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The Sin that so easily Besets you or - What Are You Addicted Too?

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Hebrews 12:1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Romans 7:15-25 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

These verses describe a kind of addition. Normally we think of addiction, as someone addicted to a chemical substance. Here are a couple additional dictionary definitions of an addict. 1. To devote or give (oneself) habitually or compulsively: She was addicted to rock music. 2. A devoted believer or follower: "We are all . . . addicts of change"

We know the chemical addict doesn't have full control of himself. The substance has control of them and they can't resist it or say no, because the drive is so strong that it overpowers them. Anything that has control over you, that you are not in control over, in a sense you are addicted too. The first definition was something you habitually give yourself too. Does that sound like a besetting sin? The dictionary definition of besetting is "Constantly troubling or attacking." The root word is beset which means: 1. To attack from all sides. 2. To trouble persistently; harass. 3. To hem in; surround: "the mountains which beset it round"

Do you have a sin that seems to do that to you? That seems to hem you in, troubles and harasses you from all sides until you give into it? That is addiction !! Something that is controlling you and has the best of you. That sin that you keep falling into, that you don't want to as Paul spoke of in Romans 7, is a picture of a sin that keeps bringing you down and causing you to do what you don't want to do. That is addiction. Addiction goes far deeper than we normally think. You can be addicted to sins, habits, mind sets, depression, gloom, unbelief, fear and fearful patterns.

I am beginning to believe that most of our struggles involve trying to free ourselves from some form of addiction. Paul described the struggle of trying to free himself of something that had control over him, an addiction, that he could not free himself from. He identified the problem as sin that was dwelling within him (v.20, 23). "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. . . But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." He is saying, "It's sin inside me that makes me do these evil things." Let me quote this to you from the paraphrased Living Bible.

Romans 7:15-25 "I don't understand myself at all. For I really want to do what is right but I can't. And I tend to do what I don't want to do, the things I hate. I know perfectly well that what I'm doing is wrong and my bad conscience proves that. I agree with these laws that I'm breaking. But I can't help myself. It's as if I'm no longer doing it. It's sin inside of me that is stronger than me, that makes me do these evil things. I know I'm rotten through and through as far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Now if I'm doing what I don't want to, it's plain where the trouble is, it's sin that still has me in it's evil grasp. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God's will as far as my new nature is concerned, but there's something else within me in my lower nature that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still inside me. In my mind I want to be God's willing servant, but instead, I find myself enslaved to sin. So you see how it is, my new life tells me to do right but the old nature that is still inside of me loves to sin. Oh what a terrible predicament I am in. Who will free me from my slavery to the deadly lower nature? "

Here we can come to a new definition of addiction. Fundamentally, all addiction is an addiction to sin. In the new testament, the Greek word #264, translated sin in John 8:11 and other verses, means "to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize)." Philippians 3:14 "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." When your addicted to something it causes you to miss the mark God has set for you. The addiction causes you to turn away from where the Lord wants you to be and the direction he wants you to be walking. Most addictions are born out of a sense of desperation. When believers realize they have a problem with a besetting sin that controls them, they do many things: read books, listen to tape messages, seek counsel, attend therapy sessions, engage in vigorous spiritual activities, and other things to try to escape and find freedom from the driving compulsion in their lives.

However, in spite of all these things, most wind up still addicted, and no better off than they were before they began their efforts to get free. In fact, they may are able to get a victory in overcoming an addiction in one area of their lives, they may find that they are yet still addicted, just in a new area.

Ultimately, hopefully, after much struggle, striving and effort, they come to the place Paul describes in the passage of Romans 7 and admit, "I can't defeat this thing. It's bigger than I am. I give up. I'm hopelessly addicted and enslaved to it." Believe it or not, this is a good place to be in, in fact, it's the very place the Lord wants you to come to - the end of yourself.

You might ask, "You mean coming to the point of knowing that I am hopelessly defeated and can't help myself is good?" Yes. Because until you come to that place, you will never be set free from your addiction. When you can say like Paul, "Oh wretched man that I am - what a predicament I am in, who will set me free from my slavery to sin habits, from the desires of my fleshly self life," then you can be set free. Otherwise you will be forever stuck living in Romans chapter 7. You have to come to the last verse of chapter 7 before you can enter into and begin walking in chapter 8, in the Spirit. Until you come to the absolute end of self, and the end of your efforts and resources, you will never find freedom from your addictions.

Look at the state of normal man. Psalms 14:2-3 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Isa.64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." These truths are hard to grasp while you think you can help yourself and have hope in your own ability, strength or resources. When you come to the end of self, then these verses come to life. Most believers know these verses, but do not truly believe what they say applies to them. Do you believe that most of what you have done and are even now doing is totally worthless and vain? It's a bitter pill for your pride and ego to swallow. But it's one that you must swallow if you will be extricated from the addictive tendencies in your life.

The truth of the matter is, we all want to believe that there is something good within us. We try to prove this to God by our well meaning attempts to "be good", "do good", or "not sin".

But lets be honest and real. This is utter nonsense! The only reason you have any love for God at all, is because He first proved His love to you. He came to you and rescued you while you were trying to run the other way, not to Him, but from Him. He wooed you by His Spirit when you were a sinner, and drew you to Himself, and saved you, and now He continues to pursue you and not the other way around. Romans 3:11 "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Isaiah 9:13 "For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts." Luke 19:10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

People are as dumb as sheep. That's why God compares us to sheep. Psalms 79:13 "So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations." (V.100:3) "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." We have the ability to look God in the face, and all the blessings that He offers us, and go "Naaaah." We are like Esau when confronted by Jacob's porridge soup. He said, "I'll sell my inheritance forever, for a little monetary porridge." Have you ever judged Esau for that? Condemned Him in your mind? Have you ever considered how easily you could sell your birthright for something so temporal and worthless as a bowl of red lentils?

Jeremiah understood this problem of our human nature. Jer.17:5-8 Then look what he follows that with. (V.9) How odd it seems. First he describes a tree planted by the waters, then follows it with the wickedness of the human heart. He paints a beautiful word picture, then comes back to the reality of how far he and all those he knew were from such a state. It's like the anguished cry of the apostle Paul, in Romans 7:24 "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death". You only need deliverance if your in bondage. He said in v.23 that this sin within him brought him into captivity. In other words made him a slave.

The key to freedom from addiction is within this revelation. You must come to the end of yourself and cry out to God. You must know and fully believe that nothing else and no one else can ever extricate you from your bondage. It is only after you truly acknowledge your hopeless addiction and genuinely turn to the Lord for deliverance, will you find freedom. Have you come to the place of telling the Lord, "Lord, there is nothing in me that can overcome or even wants to overcome this addiction." Only then will you be in the place of true humility and repentance before the Lord and be able to hear His voice and receive His deliverance. Jeremiah came to this place, for we see God clearly speaking to Him in the next verse.

Jeremiah 17:10 "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." The Lord is telling Jeremiah, "You're right." You finally see the truth. I search the heart. I try the reins - meaning the mind or inner self. I am the only One that can extricate you from your addiction. I alone am your Savior and there is none other.

A few verses later we see Jeremiah truly in touch with his own inadequacy. He cries out from the depths of his heart, as only one in bondage desiring deliverance can do. Jeremiah 17:14 "Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise." Here is the key to freedom from the bondage of addiction. Jeremiah realizes the desperate wickedness of his heart and his own helplessness to change it. God tells Him, I am the only one who can help you. And Jeremiah's cry for the Lord to heal and save him. When your cry comes from deep within, God will hear you! That's the real meaning of the verse "Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom.10:13). You cry out from the depths of your heart, Lord, help me, save me, deliver me. I can't help myself.

Jesus gives us a prescription for deliverance from our addictive sin habits. Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 'Labor' is the Greek 'kopiao, kop-ee-ah'-o', meaning "fatigued, worn out or beating your chest in grief." The Greek word for 'rest' means "to take ease or refresh", "a refreshing release." Many believers spend much time 'beating their chest in grief" over their addictions and compulsions. But instead of going to the Lord for help, they go to methodologies, self-help groups, therapies, spiritual exercises, and other such things. Christ is the only one who can set you free. He will not allow you to find lasting freedom without Him for He is a jealous God, and He will not share His glory with another. Deuteronomy 5:8-9 "Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me," Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." He said have no gods before me. Ephesians 2:9 says our salvation is 'not of works, lest any man should boast.' We are saved by faith through grace, not by works.

Open any "Christian" magazine today and you will find plenty of books to read, and seminars and conferences that you can attend on how to get free from compulsions and addictions. However, if you had the opportunity to peer deep into the lives of those who write the books or teach the seminars you'd find that, with few exceptions, they're still bound by compulsions and secret sins! Why? Because their message was anything but, "Jesus and Jesus alone is the answer!" So, they are offering soap and not the real thing.

Matthew 11:28-29 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." "Take my yoke." Yoke is from the Greek 'zugos' meaning 'a coupling or bonding.' What does he mean? First, let us consider what a yoke is and why it was used. When and where men have used four-footed beasts to plow the ground for planting, as a pair of oxen, one was the experienced and the other was a wild, young ox who ran around the pasture, doing its' own thing. To use them both for plowing, you would yoke them together with a fitted side-by-side harness made of wood. The constraints of the yoke would break the wayward ways of the young ox so he would learn to walk a steady path with the old ox.

When Christ said "Take my yoke upon you", He was saying, "Your lifestyle is getting you into all kinds of things that distract you and prevent me from freeing you of your addictions. You need to be yoked and bonded to me, so I can set you free." The yoke is nothing more than the 'spiritual disciplines' needed to break the wild ways of sin in your life and to help you walk the steady narrow path of the Lord. It is His Lordship and control over your life, allowing Him to direct, discipline, and teach you how to walk uprightly before Him on the straight and narrow path of life.

Without a consistent, disciplined lifestyle, you will never really be free from addictive tendencies. For this you have to come under authority and be accountable to someone. Why is that? Because compulsive activity tends to come in through the holes, the distractions, and the disorder in our lives. It's through discipline that you seal the cracks and close the doors. However, the truth is, most believers are unwilling to walk in consistent spiritual discipline until they are absolutely desperate.

Most people have come to this church and most other churchs, looking for freedom from many kinds of addictions and sin habits that controlled their lives, to which they were in bondage. Getting 'saved' doesn't completely liberate a person from addictive and compulsive tendencies and much additional care and ministry is essential to untangle years of sin and demonic influence in their lives.

Unfortunately, most believers today are under the assumption that deliverance from a lifetime of sin and rebellion will occur instantly or at least overnight. That's what they want, as instant everything else, but it doesn't work that way. Deliverance is little by little. Exodus 23:3 "Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause." Deuteronmomy 7:22 "And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee."

Many ministries support a 'touch and go' approach to pastoral care. Lay hands and 'poof', it's all done and your all new, totally free and ready to go tear up the world, and all those deep-rooted wounds and strongholds are supposed to just disappear. Now I believe in miracles and that God does wonderful and mighty works of deliverance, but deep and lasting deliverance doesn't normally occur through this 'touch and go', periodic type ministry. It takes dedicated, caring people, to spend time, effort, give correction and reproof, casting out of spirits, showing acts of mercy and forgiveness, and much love to shepherd someone out of the hurts and patterns of abuse they have known all their lives.

True and lasting freedom from addictions doesn't come quickly or cheaply. A "band-aid" approach of ministry just doesn't cut the mustard when your dealing with a suicidal person who hates themself: like a lady who had been abused by her father and because she learned to hate and distrust all men, has become a lesbian. Such a person needs heart surgery, which entails far more time, effort, energy and recuperation time than the healing of a superficial wound.

This is why spiritual disciplines are so important. Spiritual discipline can be compared to the "recuperation time" following major surgery. The difference is that the spiritual disciplines must be maintained long after the results of the operation. One vital spiritual discipline every believer needs to develop is a daily, consistent prayer and devotion time before the Lord. Another is engaging in periodic "praise breaks" throughout the day to maintain a walk in the Spirit. Also, a committed, in-depth knowledge of God's Word is essential in your battle to overcome addictive tendencies. As David said he did, in Psalms 119:9 & 11, you have to hide God's Word in your heart so you won't sin against Him.

Finally, one of the most important disciplines of all is to maintain regular, honest and accountable relationships with others who are older and more experienced than you in the Lord. These "yokes", once put on, will help steady your wild ways and bring you into places of peace and release you only dreamed about in your time of addiction. This is a real blow to pride and self-reliant independent living, but a necessary one to find true deliverance.

In Matthew 11:28-30, after Jesus told us to take His yoke, He then said "Learn of me." The Greek word for learn is "manthano", which means "to understand, to remember, retain and master." Then He said "for I am meek and lowly in heart." What He is asking you and I to do is to understand His true character. There's so much confusion among believers about the true nature of God. Some see Him as a dictatorial tyrant, who they must serve out of fear. Others perceive Him as a distant benevolent 'Santa Claus' god, who simply wishes a good and happy time for all.

But neither is the truth. Jesus is meek and lowly of heart. A key to freedom is coming to a real understanding of what that means. One thing definitely implied is that God is totally devoid of pride. In fact, we are told in 1Peter 5:5; "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." If nothing else, understanding His character means doing serious war on your own prideful and self-sufficient ways.

You see, addictions are really only a symptom of a much deeper problem. Addictive tendencies are often an outward manifestation of inward rebellion, resentment, bitterness or hardness of heart. Often, the reason people get involved in addictive practices in the first place is because of the root of pride. And because of the deadness in their spirit, due to the fact that God resists the proud, they are quite miserable within. So they indulge in vices that result in addictions. It is in fact, often just a way to relieve the pain they are suffering.

Many believers have been promised an "abundant life" when they came to Christ. Everything is supposed to be "peaches and cream", a "spiritual hay-ride." However, because they were never taught of their definite need for personal deliverance nor exposed to loving, personal, pastoral ministry, they eventually became disillusioned and lost out with God. Instead of rivers of living water flowing from their lives, they only saw an occasional spurt. Finally, because of an unfulfilled and frustrating Christian experience, they turned to the indulgences of their flesh. It can be things like television, relationships, work, alcohol, romance, or anything that is an idol. For a while, the indulgence seems to take away the gnawing pain within. But eventually, they will feel more empty than ever within, and so, they will continue in the addictive tread mill, trying to find relief, satisfaction, and rest for their souls.

What's the way out? Jesus! When you become really desperate, you will simply decide to take Him at His Word and move in faith and obedience to His Word. You will find yourself coming to Him in a humility you've never known before. That's when you will really begin to experience the "rest" of Christ. It is at this point, and usually only at this point of desperation, that believers are finally willing to say a consistent "yes" to the Lord's demands upon their life. Desperation has a way of opening your heart to new levels of understanding, particularly to realize the absolute necessity of spiritual discipline to maintain freedom and the power that comes from walking in the Spirit.

Jesus said, then you will find rest unto your souls. The Word for rest here is different from the previous Greek word translated rest. It is "anapausos" meaning "intermission". It is where we get the English word "pause" which means "a respite, a breather or a reprieve". So, the promise is that when you come to Jesus, take on the yoke of spiritual disciplines and begin to understand His character, He will give you space to breathe from your addictions and compulsions, an intermission or break from them. That is a glorious promise, hidden within one of the most familiar passages of the Bible.

The rest is for your soul. Just what is your soul? First, it is your mind: your thinking faculties and the seat of your imagination and reasoning. Many spend most of their time tormented in their thoughts and imaginations. Jesus promises you rest! The soul is also your emotions. So many are tossed to and fro with fears, worry and anxieties. Jesus promises rest for your feelings. The soul is also your will. It is often through the will that the enemy compels and drives the restless person. But, again, Jesus promises rest from deep seated urgings and compulsions. That is a true rest.

When you experience an intermission from your addiction, it brings hope. You will then be able to exclaim, "I can be free! This addiction doesn't have to rule over me any longer!" That's the reality of Romans 6:14. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

Let's consider the paradox of the Gospel. First, you must understand in your heart, that you have no strength within yourself to break free from your addictive tendencies. Simply, you must come to the end of yourself. Then, it is at this point that the scriptures that promise you victory and the power to overcome begin to make sense in your experience. As: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Romans 8:38 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come," 1John 4:4 "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." Your testimony and faith becomes; I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me; and I'm more than a conqueror through Him that loves me; and greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." Then, God begins granting you a revelation of who He really is (His meek and lowly character) and who you are in Him because of Calvary. Such a revelation is essential in order to find the strength in your spirit to stand up and fight against your addictions and overcome them.

Now you may be thinking, "Wait a minute. It can't be that easy. Surely there has to be more involved in overcoming enslaving habits and drives that that? No, there isn't. The gospel is simple. Jesus said a child could understand it. Let's consider what Jesus said: "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Satan is the hard taskmaster. Proverbs 13:15 "Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard." It's the enemy of your soul that is telling you things like, "It's too hard to get free. You're stuck in your bondage. It's too complicated. You can't do it. It's impossible. No one just walks away from this. Forget it! You'll never get free." He's a liar ! If these things sound familiar to you, then you've been listening to the Devil. Stop listening to his lies. God told us in Ephesians 4:27 to "give no place to the devil." If you listen to him, then like he deceived Eve, he will deceive you and talk you out of your deliverance.

Jesus' easy yoke and burden of spiritual disciplines, is really easy and light. In fact, after awhile of the freedom it will bring your soul, you will enjoy the disciplines of the Spirit so much that they will become your joy and rejoicing. One thing is definitely sure. They are lighter than the burden of addiction with all the guilt and hopelessness that goes with it.

To conclude; let's review what is needed to find lasting freedom from addiction of any kind.

1) First, you must confess that you are stuck in your addiction and cannot help yourself. Quit trying to overcome in your own strength. Give up! Give your burden to the Lord. Come to Jesus like you are and cry out to Him from the bottom of your heart, "Jesus, heal me and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved. You alone are my salvation and my hope." When you really lay down your striving and struggling to "be good" and do it yourself, you will finally be in a place the Lord can speak to your heart.

2) Commit yourself to a disciplined lifestyle. How desperate are you to be free? Only desperate people are willing to do this. Only desperate people really ever get totally and truly free. When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you will do anything, like actually coming to Him daily and even regularly throughout the day and worshipping Him with a heart of thankfulness, giving Him a sacrifice of praise. Do you take 'praise breaks' during your day?

Let us pray this: "Lord, convict me and bring me to the place where I am willing to do anything you ask, even to the point of denying my flesh and taking up my cross daily. Put your yoke an me now and keep it on me when I try to take it off."

3) Own up-to, acknowledge and confess your pride. Honestly, do you think you have been doing pretty good in the pride area? Are you willing to admit that you probably have far more pride than you realize?

Pray this: "Lord Jesus, I confess pride, self-sufficiency and independence from you in the lifestyle I have lived. Forgive me and break me and bring me down. I'm willing for you to use whatever means at your disposal to expose and deliver me from the subtle deceptions of my pride, even if it means putting persons or situations in my life that I would not choose on my own. Do it Lord Jesus, for you are my Lord and Master.!"

4) Ask Jesus to give you his rest. Turn your eyes on Jesus right now and cry out to Him with all your heart, asking Him for His rest. If you are solely, utterly, simply and totally focused on Him, the He will come to you. To the degree that you are honest, humble and open, to that degree will He release you and set you free. James 4:8 "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."

I pray that as you pray these things, God will give you His hope and courage within your spirit and that from this moment on, you will never again believe the lie of Satan that you can't overcome your addictions. You have listened to the serpent too long, now take the Word of God to heart and believe it and act upon it. Start treading upon the serpent today, in Jesus name, according to Luke 10:19, and receive the rest that He has promised you.

2Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."

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