ESSENTIAL RECOVERY PRINCIPLES - LIBERATED TO LIVE
BY DR. CHARLES STANLEY
Freedom is one of the most prized possessions of all humanity. Throughout history, people have fought and given their lives to be liberated from tyranny and oppression, and we know that the freedom we enjoy today has come at an awesome price. Yet, the human heart will always yearn for liberty because God created us to be free.
The tragedy is that even though we live in a free country and have liberty from sin through Christ, sometimes we choose to remain in our chains. We surrender control of our lives to someone or something else and we suffer a great deal of pain and discouragement because of it. However, we don’t have to continue in that bondage.
God has liberated us to live an abundant life in Christ, and we should embrace the freedom He’s given us. [True freedom comes from knowing the truth that sets the captive free. The following truths are critical to finding the way to true freedom]:
1) You can’t have freedom until you admit the truth.
In John 8:31–36, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about their bondage to sin; however, the Pharisees refused to recognize that they had a problem. They said, “We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone” (v. 33). Of course, this was completely untrue. Abraham’s descendants had been held captive by Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and a host of others—including the Romans who ruled Israel at the time. This shows that people don’t want to admit the truth of their bondage. Just as the Pharisees didn’t want to acknowledge that they had been enslaved by any other nation, most people are too ashamed or fearful to confess they’re in bondage to sin. Unfortunately, they’ll never know all that they’re missing out on until they do.
2) To be free you must understand the nature of enslavement.
Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).Yet, because the enslavement sin imposes is so subtle and deceptive, sometimes people don’t realize they’re in bondage. They live in a free country and are able to come and go as they please, so they don’t think there’s any problem. However, we’re not merely physical beings—we’re also emotional and spiritual. We can’t truly enjoy liberty until we’re free on the inside. That’s why Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Only Christ can liberate us from the things that enslave us in our soul and spirit.
3) To be free you must understand the many forms of enslavement.
What is it that keeps you from having true liberty? The truth is, there are about as many forms of enslavement as there are people—you can be in bondage to addictions, relationships, unforgiveness, fame, work, destructive ideas, or countless other things. However, you can identify what is imprisoning you by discerning what dominates your life. Whenever something influences or controls how you live other than the Lord Jesus Christ, it becomes your master and it impedes you from becoming all you were created to be. You can’t live in sin without it affecting you completely.
4) To be free you must understand the process of enslavement.
Bondage always begins with a desire for something that appears to be innocent and harmless. You begin to participate in an activity or behavior that seems to fill your need; however, all the while, your conscience is sending you warnings. You know what you’re doing isn’t right, but you believe the enemy’s lie that it isn’t really going to hurt you. Although you know that sin has destroyed people’s lives before, you believe that you can handle it because you’re the exception to the rule. After a while, the alarms your conscience has been sounding grow more and more quiet until you don’t hear them at all. You become comfortable with your enslavement—with the process of destruction that’s begun within you. Christ came to offer you a victorious, abundant life, but you’ve chosen to live in slavery to something worthless.
5) To be free you must recognize the reality of your condition.
Do you want to be free of your spiritual imprisonment? Although you may hate the issue that’s keeping you enslaved, you may dread confessing it’s power in your life even more. Yet, understand any denials you make are only blocking your road to escape. You must acknowledge whatever is dominating your life and commit yourself to obeying God to fully receive His love and help.
6) To be free you must admit you have a spiritual problem.
You must clearly identify the sin that is controlling you—name whatever it is that is ruining your life. If you don’t, you leave the door to that bondage open and you’ll always be in danger of stepping back through it. In fact, Satan will encourage you to back off from the sin, but not completely reject it so that he can tempt you with it again later. Therefore, be sure to clearly identify the issue, activity, person, or attitude that is keeping you captive.
7) To be free you must make the choice to be free.
Being liberated from your sin isn’t just a matter of wanting to be free. Rather, you must make a choice to turn from your destructive ways and obey God. In fact, confession means that you’re in agreement with God that you’ve done wrong. Therefore, choose by the grace of God not to participate in that behavior anymore. Deliberately take steps to embrace God’s freedom and power so that you won’t fall back into bondage.
8) To be free you must believe that God can liberate you.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Do you trust that He has redeemed you from your sin and reconciled you to God? Then have complete faith that He will liberate you through the work of the Holy Spirit. With sincerity and hope, cry out to Him from the depths of your heart and be confident that He will help you.
9) To be free you can ask for godly help.
Sometimes God will free you from your bondage immediately, and sometimes it will take a little longer. You may want some guidance and accountability as God finishes the process of liberation in your life, and that’s fine. Just make sure that the counselor you go to is Christ-centered and trustworthy.
WHY IS ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ADDICTION NOT A DISEASE?
If Alcoholism was a disease, it would be the only disease that:
- ...is contracted by an act of your will.
- ...requires a license to propagate it.
- ...is bottled and sold.
- ...requires outlets to spread it.
- ...produces a revenue for the government.
- ...promotes crime.
- ...that is habit forming.
- ...that is spread through advertising.
- ...without a germ or virus cause.
- ...that could bar a person from heaven. 1Corinthians 6:10
When we call alcoholism and drug addiction a disease this is what we do:
- We deny personal responsibility for the destructive choices we made.
- We hide behind a barrier of excuses for our own behaviors.
- We fall back upon the myth of self-reliance as being powerful enough to get us out of the bondage we built for ourselves without realizing that self-reliance is what got us into trouble in the first place.
- In pride and arrogance we fail to surrender our bondage to God who alone has the power to set us free and begin the recovery process by transforming us from the inside out.
- We fail to enter into an intimate relationship with God who leads us into a path of recovery and spiritual growth through His inspired scriptures containing over 50,000 life principles and promises that guide us into complete recovery.
- We turn to worldly programs of recovery devoid of the power of God and His Spirit and seek treatment through disease model human counseling that may lead to abstinence but leaves us internally unchanged with the same old inner influences and attitudes that got us into trouble in the first place.