Heroin and drug use are the number one problems facing our area today. Reports of their destruction come out daily and drug related deaths are skyrocketing.
But users and their families should know that deliverance is possible. There is a way to escape the cult of addiction and religion of substance abuse. It is by turning to Jesus Christ, and beginning to worship the true and living God.
We’ve been conditioned to think that the answer to addiction is found in a twelve step program, a stint at a recovery facility, or better law enforcement tactics. But the ultimate solution is not in behavioral modification, educational programs, or conditioning. The only real and lasting remedy is wholesale religious conversion.
While we can be thankful for the existence of such programs we must recognize that something deeper is at stake. Addiction, at its most fundamental level, is a cult. It is primarily a religious issue having to do with servitude and worship.
The Bible says that we are either slaves to God or to something else. A slave of God will serve the Lord and have Him as the supreme object of his delight. An idolater will serve some other object (such as drugs, drink, sex, etc.) and will find his primary delight in it.
This is the nature of addiction. The drink or drug becomes your master. It once served you; it relieved your pain or gave you a little pleasure. But now it rules you. You have come to feel that you cannot live without it. You crave it, throw your money at it, and give it an absurd amount of attention.
It has become your religion.
It is deeper than mere appetite. It is a matter of faith. For the drug has become the object of trust: It is relied upon for happiness. It promises to save, fulfill, and relieve your pains. You believe in it and rely upon it as the only hope of satisfaction.
The worship is further seen in that the addict can’t bring himself to stop. Addicts will try to stop, but they can’t. The drug has become an idol to whom they are religiously devoted. It is the dominant force in their life.
If an addict is to be helped, he must acknowledge that he does not have a drug problem per se. He must admit that he has a faith problem. It is not so much about what is injected, smoked, or swallowed as much as it is about what is worshiped, adored, and served.
Thus, the road to recovery (i.e. redemption) lies in religious conversion. It is by repentance and turning to the one who is the one and only living God. The one who offers true life and eternal salvation.
All in all, the cleansing of the veins and clearing of the mind begins with a cleansing of the heart and clarity on the issue of idolatry.
In future articles we will explore more of the religious nature of addiction and how the Christian faith provides a means of escape. In the meantime, addicts (and affected loved ones) can explore the recovery helps that Hopewell offers at hopewellashland.com.
Matt Timmons, Pastor
[The above article was submitted to the newspapers in Ashland as a means of combating the rising heroin problem in our area. For help with addiction recovery please contact Matt or visit hopewellashland.com]
Addictions are banquets in the grave. They are a love affair with death and destruction. But deliverance is possible. You may gain life and salvation if you truly turn to Christ.
The Religion of Substance Abuse
First, understand that you do not have a drug problem, per se. What you really have is a religious problem.
The god of your religion
Your addiction is a form of idolatry. The Bible says that we are either slaves to God or to other things. A slave of God will serve the Lord and have Him as the supreme object of his delight. An idolater will serve some other object (such as drugs, drink, sex, etc.) and will find his primary delight in it.
This is the nature of addiction. The drink or drug has become your master—your god. You feel cannot live without it. You crave it and throw your money at it. You likely give it an absurd amount of attention too.
But above all, you can’t bring yourself to stop. You’ve tried to stop, but you can’t. You are completely powerless to its dominion.
In sum, you worship it and it rules you like a god. The substance so controls you and you are in bondage to it.
The lifestyle of your religion
Continue thinking about the religious nature of substance abuse. What are traits common to all religions?
For one, they have fellowship times with other “believers.” Christians commune with other Christians. Muslims do the same with other adherents to Islam. Drug addicts follow suit. You probably have other users with whom you hang out. Whether you like them or not, you gravitate to them and spend time “worshipping” (i.e. drinking, shooting up, smoking) together.
Religious people also practice their religion on their own. That is to say, they do it while they are by themselves. A Christian will not only go to church and worship with his friends, he will also worship at home by reading his Bible and enjoying time with his God through personal prayer.
Addicts replicate this religious practice. Sure, you might party with a group of buddies during the week, but you also get your high while you are on your own. You spend personal time with your bottle, needle, or pipe. You might even have become what you not long ago despised: a lonely drinker.
Finally, religious people are repentant. That is to say, after renouncing their god they always come back to their god to worship and adore it.
Doesn’t this describe you? You’ve tried stopping. But what always happens? You always come back. You might renounce your drug for a while, but eventually you came crawling back. It’s a form of repentance.
Hopefully you are starting to understand. You don’t just have a drug problem. You have a religious problem. Your addiction is a problem of faith.
Recognizing this is important. For deliverance from your addiction comes only through faith in Christ. That is to say, you must have a full-fledged religious conversion.
Deliverance Comes through Religious Conversion
Jesus Christ promises life and salvation to anyone who looks to him in true faith. He promises to deliver you from the bondage of your sins if you turn to Him. But deliverance means everything must change.
Your Heart must Change
The first thing that must change is your heart. This is the reason why you’re attempts to stop have been in vain. You cannot peal yourself away because your heart clings to it. Deep down, you love your little god.
The only way to break free is if your heart changes. The good news is that God can do this. He can renew your soul and produce within you new affections and new desires.
Before going on, ask the Lord to change your heart. Ask Him to break your enslavement by giving you a new heart; one that desires Him and loves Him more than anything else.
Your God must Change
Up until now, you have been worshipping and serving a false god. This can no longer be. You must now follow Jesus Christ, and Him alone. If you want to be delivered from your sin, then you must be devoted to the Savior.
The best place to begin is by confessing that you have not loved the Lord or served Him as you should. Tell Him you are sorry for having rebelled against Him. Ask Him to help you serve Him alone from now on.
Your Lifestyle must Change
You will not be able to be delivered from your bondage if your lifestyle doesn’t change. You must break with the sinful patterns that support your addiction (e.g. friends, parties, etc). You need the support of godly friends and new influences that will help to keep you clean.
Moreover, you need to begin to worship the Lord. The more contact you have with the Lord, the more you will be drawn to Him (and away from your sins).
So find a good church and begin to attend its worship services. Associate with those people as much as you can. Get a Bible and study it. These are the primary ways God breaks the power of sin in your life.
Above all remember: the only way to break with your addiction is to be addicted to Christ.
Feel free to download and distribute this tract.
Just be sure to change the church information to your own church!
Over the years I have written a number of gospel tracts. Now I'm making them available to anyone who would like to download and distribute them. They are available on the Gospel Tracts page. And don't forget: They are completely free!
I've designed these tracts to engage readers. They have a nice, large font. They have good hooks to draw the reader's curiosity. They also have all the church's contact information (which can be customized, if another church would like to use them).
The church's name and website are also located strategically on the front and back. So, if they are folded correctly, they can also serve as good advertisements.
Most of all, I hope you will (and the people you evangelize) will find them intriguing to read.
From time to time I will do a google search for some quality, Reformed gospel tracts. I am usually disappointed at what I find. I admit that I never dug through the deep recesses of google's results. But the top hits are certainly less than helpful. The tracts that you find are either fitted for the 18th century or poorly written/designed.
I hope that these will provide some eager evangelists with some good material to hit the streets. (I also hope they don't get buried in the deep recesses of google search results!)
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
1 Timothy 1:15
These words are perhaps some of the most stunning words that have ever been written. They comprise a simple sentence, but the concept are monumental. And if you pause to grasp the significance of them, you will have a greater appreciation for the magnitude of Christmas.
If you read these words correctly, it will sound like an alien invasion. Read it again: “Christ Jesus came into the world.” Doesn’t it sound like something extraterrestrial? In a sense, that is what is being communicated.
This is part of what makes Christmas so astounding. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. But this was no ordinary baby; this was God come in the flesh. As God, Jesus is not originally from this world. His rightful dwelling place is heaven. Yet this passage tells us that He left this resplendent home in order to come to earth!
But what would possess him to do that? You wouldn’t leave the Hilton Suite to vacation in the slums of New York, would you? Certainly not!
So why would Jesus deprive himself of these blessed conditions and take up residence in this sorrow filled world?
The verse says that he came “to save sinners.” He left the joys and safety of his heavenly abode so that he could bring life and salvation to people like us.
I recognize that this might catch you off guard, but it has to be said. You are a sinner. The truth is we have offended God, and we are guilty of breaking his law. For instance, have you ever told a lie? Of course you have. You’ve probably told thousands of them. Now, having offended God’s law, you deserve to be punished.
This is the good news though! Jesus came into the world to take the punishment that is due to us for our sin. The whole reason he was born was so that He might provide a way to escape the penalty of sin.
When Jesus came into the world, it was for one purpose. It was so that he could die. At the end of his life he was crucified. And there on that cross Jesus endured the wrath and curse of God as the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Perhaps now you are starting to see the magnitude of Christmas: God entered history; He took on human flesh; He died to save those who had offended him!
More than that, this salvation can be yours! Christmas can become to be even more monumental because Christ can be your savior.
You must understand that you will never be good enough for God. Neither can your offenses be overlooked. The only way to be made right with God is by having your sins forgiven. The promise of God is this: if you confess your wrongdoing and trust Jesus, you will be saved. Jesus came into the world for this very thing.
Feel free to download and distribute this tract.
Just be sure to change the contact information to your church.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.
Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
Despite her mother and my persistent prohibitions, my daughter once put some dishwasher detergent in her mouth. She was two at the time, so I would suspect the white powder was akin to sugar in her mind. Mere seconds after ingesting it though, her stomach lurched and out came the soap… along with the rest of the sizable dinner she had just eaten.
Poison Control assured us that our daughter would be okay considering she swallowed such a small amount and immediately expelled it. However, I’ve never gotten over how a few flakes of detergent could evoke such a grisly and drastic response.
That episode vividly portrays the reaction that Christ has to a certain group of people in his church. The Bible describes them in terms of tepid water. They are “neither cold nor hot,” which means they are rather indifferent to Christ. On the one hand, they don’t necessarily hate him. At the same time, they are not all that passionate about him either.
Today, we might call such a person a “nominal Christian.” I’m sure you know the type. It is the kind of person who is pretty familiar with Christianity, but not overly concerned about it. Most likely they know the lingo and are familiar with some of the doctrines of the church. They feel comfortable in a church setting, and they even attend quite regularly. All agree too that they are your easy-to-get-along-with kind of people.
But, if we could unlock the doors of their chest, we would see that there is no fire for Christ there. A spiritual X-ray would reveal no zeal for his worship or passion for his presence.
Peering inside we would find that church is nothing but a formality to them. It is much like a divine tax that they must pay each week to a governing official. They sing the songs and bow their heads in prayer, but the outward act is the extent of their devotion. Inwardly they neither long for his glory to be advanced nor thirst for the Scripture that drips from the pulpit.
Their religion is as neuter as tepid waters.
If you find this in any way descriptive of you, you need to be aware that you nauseate Christ. Your half-hearted affection and noncommittal spirit aggravate him to no end, even more than the vilest of sinners. Indeed, he prefers cold blooded murderers and rapists over you. He even finds the flagrant atheist much more tolerable than you.
You might think that all is well with you. You might think that Christ is pleased to have your vague allegiance, but you must understand that it irritants him immensely. It makes him vomit!
Moreover, you will be that vomit if you do not repent. If you do not stoke the flames of love for him, you will one day find yourself expelled from his presence. On the Day when he comes again you will be cast out, and forever excluded from the pleasures of his eternal kingdom.
Like a loyal lover, Christ holds out his hand and offers to forgive your languid spirit. His devotion burns bright and he is ready to receive you into his arms. His only requirement is that you kindle the fires of fondness. You must give yourself to him, and not hold back. You must pledge to live in obedience to him and not seek the things that now draw your affection away.
If you desire life, you must not sicken Him any longer. You must do away with your lukewarm faith, and let the embers of your heart burn hot for him.
Feel free to download and distribute this tract.
Just make sure to change the church
information to your church.
If someone were to ask you if you were a good person, what would you say? Most likely, you would say yes. If you are like most people, you consider yourself as relatively good person.
But let’s put that to the test.
In the Bible we read about God’s standard for good in the 10 commandments. We can take a look at them and see just how good we are. One of those commandments is “You shall not lie.” Answer honestly: Have you ever told a lie? Sure you have. Probably too many to count. Now, what do you call someone who tells lies? That’s right, a liar.
Another commandment is “You shall not steal.” Have you ever stolen anything? Did you ever take candy from a store when you were a kid? Have you ever downloaded a pirated song or show from the internet? Ok, then. What does that make you? That’s right, a thief.
Another one of the commandments is “You shall not commit adultery.” Now, you may never have cheated on your spouse. But Jesus says that if you look upon a guy or girl with lust you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Recognizing that the law of God penetrates to even your thought life, what does that make you? Yep, that’s right: An adulterer at heart.
Let’s do one more. The law of God says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Have you ever used God’s name as an expletive? Or maybe said “OMG” or an equivalent of it? This is called blasphemy and it is a very serious offense in the Bible.
So, by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blaspheming, adulterer at heart. Now, if you were to be judged by God, would he find you guilty or innocent? Doesn’t sound good, does it?
Because God is a good judge, he cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The wages of sin is death and hell.
But here’s the good news! God has sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the price for our sins. Jesus never sinned all his life. What’s more, he offered himself up as a sacrifice for sin.
By his death Jesus satisfied God’s wrath and justice. He paid the penalty we justly deserve. Then, three days later, He rose from the dead showing his victory over sin and death.
The truth is, you cannot earn eternal life. We just are not good enough. Eternal life is God’s gift, and the good news is that God gives this gift to anyone who will humble himself and come to Jesus Christ.
Of course, the only way to receive this salvation is by turning from your life of sin to the Lord Jesus. If you do that, God promises to forgive your sin and give you a new heart with new desires. If you trust Jesus, you can be assured that the Lord will wash away all your sin and not count one of them against you.
If this is something that appeals to you, pray to the Lord right now. Ask him to forgive you and help you live the way he wants.
It is also important to get a Bible and find a good church. We would be more than happy to help you do that. You can use the contact information below to reach us. Give us a call or send us a text or email. We would love to talk to you more about God’s way to eternal life.
Feel free to download and distribute this tract.
Just be sure to change the church information to your own church!
Surveys say that 10 out of 10 people die. As a matter of fact 150,000 people die every day. And guess what: Someday, you are going to die too.
But what gives? Why do people die? Better yet, is there any way to get off this crazy train?
A lot of people think that death is just a natural part of living. In the old words of Elton John, “It’s the ciiiirrrcle of life!” (Sorry to stick that in your brain for the rest of the day).
My friend Joe and I have been doing some street evangelism through the summer here in Ashland and over in Mansfield. We've had so many opportunities to share the gospel and are praying that fruit may come of it. Here are a few pics of some of our outings:
This is a new tract I wrote up and making available. Download and use it if you'd like!
When my wife and children go away for the week, I live the stereotypical bachelor’s life. As a result, the house doesn’t typically have that “woman’s touch” that makes it so warm and inviting.
On one of these occasions a friend of mine came over to hang out. When we entered the house I did a quick breeze through to clean up the worst of the mess. I didn’t worry that my tidying up left much to be desired. I knew my friend would not be concerned about the smaller things still scattered around the room.
Many people view their life with God in the same way. We think that God will accept us as long as our lives are somewhat tidy. We know those whose sins are flagrant and scandalous deserve to go to hell. However, God isn’t so picky as to worry about some of the smaller sins that clutter up our lives… right?
Wrong. The Bible makes it quite clear God hates even the smallest infraction of his law, and he will not overlook any of them.
Consider the very first sin. Adam and Eve were given only one stipulation. God commanded them not to eat of the fruit of one particular tree in the midst of the vast paradise spread before them. Despite the prohibition they ate the fruit, and the consequences were disastrous. They were expelled from God’s presence, given over to live a life of misery, and condemned to die.
All that for eating one little piece of fruit!
The Bible makes it clear that God takes sin very seriously. That’s because God is infinitely holy. Since he is infinitely holy, even the slightest transgression of his law is infinitely evil and deserves an infinite punishment.
Some will object and say, “But God is a God of love! How can he be that austere?” It is true, God is love. However, we must always remember that God loves his own honor first and foremost. So whatever offends God must be dealt with in such a manner so as to defend his honor.
That obviously puts us in a dilemma. If God really is that picky, it means we are all liable to his wrath and curse. Even if we had only one “little” sin for which we were accountable (and, of course, we have many), O what a dreadful punishment that would be!
The good news is that there is a remedy for our predicament. The seriousness of sin is dealt with in the cross of Jesus Christ. When Christ went to the cross, he died a painful and shameful death to atone for all sin, be it great or “small.” That means he died in our place. He took the curse that was due to us for our sin and paid the penalty in full.
Moreover, Jesus’ life was the tidy life God requires. He never sinned once in all the days he lived. As a result, his life can make us acceptable to God.
In essence, Jesus makes it possible for sinners of all sorts to be right with a picky God. And if you wish to be delivered from the sins that still clutter up your life, all you have to do is this: acknowledge that your life does not measure up to God’s perfect standard and turn to Jesus. When you do that, the life Jesus lived will be transferred to you, and all your sin will be wiped away. You will never need to fear standing before God because he will not count one of your sins against you. When he looks upon you, he will only see the perfect life of Christ.
If you would like to receive Jesus as your Savior, you can use this prayer as a guide:
Dear God, I might not be a murderer or a horrendous villain in the world’s eyes, but I do know that I am a sinner. As such I know too that I deserve to be punished. But I am sorry for the things I’ve done. I pray that you would forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus to live and die for me. I know that only he could live the life I could not, and I want him to be my savior.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.