Chapter 12 – Christ, Our Counselor
It is normal when struggling with some addictive desire to want someone to give you a specific set of ordered steps that you can follow in order to attain victory. What we have seen thus far in this book are some foundational things that must be attended to in order to have any hope of overcoming addiction. There are also things a person should be doing every day in order to build up the spirit man. But overcoming is not found in a series of ordered steps. It is found as we walk in the Spirit.
The church has a tendency to package things into a nice neat packet of rules to follow, or principles to adhere unto. I listened to a preacher named Dudley Hall share a revelation on this matter. He said that he had a conversation with a friend who had told him that he had finally found a list of ordered rules that truly worked. When asked what they were, Dudley’s friend replied, “The first rule is ‘Do the next thing the Spirit tells you to do.’” He then stated, “The second rule is ‘Then do the next thing the Spirit tells you to do.’” He concluded that all the steps were the same.
I thought this was wonderful advice, and it is in keeping with the counsel of the word of God.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
It is not Yahweh’s desire that His children should be led by a book full of rules and regulations. Living in such a way tends to lead men to distance themselves from the presence of God. When we look to a body of legal code to tell us what to do in every instance, then we neglect to seek the face of God. Our Father desires that we should be in communion with Him daily. He wants us to ask Him for understanding, and to seek Him for direction. As we do so, we are kept in communication with Him.
Consider the following analogy. Suppose your earthly father gave you a book when you were young, and he had written down instructions to guide you in everything you were to experience throughout your life. When some situation arose in which you were unsure of your father’s will, you would get out the book and find some instruction that would guide you in that particular situation. The result of operating in such a way is that you would spend far less time in the presence of your father. This is not a result that Yahweh desires. Practically, such a book would be impossible to write. Even the Bible does not contains specific instructions regarding the Lord’s will in all situations.
For example, consider a young man that is considering marriage. There are Scriptures that lay out some general principles on marriage. A Christian is only to marry another Christian is one such instruction. But the Bible does not tell you what specific person you should marry, or even if you should marry at all. Perhaps you are struggling with knowing whether you should marry Susie, or if it would be better to marry Sally. The Bible will not tell you, and God has designed it this way for a purpose. He wants us to speak directly with Him. He doesn’t want His children to walk apart from His presence.
The Believer’s life is to be one of abiding in Christ. We must always stay connected to the source of divine life. We dare not walk away from His presence. The Spirit of Christ dwelling in us is capable of the most intimate and specific instructions.
I Corinthians 2:11-13
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
If you are a Christian, you have received the Spirit of Christ to instruct you and lead you in all things. This even includes the specific instructions regarding how you are to overcome your addictive desires. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because the Lord led one person to do a particular thing, that He will lead everyone in the same manner. He will not. There may be general principles that we must all follow, but the specifics of our battle to overcome addiction will be tailored to us as individuals.
We can see the truth of this as we once more look at the history of the Israelites as they went in to take possession of the land and drive out all the enemies. Yahweh gave the people specific instructions for each battle. Each city they conquered was fought in a different way.
The first city that Yahweh led the people to conquer was Jericho. Under the leadership of Joshua they were shown precisely what to do, and it was a most unusual battle plan. Yahweh instructed all the people to march around the city of Jericho once a day for six days. As they marched they were to remain silent. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times, and after the seventh time around the priests were instructed to blow the trumpets and all the people were to shout. Yahweh promised them that as they did so the walls would fall down.
Now, you or I would never in our wildest imagination have come up with such a peculiar plan of battle. Our knowledge of how battles are conventionally fought would have most likely shaped our idea of how Jericho should be conquered. We might have thought of laying siege to the city, or constructing some type of towers, or using battering rams on the gates. I do not think any of us would have come up with the idea to simply march around it as Yahweh instructed them to do. But Yahweh’s plan worked. When the people shouted the walls of Jericho fell down and the people of the city were undefended. Israel then went in and easily conquered the city.
There is absolutely nothing written in Scripture that is without a purpose. We should anticipate that there are great lessons for us in the detailed description of Israel’s conquest of Jericho. Yahweh wants us to understand that the battles in our lives are not to be fought according to the wisdom of the world. We are always to get our battle plan from Him. He will direct us with great precision, and as we do exactly as He says, He will insure that we come forth victorious.
After the conquest of Jericho, the Lord instructed the Israelites to go up against the city of Ai. If the Israelites had done as many Christians do today, they would have concluded that what worked at Jericho would surely work at Ai as well. But had they marched around the walls, and then shouted on the seventh day, all that would have resulted would have been a spectacle. The people inside the walls would have laughed at all the blowing and hollering going on, for nothing would have happened.
Yahweh had a different plan of attack for Ai. Joshua, however, failed to immediately consult Yahweh to know His mind. We read that Joshua sent some men to spy out Ai, and they brought back a report. It was a smaller city, so Joshua chose to only send a few thousand men to attack it. The Israelites, though more numerous, were routed and thirty-six of them were slain in the battle. Joshua then did what he should have done at the beginning. He fell on his face and prayed to Yahweh. He waited to hear from God, and God spoke to him.
Yahweh informed Joshua that the Israelites had sinned by taking some of the spoil of Jericho and hiding it. They had been commanded to take no spoil from Jericho, for all was to be dedicated to Yahweh as a firstfruit offering in the land. Because they had sinned, they could not face their enemies. They had to deal with the sin first. If Joshua had inquired of Yahweh before sending men to battle, Yahweh would have surely spoken to him and thirty-six lives could have been spared.
After seeking Yahweh’s face, and removing the sin from their midst, Yahweh gave them the plan of battle to conquer Ai.
Now Yahweh said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.” So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for Yahweh your God will deliver it into your hand. Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of Yahweh. See, I have commanded you.”
We see once again that Yahweh had a very specific plan of attack for the Israelites to follow when seeking to overcome the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. It was His will that they should ALWAYS seek Him to know how the battle was to be fought. The tendency to judge things by appearances is deeply ingrained in our flesh. This was the cause for Israel’s first failure. They went and looked things over, and decided that they would attack according to the way that seemed most reasonable. We are not to judge things by appearance, nor make decisions according to our natural reason. We are called to be a people of the Spirit. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
We see how deeply ingrained this tendency was in the hearts of the Israelites in an event that occurred next. Dwelling right in the middle of the land of Canaan was a group of people called the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites had heard how Israel had destroyed Jericho and Ai, as well as all that God did in bringing them out of Egypt. They trembled in fear at the approach of Joshua and his people. Knowing they could not defeat Israel in battle, they thought to defeat them through deception.
The Gibeonites appointed key men to go and ask Joshua to make a treaty of peace with them. They knew Joshua would not do so if he discovered that they dwelt in the midst of the land God had promised to Israel, so they made it appear as if they came from a far land. They put on worn out clothes. They put moldy cheese and dry bread in their bags. They chose worn and patched water flasks to carry. Through these means they sought to deceive Israel into thinking they came from a far land.
These men came to Joshua and the leaders of Israel and told them that they had come from a land far away from Canaan where the fame of Israel had been heard, and they asked for a treaty of peace with them. The leaders of Israel questioned them concerning where they had come from, and asked if they dwelt in the land of Canaan. The Gibeonites denied doing so, and they showed them their food and clothes and water bags as proof that they had journeyed a long way.
Once more the leaders of Israel neglected to consult with Yahweh. The Gibeonites appeared to be telling the truth. Consequently, Joshua made a treaty of peace with them. A few days later their deception was uncovered, but it was too late. A treaty had already been made and the oath had to be honored. Israel was not able to dispossess this people due to the treaty. This enemy dwelt in their land throughout all their days when God desired for them to be conquered.
In the book of Isaiah there is a prophecy of Christ that declares that He would not do as the Israelites did. He would not judge things by appearances.
And He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge…
How do we make decisions if we are not judging by appearances? We do so by pressing into the presence of God and seeking His counsel. This is how Yahshua discerned what He was to do in every instance. We see this same diversity in the actions of Christ as we observe in Yahweh’s battle instructions for Israel. Christ healed a number of blind men during His ministry. Following are a few examples.
And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Yahshua was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David…” Moved with compassion, Yahshua touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.
And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Yahshua and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.
Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Yahshua the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Yahshua, Son of David, have mercy on me…” And Yahshua stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Yahshua. And answering him, Yahshua said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Yahshua said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.
We observe in each instance that Christ healed the blind in a different fashion. He touched one man’s eyes. He spit on another. To the third He simply spoke a word and he regained his sight. We should not assume that Christ will lead us to victory over the sin in our flesh by the same method He used on another. Even if a dozen men all have the same addiction, Yahweh will not necessarily deal with each one the same. In order to know how God would have you to overcome your addictive desire, you need to receive His counsel. Whatever He tells you, do it. As you do, you will be assured of the victory.
As Christians, we have a tendency to gravitate towards formulas in our dealings with people and their problems. The reason for this is that it is easier for those who are not comfortable walking in the Spirit. When we follow formulas, rules and policies we are never left guessing what to say to a person, or what advice to give them. We already have things packaged and our response becomes automatic. Those who walk according to the Spirit must maintain their communication with God. This mandates that they have no sin in their life of which they have not repented. Sinful men and women can run programs. But only the righteous can walk by the Spirit.
Recently, a brother and I had a discussion concerning what our response should be to people who come up to us in the city asking for money. This is a very frequent occurrence where I live. Many of those who ask for money say it is needed to buy food, or gas, but it ends up at the liquor store or in the pockets of the drug dealer. Knowing this to be a frequent occurrence, many Christians simply decline to give people money when they ask. Others give money without question, believing it is their responsibility to give to the one who asks, and it is up to the recipient what they do with it.
As I thought on this matter, and prayed asking the Lord for wisdom, I was anticipating that He might lead me to some Scripture that would provide a means of determining what my response should be in each instance. Instead, the Spirit declared that He did not want me to rely on a formula, but that He wanted me to trust Him to give me direction at each moment as I was faced with these requests. He revealed that some times He would have me to meet the request without question. Other times He would direct me to purchase the item the person said they needed. Still other times He would instruct me to withhold what was asked for, or to respond in an altogether different manner.
I realized that my soul would have preferred that God simply provide some Scriptural formula upon which I could judge these requests. His ways are higher than ours, however. He much prefers that we abide in Him, and that we learn the sensitivity of spiritual listening. As we develop our spiritual senses we will find in the end that it is a much simpler way to walk, and we will always discern that which Yahweh desires when we are attuned to the voice of the Spirit.
Some people who read this book will find themselves involved in some form of ministry to those who struggle with addiction. Your own church may have a ministry, or a program, to reach out to such ones. You may ask, “Is it wrong to have a program, and to have a specified course of instruction and activity that we lead the people through?” I do not believe it is wrong to have a program, but we must keep in mind that no program will ever serve as a substitute for being led of the Spirit.
It should be an emphasis of every ministry to the addicted that those ministering are Spirit led and Spirit empowered in all they do. The ministers must be men and women who are full of the Spirit. We see this pattern in the book of Acts when the apostles were seeking to appoint men to oversee the ministry of caring for widows.
“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
If the ministers meet these qualifications, then there is no need to concern oneself about how they are carrying forth their duties. Neither is there a need to hand them a book of policies. What will come forth will be a living and breathing ministry, full of the life of the Spirit of Christ. Programs and policies can actually discourage those involved from being Spirit led. Things may be so regimented and inflexible that there is no room for the Spirit to move.
It seems a much more precarious position to take, to allow individuals to hear from God and make decisions, rather than instructing them in all they are to do. Doing so involves risk, but life is risky. God is always leading us into situations where we are cast upon Him to provide for us and deliver us. Being Spirit led will actually promote fast spiritual growth among those involved in ministry. They will quickly have to learn a sensitivity to the Spirit. They will have to rapidly attain discernment and learn to exercise sound judgment.
It is perhaps helpful to note that in the Bible we never read of God anointing a program, or ministry. His anointing is always upon people and ministers. This is observed in the following verses.
I Kings 19:15-16
Yahweh said to [Elijah], “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
When Yahweh wants some work done, He anoints people. The Spirit is the anointing, and the Spirit is life. Life must be poured into that which it can animate. Programs cannot be animated, but people can. There is no such thing as an anointed ministry. There are only anointed ministers. If you have the best designed program that can be devised, and it is not carried out by Spirit led and empowered people, then it will not produce life.
Any ministry to those struggling with addiction, must of necessity teach those seeking help to hear God’s voice for themselves. Their victory will come as they hear and obey. This instruction in discerning the voice of Christ must be a key part of any ministry to addicts. How can they be instructed to discern the voice of Christ if the ministers are not discerning His voice themselves?
We see then, both by the history of Israel, and the example of Christ, that Yahweh would have us to be a Spirit directed people. He wants us ever abiding in Him. The more dependent we are upon Him for all things, the more we will see Him manifesting His power through our lives.
As you seek to know what specific steps to take in order to overcome your addiction, you must look to God. He will give you specific instructions. Some He will tell to relocate that they might get away from evil influences. Others He will tell to remain where they are at. Some He will tell to change occupations. Some He will instruct to take actions that would make no sense to another, but which are necessary in their own life. The Spirit may instruct you to attend a church that you had not been attending, or to quit attending a church you had been. Whatever our battle plan is in overcoming addiction, we must receive it from the Spirit of Christ.
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