"Just One Drink"
“Why do you keep saying you are an alcoholic? Don’t you believe in deliverance?”
It is a common question among those who believe in the transforming power of God. And “Yes.” There is freedom in Christ. There should not be an ongoing, plaguing sense of “I am an alcoholic.” But it is foolish to tempt just how far that freedom can be pushed!
In theology, there is a concept called eradication of the sin nature. That would mean that every part of anything to do with an alcoholics past was basically vaporized. Gone. As if it didn’t exist. I do not believe that teaching is biblical.
In Matthew 12:36b, Jesus says that every “every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment” (NKJV). This and many other scriptures lead me to believe that everything we do or say is eternal. If it is sin, it can be paid for, and it was by Christ’s death on the cross. It can be overcome by the grace of God. Overcoming through grace is not just forgiveness, but there is an application God’s power that helps a person defeat temptation so that he doesn’t lose to sin again. But neither of those statements mean that the sin nature is gone. It is like a file hanging around on the internet, waiting to be accessed once again.
All things work by spiritual authority. When a sin has been confessed and is covered by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no legal power of the person. However, the sin is not vaporized. The sin nature is not vaporized. It is not as if the person had never sinned. That old nature is still out there, hoping for a shot to take back over the man. I’ve seen it too many times. “Just one drink!”
It doesn’t take much for an alcoholic to awaken the tendencies that were once there. Everything is eternal. It might be forgiven. The person might have connected with Christ and grown in a way to overcome the addiction to alcohol—so he now overcoming strength in his arsenal of tools. His “righteous man” knows how to connect with God and to get free.
But. There’s that word. The person set free by Christ has both legal and experiential freedom. But. The old man is not vaporized. As little as one drink has the power to wake up some of those old tendencies. Once activated, legal authority has been handed back to the devil. At that point, who knows what might happen? Some realize the folly of what they have done by taking a drink and turn back to Christ. Some have a second drink. Then a third. Few who start back up return to “freedom” without an ugly battle.
Proverbs 9:10a says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The idea that everything is eternal and will come into judgment is the fear of the Lord. Many today teach forgiveness as if there was a divine eraser that makes it as if it never happened. If that is your belief system, there is no reason to be concerned about judgment day. If instead we understand that there is a judgment day even for believers and that our works will be judged by fire (1 Cor. 3:13-15), we are no longer so cocky.
It is not just judgment day that is a problem. We have both a righteous man and a sinful man out there on file, waiting to be accessed. Our choices aren’t vaporized. If we have a fear of the Lord and keep our distance from the sinful things, there is nothing to fear. We stay under the covering of God and He protects us and it is truly as if we had never sinned. The alcoholic is no longer an alcoholic. The old tendencies are gone. He is free. Proclaim it. Rejoice in it. Live in it.
But don’t take a drink. Fear of the Lord for the alcoholic means that he understand that he can easily reactivate what had control over him. Why would he even want to get close to that place? If he believes his sin is vaporized, there is no reason to keep his distance. He can easily become self confident, saying, “I’ve got this.” He mistakenly believes the deliverance of the Lord is his own power. He sets out to prove his new prowess and invites the attack of the devil.
Can the alcoholic be “delivered” to the point that he is absolutely free? Yes. Should he struggle day after day? No. It may not be immediate, but there is freedom in Christ. Does that mean that his old tendencies are absolutely gone? No way. The sin nature is not eradicated. It is still hanging around out there hoping for its chance to move back in.
It is foolishness for a person to hand the devil authority through even a single drink and expect to be able to turn around and defeat demonic attack. I’m not just talking about drinking. Every area of sin works this same way! When God helps us overcome, we cannot and should not turn around and give authority back to the devil through a foolish choice (Eph. 4:27). The fear of the Lord tells us that every choice is significant and that every choice should give God authority over our lives and should shut out the devil’s authority.
Every choice and every word is significant. There is a sin nature. There is a righteous heritage. In Christ, the sin nature is defeated, but not eradicated. If we use our freedom in Christ in the wrong way, we can easily become entangled once again in bondage (Gal. 5:1). God set us free to be free! Live it!