All posts tagged Addiction

Codependency, Chronic Pain, & Prescription Drug Abuse

I think that most counselors would agree with my assessment that one of the most difficult counseling scenarios is with someone who experiences chronic pain and is abusing their prescription pain medicines. It is such a trap. Their pain makes medical relief a necessity, yet the tendency to over medicate makes it personally destructive.

However, whenever the subject is addressed by a loved one or counselor the legitimacy of the pain makes for a quick and undeniable defense. “What, do you want me to live in pain? Is that any life to live? How is that humane?” The concerned person is made to feel heartless. Compassion (temporarily) mutes the concern about self-destruction through abusing medications. Eventually, the destructiveness of the substance abuse becomes overwhelming again, but the next attempt to intervene falls into the same cycle.

In this post, I do not intend to try to answer the chronic pain-substance abuse problem. Instead, I hope to use that as a metaphor to help us see why so many people who struggle with codependency fail to see their struggle.

First, I should attempt to define codependency. Because it is a popular term instead of a clinical term, it has no accepted definition. This is part of the reason people do not admit codependency; even the “experts” cannot agree on what they should be looking for.

Codependency (as I am defining it here) is the relying on other people as the source of one’s emotional stability, purpose, and identity. It manifests itself as a compulsive “need to be needed.” It is often very passive in relationships, taking a servants role until it feels slighted and then becoming very indignant upon feeling “used.” Ultimately, codependency seeks to “live off” (although it would never admit it) other people to feed its insatiable hunger to be loved.

How is that like chronic pain and prescription drug abuse? When you confront someone who is relating codependently for their unrealistic expectations, false interpretations of your actions/motives, or for over-reliance upon you; you are met with a similar series of rhetorical questions. “Am I wrong for thinking I should be able to depend on you? Is it wrong for me to want to be loved? It is not good for man to be alone, is it? I thought if I worked so hard to meet my needs you would do the same, but I guess that is selfish of me?”

In part, they are right. We were meant to live in relationships. Christ-honoring relationships are mutually beneficial. It is reasonable to ask people to be dependable. They are probably right about more than that. They likely were very service-oriented in the relationship (possibly to an extent that promoted laziness in the other person). The other person may well have become comfortable with this “new normal” and had taken it for granted.

So what is being missed? Why are we saying that the codependent person is doing something wrong? They are trying to use relationship for a purpose larger than that for which relationships were prescribed. This is where it parallels prescription drug abuse. Codependents use relationships as a God-replacement instead of viewing them as one of God’s blessings.

When you look at the functions of relationships described in paragraph five (giving emotional stability, purpose, and identity), those are functions only God can fulfill. When the codependent gets angry with their friends, family or spouse, they are in effect saying, “You make a really bad god!” And, again, they are right. What the codependent misses is that it is they who “deified” their friend.

This post is more about seeing the problem than solving it. If you see yourself in this post, I would recommend:

A Bacon Strip-Tease

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease – that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that is contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us (p. 96)?” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

As an avid fan of the Food Network, I am not sure whether I should be convicted by this quote. Yet Lewis is making his point in a very provocative way. We treat the young male and female body in ways that would seem peculiar to an outsider of the human race.

There are plenty of things that are beautiful which we do not mass-obsess over like we mass-obsess over a naked human body: sunsets, the ocean, lightning, a stream in the woods, an eagle soaring in the sky, or the stars at night. We usually enjoy these things, but we don’t sacrifice our budgets, families, and dignity for a glimpse at them.

Those things that we mass-obsess over tend to be either the human body or the creation of human beings: music, sports, fame, food (yes, bacon), cars, or houses. We constantly place ourselves in physical, financial, relational, or moral jeopardy to have these things.

Can there be any doubt that we are a race obsessed with ourselves? We even make movies based upon the premise that other beings are as obsessed with themselves as we are (i.e., Plant of the Apes or countless movies of computers taking over the world).

Maybe instead of trying so hard to see a naked body, we need to wake up and see ourselves. Maybe we need to look in the mirror as intently as we look at a screen, stage, or through a window. Maybe our common experience is not as common sense as we’d like to pretend.

What does this mean? I cannot mean that we become non-sexual beings who forsake passion, attraction, or the recognition of beauty. It does mean that we have to stop making excuses for these features of our humanity to drive our lives.

We have become such willing slaves to self and sin that we have begun to call slavery, freedom. We have begun to call death, life. We have begun to define our life dreams in terms of a nightmare. And in keeping with our folly we seem surprised and offended when our dream comes true.

The solution cannot be elimination of these desires. We would cease to be human. The solution can be a new Master and obsession. Actually, this is the only answer for the human condition. It is the only thing that brings balance, life, hope, love, and health. Living for our Eternal Creator rather than His temporal creation is our hope.

The solution is not to try harder to avoid the bacon strip tease. We must recognize what our bacon-addiction reveals about our personal human condition and cry out to a Savior who is larger than our absurdity. Allow this illustration from C.S. Lewis to alert you to the parts of creation that have begun to make your soul salivate as only God should.

The Pursuit of More: Addictions Conference

Though there are many startling statistics, one usually only has to take an honest look at his or her own family to realize that there is a big problem. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest challenges facing the present day church is the issue of addiction.

Ask yourself, “Am I prepared to speak with confidant compassion about addiction?” When your spouse, child, friend, or co-worker admits to feeling in bondage to alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, pornography, or sex do you know where to take the conversation next? Do you know the resources in your community? Does your church know how to play its role in the recovery process?

In a world that is in “The Pursuit of More” we must be able to answer these questions if we are going to talk about the freedom of Christ we have in the gospel. It is for this reason that I would like to make you aware of an important conference coming to our area. But first let me introduce you to the story of the man to leads the ministry that is hosting this conference.

A good example concerning the dangers of seeking fulfillment apart from God is the family story of a local addiction’s ministry director named Shawn Saunders.  (The story below is written by Shawn.)

When I was 17, my 42 year old mother informed him that she was ready to leave my dad after 20 years of marriage and basically live for herself.  Attending bars and dance clubs, seeing other men, and abusing drugs and alcohol replaced teaching the 4 & 5 year old class on Wednesday nights at church, serving meals to help other people, and living selflessly for her family.

What were the consequences of her actions?

My two younger brothers began taking prescription narcotics and became addicted at ages 14 and 17 which led to my middle brother serving 41 months in prison, and my mother passed away at age 49.  This is not to mention the horrific pain that my father endured for approximately 8 years until his passing at age 55. He paid thousands of dollars on my brothers in court fines and lawyer fees and watched the love of his life kill herself due to chasing a euphoria.  Or better put, she was pursing more out of life–she wanted to transcend the monotony of marriage and motherhood.  She was searching for meaning, significance, purpose, and acceptance in the midst of the challenges that relationships bring.

One of the toughest elements of this saga was my dad going to our church for help, but the church not knowing how to respond.  He was left with no answers and no hope other than life is filled with pain but we have heaven to look forward to as an escape.

Converting Hearts Ministries ( is hosting “The Pursuit of More: Addictions Conference” on Friday, September 16th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and Saturday, September 17th from 9:00am to 1:30pm at Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh.

Join The Pursuit of More in September to hear from incredible speakers including Danny Akin, Stephen Davey, Sam Williams, Dwayne Millioni, Robert Jones, Brad Hambrick and others as they engage this growing and concerning issue, and discuss how the church can offer solutions.

The Pursuit of More is for church leaders, laymen, counselors, and anyone interested in how to combat addictions in their church and community.

The Pursuit of More Speakers will share biblical concepts about addictions and practical help to enable individual churches to reach both the addict and those who suffer the consequences of the addicts’ destructive behavior.

Learn more information about the cause, conference, speakers, and schedule by visiting  where you will also find a two minute conference video..

All ticket purchases will go to Converting Hearts Ministries ( to advance their mission to addicts and their families.

CHM looks forward to co-laboring with RDU churches as they minister to the flocks that God has entrusted to their care.

Addiction: Trying to Cure Stress with Its Cause

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “What now?” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon “Still Searching for a King: 2 Samuel 24” preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday February 12-13, 2011.

In this sermon we saw the symmetry that marks every human life. Our sin causes disruption. But because we are so committed to or blinded by our sin we think we think more of the same sin is the remedy to that disruption.

In I Samuel 8 we saw:

The PEOPLE try to replace GOD with a KING.

In II Samuel 24 we saw:

The KING try to replace GOD with PEOPLE (an army).

Consider this reflection from a Christian philosopher on the ensnaring nature of sin.

“Trying to cure distress with the same thing that caused it is typically the mechanism that closes the trap on an addict (p. 131).” Cornelius Plantinga Jr. in Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be

Once this cycle begins, it can be infinitely self-perpetuating and self-devouring. Consider the following examples.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: An individual tries to escape the stress of life through a substance. The abuse of substance creates more stress. The abuser then turns again to their substance to gain relief. The cycle is in motion.

LYING: Someone is facing a difficult situation and lies (creating an artificial reality – replacing God as Creator) to get out of it. When the lies are challenged by reality (stress) they lie again to cover up the first lie. Soon the artificial reality is elaborate enough for the liar to live in and they push away anyone who challenges it.

PORNOGRAPHY: Loneliness and insecurity drives someone to the computer for relief. They find pseudo-intimacy and pleasure without the risk of vulnerability. This makes real relationships seem even more risky and pornography even more “safe” and appealing. Soon any relationship that asks something of the person or wants to genuinely know the person is too dangerous.

JEALOUSY & CONTROL: A relationship is strained, so one person begins to express their jealousy through controlling behaviors. This puts a further strain on the relationship and increases the jealous partner’s feelings of distance. They try to remedy this through being more controlling. The cycle is in motion again.

Take a moment to examine your own life. What sins are you engaging that have entered the cause-cure trap? Before you will “stop it,” you must “see it” for what it is – sin making a promise of relief and paying you back with more life disruption. You are trying to dig yourself out of a hole.

It is this reality that shows the response of God (II Samuel 24:11-17) to be as gracious as it truly was. God was staging an intervention. God could see more clearly (than David or the people) that a mechanism had been enacted that would lead their expressions of wickedness to match that of the surrounding peoples. The destruction of military aggression would far exceed the 70,000 who died from God’s pestilence.

We see another principle emerge from this discussion: when we feel as if God’s response to sin is too severe, it reveals that our understanding of sin is too small. God saw the cycle, not just the event. Our response to seeming injustices of God’s punishment (this is not speaking of suffering), should be to examine our sin rather than question our God.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Addiction” post which address other facets of this subject.

God’s Words for Workaholics: Psalm 127

Case Study: When Philip said, “I am a teacher,” he was making a true statement of his identity. If they allowed the same person to win “Teacher of the Year” multiple times, his would be the only name on the hallway plaque. Reading, preparing lectures, designing classroom projects, giving feedback on student papers, and meeting with students were all a joy to Philip. “Changing the future one student at a time,” was a motto and a drug for Philip.

Philip’s wife, however, wanted some of the attention and passion directed towards students for her. Admittedly, she had grown angry (with a strong dose of jealousy), then bitter, then distant, and now disinterested in their 30 years of marriage. Marriage was now only a convenient way to have more time and money to pursue her other interests.

When she used to try to talk to Philip about balance in his life, he would only complain that she didn’t support him and she should be proud to have a husband who works that hard. Now Philip is the one on the bitter-distant cycle as he feels like his wife only uses him for money. But when that thought gets him down, Philip pours himself back into teaching in order to “stay positive.”

What hurts Philip most is how disinterested his boys are in him or education. The boys also began to resent school when they could see it was stealing their father and becoming the definition of “being a good son.” While they wanted to be a real person worth knowing, they felt reduced to their mind and their future when talking with Dad. Dad’s connections were helpful to get into nicer schools, but they vowed not to take their education too seriously because they feared becoming “like Dad.”

Philip is wrestling with mid-life issues. He has worked for three decades on “his dreams” but it not sure what to do with them now. His relationships with his wife, boys, and grandkids are functional at best. Making a will is almost depressing. He wanted to leave something to his boys to help them pursue their dreams. But the boys seem allergic to pursuing a dream (intentionally so).

As Philip struggled with depression, he tried returning to his faith. His teacher-side likes poetry so he began reading through the Psalms. When he came to Psalm 127 he read it many times over. For him it was “he Psalm less traveled.” He saw in it a warning against his life-dominating error. He prayed through it many times and eventually rewrote it in his words to use as part of his repentance to his wife and boys.

Pre-Questions: This case study is meant to challenge you to think biblically about the real struggles of life. These questions will not be answered completely in the sections below. But they do represent the kind of struggles that are being wrestled with in Psalm 127. Use the question to both stir application and to give you new insight into the psalm.

  • What are the warning signs that a job is becoming an identity?
  • What kind of relationships should Philip have established to serve a warning system?
  • How did an over-emphasis on work become both the cause and “cure” of Philip’s family problems?
  • How did Philip’s dream become both the standard and methodology of his parenting?

Read Psalm 127 in your preferred Bible translation. The “rewrite” of Psalm 127 below is an attempt to capture the words that God would give Philip to pray (Romans 8:26-27). This would be something Philip would need to pray many times as he struggled to surrender his work-based identity to the Lord.

A re-write of Psalm 127

1. I thought I could build my own dream life. I labored hard and excelled (in every tangible way I knew to measure or pursue “success”), but I am starting to wonder if it was worth it. I built a career, but I can’t live in it and it’s lonely.  I gave my wife and boys every “thing” and “opportunity” I knew existed, but that has not made us a family.

2. I was the first one in the office and stayed up late researching or grading. My labor has not provided what was most important. I would work through lunch and be distracted during “family dinners,” but I think God (and I) would have been much happier if I had learned to rest and enjoy life. I see now that God wanted to give me rest, not because I was weak, but because He loved me and my family.

3. I thought my career was my gift from God and that with it I could reward my children. I realize now that my boys were my primary gift from God and that they were given to me to be enjoyed and loved more than rewarded and advanced. I have always seemed to miss relationships in the name of progress.

4. I thought my lectures, my writings, or my students would be my legacy. Now that they are all I have, I see I was wrong. My children are where I could have had the biggest impact on the world. My boys were God’s designed weapon with which I should have focused on advancing God’s kingdom and changing the world.

5. Fortunate is the father who pours himself into his children first; whose satisfaction is in his children more than his career or reputation. Everything I once did for my own glory now brings me shame as I see the damage it did to my family. When I speak with those I used to “compete with” for glory, I am only reminded of how they distracted me from what was most important.

Passages for Further Study: I Corinthians 6:12; Ephesians 4:15-17, notice that Ephesians 6:1-4 (parenting) comes before 6:5-9 (work); 2 Thessalonians 2:6-16

Post Questions: Now that you have read Psalm 127, examined how Philip might rewrite it for his situation, and studied several other passages, consider the following questions:

  • How should Philip deal with the sense of regret and guilt he feels for the damage his focus on work did to his family?
  • How should Philip respond to the anger or indifference his wife and boys may have when he comes to them in repentance?
  • How would your answers to the “pre-questions” have changed as a result of reflecting on Psalm 127?
  • For what instances of work or performance-based identity do you need to re-write your own version of Psalm 127?

A Collection of Quotes on Addiction

What follows is a collection of quotes on this subject. They are not meant to sequentially walk through the subject or to comprehensively cover the subject. Their purpose is merely to expose you to a variety of thoughts and perspectives by Christian men and women.

“No matter how they start, addictions eventually center in distress and in the self-defeating choice of an agent to relieve the distress. In fact, trying to cure distress with the same thing that causes it is typically the mechanism that closes the trap on an addict—a trap that, as just suggested, might be baited with anything from whiskey to wool (p. 131)… The exposure event is thus a severe mercy, a potent bearer of shame and grace (p. 135)… In important respects, ‘the addiction experience is the human experience,’ since we all ‘have a habit’ where sin is concerned. Addiction shows us how the habit works, where it goes, and why it persists. In fact, we might think of addiction as a lab demonstration of the great law of returns, the law of longing and acting and the forming of habits that lead to renewed longing (p. 147)… When in full cry, addiction is finally about idolatry. At last, the addict will do anything for his idol, including dying for it (p. 148).” Cornelius Plantinga, Jr in Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin

“You can control things, but you cannot control God or your relationship to him. Proper worship is not only putting God where he belongs in your life but also surrendering control of your life to him. Impersonal things so easily seduce us because they put us in control, the place where every sinner wants to be. Here is one of idolatry’s great allures, yet it is at once also one of its great dangers. You and I were never meant to be in control, and when we are, we always make a mess out of things… The enslaving, addicting quality of idolatry must not be understated or ignored (p. 100)… Perhaps the biggest and most tempting lie that all of us tend to embrace is that our greatest problems exist somewhere outside of us (p.113).”Paul David Tripp, Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God

“Sin is more than conscious choice. Like a cruel taskmaster sin victimizes and controls us (John 8:34). It captures and overtakes (Gal. 6:1 )….  In other words, sin feels exactly like a disease. It feels as if something outside ourselves has taken over. In fact, one of Scripture’s images for sin is disease (e.g., Isa. 1:5-6) (p. 33).” Edward T. Welch, Addictions a Banquet in the Grave

“Who would have thought? The treatment for addiction is to want something better than your addictions (p. 3)… You do your addiction because you like it. Maybe you want to change, but at the same time, you don’t want to change. You are caught between wanting to trust God and wanting to be God. Acknowledge this and you are walking in the right direction (p. 14)… You addiction went from being a friend to a lover to a slave-master (p. 25)… Right now [as you leave your addiction] it feels like you are giving things up. But in reality you are inheriting a new kingdom (p. 28).” Edward T. Welch in Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction

“All sin is ultimately irrational….. Though people persuade themselves that they have good reasons for sinning, when examined in the cold light of truth on the last day, it will be seen in every case that sin ultimately just does not make sense (p. 493)…The Bible’s depiction of the human race is that today it is actually in an abnormal condition….  In a very real sense, the only true human beings were Adam and Eve before the fall, and Jesus.  All the others are twisted, distorted, corrupted samples of humanity (p. 518)…  Our view of the cause of sin will determine our view of the cure for sin, since the cure for sin will necessarily involve negating the cause (p. 616).” Millard Erickson in Christian Theology

“They become conscious of the fact that they have been merely fighting the symptoms of some deep-seated malady, and that they are confronted, not merely with the problem of sins, that is, of separate sinful deeds, but with the much greater and deeper problem of sin, of an evil that is inherent in human nature (p. 227, emphasis added)… Sin does not reside in any one faculty of the soul, but in the heart, which in Scriptural psychology is the central organ of the soul, out of which are the issues of life.  And from this center its influence and operations spread to the intellect, the will, the affections, in short, to the entire man, including his body (p. 233).” Louis Berkhoff in Systematic Theology

“In fact, the longer we struggle with a problem, the more likely we are to define ourselves by that problem (divorced, addicted, depressed, co-dependent, ADD). We come to believe that our problem is who we are. But while these labels may describe particular ways we struggle as sinners in a fallen world, they are not our identity! If we allow them to define us, we will live trapped within their boundaries. This is no way for a child of God to live (p. 260)!” Paul Tripp in Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand

“There is a progressive character to this string of words that describes the turning away of the believer. The sinful heart, not wanting to live under the convicting light of truth, lives in the shadows and becomes weak and unbelieving. The unbelieving heart, having lost its confidence in God, has no reason to continue to persevere and begins to turn away. And the heart that has turned away, no longer sensitive to the truth of God, becomes increasingly hardened to the things of the Lord. What the passage [Heb 3:12-15] describes is a subtle acceptance of sin patterns, an acceptance that grows until it becomes a hardened turning away from the living God. What a terrifying warning (p. 144)!” Paul Tripp in War of Words

“Sin is what we do when our heart is not satisfied with God (p. 9).” John Piper in Future Grace

“Sin is not just about willfulness; that is, conscious stepping over God’s boundaries. Sin is also about blindness; that is, not seeing what needs to be seen in order to live as God has called me to live. The sinner is both willfully blind and blindly willful (p. 42).” Paul Tripp in “Strategies for Opening Blind Eyes” Journal of Biblical Counseling

“This is how idolatry grows in our hearts.  We want things and we aren’t sure God will give them to us, so we put our trust in other gods. This is THE problem of the human heart—misplaced trust. We value, love, and trust something in creation more than the Creator, and since there is nothing in creation that is intended to bear the weight of our trust, we are bound to live in fear.  All other loves must be subordinate to your love for Christ (p. 149).” Edward T. Welch in Depression A Stubborn Darkness

Life Dominating Pleasures

There are certain passages of Scripture that are notorious for stimulating a debate, confusion, and fear. One such passage is Ephesians 5:4-5 (and its “cousin” in I Cor 6:9-10):

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Passages like this can quickly (if we take them seriously at all) make any one of us doubt our salvation. Passages like Ephesians 5 and I Corinthians 6 can also be used to “hammer” particular sins, especially sexual ones like pornography, adultery, or homosexuality. Yet we often overlook the fact that crude joking and coveting are on the same list.

What are we supposed to do with a passage like this? What is this passage trying to get us to evaluate? Should we use the presence of certain sins to undermine the assurance of our salvation? Should we avoid passages like this in order to protect ourselves from undue fear?

I would like to propose one question (among others) I believe we can safely take from this passage and use to effectively make application of this passage – what is my life-dominating pleasure? I believe that is the big point.

If sex is my life-dominating pleasure (i.e., fantasy through porn, same-sex attraction, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, or even the frequency of sex within marriage), then chances are I do not truly know the God of the Bible.

If I get my kicks through coarse humor or if I believe that some new gadget/car/home/etc… is going to make my life what I want it to be, then I have not been captured by the character of The Holy God.

If I have to escape from the pain or stress of daily living through alcohol, drugs, golf, computer games, a hobby, etc… because I do not believe there is anything else that can help me, then the God I claim to know is drastically inferior to the God of Scripture.

Paul’s question does not hinge on what sins a Christian can or cannot commit or how frequently or infrequently a Christian can commit certain sins and remain a Christian. Paul (as Scripture always does) is aiming right for our hearts. Paul’s logic would go like this:

  • If you live as if this world has more pleasure to offer than God, you do not know God.
  • If you live as if this world (or you) can protect you more than God, you do not know God.
  • If you live as if this world is more worth having than God, you do not know God.

The question is not whether we have “lapses in our sanity” (and I do not think that language is too strong). The question is whether we have come to the place that we believe that belonging to God is our life-dominating pleasure (Luke 9:23-24; Gal 2:20; Phil 3:7-11). That is what it means to be a Christian, or as Paul says in Ephesians 5:5 to inherit the kingdom of God.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Addiction” post which address other facets of this subject.

Looking for a “Return on Investment” for Our Sin

It is always a bit dangerous to imply motive on biblical characters when the text does not do so.  But for this post I am going to live on the wild side.

Have you ever wondered why Pharaoh would have gone after Israel after ten plagues (Exodus 14), the last which cost the first born of every house and animal in Egypt?  The texts says in various places that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (sometimes it attributes this hardening to God and sometimes to Pharaoh).  But a hard heart is not a unique condition in Scripture.  In many ways it is the common cold of biblical diagnoses.

I would like to offer a possible motive for Pharaoh’s decision.  One that I believe is plausible, but that also might cause modern readers of Exodus to pause and see themselves in Pharaoh.

Motive: I want a return on investment for my sin.

Consider the following modern examples as illustrative of this same motivation.

  • The teenager who has spent six months in a bad relationship, but does not want to break it off because he might learn his lesson and become a good boyfriend or girlfriend for someone else.
  • The adult who feels guilty about their recurring sin (i.e., over spending, pornography, over eating, drinking too much) and thinks, “If I am already in trouble, I might as well enjoy it.”
  • The child who knows they are going to get a spanking or grounded, but figures they might as well enjoy their current behavior while they can.

Now let’s go back to Pharaoh.  He has already lost a year’s harvest, his supremacy in the eyes of the people of Egypt, and his first-born son.  What does he have to show for it?  Nothing.  Pharaoh wagered all of that to keep Israel as slave labor.  Now he “comes to his senses” (again, I am assigning motive to actions) and thinks with a hardened heart, “Am I so foolish as to lose grain, power, my son, and my labor force?  No, I paid dearly to keep them.  They will be mine!”

This is where the instruction comes in for you and me.  Sin never pays.  When we try to get a payoff from our sin, we are thinking with hardened heart logic.  That mindset should send off powerful alarms in our conscience.

Warning: The mental formula “I have experience [negative consequence] so I should [double-or-nothing and/or reckless decision]” is an age-old formula.  It is the logic of addiction and the thrill of a casino.  It drips of death; not because it necessarily immediately destroys life, but because it is the first step into the downward spiral of a hardened heart.

Regardless of whether this was the precise motive of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, use this post as a warning for your own moments of temptation.  Realize that temptation always makes sense to us in the moment, but in retrospect is as foolish and indefensible as Pharaoh’s decision to go after Israel.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Addiction” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Character” post which address other facets of this subject.