The first time I ever saw a drug addict was at a Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park – a long time ago. There were actually two of them, and I remember how awful they looked, but I also remember thinking “Nutters!” As years passed, I saw many more and I have to admit that I felt total disdain for them – they were nothings, and were not to be trusted as they would rob and steal. Time went by, though, and I started to see them in the chemists waiting disconsolately for their methadone. My heart started to change.
During the last few years I have got to know some of them personally and from that contact with them I have learned that they are people who desperately want out of their addiction. It might not always seem like it, but it is always true. They all want to be free, but they cannot break loose, no matter how hard they try. They get to know that they need help. I have learned that they are all real people, not nutters. They are people who hurt inside, who know that life could be better, and that hurts them more.
They are real people. Just like me. Just like you.
But there is more to it than that. It’s not just that they are just like me. It’s the other way about. I am just like them!
I hope you don’t take offence when I say this, but you are probably just like them too!
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20, NLT)
Heroin controls an addict just the way Paul describes sin in this passage. An addict does what he hates: he stays tied to his addiction. His heroin lives within him.
“Drug of choice” is a phrase that we here a lot these days. What is my drug of choice? What is yours? It might not be heroin, or alcohol or nicotine, but there is something in us that stops us living life to the full. Here Paul says that the drug is sin. Just like an addict, I cannot stop on my own. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Very few addicts can break free from their addiction on their own. They need help. We are no different: we need help. Help is there to be had.
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (Rom 7:24-25, NLT)
Perhaps the next time you look at an addict or a drunk you will look differently, and see your reflection?