recovery in Christ when life is broken

Four Threads of True Repentance

On January 19, 2015, I found myself sitting on an airplane finally ready to confess my sin. For 7 years, I had been stuck in the world of gambling. Worse still yet, I had been stealing money from my company in order to help fund my destructive behavior. Seemingly, the longer I hid my sin, the more I felt like I was dying on the inside.

It was on that plane ride home I knew it was time to repent. I had been a believer in Christ for a long time, but I had clearly lost my way. By God’s grace, I began the path of repentance that day. And I have been walking that way ever since. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been beautiful and freeing.

I call repentance a ‘path’ because it’s not just a single act in a moment of time, but rather it is a new way to live the rest of your life. There can be a lot involved with repentance. It looks different for each person, struggle, and situation. But I do believe there is a common thread of behavior found in truly repentant souls.

 

Thread #1: Confession of Sin to Another Human Being

I once thought confession was punishment, something meant to embarrass me in front of other people. But after struggling against my sin for almost a decade, unable to defeat it on my own in silent isolation, I learned confession was not punishment. 

Confession is a gift. Confession is the only way out from the confinement of our sin.

If we are followers of Christ, we are already forgiven for our sin. But sin can still control us, which is why we must confess it to another human being. We confess to one another not to embarrass ourselves, but so that we may be healed (James 5:16). It’s the first step to get help. It’s the first step of repentance.

 

Thread #2: Follow Christ Fully

The goal of repentance is to not just stop sinning. Don’t get me wrong. We are to rid ourselves of sin and flee lusts (Romans 8:13, 2 Timothy 2:22).  

But the real goal of repentance is to begin following Christ fully. We do this by reading his words in the Bible. We find a church and get connected to other believers. We look for ways to serve others.

Following Christ fully leads us to a life filled with faith, love, righteousness, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). That’s a full life. And even when we mess up (which we still will), we go back and confess quickly.

 

Thread #3: Seek Forgiveness and Make Amends

I have a friend that is an aspiring theologian. We once lamented there was no such doctrine in Christianity as “unsin.” But alas, you simply can’t take back something you’ve done wrong. You can’t undo the pain caused. Just as physical wounds must be well treated or else they don’t heal correctly over time, so too for pain caused by our sin. We must faithfully deal with (or treat) the wounds our sin has caused.

We do this by seeking forgiveness and making amends for our sin.

So how did I faithfully deal with my sin? I looked people in the eyes whom I harmed and asked for forgiveness. I paid back the money I stole. To this day, I try to honor their grace toward me and Christ’s grace to me by living in a manner worthy of how I have been loved and forgiven.

You see time does not heal all wounds. But, time plus obedience and faithfulness can heal wounds.

 

Thread #4: Boldly Testifying to Christ’s Grace

Ultimately, those who have experienced the grace of Christ in all its fullness cannot help but tell others. They must share. They cannot help but scream Christ’s love from the rooftops.

Repentant souls go and strengthen their brothers and sisters (Luke 22:32). They teach other sinners about the grace of God (Psalm 51:13). They use every opportunity to remind others of their weakness because it points to the strength of their Savior (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Conclusion

If you are a follower of Christ, be comforted in knowing that this path of repentance has been walked by countless others. It’s not always easy, but it is beautiful and freeing.

If you’re not a follower of Christ, I encourage you today to take the ultimate step of faith (and repentance) by trusting Him and His provision for your sin on the cross. Only He can redeem and reconcile your past. Only He can resurrect that which sin has killed in your life. True repentance cannot be found apart from Christ.

I hope to see you on the path with me. I’m for sure not done walking it. I’m just 669 days into my journey of repentance.

So let’s press on together.

-Jeff P. 

How To Get Sober From An Addiction To… Porn, Drugs, Pills, Alcohol, Sex, Gambling, et al.

Walking into my first recovery meeting, I thought, “This is worthless. I don’t need a meeting with a bunch of quasi-ex-addicts telling old war stories about their binges. I need serious help…I need to get free from alcoholism and a meeting like this isn’t helping.”

Do you know what? I was right. 90 meetings in 90 days doesn’t get you sober…it might be of short-term help because it’s not 90 days in 90 bars, but 90 meetings won’t change your life long-term. How can I say that? Because the root problem isn’t where you spend your time or even what you put in your body; the root problem is spiritual. Whether you’re reading the Big Book or the Bible, both say the same: God alone gets you sober and keeps you sober (don’t be surprised they say the same thing…AA originated as a Bible Study). As it’s been said, “Alcohol wasn’t my problem; it was my solution.” Alcohol, pills, sex, porn, gambling, etc. is just the numbing solution to inner spiritual pain.

When I began recovery, I couldn’t imagine staying sober a week, let alone a month. I didn’t want to be sober and I didn’t know how to live without alcohol. What would I do after work? At a wedding? On vacation? On weekends? I didn’t have a category for life without my drug of choice because it had become central to every area of my life.

A guy who I had known for all of 5 minutes at that first meeting asked me, “Will you commit, by God’s strength, to staying sober for the next 24 hours?” I said, “Charlie, you don’t understand…I can go one day without drinking, but I need serious long-term help.” He said, “Don’t worry about that. Will you go 24 hours, by God’s strength? Don’t do it on your own; it has to be by God’s strength.” “Fine,” I said. “Good,” he replied, “call me this time tomorrow and let me know how you did.”

“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”

“By God’s strength?”

“Yes.”

“Want to go another 24?”

“Fine, but…”

“But nothing. Want to go another 24?”

“Yes.”

Another day passed.

“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”

Why do I tell you all that? Because that question, is what I’ve been asking myself daily for the last 10 years. Since that night on December 27th, 2005, and I haven’t had a drink.

So what made 24 hours seem so easy to say yes to and what made the thought of staying sober for a year, let alone 10, seem so impossible? The answer again is God.

And after 12 years of alcoholism, 24 hours of sobriety turned into a week, turned into a month, turned into three months, turned into a year, turned into 10 years. I never dreamed I could be sober 10 years…and the truth is, I couldn’t on my own. But, by walking with God daily, surrendering each day to Him, I could be sober one day at a time… for 10 years (3650 days).

Many of us trapped in addiction or harmful habits have tried quitting or making resolutions (Have you already relapsed from your New Year’s resolution?), but those attempts failed in frustration. But, what if, by God’s strength, you could stay sober for 24 hours? Just one day. Don’t worry about a year from now or the rest of your life – just 24 hours. Could you do that?

We believe that with God’s help, anyone with any addiction could stay sober for 24 hours. Soon 24 hour periods will string together to make a week, then a month and then years. But no single 24 hour commitment can be done apart from God. Jesus tells us to seek God and his will – only for today – and not to worry about tomorrow. God’s solution for us is walking with him one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow – just seek him and his will for 24 hours.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6.33-34)

So what do you think? By God’s strength, will you commit to staying sober for the next 24 hours?

If the answer is yes, call a trusted friend and tell him or her that by God’s strength you are committing to staying sober for the next 24 hours. Ask that person to pray for you and then report back after the 24 hours is complete. Make this a daily practice as you seek God and his will…this is accountability.

And then you might pray: “God, please keep me sober for the next 24 hours by your perfect strength. Teach me to seek you and your will today. Thank you for helping me.”

-John E.

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.