by Jonathon Hubbard
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep doing.”
Now, I’m not an ordained minister therefore I struggle to call this a sermon… more of a conversation amongst friends and family. So we’ll title this conversation “Refusing Treatment.”
True story… I had a conversation with a dying man the other day. You see, his plans were to refuse treatment, but not before he wrote his own obituary and went to the water, for what he called, “one last look at heaven through these worldly eyes.” A man that I loved with all my heart was planning his own death.
I didn’t have the heart to stop him… tell him that what he was doing was crazy… or that treatment couldn’t possibly be worse than death itself. I was reminded of an old saying, “pain is one of the most potent motivators known to man… but fear can be almost as big a motivator. You see, he hated the needles… the medication… he felt like an alien in his own body. The hospital bed was becoming far too familiar, and the only escape he saw was to refuse treatment. In his mind, the consequences couldn’t be worse than the treatment.
The truth is, treatment is most times a painful process. I remember flipping channels one day and a show some of you may or may not be familiar with came on VH1. It was one of those shows where they show the process of addicts trying to get clean. Before you even get to the psychological struggle, what a physically painful process! The body goes through withdrawal, craving something that can ultimately kill it. In that moment, that person is so blinded by their thirst for poison… that anything goes. What a parallel to this sinful nature.
In our scripture for today, Paul talks about this same dynamic of the sinful nature. Our desire as children of God to do what isright… to act and think in accordance with God’s scripture, coupled with this malignant sinful nature… this innate craving to do what is wrong. For all intensive purposes we are sinaholics.
Now let me back up for a moment and share with you my personal doctrine… In my humble opinion, God has saturated this life with all the elements that we need to find truth… truth in spirituality… truth in understanding human nature, and the truth in sin. I now live in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I try to drive by the water at least a couple of times a week, and I do not know how anyone could watch the sun bounce off that water and not know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there was a divine hand in making that happen. The signs of a supreme being, whatever you choose to call him, are all around us.
In the same vein, I believe God gave us these physical bodies to better understand these spiritual bodies. So then let’s go back to the thought that we are sinaholics… Alcoholism is hereditary… In chapter 3 of Genesis, we learn that sin is hereditary. If you believe in the word of God, Adam and Eve brought sin into this world, and since then it has trickled down to their children and even you and I. There is no cure for alcoholism. If every time you drink Hennessy you drink yourself half to death and want to fight everything that moves, Hennessy will always and forever have that effect on you. It can not only have that affect on you, but it can lead to deeper and darker habits and addictions. On the other hand, James 1:15 tells us that, “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Now, in treating sin like the true addiction that it is… what is the first step to recovery? Well, if we stick with our parallel, the first step is admitting that you have a problem that YOU can’t fix. There is power in making a decision, but (and please get this part) you, nor I, nor anyone else has the strength, no matter what our intentions to combat this sinful nature alone. (Please don’t miss this) We are designed to NEED God’s help in fighting this sinful nature. You can’t do it on your own. Fighting this sinful nature is a team sport, and I got news for you… you aren’t even the superstar, lol. I believe this is the message Paul so desperately wants us to understand… but church… I came all the way from Florida today to tell you that… there is a balm in Gilead. There is a redemptive and healing power in this treatment… in allowing God to infiltrate our hearts, minds, and our thoughts… but a lot of us are dangerously refusing treatment!!! And just like that addict that doesn’t know if that next needle will kill them, we are playing with fire every time we refuse to go to God for help.
For the wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus. Now it is not easy. I come to tell you, that this struggle with self is a daily, knock-down, drag-out battle. Some days are easier than others… like drug abuse; this recovery process is a painful one. Just as my friend experience, sometimes those needles can seem a little too long, and that treatment can feel a little too painful. Facing the man in the mirror can be the scariest face you see all day… but what a friend we have in Jesus.
I got a dog not too long ago, and when I got the dog I started reading a lot of articles on dog training, and most every article I came across talked about how well trained dogs are much happier than untrained dogs. Dogs that are spending quality time with their masters lead much fuller and happier lives then dogs that are simply left in the back yard. Imagine that… dogs living a life of purpose are happier then dogs living a life without… We’ll get back to that.
John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in him, shall not parish, but have everlasting life. Notice, the verse does not say everlasting life, after death. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for happiness in heaven… and you could call me selfish, but I also want to be happy here on earth as well. I don’t think that God calls us to choose one or the other. So I’ll ask you… are you spending quality time with the Master? Are you living your life with clear purpose? If you’re not, then why are you confused that you are unhappy?
Maybe some of you are unhappy. Maybe you desire treatment, but you’re not quite sure how to get the help you need. I invite you to come and speak with this Church’s leadership. Don’t be concerned with what others may say about your getting treatment, because 10 times out of 10, those same people talking behind your back need more treatment than you. Will you come? Maybe you have a relationship with God, but you made so many bad decisions, you wouldn’t dare show your face in treatment again. Don’t worry, I spoke to God already, he wants you to come back, I promise. However, just like I told my friend… I can take you to dialysis every day… but I can’t take that needle for you! Will you come?
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