Today is Part 2 in Our Temptation Series. If you have missed the previous post, we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study called ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a Whole “LOT” of Trouble ★. As we develop each temptation trap or “pitfall,” we will use a biblical case study as well as someone who I know or myself to make it current. I have combined these two “pitfalls” that we can fall victim to into one post since they typically go hand in hand. At least they did for me. I learned this lesson the hard way as I failed in both areas and was trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior involving alcohol and drugs.
In the post ★ Thought for the Day – The Family Juggernaut ★, I shared about how my family of origin was wrecked by neglect, alcoholism, drug use, verbal attacks, physical abuse, and adultery all by the time I reached 5 years old! Not surprisingly, that was the year that my parents divorced. My teenage years and early twenties were characterized with drugs and alcohol, living life far from God and doing whatever felt good and benefited me. I used the excuse that I came from a broken home to self-medicate my problems away instead of facing them head long. I hated the face I saw in the mirror and so I surrounded myself with people who would no challenge me to change but instead accepted me because they were involved in the same self-destructive behaviors. The people I associated with liked to party and drink excessively and I had no problem joining in and that has not changed 27 years later.
“According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).”
“According to the 2015 NSDUH, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD.” Source: NSDUH Alcohol Facts and Statistics
What these statistics don’t comment on is the problem that abusing alcohol can escalate to more serious narcotics. I remember my first time that I experimented with marijuana (or pot) like it was yesterday. I was 15 years old at a party and had consumed so much alcohol that when the joint went around the circle I was too intoxicated to say no. It is hard enough to resist temptation but when you surround yourself with the wrong people, compromise will always follow. My drinking problem placed me in no position to make the right choice, and was the gateway to a life of illegal drugs that lasted almost 10 years before God used my girlfriend (now wife,) to lead me out of that dark life.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that I don’t remember reading anything in the Bible that directly says do not do drugs, but I think we can all agree that the effects of prolonged drug use can have devastating effects. In a great article call “Don’t Let Your Mind Go to Pot” John Piper made this great parallel:
“In regard to drunkenness — and a marijuana high is a kind of drunkenness — the Bible says,
‘In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder [or viper]. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.’ (Proverbs 23:32-33).
In other words, it leads away from the kind of sober-mindedness and self-control that is essential in using the mind for the glory of God.”
Amen!! John Piper also said:
“In everything you do, ask yourself: Is this making Jesus look like the treasure He is?”
So if you are rationalizing that marijuana or other drugs are not mentioned in the Bible, ask yourself, is hitting the bong or snorting that line of cocaine making Jesus look like the treasure He is supposed to be in your life? Whether it be the temptation of drugs or alcohol, yielding to either only feeds your sinful nature and the Bible has much to say about that! Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT) says:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.
Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
What a list! We will unpack much of these pitfalls in the next 5 posts. Verse 21 is also quite sobering (no pun intended)…“anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God!”
Our case study today from the Old Testament that best exemplifies yielding to the temptation and its disastrous consequences is the man Noah. You may be thinking to yourself, wait a second, “wasn’t he the man God used to build an ark to save two of every kind of animal from the flood that God was sending to punish the world because of the increasing immorality?” The answer is yes! Genesis 6:9-19 says:
“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”
As a result of his righteousness, God saved Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives from destruction. The whole epic story can be found in Genesis Chapters 6-9 but what is not really ever discussed is what happens after the flood recedes and God makes His covenant with Noah and all his descendents to never flood the Earth again. We remember the rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant but what happens after that?
Genesis 9:18-28 recalls how after the flood had receded Noah planted a vineyard and one night he got drunk and was found inside his tent naked by his youngest son Ham who shamed his father by telling his two brothers about being passed out drunk. But instead of joining in their brother’s disrespect, Shem and Japheth covered their father’s nakedness. Verses 24-27 recounts:
“When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham:
‘May Canaan be cursed!
May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.’
Then Noah said,
‘May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant!
May God expand the territory of Japheth!
May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.’”
Wow that seems extreme doesn’t it? But that is exactly what happens when we allow alcohol (and drugs) to have priority in our lives. It will result in us doing and saying things that we would not normally do, and ultimately will wreak havoc in our lives and the one’s we love. Noah was 601 years old when he left the ark (Genesis 8:13) and lived until he was 950 (Genesis 9:29). It’s sad to me that after that night of drunkenness there is nothing more to report about this righteous man who was the only person in God’s eyes worthy to be saved in all the earth. There is nothing to support this, but could it be that his vineyard became an idol and his yielding to the temptation of alcohol rendered Noah ineffectual or useless to expand the Kingdom of God?
I have been doing a bible study with my neighbor on the Book of Genesis and God showed me something that I never saw before. When you look at the dependents of Noah’s three sons:
You can see that the blessing on Shem’s descendants and the Curse on Canaan and his descendants came to pass. We discussed Abram (also known as Abraham) and Lot in the previous post about how God blessed them both who were in the lineage of Shem. Abraham was the patriarch of the Israelite’s who were constantly plagued by the highlighted names above who were not only the descendants of Canaan but also from Ham’s other sons as well. When you think of it, centuries of wars and death can be traced back to one night of drunkenness!
Proverbs 20:1 (NLT) says:
“Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.
Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.”
And that is certainly the case for Noah. Perhaps the reason why we read nothing more about Noah’s subsequent 349 years after the miraculous survival from the flood is because he was led astray and spent those years in conflict with his son and grandchildren as a result of Noah’s pride being hurt. I read a great article called “Wise Up About Alcohol” by James MacDonald in which he advocated complete abstinence from alcohol which was quite compelling. In his conclusion, he said:
“The Bible does not require abstinence, but I believe it recommends it as the wiser choice.
‘Abstain from all appearance of evil.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:22
‘I will not be brought under the power of anything.’ 1 Corinthians 6:12
‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ John 8:32
You say, ‘Free from what?’ — free from addictive patterns of sinfulness that don’t lead to the righteousness which can be found in Christ alone.”
Now whether you agree with complete abstinence from alcohol or not, don’t miss the point that we need to be to be aware of the hold that it has on us. In 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT), the Apostle Paul says:
“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ — but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.”
Now 1 Corinthians 6:12 is a warning about “Avoiding Sexual Sin” which will unpack in the next post but I wanted to highlight the last part of the verse which says:
“I must not become a slave to anything.”
The ESV translation says “I will not be dominated by anything.” When we cannot say no to another drink or another hit, snort or pill of __________ (fill in the blank) then that is exactly what is happening! We are a slave to alcohol and drugs and have allowed our lives to be dominated! I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the most quoted verses on temptation from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)…
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
Charles Stanley has this life lesson:
“We will face temptation just as the Old Testament saints did, but we do not have to choose disobedience to God. Why? Because the power of sin over us was defeated at the Cross. If we’ve trusted Christ as our savior, His Spirit lives in us – giving us the power and wisdom to overcome our sinful impulses so we can obey Him. So whenever you are tempted, ask God to remind you of the terrible consequences that would follow the transgression and to fill your heart with love and obedience for Him – because that is a sure way of escape.”
I love, love, love that advice to that “whenever you are tempted, ask God to remind you of the terrible consequences that would follow the transgression.” How much different would our lives be if we were to pray this? And if we would, I believe that we would see the fruition of Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT) manifested!
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ
Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
You know the expression, ‘save the best for last?’ When you look at the ninth “Fruit of the Spirit,” it is self-control. I think mastery of this area can unlock the key to overcoming temptation and avoiding the consequences that will result if we fail to. I will close with this from John MacArthur about what it means to live in the Spirit:
“The Spirit-filled life is overflowing with gratitude, joy, right relationships, and good behavior — quite a contrast to those enslaved by alcohol. You may not be seeking your joy in drugs or alcohol, but are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit?” From Living Under The Influence
Are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit? The answer to that question will speak volumes to whether you will continue to yield to alcohol and drugs and whether the truth of God is in us!
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