Summary: How can we keep from relapsing once we are in recovery?
We've been talking about finding our freedom in Christ. We've outlined steps involved in walking in the victory provided by our Savior.
1) daily admit our need; 2) daily seek God; 3) daily surrender to Christ's control; 4) daily come clean with God; 5) daily cooperate with God's work to change my life; 6) choose to forgive others and make amends when necessary. All believers are to be involved in recovery, learning how to live the new life we have in Christ.
But today I want to talk about how you maintain your recovery? How do you not lose the progress you are making in your Christian life?
Growth isn't smooth. It's often two steps forward and one step back. It You can have problems and fall back into self-defeating patterns. That's relapse. The Bible term is backsliding (Jeremiah 3:12). The alcoholic goes back to drinking. The overeater gains the weight back. The gambler goes back to the casino. The workaholic fills up his schedule again. We tend to repeat the patterns of our past. It's very easy to slip back. It's easy to slip back into old hurts, old habits and old hang-ups. Let's look at what causes us to relapse or backslide; and how we can avoid it.
1. What causes us to relapse? Relapse follows a predictable pattern.
A. Commitment gives way to comfort. You're working the steps we've been talking about and are experiencing freedom through Christ. You're having victory over habits that had overtaken you, hang-ups that had overshadowed you, and hurts that had overwhelmed you.
B. Comfort leads to complacency. You start thinking, "I'm doing pretty good. Life is going pretty smooth. I don't need to go to Bible study. I don't need to go to CR this week. I can miss worship this week. I don't need to read my Bible and pray everyday."
C. Complacency leads to confusion. You think, "Maybe it wasn't really so bad after all, the problem really wasn't that bad, I can handle it myself." You start forgetting how bad it was when you weren't walking in freedom and you're tempted to go back to your old ways.
D. Confusion leads to compromise. You return to the risky situations that got you in trouble in the first place, the places of temptation. Like the gambler who says, "Let's go to Vegas, we'll just see the shows."
E. Compromise leads to catastrophe. You go back to living in bondage again; and give into that old habit, hurt, hatred, or hang-up.
We find ourselves living like a person who doesn't even know Jesus.
2. How do we prevent a relapse?
This brings us to the second "R" in "Recovery."
Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and gain the power to do it. (READ TEXT)
Jesus says it is human nature to have a relapse, to go back to things that mess us up even though we know they mess us up. It's human nature to let past problems revisit us, old hurts, and hang-ups come back to haunt us. So He said, you need to have some safeguards. And that's what this step is about. There are three safeguards that help you maintain your recovery and continue to walk in the freedom we have in Christ.
A. Examination - I need to invite God to examine my heart and show me where I am going wrong and lead me in the way that is right.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. " - Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Do a heart check.
H - Am I hurting?
E - Am I exhausted?
A - Am I angry?
R - Do I resent anybody?
T - Am I tense? Anxious? Fearful?
How often should I do a HEART check? Well, it's kind of like how you might go about cleaning your house:
1) Moment by moment. Some of you are neat-nicks. You are constant cleaners, you live with a dust buster strapped in your holster. You walk around behind the kids, picking up after them, like those waiters at restaurants who take your plate before you've finished your meal.
At anytime of the day, when God shows you something, you can deal with it. We need to learn "spiritual breathing." Spiritual breathing happens when you blow it, and you immediately confess the sin, blow it out and breathe in God's love, saying "I receive Your forgiveness." You need to learn to do that on a moment by moment basis. You can do spiritual breathing a thousand times a day as the need be. Keep short accounts with God. Don't let those sins stockpile.