About a week ago, a friend of mine for almost a decade died of an overdose. It was tragic news that immediately brought about feelings of both sadness and anger.
As I’ve experienced in the past, addiction is complex and wages war against the mind, body and soul. In addition to the actual demonization that can often accompany addiction, one lie that the devil frequently convinces addicts of is that they are fated to be enslaved forever.
The early Christians completely rejected the idea of fate. Tatian wrote, “The demons introduced fate, a flagrant injustice. They teach that … the murderers and the murdered, the wealthy and the needy – they are all the offspring of the same fate (Tatian 160CE, Vol. 2, p. 68).”
Some may feel chained to a fate of addiction, but grace says otherwise.
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:3-7
Enslaved addicts are no match for God’s grace. As powerful as addictions can be, God’s grace is more powerful. As stuck as an addict may feel, God’s grace can lift us out of the worst quicksand.
So why do some people remain stuck and some see their chains loosed? God has generously given everyone the grace to repent, and He has also graced us with free will. The Lord God implores both Christians and non-Christians alike to put the grace of repentance into practice.
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and honored rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. – Clement of Rome 95CE, Volume 1, p. 11-12 [CD-ROM]
So with the grace of God's repentance set before you, may I ask: What sinful practice or mindset have you become convinced is to be your fate? An addiction? A wrong you feel you can never forgive? A cycle of fractured relationships? A destructive secret compulsion?