by Tad Lindley
If you got this far, please read the rest. When I first ran this column in 2005 a couple of preachers just read the title and confronted me for smoking marijuana. Keep reading, but please know that I have not used marijuana since 1982.
This is truly a great way to live. I also drank all the alcohol I wanted today. I shot all the heroin and huffed all the glue that I wanted. I smoked all the cigarettes and had all the snuff I wanted today as well. Not only that, I played all the 4-5-6 and all the bingo I wanted to. If I had known that living for God was like this, I would have started long ago.
“Brother Lindley, I thought you were a Christian, and now this.”
Wait a minute, let me explain.
Don’t turn the page just yet
The Bible teaches us that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (II Corinthians 3:17) Some people would interpret that word liberty to mean that a person can do whatever they want, act however they want, and dress however they want. In the original language liberty refers to freedom from bondage. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom from bondage to sin.
This is how much I smoked
Yes, I smoked all the marijuana I wanted today. All the marijuana I wanted today was none. I also made throughout the day without wanting a drop of any alcoholic beverage. All the alcohol I wanted today was none. Neither did I have the desire to smoke or rub snuff. At various times in my life I had no choice; I was addicted to these things. You probably figured out by now that I didn’t feel like gambling today either. You’re right.
How much did you smoke?
What about you, reader? Did you get all you wanted of these things today? If you weren’t able to smoke all the marijuana you wanted to, then there is a problem. If you couldn’t get enough bingo in today, then there is a problem. If you could not get enough alcohol to drink today, then there is a problem. There is a solution to this problem. You can be numbered among those who have found such a freedom in God that there is peace and comfort without the intoxicating effects of drugs, or the excitement of winning at 4-5-6.
Freedom is not…
… being able to drink whenever we want to. It is not having a closet full of cartons of Camel™. Freedom is being able to sleep at night with no regrets. Freedom is living under the same roof as my wife and children. Freedom is being in no particular hurry on Friday night. Freedom is being able to eat a meal without having to step out on the step and have a cigarette afterwards. Freedom is not having to call in Monday morning hung over and lie about having the flu.
For the past two thousand years, many have been set free from the things that at one time were destroying them. Reader, you may think, “I’m so bad, and I’ve sunk so low, that I could never be happy again.” Not true. In fact, Jesus is all about reaching those with problems. Here is what he said: … They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick … for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:12-13) Jesus wants to keep those that are already saved, but heaven rejoices over a single sinner who reaches the end of the rope and cries out to God. Things heat up in heaven when a desperate person turns to God. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7 NIV)
Freedom is not free
When the Lord came revealed in a human body as Jesus Christ, he experienced all the temptations that we do. (Hebrews 4:15) In fact he took the crushing weight of every hangover morning, and the pain every gambling addict that spent the grocery money on 4-5-6. He bore the shame of every one who has ever humiliated themselves in acts of drunkenness. He took upon himself the embarrassment of having our crimes and our names printed in the newspaper. Hebrews 9:28 tells us that Jesus was crucified to bear the sins of many. The famous song borrowed in part from Isaiah 53:5 says:
He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, surely he bore our sorrow, and by his stripes we are healed.
When Jesus was hung on the cross, God was literally striking out at his own body, and shedding his own blood. He was allowing himself to take the punishment for us. The weight, shame, and humiliation of our sin were upon him. Regardless of whom you are, if you believe that, you can be set free.
To be set free, we must die out to sin. We must repent, that means to turn around and head in God’s direction. (Acts 2:38, Matthew 4:17, Luke 13:3) We must be buried with him in baptism (Romans 6:4, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27). We will receive overcoming power in the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:38-39, II Corinthians 3:17) Then we can truly say that we have engaged in all the sin that we want to today, which will be none.
Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.