Friday, June 2, 2017

Overcoming the worst addiction ................ Parables 596

(No tear sheet)

According to the manufacturer, nearly 16,000 Smarties are eaten every minute. That is about 960,000 per hour and about 23 million per day. Since at least 3/4 of the world’s population do not have access to Smarties, a few people are consuming a great deal of candy.

The candy industry would not exist apart from our craving for sweets. For some, a penchant for sugar becomes an addiction, causing problems with weight gain and nutrition. I’ve noticed that eating sugar kills my appetite for carrots, corn, broccoli, oranges, bananas and other fresh fruit and vegetables. To put it simply, the body confuses its hunger for nutrients with its sweet tooth. In no time, a good diet becomes a craving for junk food.

Every now and then, I get angry with myself and determine to stop eating sweets. The first week or so is awful but once the cravings stop, I can manage without desserts. . . for a month or so. Then I just have to have something sweet. My conclusion is that the body needs a certain amount. The problem is maintaining moderation. Like eating salted peanuts, it is difficult to stop at just one.

In an article about addictions, TIME magazine says that the twelve-step program seems to be the most helpful. This program was made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous and is now used by other groups trying to overcome obsessive or addictive behaviors.

These twelve steps begin with admission of need and taking ownership of the problem. They go on to acknowledging that the problem is bigger than one’s own ability to solve it. A “higher power” is needed, sometimes referred to as “God, however you perceive him.”

Although many twelve-step programs use terminology designed to include all religions, participants think of God as this higher power, and suitably so — the steps are biblical in their general form. They were originally prescribed by Him as part of His remedy for sin, the most destructive and insidious addiction of all.

To overcome sin, a person must recognize that it is not only a problem but their problem. It is easy to point fingers or shift blame yet we cannot conquer it by passing it off as “not a big deal,” “everyone does it,” or “I am not really so bad.” The Bible says “the wages of sin is death.”

Anyone who takes the battle against sin seriously soon finds out it is more difficult to stop sinning than to stop eating salted peanuts or sweets. Just when we think we have made progress, we slip again. Like an alcoholic cannot think themselves cured, we cannot think this problem is behind us. We also need to acknowledge that we cannot do anything ourselves, that sin is bigger than our determination to avoid it or our good efforts to replace it.

To make matters worse, even if we have some success, pride moves in, and pride is sin. The challenge is not to reform outward behavior, which may or may not last, but receive inner purification and a change of heart about our problem.

God provides both through Christ, the One who is totally pure. He not only died for us, that our sins may be forgiven, but He also comes to live in the hearts of those who believe in Him. When He does that, we are given divine desire and power to fight sin. The Bible says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” It also explains that the promises of God combined with the power of the indwelling Christ help us “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

For some, this can be an instant escape. Others struggle longer against their addictions as they learn how to rely on the Lord and not their own strength. However, the battle to stop at “just one” takes on a different flavor when Christ is present to help us overcome.

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