And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (NLT)
Becoming a Christian and having your sins forgiven, and knowing you are headed for eternal life is great news. But while the war against sin, the flesh, and the devil may be won, lots of battles remain to be fought.
Even the great apostle Paul experienced such struggles. This may well cause us to be a bit more sympathetic towards those who struggle with addictions. It is true that sometimes there is an instant victory over an addiction. At other times there is an ongoing battle with some more victories than defeats. But some followers of Jesus will not only go on struggling, but wonder if any victory at all is possible.
Whether it is a battle with alcohol, nicotine, gambling or pornography, it is a fierce battle for most addicts. They might wonder if they are “saved” at all. But living in this broken world means living with our own brokenness whatever form it takes. None of us, especially someone addicted to certain behaviours, is ever blissfully free of temptation or succumbing to temptation.
Our merciful God does not turn his back on those trapped in addictive behaviours. True, he may grant wonderful victories. But also true is the fact that whether there is victory or defeat, his love does not fail. An addict may despairingly give up in the battle. God does not give up on the addict.