by Tad Lindley
I didn’t have a drinking problem, I had a sobriety problem. To be bluntly honest, I never felt like my problem was drinking. My problem was sobriety. I did not like being sober. I had a lot of emotional pain, a lot of fear, and a lot of shame. When I was under the influence of alcohol, or inhalants, or any variety of drugs I could get ahold of, that pain went away. While the people around me saw that as a problem, from my viewpoint alcohol was not my problem, it was my solution.
Who do you know with a drinking problem?
Without exception, every one of us can point to someone we know that has either an alcohol or a drug problem. Even if we are a drug addict or an alcoholic, we can easily list off a number of people who are way worse than we are. In fact, we tell ourselves that we will quit before it ever gets that bad, which incidentally is what those people once told themselves, but they didn’t quit before they got that bad.
Slippery slope of addiction
We probably know someone who is smoking heroin right now and telling themselves that they will never stick a needle in their arm. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Sin does not care about the limits we draw for it. Everyone we know that is a needle addict at one point told themselves the same thing. Sin drug them across the line they had drawn at 90 miles an hour, and now they live a life where they are constantly sick and the only solution to feeling normal is injecting more heroin. Right now some of you are patting yourself on the back for not being a heroin user, and yet your children have never seen you not stoned on marijuana.
The Bible and alcohol
The Bible is extremely clear about drunkenness. It is a sin. We cannot be saved if we are getting high on alcohol. There is no contest about that. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither …thieves…nor drunkards…shall inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9-10) The principle extends to all chemicals that people use to get high, whether it’s Pabst Blue Ribbon, Matanuska Thunder Cloud, huffing glue, or using black tar heroin. They are just different seats on the Titanic. When we use drugs or alcohol to deal with our sobriety problem, we cannot be saved.
Solving the sobriety problem
Whether you are the one who cannot sleep without smoking a bowl to stave off the anxiety, or you are the one who is in the hopeless cycle of drinking to forget the humiliation brought on by your last batch of homebrew, or the opiate addict who wants to stop, but can’t ever make it through the cramps and the diarrhea to the better life on the other side of the needle, there is hope. You’ll notice in the scripture I quoted above the “…”. I left out a long list of other sins. You can read them all in your Bible. I’m dialed in on addiction right now, so I left them out. What I want to do though is to show you the next verse, because it indicates that almost 2,000 years ago there was a bunch of alcoholics in the city of Corinth, Greece that found the answer to their sobriety problem.
Such were some of you
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither …thieves…nor drunkards…shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11) Something happened in that city. People that used to be alcoholics, that were destined for hell were completely transformed. Read it for yourself, it says, some of you were drunkards, but something happened. They heard the message of victory in Jesus and they were washed. If you read the book of Acts you will see that washed means that they were baptized (immersed not sprinkled), and that they were sanctified (made holy in the sight of God) and that they were justified (on the wrong side of things but moved to the right side). This happened in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.
Jesus is the solution to our sobriety problem
They repented, were baptized in Jesus’ name for the removal of their sins, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38, 8:12,16, 10:44-48, 19:1-6). It was the solution to their sobriety problem. It turns out, that the same solution is still working today. Men and women are finding healing and hope from addiction by reaching out to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is waiting for you, which is why he said in John 6:37 I will never turn away anyone who comes to me, (GNT) I close with Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.