So I’m sitting here with a box of very yummy chocolatey things beside me, and revelling in freedom.
No, not the freedom to nosh these yummy things, though that’s nice too :) No, while I do love eating yummy chocolatey things, there’s something I enjoy even more, and that’s the freedom to resist and to choose to have only one and then stop.
I enjoy it because I didn’t always have this freedom.
It feels kind of perfect to be thinking about this in the middle of Passover, when we’re celebrating being rescued from slavery – and what makes it even more perfect is that these chocolatey things are special Passover treats :)
But anyway… Where was I? Oh yes, I was saying how I’m enjoying this freedom because I didn’t used to feel free to resist. I used to be powerless in front of chocolate, or cake, or… food really. Not just sweet stuff, but food in general. Though sweet things were the worst.
And I know people joke about this kind of thing, but there was a time in my life when it wasn’t funny at all. It was a horrible feeling. I hated it.
I remember feeling utterly disgusted with myself, but at the same time feeling utterly unable to stop. I’d get way past the point where I wasn’t enjoying what I was eating, I wasn’t wanting more, and yet I felt absolutely powerless and kept on eating until it was all gone.
So now that I’m free, it’s really exciting to be able to have just one! And it’s wonderful to be able to keep sweet things in the house. Every time I exercise self control, it comes with a great Yeeha! of victory in my head.
And it’s a victory I have only thanks to Jesus.
I remember how amazing it was when I realised – not sure when, but at some stage after being born again I suddenly got it, suddenly noticed that the Bible says the fruit of the Spirit includes this thing that I never thought I could have: self control!
And I realised that since I’ve now got it, it’s up to me to actually use it. No point leaving it to gather cobwebs in my spiritual cupboard!
Food is just one example – I have a history of all sorts of addictive or compulsive behaviour. There was a time when my answer to “oh, this thing is addictive” was to completely avoid it, because I couldn’t resist, for example, playing another half hour of Minesweeper, or watching absolutely each and every episode of EastEnders. With anything potentially addictive I had to be all or nothing – I couldn’t enjoy these things in moderation.
And now, thanks to Jesus, I can! And it’s wonderful!
You see, this rescue from slavery that we celebrate at Passover – it was great but there was a lot more to come later on! God promised to send the Messiah, who would rescue people from a different kind of slavery – slavery to sin! So once you put your faith in Jesus, the Messiah, you’re free to resist temptation!
Of course that also comes with the responsibility to actually use it… And I’m not going to lie and say I live up to it all the time! But thanks to the once and for all atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, I know I’m forgiven – I don’t have to be perfect to earn my way into heaven, I already have the visa stamped in my passport, not because I qualify but because my visa says I’m with him!
That’s the brilliant package deal he offers: all your sins forgiven so you don’t have to anxiously strive to become good enough – but also his help in becoming better!
If you’re reading this and don’t have this freedom yet – come on in! There’s room for everyone in God’s kingdom – Jesus died to atone for the sins of anyone who would believe in him!
P.S. But what if I’m Jewish?
You may be reading this and thinking, “That’s all fine but it’s not for me, I’m Jewish.”
Well, so am I.
And, more importantly, so is Jesus, and so were the first people who believed in him.
Find out more at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/answers
or at http://www.shalom.org.uk/library/library.html
And another important P.S.
What I shared was about how things worked in my own life, with my own compulsive behaviour issues. I realise that for some people the challenges can be much bigger – if it’s a chemical addiction, for example. And while I know Jesus can heal people from addictions, and I’ve met people who have been healed – I don’t want to suggest that this is an automatic result of becoming a Christian. The definite thing is that if you put your faith in Jesus you’ll get forgiveness for all your sins, and his help in fighting sin. But the struggle may still be tough. You just won’t be alone in it.