Summary: A sermon from Celebrate Recovery (Life’s Healing Choices #7) on how not to relapse back into bad habits or addictions.

Evening Service for May 2009

Maintaining Momentum- Celebrate Recovery Choice #7


An older woman went to New York and up to the 23rd floor of an apartment building. She knocked, and a beautiful young woman opened the door. Incense came wafting out, music was playing, this beauty was wearing a sarong, and she was clapping little hand bells. The young woman asked, “Are you here to see the great Bagone? The one who knows all, sees all, and tells all?” The older woman said, “Yes, tell Shelton his mother is here and I want to see him now.”


A. Sometimes we need someone to tell us we’re just Shelton. We need someone to say, “Who are you kidding? You’re you.”

B. God will allow us to relapse, again and again, until we finally realize we can’t do it on our own. (Zec 4:6 NIV) ’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

C. God has the power to take away and keep away our old hurts, hang ups and habits. It we revert to trying to do it on our willpower, we’re going to relapse.

D. We have been talking about Celebrate Recovery over the past several weeks. We have been focusing on the Beatitudes. They take the 12 steps and mold them to the Beatitudes. Tonight we are not going to focus on Beatitude per se. The one that will fit this one is Blessed are those who Hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

E. The fact is growth is not smooth. The road to healing is bumpy. It comes in fits and starts. Some days it’s two steps forward and one step back.

F. If we do not keep our guard up, we can easily fall back into our old self defeating patterns. This is called relapse.

Thesis: Tonight we are going to talk about relapse.

For instances:

I. The Predictable pattern of relapse.

4 phases:

1. Complacency

A. People get comfortable. They have confessed their problem, started to deal with it, and made some progress. Then they get comfortable.

B. They feel like they don’t need accountability because they are doing well.

2. Confusion

A. “Maybe my problem really wasn’t all that bad; maybe I can handle it myself.”

B. They forget how bad it used to be.

3. Compromise

A. They go back to the place of temptation. “I can handle it. I have overcome.”

C. The compromise begins with little things, and before long it all unravels and all the ground that’s been gained is lost.

4. Catastrophe

A. They give in again to the old hurt, hang up, or habit.

B. Need to understand this: the catastrophe is not the relapse. The relapse began in phase 1 with complacency. The catastrophe is simply the end result.

II. The Causes of Relapse

1. We revert to our own willpower.

A. (Gal 3:3 NIV) Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

B. Remember how far we have come through the Spirit

1) Choice 1, admit that we are powerless (Blessed are the Poor in Spirit)

2) Choice 2, agreed that only God has the power to help us (Blessed are those who mourn)

3) Choice 3, we made a commitment to turn our life over to Christ (Blessed are the meek)

4) Choice 4, we examined ourselves openly and honestly and confessed our faults (Blessed are the pure in heart)

5) Choice 5, we submitted to the changes God wants to make in our lives (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness)

6) Choice 6, focus on repairing our relationships (Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers)

C. Here is the rub: this is the point where we might start thinking, “It’s me doing this; I’m making the changes. It’s by my will.”

2. We ignore one of the choices.

A. These choices take time and effort. Only in God’s timing. Don’t think just because we have moved through one that we don’t ever need to go back to it.

B. Maybe we skip a choice and feel that it is not important. “Maybe partial recovery and healing will be enough.”

C. (Gal 5:7 NIV) You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?

3. We try to recover without support.

A. This does not work. Jenny Craig commercials.

B. (Eccl 4:9-10) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

C. I am just going to accountable to God! Good, but God uses people to make us accountable.

D. (Heb 10:25 NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

E. Without others we fall, all of us need others to be accountable!

F. Just pray and read your Bible more and this will solve problems!

4. We become prideful

A. (Prov 16:18 NIV) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

B. (1 Cor 10:12 NIV) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

C. (James 4:10 NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

D. Peter Jennings- 20 years did not smoke. On 9/11 he started back.

III. Preventing Relapse.

Along with working the choices, along with support group, form these three habits.

1. Evaluation

A. (2 Cor 13:5) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.

B. What should we evaluate:

1) Physical

2) Emotional

3) Relational

4) Spiritual

C. Why we should evaluate

1) (Gal 6:4 NIV) Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,

2) Celebrate victories. Be proud of what God is doing. Do it on a regular basis.

D. Some things to evaluate

1) Our relationships 2) Our priorities 3) Our attitudes 4) Our integrity 5) Our minds 6) Our bodies 7) Our families 8) Our church

2. Meditation

How to:

A. Reverse worry. If we know how to worry we know how to meditate. Worry is just negative meditation. Now take a positive thought and think about it.

B. Listening. Meditation is a form of listening to God for His answers and directions. Slow down long enough to hear God.

C. Memorization. (Psa 119:11 NIV) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

3. Prayer

A. (Mark 14:38 NIV) Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

B. (Phil 4:6 NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:7 NIV) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.