Do you need an extraction?
by Shirley Crowder
One morning I noticed an ingrown toenail causing a little irritation on my big toe. I was on my feet a good part of that day, and before long the irritation turned to pain. By that evening my toe was throbbing and felt like I had a needle pushing into my toe. When I finally got home late that night, I pulled off my boots and socks to inspect the toe. It was red, swollen, and, well, I probably shouldn’t go into more specific details. The pain radiated upward from my toe, seemingly all the way up to the ends of my hair!
It was time to pull out the pedicure instruments and begin the arduous task of performing an extraction of the ingrown nail before a serious infection set in. Surprisingly, it was not as arduous a task as I had anticipated. In fact, it only took a couple of seconds to slide a cuticle pusher around the edges of the nail to remove the minuscule sliver that had been causing my toe to hurt all day long. I felt immediate relief. Of course, I had to make sure to clean and protect it, and by the next morning the redness, swelling, and most of the pain were gone.
I began thinking of the similarities between that rogue, minuscule sliver of nail and sin in my life. Had I not taken action to remove that sliver of nail, my toe would have become badly infected and the pain would have been unbearable. In a similar way, if I take no action to confess, repent of, and seek forgiveness for my sin, the more pain it will cause and the chasm in my fellowship with God will grow even greater. Eventually the unconfessed sin builds, thus marring my relationship with God and poisoning every aspect of my life. I hurt as a result, and my attitudes and actions often hurt others.
When the cuticle pusher released that sliver of nail I experienced instant relief from the pain it had been causing me throughout the day and evening. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we confess and repent, and immediately that sin is removed, as far as the east is from the west. We receive God’s forgiveness, our relationship with Him is restored, and the weight of that sin is lifted forever.
Just like I had to clear my toe of the sliver and then keep it clean and protected, once we have confessed our sin and received God’s forgiveness we must be obedient to God’s Word and be transformed by the renewal of [our] minds (Romans 12:2b) so that healing of our souls is encouraged.
Do you need a sin extraction?
NOTE: A devotional version is found in Hope for New Beginnings by Dr. Howard Eyrich and Shirley Crowder.
Shirley Crowder was born under a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. Okay! She was actually born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree, but that doesn’t sound as exciting, does it?
Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. Several of her articles have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in Seek magazine. She also writes for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, InspiredPrompt.com and TheAddictionConnection.org. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to six books. She has a four-book devotional series, co-written with her Nigeria MK cousin Harriet E. Michael, that will be released over the next two years.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.
The Only Fix That Truly Satisfies
The first 27 years of my life was spent searching for this fix in every nook and cranny the world had to offer, all of these places were outside of Jesus Christ, of course. The last 15 years of my life I have found it absolutely impossible to find it anywhere other than in Jesus Christ.
Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. Psalm 37:4-5
What happened that caused me to stop searching for a fix that the world had to offer? What did I find in Jesus that brought me the satisfaction the world never could? How is this still all-satisfying, today?
As I unpack the answers to these questions I hope and pray that they may bring you to a deeper understanding of God’s love for you or your struggling loved one. I pray that it might cause you to run the race that is set before you with a greater endurance than you had yesterday. Hebrews 12:2 reminds us how we are to do this. I have always liked the way the NASB translates this, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Fixes outside of Christ
The word fix in the dictionary is described as a supply or dose of something strongly desired or craved. Here are a few examples:
- The “alcoholic” craves a drink.
- The “meth or crack/cocaine addict” craves a line, or a glass pipe to smoke, or a needle and a spoon.
- The “coffee addict” craves a cup of coffee first thing after he rises in the morning.
- The “sex addict” craves some sort of sensual pleasure.
- The thief craves to steal something to bring fulfillment to his/her day.
- The bully craves to tear someone down in order to feel better about themselves.
- The “shopaholic” craves to purchase more stuff in order to be content.
- The “food addict” craves food to feel satisfied.
- The “nicotine addict” craves a chew or a smoke to feel relaxation and anxiety relief.
These are just a few examples of the fixes that the world offers. Have you found yourself settling for any of these fixes? Did they satisfy? In my personal experience with many of these worldly fixes, I would say that they did satisfy, initially. How about you?
I love what the Lord says in Jeremiah 2:13, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. In a sentence, we turn our backs on the living God in our rebellion and settle for the counterfeit “gods” that can’t deliver on their promises. The cup appears to be full of what we are looking for, but eventually we find out there is a hole in the bottom of the cup. At the time, it seems like the right way to go. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
The Rolling Stones said it this way, “I can’t get no satisfaction. I can’t get no satisfaction. Cause I try and I try and I try and I try. I can’t get no. I can’t get no…” Just like the forbidden woman described in Proverbs 5:4-5 but in the end she is bitter as worm-wood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol.
How could something that once brought so much pleasure and satisfaction now leave us so miserable and thirsty? This is satan’s most common tactic and far too often we bite the bait hook, line, and sinker and he reels us in with ease. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I will never forget the day I stumbled upon the book Desiring God by John Piper. It was 2006-2007 and I had been reading a lot of what I would call “soft gospel” authors. This book blew my mind as it spoke to the heart of the bulk of my issues. Hedonism according to Webster’s dictionary is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. In simple southern Iowa language, it is saying that the satisfied life is all about my pleasure and my happiness being the end all, be all. This book flipped the script on me by using Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Another phrase and idea from Piper weaved throughout the whole book, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” So, what does Christian Hedonism have to do with addictions/life-dominating sins?
- The addict and the whole world for that matter, is in need of a fix.
- We are all worshippers of either self, stuff, sin, idols, or God.
- Our hearts will never be fully satisfied until it is full of the fix that is found in Jesus Christ and HIM alone. Augustine wisely said this, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.”
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:6-9
This was, is, and always be the only fix that will truly satisfy our hungry hearts, friends! Nothing else will do, despite the messages and ideas the world gives us. This is the Gospel! Jesus came into this sin-infested world and lived the sinless life that we were not able to live. He died the death that we deserved to die and He rose again on the 3rd day conquering sin, death, and hell, that we should have been consumed by. When we turn from our ways and turn to Him we find the pleasure and joy we’ve all been longing for!
So I will close with the same verse I began with. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalms 37:4-5
- Delight yourself in the Lord.
- Commit your way to the Lord.
- Trust in the Lord.
- The Lord will give you what you need.
- The Lord will act.
Finally, in a sentence, I’ll answer the questions that I posed at the beginning of this blog.
What happened that caused me to stop searching for a fix that the world had to offer? I came to an end of myself and cried out to the Lord in desperation.
What did I find in Jesus that brought me the satisfaction that the world never could? True, lasting freedom and joy that doesn’t leave me thirsty.
How is this still all-satisfying, today? The Lord is infinite (limitless, boundless, never-ending) so this means there is always more of Him to have!
May you or your loved one who is looking for love in all the wrong places and settling for temporary fixes that the world offers come to know the only fix that truly satisfies, today!
C.J. McMurry currently lives in Winterset Iowa with his wife, Misty, and their three children Carter, Seth, and Maryssa. They have three more grown up children Sabryna, Bethany, and Ethan. C.J. is the founder of The Refuge, a ministry that offers hope and help to those who are battling addictions/life-dominating sin issues. He was also the Director of Freedom House, a men’s residential discipleship ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel. He is passionate about seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Life Dominating Sins and Addictions
by: Julie Ganschow
Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them (Psalm 115:4-8 NASB)
Part of the message of the Psalm is when a person places their faith in an idol of the heart to change them, make them over, or to lead them they become dumb, thoughtless, senseless and hard as stone. A life dominating sin affects everything. The things that usually come to mind are alcohol or drug use, but there are many other things that can be life dominating. Things like working, shopping, overeating, or over exercising. Ed Welch makes the following statement in the Preface of his book, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, “The basic theology for addictions that the root problem foes deeper than our genetic makeup. Addictions are ultimately a disorder of worship.”
Christians who struggle with addictions have managed to compartmentalize their minds and hearts. They have a heart that is dedicated to the worship of God on Sunday. While in church they truly mean the words of praise and adoration they utter. However, the rest of the week they live as functional atheists worshiping themselves as their own god, with their own rules and personal theology. They don’t see the conflict in their lives. This is because we are so easily self-deceived and have little trouble living a dual life.
The things we commonly consider to be addictions initially bring pleasure and positive emotional responses. Because we live in a culture that encourages self-indulgence, we place our pursuit of those things above responsibilities and even the people who are important to us. Addictions deliver an experience that the addict comes to crave and enjoy. However, over time the feelings change to the point the user feels trapped and enslaved. This brings hopelessness and panic.
Addiction is a life dominating sin that begins with succumbing to temptation. It is sin that attacks the will and the soul. Sin is our deepest problem and is fed by the heart which is the origin of all life dominating sin or addiction. Addiction is idolatry; the user has set her affections on something other than God.
The Holy Spirit urges us to obey Him and the flesh desires to pull the person in the other direction. This is a consistent battle of the Christian life in every situation. When our desires conflict with Scripture we do not always respond according to what we believe or think we believe. Our behavior betrays our words, revealing the real love of the heart.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:17 NASB).
This is certainly not a new problem, and to be clear, the problem is not the substance, the practice, or the person to which the affections are attached. The problem is the heart has begun to worship something other than God. The addict chooses to forsake the calling she has received from God to worship and glorify Him and has begun to worship the idols of the heart instead.
With any life dominating sin, the “cure” must come from within. The addict must make a choice to reject, defeat, and deny the craving or pull toward that particular sin. Changes come from an understanding of what God’s Word says about behavior, thoughts, and desires along with an internalizing and living out what the Scriptures say. The Bible is our weapon of warfare and also a guide to understand and conquer sin. The Christian is called to live for God’s glory and give Him the worship and honor He deserves.
I am not suggesting a simplistic Bible-band aid approach to a very difficult and complex problem. Everyone who is enslaved to sin in the way an addict is needs comprehensive help and attention. However, unless the counsel begins at the root of the problem – in the heart, there is little chance for total life change. For more on this subject I would recommend Edward Welch’s book, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave and Mark Shaw’s book, The Heart of Addiction. Both of these excellent books are available on Amazon.
Click to Tweet: The Bible is our weapon of warfare and also a guide to understand and conquer sin. The Christian is called to live for God’s glory and give Him the worship and honor He deserves. – Julie Ganschow #BiblicalAddictionHelp
Julie Ganschow has been involved in Biblical Counseling and Discipleship for more than 20 years. She is passionate about the critical need for heart change in a person who desires change in their life.
She is the founder and Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center (ACBC & IABC Certified Training Center) and Biblical Counseling for Women. She has been writing a daily blog on counseling issues women face since 2008.
Her extensive training has led to an M.A. in Biblical Counseling; as well as, certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC). She also serves on the Counsel Board for the Biblical Counseling Coalition
Julie is a gifted counselor and teacher, has authored numerous books and materials for biblical counseling, and co-authored a biblical counseling training course. She is also a featured contributor in GriefShare and a frequent retreat and conference speaker.
She makes her home in Kansas City, Missouri with her wonderful husband Larry. Together they have raised 3 sons who have married and begun to bless them with grandchildren.
Find out more about Julie: Biblical Counseling for Women