned something new. I began to listen harder, and let go of my illusions of self control and preservation.
The lessons continue today. But I'm stronger in my faith than I used to be. I have spiritual conviction to counteract my fleshly addictions. I tell you all of this for one good reason. Someone needed to hear it. I don't know who you are, but know that whatever you go through, you don't travel alone. Need more proof? I'll give you one last piece of my mind.
My Name is Ennis, and I'm an alcoholic. For those of you who really thought you knew me, let that sink in for a minute. I've never had to deal with a single thought of suicide, and I rarely drank myself unconscious. But there was the occasional time when drinking did turn me into a monster. On those occasions, I liked the feeling of being someone else. I liked the idea of behaving irresponsibly. I craved it. Drinking was my way of escaping confusion and reality. It was actually really easy for the devil to get to me through alcohol in the first place because I had grown up watching my hero do it every single day of my life. And like me, he very rarely drank himself unconscious, and always maintained the appearance of control. But as we have already discussed, the control is only an illusion. My drinking got to the point of where I needed to do it. What I failed to realize was that, while I drank, my personal relationships suffered. I had no focus. I had no direction. My turning point came in realizing that my marriage was deteriorating and my family was on the verge of splitting.
That's about the time that GOD had seen enough and decided to intervene. I have to tell you, I rebelled at first. I wanted to keep up my bad habits along with learning about this dude, Jesus. But you can't have both an addiction and conviction. You gotta go with one or the other. I fell so many times, in the beginning of my walk in Christ; so many times! There were times that I would question whether I genuinely wanted to walk in the Lord, because I couldn't give up my carnal desires. Satan had me convinced that walking with Jesus would be a dull, uneventful existence. But I came to realize that each time I fell, GOD kept on picking me up. Not only that, but he kept on leading me to do things for him. Things I would never have seen myself completing, in another life. And everything he leads me to do for his glory, is a good task. There is no hurt, pain, or deception involved in what the Lord calls me to do. Every time I followed Satan's temptations, someone, somewhere was hurt either directly or indirectly. A lie was usually involved. Guilt was always a resulting emotion. GOD's conviction is so much different from Satan's guilty pleasures, and today, I don't even want to take a drink of anything.
Now mind you, drinking was just the tip of my iceberg of addictions. We all have our vices to deal with. But I can tell you that GOD's conviction can penetrate the thick hide of Satan's addictions every time, if you just believe. It's been 1 year, 3 months, and 9 days since I've taken a drink of anything remotely alcoholic. Jesus' conviction will ensure that I never teach my kids to follow the devil's temptations.
Ennis Smith lives in Lincoln Park, Michigan with his wife and five children. Mr. Smith joined Faithwriters to improve his writing skills. He recently had a short story entitled 'How Come Rocks Can't Talk' published for the Webzine "WHEREVER IT PLEASES". www.facebook.com/ennis.smith.52