In searching for, and living in the truth that can set us free, the first thing we need to do is replace the old with the new. Last time I shared about this verse:
Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
I see this verse as telling us to change a negative to a positive. The ruler of this world is Satan. If we just live in that sphere, we are under his influence, and this becomes a part of us. That is the negative. The positive is the ruler of the larger Kingdom, God, and His teachings, which are in Scripture. In so doing, the mind is renewed and we are changed. The negative grid system formed by our past, and pricked at by Satan and his demonic imps is replaced by the positive truth of the application of God’s word.
For this to occur, we have to empty ourselves of “self” and then let Him come in and fill that space. I see it personally: His thinking through Scripture intrudes into mine, and if this is repeated, soon His thinking will be a part of my thinking. I am renewed and changed. Many of you know: the mind of an alcoholic is not a good place to be; never go in their alone. In the application of Romans 12:2, our minds are not filled just with our “stuff”, but also with His “stuff” and if we let it, His “stuff” will start to take over.
The entire process takes work, experience, strength, hope and time. It takes a great deal of faith. In my instance, I always need more faith. And, practice tells me that if I don’t use that faith, I am going to suffer: the negative can slip right back in. In fact, at times, it has. That is part of the war — why I need to armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18). It goes on everyday — who do we choose to serve: God or our own selfish needs and wants?
So, what is the positive we need to bring into our head?
John 17 is a chapter we can all benefit from. Jesus is praying to His Father about us — you and I. He asks His Father: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Over time the Church formed, and all of us who are a part of that universal body are energized by the Holy Spirit to sanctify ourselves in the truth.
Sanctification is the process of growth whereby our lives become more and more centered on our relationship with God. We become more and more receptive to His truth and, over time, we are liberated. The process is ongoing. It ends when we move on to be with Him in glory.
The truth that God has for us, according to Dr. Stanley’s sermons, comes in three important lessons: (1) my position in Christ; (2) my personage in Christ; and (3) my possessions in Christ. Believing in these truths do much to eliminate out feelings of insecurity, inferiority, and inadequacy. These feelings come out of our negative grid system formed by our experiences and perhaps “tweaked” by satanic forces designed to rob us of our joy in Christ.
First, I want to look at our position in Christ. Consider these phrases out of John 15:1-5.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Abide in Me, and I in you.
He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Also, see the following: (All quotes I use are from the New American Standard Bible).
Therefore as you have received Christ the Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Romans 6:3
Notice how those verses say we are “in” Christ. This is literal, I believe. I am in Him and He is in me.
Also, pick up your bible and read the first two chapters of Ephesians. Note how many times you see the preposition “in” and how it is used. All of these verses tell us of our position in Christ which is: we are in Him.
Jesus is the Church, which Paul describes in an organismic way in 1 Corinthians 12. We are a part of His church — we are in the Church and therefore, in Him.
All of this truth fills me with a sense of belonging that cannot be surpassed. I have no reason ever to feel insecure again. I am in my Lord and He is in me (See also Galatians 2:20).
My position in Christ automatically confers upon me these positive facts (1) I am a child of God (John 1:12); (2) a part of His household, or family (Ephesians 2:19) and I am a part of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Scripture says that my position in Christ makes the old negative grid system inoperative, and is then replaced by the new positive truth of His word.
How does this help me in my recovery? Whenever I drank alcohol, even moderately, the immediate benefit was how secure and safe I felt. At parties the first thing I did was head for the booze. I just could not feel secure thinking people might see me for real. But, with a few fingers of good old “John” Daniels (I earned the right to formalize the name — my purchase of old “Jack Black” kept the stock of that company going), I was articulate, likable, witty, quick with a quip, and I “fit in.” In those days I never drank to excess nor would I drink daily. I drank when I needed it. And, as I got older and as life got more complex, I needed it more and more. Eventually I fell into addiction. I needed it just to function. Trouble was, in that state of influence, mind and body were not longer in union. Mind said everything was all right; but body revealed the influence–the altered speech and personality. Soon people started to notice.
In facing my first day without alcohol the 22nd of October 1994, the most obvious fear was: how can I function in the real world as the real me without help? God told me: “don’t lean on your own understanding — don’t rely on that negative grid system formed by your past experiences. Instead, rely on Me. Trust in Me. You can do all things through Me. I will strengthen you. These words are based on Proverbs 3:5 and Philippians 4:13).
I did that. I did it be default. I had no other choice. I was stripped of any and all things including the people I loved, who either could not understand what was happening, or just did not want to deal with it. In that bottom place He came to me in His word. The help I got first was from Him. I was totally dependent upon Him, and I still — or ought to be. And, I truly believe He got me into CIR. CIR fit me perfectly — allowed me to share in spite of my shyness, and allowed me to trust because others who were in my situation were also Christians. I had to deal with my disease through the prism of my faith.
So, in conclusion here is the first truth we need to act on and apply into our lives: We are in Jesus. We need to really meditate through that. We need to see that His Word is true, and that, if we put faith to work, we can truly apply this truth and in that application, become freer to be the persons God wants us to be.
My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.