“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13, NIV2)
This reminds me of another text: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:24, NIV2) However, here it reminds us that living “according to the flesh” is in complete conflict with God’s Holy Spirit.
Truly living for the flesh will leave us wanting. Once swallowed by this vicious monster there is no way out. Fleshly addiction will dominate us to the center of our being. Still, there is hope. We can break these bounds of addiction if we rely on our Father’s Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can “put to death the misdeeds of the body,” which will clear the way for abundant living. Our job is to hunger for our Father’s Spirit and to despise this self-indicted prison. Let me explain with an illustration by Bonnie Motes: The Testimony of a Drug Addict who Could Not Die…
“I can remember wanting to die since I was eight years old. In fact, at no point in my entire life up until just a little over a year ago, can I recall when I had ever experienced what it was like to truly want to live.
Although I loved God as a little girl, almost everyone in my entire family had battled severe drug-addiction and mental disorders. I believe I got the worst of them all …
Almost two years ago, God used a man named Reid who has been living in the Texas penitentiary as long as I have been alive — to shine the light of Jesus on me. This man only knew about me through my Aunt who talked to him about me constantly and has never met me. And I would not even be thinking about him today, if not for the miraculous …
One night, I had overdosed so severely that I felt my life leaving me. My heart was racing out of my chest, and I began to black out. All of a sudden, I could hear a group of people whom I had never met, praying for me, and could feel them laying hands on me.
Immediately I came to, and my heart was beating normally, and I could breathe again. The next morning, out of the blue, I felt like calling my Aunt in Texas, whom I had not contacted in an extremely long time. For some odd reason, I felt like I needed to ask her about Reid, her husband in prison. I most assuredly was NOT going to tell her about the incident the night prier, because I wouldn’t want her to know about it.
But – the very first thing that came out of my mouth was to tell her about everything I had experienced that night.
After I told her, she responded, “Bonnie, did you know that just yesterday, Reid and all his prayer partners in prison were lifting you up together to God.” I started crying. It became clear to me immediately who these people were that had interceded on my behalf that night … me being a complete stranger to them.
That’s when I recalled something I had heard my Aunt say about Reid a long time before. She told me one day, “Bonnie, Reid may be behind bars, but he is very much a FREE man.”
I remember asking myself, “HOW is this man FREE when he has been behind bars as LONG as I’ve been ALIVE?!” (At that time about 33 years). “And WHY is it that I have been in the FREE world my whole life, but have spent my entire life behind BARS?”
This question made me start to think.
Just a few months later I had been looking at myself in the mirror. But instead of seeing the outside reflection of “Bonnie”, I could see the INSIDE reflection of “Bonnie”. I could NOT pass a mirror in the house without seeing myself for what I really was. And I wanted to PUKE and break all of the mirrors! I cried out loud to God while hating myself for what I had become. “Oh my GOD! Is THAT what I look like?!!”
At that moment, a thought was quickened to my mind. At the time, I didn’t even realize that it was actually God who brought this forth to me. I remembered this bogus resume that I had written some time before, while I had been extremely high on amphetamines. I had titled the resume: “Go-getter”. I spoke to God, and said, “Hey God! Remember that resume that I had written a while back? The girl I portrayed myself as on that resume actually cared about other people more than herself, was self-motivated, inspired, creative, pleasant to be around, and a leader. And she was a GO-GETTER. I am NOTHING like that girl, Lord. And who WOULDN’T hire someone like her? She would have been an asset to any company, not a liability. God, can you make me HER? Is it POSSIBLE?”
Not long after that, I still had quite a few “pressing” problems. I had been tormented by the stronghold of major drug addiction for many years. I had lived as a prisoner inside my own mind for so many years that no matter HOW many rehabs I attended or HOW long I stayed “dry”, the “stronghold” was always still there.
Well … eventually, I began to sink into a new level of low and complete despair, even for me. So I made a passionate and desperate plea to God in the privacy of my own room. I told Him that if I had to get THAT low, to get THAT much lower, I was going to commit suicide. And THIS time, I would succeed. I could not take living that way any longer.
I screamed at God with my fist drawn, “There is NO rehab strong enough for me and there is NO rehab long enough! And I am NOT willing to go back!” I even went so far as to give God an ultimatum. And this was on a Tuesday, mind you. I challenged Him. “You have until Friday to deliver me and to tell me what my purpose is on earth. Otherwise, I am exiting stage left, and You can NOT hold me against my will any longer!”
Immediately, I took a giant leap of faith and cried out to the Lord in complete desperation. “If you say Your Word cannot lie, and that you died for these things years ago, then all I should have to do is tell You that I do not want it anymore, and it should be gone yesterday! So guess what? I DON’T WANT IT!!!
And my face streaming with tears … I lifted my addiction up to Him in the spirit and ALLOWED Him take it off of me. I knew at that very instant that the stronghold had been shattered!
Still … I had the problem of “mental” disorders. The truth was that I had been so severely afflicted with demonic spirits that NO anti-psychotic pill in the entire history of medicine has ever been invented that could have cured me from it. I remember it had gotten so bad that I went from being termed “bi-polar” to “borderline personality” to “schizophrenic” to “multiple personalities”. It had reached to the severity that I could be talking with someone and I would ask them what their name was, and they would reply, “Bonnie, don’t you remember me at all? I’m “so and so”, I talked to you for three solid hours just a couple days ago. You don’t remember?”
The truth was scary. NO, I did NOT remember. It was as if “Bonnie” hadn’t been present at all.
I even thought that perhaps I had blasphemed the Holy Ghost because I would literally run from praise and worship music if I heard it playing anywhere. It would make me cringe. In fact, I remember saying one day, “Those ****** Christians! I HATE them!”
I refused to even leave the house anymore, because I knew something was wrong with me, and I knew for a fact that if I was to be around anyone for any length of time at all, they would know it to. This is when I made another passionate plea to God. “What do I do, Lord?! Get this spirit of suicide and depression OFF of me!
And this is what He told me to do… “Praise Me! Because the devil can NOT stand in the praises of God!” But it was not just a quick “praise God.” I had to praise God for almost two DAYS solid! Just when I would begin to feel it lift, I would start crying, and sink again.
I told my mom, “I’m not going to make it!” She said to me, “Make it through ONE more night, and God is going to lift it off of you in the morning.”
I cried myself to sleep, but I chose to trust my mother, that she had heard the voice of God. And the next morning when I awoke, the very first song I put on was the song “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. This was the song I had hated to listen to the most. But when I put it on and sang the very first verse, the spirit of suicide and depression completely vanished. I knew that they were gone, because I could hear my OWN thoughts, and I could hear GOD! And I KNEW … that I was going to be okay. I KNEW at that moment that I would not be waking up again with suicidal thoughts, depression, thoughts of murder, or any such thing! GOD IS PHENOMINAL!
I said to God, “There is NO way to repay You, Lord. But I would like to try! WHAT can I do for YOU?” And, He told me … I am doing it NOW. In fact, He did not stop speaking to me for three days!
What God took away from me, He replaced with something better!
All the chains that had held me captive for so long have been shattered! And the prison doors flew open, and I was set free! PRAISE THE LORD!! And you know what? I LOVE being free!!! That is what my SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST did for me!! And He CAN and WILL do it for YOU if you will ALLOW him to. JESUS is the ONLY one strong enough!!
May God’s face shine upon any darkness in your life, and may He reveal Himself in great and mighty ways to you that you have never deemed possible, as you begin to seek Him with ALL of your heart! HE is worth it, and so are YOU, because HE SAID SO!”
Written by Bonnie Motes Thanks to http://www.precious-testimonies.com/general/f-j/heindex.htm
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)