Yesterday we looked at what to do when someone (friend, counselee, disciple, neighbor) who comes to you for help tells you they are an addict. Today what we will learn is what we can do when we are told by a hurting Christian who struggles with some life dominating sin like drunkenness, illicit drug use, overeating, smoking (or any other vice) that they have a disease.
This counsel is of course based on the understanding that the person before you has asked for your help and/or is willing to allow you the privilege of speaking into their lives. It is never wise to blurt out what needs to be done or changed if you have not been asked. In fact it is prideful and arrogant to give advice or counsel without being asked or granted permission.
So assuming that you are in the role of a "counselor" or one who is going to speak into the life of another person, you will want to ask several questions to clarify exactly what is meant by "having a disease." This is very important! Has their use of illicit substances brought them physical harm in the form of liver disease like cirrhosis or Hepatitis? Have they become physically dependent on whatever they were using or abusing to the point of when they don't use it, they become sick physically?
The idea of having a disease is not just having dis-ease. A disease involves tissue or organ damage, it is demonstrated by abnormal function in the body. It is provable by objective testing. In the case of Hepatitis this fits! In the case of physical withdrawal, it fits! In the case of many of the cases of "alcoholism" diagnosed in this country few have a disease. However, that is not what the general thinking is!
When a person enters traditional treatment for abuse of a substance (including food!) they are most often told they have a disease. Very often the treatment plan includes various self-help meetings and the use of psychotropic drugs.
So, if alcoholism isn't a disease then what is it? If being a compulsive overeater isn't a disease, then what is it?
Long before any substance use or abuse leads to organ damage or physical dependency (with a few exceptions such as methamphetamine) there is a change that takes place in the inner man/woman and it is a disease.
It is called "sin" and each one of us is born with this disease. It is a disease because eventually being born under its curse leads us to physical death. In fact, the moment we are born we begin to die because of it!
Sin resides in the heart of man. Desires reside in the heart of man. The sinful desires in the heart of man are what leads a person to the point of ever being considered addicted or diseased due to overindulgence in a substance.
The disease of sin is what leads a person to desire something to the point that they are willing to commit sin to get it. The disease of sin is what leads us to become idolaters of self and place what we want before the worship of God.
This is not to say that we are not responsible for our sin, or our choices because we are. God holds us 100% responsible for what we say, do, serve, and worship. We are responsible because we all have been given glimpses of God in everyday life and we choose to ignore and refute them. God says we are without excuse (Romans 1: 18:21).
continues next time.