The Agonies of the Pseudo-God

The life of the pseudo-god is very hard and becomes more painful as his life continues. This is not because of God. The egoist’s suffering is self-invited. It is earned agony.

This agony manifests itself in: (1) feelings in us anger, fear, and guilt—which self-destruct; (2) an inner bondage so destructive that it can end our life; (3) despair.

The Feelings Which Self-destruct
The secret agent in the television show, “Mission Impossible,” always receives his instructions on a tape recorder. After the tape is played, it automatically self-destructs by burning. Something like this happens in people, I suspect, when the hot emotions of anger, fear, and guilt are continuously fed into our systems. There is something about these emotions which seems to burn us up, particularly when the feelings are intense and uninterrupted. After a time, our capacity to handle even small amounts of these feelings is practically nil, and this results in a state of controllessness.* It is as though our emotional tapes have self-destructed. Indeed, these feelings can destroy the person.

*My colleagues at the hospital, observing this process in certain people, speak sometimes of a “burned-out alcoholic” or a “burned-out schizophrenic.” What I have in mind above may lead to this condition.

I see anger as our primary destructive feeling. It finds many forms of expression. The more overt type of anger is seen in hostility, rage, sadism, temper tantrums, killing, and so on. But there are also concealed forms of anger: bereavement, teasing, testiness, suspicion, certain kinds of humor, and depression, which is suppressed anger. The most common and perhaps the most malignant form of anger is resentment. Resentment, allowed to fester, eventually hardens into a bitterness that is all-consuming. For a point to note about anger is that we store these feelings, sometimes for years. Some of our anger, it is true, is quickly discharged, but there is always a residue which is unconsciously stored. This is added to other considerable amounts of anger which never reached expression.

A friend told me of his anger as a child when a Griffin Shoe Polish truck backed over his bicycle. The driver of the truck promised to buy him a new bicycle but never did. My friend was resentful and vowed to get even someday. The day came eighteen years later when his wife bought some Griffin Shoe Polish for their baby’s shoes. The father seized the bottle and threw it across the room, shouting, “Don’t you ever let me catch you buying that polish again, do you hear?” We carefully store our anger, layer after hot layer of it. It takes only a small spark to later ignite it.

What is anger? From a spiritual point of view, anger is simply the expression of a person’s condemning judgment.
3It is a feeling to which we do not really have any right. Our condemning judgments are inappropriate both because we are self-appointed judges and because the true Judge’s attitude toward us is one of forgiveness and acceptance. Anger, therefore, though completely understandable because it is such a human emotion, is nonetheless unjustified for at least four reasons:

A. It is playing God by usurping God’s role as the judge of all men.
B. Since our judgment is almost invariably condemning, it denies the mercy and forgiveness God has extended to us.
C. Anger is an evasion of our own problems, because we feel very righteous, while the target of our anger is punishment-worthy.
D. Our anger destroys one whom God loves and cherishes.

Our condemning judgment of people is basically an argument with God over who is to do the judging. Paul understood this issue when he said:

My dear friends, do not seek revenge, but leave a place for divine retribution; for there is a text which reads, “Justice is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19 NEB)

Well, now, if God is going to repay, what sense does it make for us to repay? James has the same thought:

He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)

One has no right, therefore, at his own option to judge another human being. The Scriptures are very clear in asserting that the tendency to condemn, which lies at the root of all our anger, is forbidden to us. Our Lord said, “Judge not that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). And Paul adds:

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13)

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)

As we reflect on these quotations from the Bible forbidding judgment, we sense how they are on a collision course with our egoistic, judgment-loving selves, as well as with our secular culture which encourages us to express judgment without restraint.

4Judgment seems so natural to the egoist in us. For most of our lives, we were honestly unaware of our tendency to judge. This is understandable, yet not excusable, when we consider that judgment in the form of anger was our earliest emotion. The newborn child’s hunger pain is expressed in angry cries for food. It is no wonder, therefore, that we grow up feeling that anger (with its components of judgment and violence) is natural, even good. In the case of the baby, anger is needful, but there comes a time when we should “put away childish things” and grow up. We are to let go of judging, punishing (and sometimes executing!) others. These are the remnants of the egocentric world of childhood which are to be jettisoned as we leave the Kingdom of Self for the Kingdom of God.

Anger, then, is a person’s condemning judgment—a judgment which ignores the true Judge. The would-be judge is harsh and cruel. He adds to his condemning verdicts the violent penalties of punishment and, in some cases, execution (either in fantasy or in actuality). The self-appointed judge forgives people only when it is beneficial to the needs of his egoistic self-image.

The egoistic judge creates immense problems with his fellows because of his constant judging. The people who are judged resent and resist this judge. The egoist finds this very difficult to understand. Is he not pointing these things out for their own good? Should not he receive their gratitude for showing to them the truth? He is only trying to help. Unfortunately for the egoist, the people whose privilege it is to inhabit his world do not see it this way. The result is counter-judgment, conflict, and even war.

The egoist’s judgment of others is only one part of his tragic problem. Perhaps the deeper tragedy is that he turns in judgment upon himself, thereby destroying himself. The results of self-judgment are illustrated in the life of Christine, a former mental patient.

Christine’s problem was that she was continually setting up her own courtroom and then dragging herself into it. The verdict was always the same: guilty.

Being a devout, religious person, she would think something pious, such as, “I love God.” This was invariably followed by a counter-statement: “But I love Satan more.” And then would come her inevitable condemning judgment of herself: “Christine, now you deserve to spend eternity in hell!”

This poor woman reached a point of continual self-condemnation and self-rejection. She was able to tell me that after greeting me with, “Good morning. Nice to see you, Reverend Jabay,” she would silently say, “I wish this (here she would insert a whole string of profanities and obscenities) would drop dead.” Self-condemnation followed. At another time, she would say, “I want to get well again,” but then the counter-statement would come: “No, I want to spend the rest of my life in a mental hospital.” Christine’s verdict: “I am unspeakably evil to even think this way.”

My ministry to Christine was simply to ask her if she had had enough of the pain and suffering which her judgment, anger, and resentment—all directed toward herself—had brought her. Was she ready for a new way which would bring her forgiveness and peace? Was she prepared to leave her self-constructed courtroom and leave all judgment to God?

Yes, she was ready, I was assured. With that, I simply told her that I accepted her decision in our Lord’s name and asked her if she was ready to tell God of her decision immediately in a spoken prayer. In a brief prayer, barely audible at times, but spoken from the heart, Christine set herself under the jurisdiction of the Judge. She surrendered her life to God and repented of her sins. I also prayed.

Our prayers were answered dramatically.* Christine was set free. She was a new person. She stopped judging herself. For two days. And then she was worse.

*My ministry to Christine involved more than is here discussed. This was an authentic case of demon possession, as Christine herself testified. Her tendency to condemn herself and others had provided Satan a wedge to enter her personality. It was necessary for her to first repent of her sins against God before dealing with the problem of demon possession. After hearing her moving prayer of repentance, I asked her if she wished to be free from the power of Satan and placed under the power of Jesus Christ. Her desire was very strong. I offered a prayer of exorcism, casting out the demonic presence in the name of Jesus Christ, and by the power of His blood.

The old feelings of self-judgment returned with a fury. Christine was in a panic as she told me that all was lost. It was no use going on, she said. Either she had failed, or God had failed—she did not know which—but she knew she had returned to her psychotic hell. I countered her sharply by saying, “I’m sorry, Christine, but two days ago a deal was made between you, God, and myself. We agreed that He is your sole judge. You also placed your life under His management. I don’t care how you feel about that deal today, but the deal still holds. God has not backed out, nor have I. We hold you to the agreement we all made. Think about that. There is nothing more that I can say right now.” I left Christine, but only for a day, which seemed to me like a week. When I returned, Christine was talking differently.

Since Christine left the hospital four years ago, I can report an improvement in her which is nothing less than miraculous. This is not to deny, however, that the road to recovery was difficult and painful in many places, but it was never so torturous as Christine’s lonely world of self-judgment.

The position which asserts that self-judgment is not valid is nothing more than the follow-through of a Pauline insight. When the Corinthian Christians presumed to judge Paul’s work as a missionary, he told them that their judgment mattered very little to him. In fact, he added, “I do not even judge myself. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4).

As the right to judge and punish is taken from us, there is no ground on which to build our anger. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Scriptures are as severely opposed to human anger as they are to human judgment, for anger feeds on judgment.

First let us hear some of the scriptural insights.

Reflect on these passages:

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. (Psalms 37:8)

Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9 KJV)

Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of men does not work the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

And here are some words from the lips of our Lord which make all others sound timid:

But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22)

In response to this last passage, a fellow pastor once shouted, “I can’t accept that! Why, the only way I can get things done in my church is by getting angry. What would I do without my anger? Even Christ got angry. Look how He cleansed the temple!”

Yes, let us look at our Lord as He twice cleansed the temple of the money-changers.
5Bear in mind that (1) He was the Messiah, and (2) His action precipitated the crucifixion.

In the office of Messiah, our Lord has as much right to clean out the temple as a policeman has to clean out a gambling ring. Note, too, that the use of authority, though it may appear to be wrathful, can be administered without anger. It is possible for a father to spank his child without fuming in anger. Indeed, he should wait until his anger subsides before touching the child. I don’t think Christ was having a temper tantrum when He was cleansing the temple. He was doing His work as Lord of that temple.

Whatever appearance of anger we see in Christ as He shouts, “Woe unto you, Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!” and as He cleanses the temple, is best understood as a calculated plan to provoke the authorities into eventually crucifying Him. Christ, not His tormentors, chose the moment of His death. The only possibility that the hardened hearts of Christ’s enemies would be softened was for them to see the results of their commitment to anger and violence in a dead Christ. The basic motive of Christ was love, not hateful anger. The appearance of an angry Christ was staged for the purpose of saving men.

If I understand the message of Jesus Christ, He came to free us from our anger rather than to encourage us to express it. Many of us are ready to listen to what He has to say, because anger is a major problem in most of us. We became hooked on it and have been humiliated by our anger. We wish to be free of this tyrant. If a person sincerely feels that his anger is no problem, God bless him. I wish I were at such a level of maturity. Some of us, myself included, are bone weary of our captivity. We are as addicted to anger as any alcoholic is to alcohol.

Perhaps anger is like alcohol. The social drinker sees it as “good” and does not wish to be deprived of it. Alcohol is no problem to him. But the recovering alcoholic sees alcohol as a poison to be utterly avoided. A little bit sends him back to his cups. That’s the way it is with anger.

We who are hooked on anger and resentment seek a way to avoid them altogether, knowing that a little bit begins a volcanic explosion. To be sure, the explosions will come. Our freedom from bondage is partial. When we fall back into anger, we shall then have a special need of our own non-judgment and God’s forgiveness, but nothing can take away this fact: God has led us into an unbelievably marvelous way of freedom from anger.

As far as I can discern, that “way” has at least three stages to it:

A. Immediately reach out to Jesus Christ to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth. Anger is human power, and many times, demonic power. We need the superiority of divine power against such “power.’’ In that split second before impending anger explodes, we can look to the power of God in Jesus Christ to lead us not into temptation but to deliver us from evil.
B. Let go of judgment—let God judge. Place whomever or whatever provokes us to anger in God’s courtroom. Meanwhile, we are to live, and let live.
God tolerates people even when they are wrong. So must we.
C. Decide (no matter how your feelings oppose you) on an act of love toward your “enemy” and then do it.

A few years ago, a deeply committed Christian friend of mine was witness to a fist fight which had broken out at his place of work. My friend—call him Fred—entered the struggle in an effort to stop the violence.

“Fists were flying all over the place. In the struggle, I was knocked out. I failed to regain consciousness, so I was sent to a hospital where I awoke a few days later. One of the fighters had knocked me down and kicked me in the head. This dislodged a silver plate which had been inserted into my skull during the war.

“My first reaction was one of anger. I could feel it building into a grudge. It was too much for me to handle. It was burning a hole in me. My pastor and I prayed for God to give me the power to love my attacker.”

Later, I learned that Fred had sought out the man who had kicked him in the head, assuring him that there was no ill will toward him. The attacker, on hearing this, had the decency to weep.

Fred’s experience still makes a deep impression on me because he models in his life the way to handle anger. Our anger can drive us to self, in which case we will become judgmental and destructive. Or, our anger can drive us to God, by whose power we can become compassionate and forgiving. The temptation to become angry always gives us this choice.

Fear causes us to feel diminished, victimized, weak and helpless. It would seem to be the opposite of the feelings of power and superiority which anger engenders in us. But do not be deceived: fear and anger are twin brothers, the bastard sons of King Self.

That fear is the result of our egoism can easily be shown when we understand the basic assumption of all fear. Our fears are based squarely on this curious assumption of omnipotence: Everything depends on me.

The fear some of us have in traveling by airplane can illustrate this problem. Betty M. is such a person. She called me in a panic to say, “I’m going to die. I must fly with my husband to California. I’m afraid to fly. The only way I can get on a plane is with four martinis—which I can no longer have because of my alcohol problem. What am I going to do?”

I knew Betty well enough to sense that what this highly educated socialite wanted was an explanation, preferably a brilliant one, of why she was so afraid. What I suggested in the way of advice must have seemed insulting: “Betty, I have a plan. As you walk toward the airplane, I want you to take your life into your hands, wrap it in a package, tie it securely, and then, just as you enter the plane, throw it into the air, saying, “Here, God. You worry about this!”

I later received a postcard from California saying that she had taken my suggestion, and for the first time in her life had enjoyed flying. This woman who was so afraid of heights was even able to climb a mountain. At the summit, she reported having a marvelous spiritual experience of God’s presence.

I am still amazed that by simply letting go of the assumption of omnipotence and trusting God, this woman had her emotional health returned to her. Betty’s secret was that she understood that everything did not depend upon her. God was around. It was her problem, but His power solved it.

Betty’s problem reminds me of a well-known politician who has a similar problem. He detests flying but is obliged to fly because of his work. On one of these flights, a new aide spoke to the panic-stricken politician and was sharply rebuked: “Leave me alone! Can’t you see that I’ve got all I can do to keep this darned plane from crashing!”

The best thing the politician could have done was to turn the plane over to God and the pilot, letting them worry about the flight. Not everything, as we well know, depends on the politicians.

The various kinds of fears are innumerable. The fear of flying is only one of a vast number of neurotic fears. One could go on to mention the fear of death, failure, cancer, animals, water-travel, elevators, driving a car, darkness, germs, etc. One particular fear with which many people can identify is the fear of human authority in the form of policemen, employers, government officials, pastors, soldiers, nurses, doctors, judges, etc. Uniforms often scare us, even the postman’s uniform. These are all authority surrogates, and it is easy to see why they are opposed so vehemently. These people remind me that I am not Number One. I am only an equal of others. This is bad news for my egoism, and so my natural tendency is to be both hostile and fearful of such authorities.

But why should one fear the authority vested in other people?
I suspect it is because we deeply believe that power in any hands other than our own, will hurt us (which hurt, we feel, is deserved because of our guilt). And so we fear power in others. Interestingly, we seldom have any misgivings about our own ability to hold and wisely use power. But watch out for others. When we have such an attitude, the world quickly becomes a very dangerous place in which to live.

Now, it is true that many times the world is a dangerous place. Even though most of our fears are neurotic, that is, all in our heads, there are many other instances where there is unquestionably a real danger threatening us. Is it possible in such situations to become fearless? Can faith in God dispel such fears? There is no question how Jesus would answer these questions. He would say yes, reminding us of the great storm on the Sea of Galilee when His disciples feared they would perish. After rebuking the wind and calming the water. Jesus asked, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:40). The fearlessness Christ looks for in His disciples is
6obtainable but not attainable. We can receive it as a gift from God, but we cannot produce it ourselves.

Norman Vincent Peale, in a communion mediation, gave a dramatic illustration of fearlessness in a woman who was stopped one night by four men in an empty subway station in New York City. Her name was Phyllis, and on one occasion she was staying in a hotel in the Times Square district. A college friend of hers had married a young minister and was living uptown in New York City. Phyllis invited this young woman to come down and have dinner with her and go to a show and have a snack afterward. So they did. Finally, they looked up at the restaurant clock, and it said two in the morning.

Phyllis said, “I’m afraid it’s too late for you to go home on the subway. Take a taxi.”

“Oh no,” her friend said, “the subway stops right on my street, and it’s only a step to my door. I’ll be all right.”

The two girls went down to the subway. There were only a few persons there at that hour of the night. They waited awhile, and the train came along and everybody got on board. And now there was nobody in the subway station except Phyllis, or so she thought. She proceeded toward the street exit when suddenly from behind the pillars came four punks with cigarettes dangling from their mouths and sneers on their faces. They lined up in front of her and barred her way.

One of them said, “You’re out pretty late tonight, aren’t you, baby?”

A second one said, “Would you like a little company tonight, sister?”

Her blood ran cold. She was at their mercy. Desperately she thought, “I’ll run,” but she knew that they could outrun her. She thought, “I’ll scream,” but she knew that no one could hear her. She thought, “I will fight them,” but she knew that she was one helpless young woman against four strong toughs.

Then the power which had come into her life because she had surrendered her life to Christ manifested itself. And there went through her mind a passage of Scripture: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly.”

She had her message. It was to walk uprightly. She pulled herself to her full height, and started to walk toward the four toughs. They did not move. She continued to walk and approached them closely. Then out of the distance she seemed to hear a voice which she recognized as her own voice. “Let me pass, please, let me pass.” The men on the outer ends turned and looked toward the boy in the center who was obviously the leader. He stared for a moment. Then he gave way, and she walked through them. As she did so, one of the toughs seemed to get the message, for he said, “That’s it, walk tall, lady, walk tall.”

She walked deliberately up the steps and then ran to her hotel and fell sobbing on her bed, but sobbing for joy. As she told of this to some of us afterwards she said, “I used to be a weak Christian. I couldn’t meet the crises. But I gave my life to Christ. I surrendered to Him and He gave me the power.”*
*The Church Herald, Aug. 14, 1970, p. 61.

God not only frees us from our fear of people but even our fear of death, as eloquently illustrated in the life of E. Stanley Jones. At eighty-three years, Brother Stanley writes the following in his spiritual autobiography, Song of Ascents:

“I’m afraid of nothing. What can death do to me? I’ve already died. You cannot defeat defeat. You cannot break brokenness. I’ve come back from my own funeral. I’m alive in the Alive.”*
*E, Stanley Jones, A song of Ascents, (New York: Abingdon]. 1968, P. 140

The conclusion is inescapable: the solution to all our problems of fear is a person—
7God. The solution is not an explanation, not a new insight, nor a new idea, but a Person. He is the very Person who solved our problem with anger.

And, as we shall now see, our problem with guilt.

Guilt feelings in us self-destruct the person as nothing else can. Guilt is easily the major cause of all human breakdown. For such is the nature of guilt—it seeks to punish us for our wrongdoing.

Before we talk about our guilt feelings, I want to say a word about the actuality of our legal guilt before the Judge of all the earth.

So that we may think more clearly, let us understand, following the guidance of Romans 1 and 2, that God finds us guilty of (1) displacing Him and (2) breaking His moral code. Guilt as a result of commandment-breaking is easily understood, but we are far less willing to perceive the cause of our commandment breaking: God-displacement. It is this latter action which is the sin from which all other sins flow. When God is displaced, He is replaced with the egoist himself as god. He is a phony god—made such by simply standing in the place of Deity. This is the basic sin of which every person is guilty.

This double cause of guilt can be illustrated by marital unfaithfulness. When a man, let us say, has an affair with another woman, the complaint of the man’s wife is not that her husband has violated the Seventh Commandment, but that he has jilted her. He has preferred another woman to her, and this is what really hurts. The wife is probably willing to forgive the legal violation of their marriage if only her husband will again choose her and reject the paramour. The root problem is the displacement of persons.

Do people feel guilty for displacing God? Perhaps there is only a fleeting awareness in the case of the egocentric who is all wrapped up in himself, but when once one comes into contact with the living God and then rejects Him, there most certainly is guilt. The closer one has come to God in all His holiness, the greater the guilt he feels.

I have just finished counseling a lesbian. She claims to be a liberated person. “Long ago I liberated myself from all conventional morality. Besides, everyone is bisexual, so what difference does it make whether I go to bed with a man or a woman?”

“I’m puzzled,” I responded, ignoring her question, “as to why you asked to see me.”

“Well, it’s that I do feel guilty about being a lesbian, even though I should not. There’s no reason to feel ashamed, and yet I am. Why do I feel this way?”

I tried to explain, without much success, that she knew very well that she was breaking God’s laws with her sexual conduct. “I know you feel guilty. You are supposed to feel guilty when you break the commandments of God.”

And what is true of this woman, is true for us all. Our guilty consciences relentlessly testify that we have broken God’s laws.

Another major source of guilt comes from the impossible, perfectionistic standards which we god-players establish as our own private code of ethics. This explains why a very moral, externally religious person can have a nervous breakdown caused by nothing else than guilt. This is the kind of guilt that is produced when one sets for himself impossible expectations.

I’m thinking right now of a thirty-year-old woman who came to me for help with her problems. She was deeply committed to the church and spoke freely of her love for God and the sanctified life. I am sure she spoke the truth. She was a marvelous Christian externally, but inwardly there was no place in her thinking for God, as was proven by the cruel perfectionistic standards she set for herself. Here are just a few of the things she daily expected of herself:

A. “I feel I should always be one step ahead of my husband. I’m first into bed at night and first out of bed in the morning. It’s a kind of game we play, and I never let him win.”
B. A near complete domination of the living habits of her family. They could use only certain rooms and sit only in certain chairs.
C. Her husband’s ashtrays were emptied hourly. She spent the time in-between despising his “dirty habit.”
D. All dirty clothing had to be washed at night. Woolen clothes had to be pressed after each wearing.
E. “I can’t say no to people. At my church, for example, I just keep getting more and more to do. I spend half my time doing church work. I’d like to say no, but I can’t. They [sic] won’t let me.”
F. Colors in her world had to match. It made her nervous when colors clashed; it would take her days to select clothing and weeks to buy furniture.

This poor woman had set all these standards herself. No one told her to do these things—no man and certainly not God.
8I do not agree with my psychologist colleague, with whom I conferred on this case, that the basic problem was an overly strict mother who had mishandled the toilet-training of her daughter. Such an explanation would, it seems to me, deepen the woman’s problem by shifting responsibility from herself and judging a key authority person in her life rather than coming to terms with that person. I do not deny that, in some unconscious way, mother’s influence affects each of us, but the point I am making here is that we use whatever we have learned, be it good or bad, in the service of our egoism. In the present instance, our pious woman made her own “laws,” using, I am sure, the materials of her childhood training. These “laws” demanded more and still more. Finally, even a strong person such as this religious person was, would break under the strain.

True, not all people suffer from their perfectionism as this woman did. I am thinking of the people who have defective consciences, commonly called sociopaths. Somehow in the process of growing up, they ruined the delicate machinery of their God-given consciences. Since the conscience no longer functions, and because the sociopath’s mind gets some sort of perverted pleasure out of living above the law and outsmarting authority, feelings of guilt seldom register with him. There is something of this in every person, but, since most of us are blessed with consciences which work all too well, guilt is a major and painful problem to us. Guilt, you recall, self-destructs a person. Guilt guns us down (from the inside).

What can we do to remove these guilt feelings? God has given us a straight answer to that question. The answer is: Do nothing.

The Divine counsel is for us to abandon all our determined efforts at self-atonement. This means, for example, the end of this nonsense about catharsis from guilt achieved merely by speaking of our guilt feelings. What God has in mind is for us to wait to be saved from our guilt by His devices. What has happened is that our guilt has swept us out into the treacherous offshore currents of our lives, and we can’t get back. The situation is beyond us. As the ocean currents are too strong to overcome, so our guilt, because of its historical unchangeableness, is impossible to change.

Each summer, a number of swimmers are swept into the strong ocean currents off the New Jersey shore. The first impulse of the victim is to make a mighty effort to swim to shore. This is not possible when the currents are really strong. If another swimmer attempts a rescue, he, too, will get swept out and will likely be pulled down by the panicked victim. The best thing he can do is wait—just wait for the lifeguard to swim out with a buoy on a rope. So with guilt.

But what is the solution to the guilt problem?

The solution, it must be clearly seen, is not a set of ideas, nor an insight, nor even new feelings and attitudes. The solution is a Person. We await a Person to save us from our guilt.

God sent that Person in Jesus Christ. God has already dealt decisively with our guilt through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The great drama of our forgiveness has all been worked out historically in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who made full and perfect atonement for our sin and guilt. What this means is that God has forgiven us. He is reconciled to us.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

God has pardoned us! There is nothing to do except receive that Person into our lives.

Perhaps you thought I was going to say, There is nothing to do except receive that pardon. But God did not enter human history merely to ease our guilt feelings. He came to establish His Kingdom—in us. Therefore, the Person first and then the pardon. One does not receive the pardon until he has made a place in his life for the presence of that Person, Jesus Christ.

This Person’s entrance into our lives, however, is a problem to us. If we invite Him into our lives, He must come as God because He is God. He cannot deny what He is. That means that I must resign as god—if I want the forgiveness and pardon—because it is impossible to have two Gods around; one of us has to go. It is impossible for God to be in my life, and I still be Number One. This is every man’s dilemma.

So the answer to our guilt problem is a Person. Earlier we saw that the solution to the problem of anger and fear was God. He is the solution also to guilt. When God in Jesus Christ is invited to establish the Kingdom of God in us, we will not only receive forgiveness from every sin and all guilt, but experience that forgiveness as well.

The Bondage of the Self to the Self
You and I were fashioned by the Creator to serve Him as Lord. When we, 9like Adam and Eve, send the Lord God out of the garden of our lives, the lordship of our lives falls into our own hands.

The self now serves himself as lord. In so doing, we live unnaturally toward ourselves, for the self must now attempt to control the self. In this diabolic, tragic way, the self makes himself a prisoner of himself.

This is why we complain, “I am my own worst enemy,” and “I hate myself,” and “I do not feel free to do what I should do,” and “I am my biggest problem.”

The self is in bondage to the self—rather than to the Lord God.

The nature of our bondage to self is of a particular kind. Bondage is our inability to begin when we wish to begin, and cease when we wish to cease. Think of a toboggan. The toboggan is on the top of a hill, and six people are seated on it. They are ready to go. They want to go, but the toboggan is in wet snow and cannot move with all the weight on it. The toboggan, we may say, is in bondage. It cannot begin, though everyone wants to begin the ride.

Someone now gives the toboggan a push. It is free—out of bondage. But now there is a new kind of problem. We want to stop it from heading for a tree, let us say. But there are no brakes or steering apparatus on a toboggan, and so, wanting to stop and unable to, we are again in bondage. Freedom, in this illustration, would mean the ability to stop the toboggan.

People are very much like toboggans in that it is difficult for us to stop once we begin.
10A little resentment nursed along, a little flirtation with another man’s wife, a little drink each day at the cocktail hour—and we are off to the races. We get carried along and eventually find that things are out of our control. Wanting to stop, we cannot. We are in bondage.

Eventually, the pain of our bondage becomes so intense that we say we want to do something about our problem. We want to make friends with the person we resent, begin to live normally with our own wife, and do something about our alcohol problem. We want to begin—but can’t. Our accelerator does not work. We are in bondage.

This is why all of us can identify with the apostle Paul before his conversion when he says:

I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7:18-19)

Paul was in the bondage of religious perfectionism. He wanted to keep the Jewish law—perfectly. That was his bondage, and it drove him to a point of despair. But religious perfectionism may not be your particular bondage, so let me list a few of the ways in which we modern people express our bondage. It may be of help to classify some of our bondages:

The Bondage of Authority-Hatred: persistent resentments, a state of unreconciliation, continual jealousy, argumentativeness, habitual procrastination, suspiciousness, rebellion, defamation of the character and office of those in authority, continual fear of authority, recurrent religious doubts, arguments with God, atheism, chronic laziness, inaction, living above the laws of God and man, adamant unteachableness, continual parent-child conflict, chronic complaining, et cetera.

The Bondage of People-Hatred on the Peer Level: persistent resentments, grudges, a state of unreconciliation, lust for power, argumentativeness, jealousy, suspicion, inability to be equal with people because we feel over or under them, fear of closeness, tardiness, continual marital conflict, unresolved grief over the loss of loved ones, racial prejudice and discrimination, one-upmanship, chronic complaining, et cetera.

The Bondage of an Overpowering Attraction to Violence: stealing, homicide, suicide, rape, continual fascination with violence on TV, uncontrollable bursts of hot temper, compulsion to take needless chances in sports or driving cars, preoccupation with guns and knives, et cetera.

The Bondage of the Body: constant worry about one’s health, insomnia, nervous tics (coughing, muscular spasms, scratching, biting), chronic physical illness, allergies, accident proneness, et cetera.

The Bondage of Sex: repeated adultery, promiscuity, compulsion to rape, compulsive masturbation, sexual perversions, homosexuality, continual preoccupation with pornography, frigidity, impotence, et cetera.

The Bondage of the Mind: recurrent moods of depression, obsessive bizarre fantasies, persistent weird ideas and delusions, perfectionistic strivings, constant worry, insomnia, obsession with one’s inferiority feelings, compulsive TV viewing, compulsive reading, compulsive counting, endless indecision, never-ending schemes of grandiosity, adamant unteachableness, persistent anxiety, paralyzing fear, fear of disaster, persistent need to run from problems, relentless feelings of guilt, bottomless anger, snobbishness, et cetera.

The Bondage of Ideologies: hooked on being a protester no matter what the issue, hooked on a system of fixed ideas (Communism, religious liberalism, religious fundamentalism, Freudianism, etc. , etc.), fanaticism (religious, sports, psychiatric, hippyism, etc.), et cetera
The Bondage of Things: over-indulgence in food, money-madness, gambling, stealing, persistent greed and unending lists of gadgets for our comfort and ease, continual coveting, security-madness, chronic discontent, compulsive purchasing (clothes, cars, furniture, homes, etc.), et cetera.

The Bondage of Chemicals: alcohol, tobacco, heroin, LSD, numerous drugs (tranquilizers, mood-elevators, aspirin, pep pills), et cetera.

The Bondage of Words: compulsive use of profanity, obscenity, repetitious religious rituals, meaningless prayers, inability to resist telling a lie, broken-record chatterbox talking, temper tantrums, inability to speak up, over-talking, silence, et cetera.

The Bondage of Time: habitual tardiness, always talking about the good old days, fear of growing old, impatience, disregard for time, appointment-breaking, compulsive clock-watching, inability to wait, worry, fear of the future, et cetera.

Take your pick. It is tempting to assign bondages to those blind souls who inhabit the world with us; it is ego-slaying to select our own. Our diagnosis of others’ bondages may be both accurate and brilliant, but diagnosis is a waste of time until the person himself not only admits but accepts the reality of his bondage.

Several of my colleagues have found this to be true even in the case of schizophrenia.* They challenge the current practice of shielding the patient from the diagnosis, pointing not only to the benefits for the patient of openness, but also to the patient’s desire to know the truth. It is doubtful whether a person with schizophrenia can really begin to deal with his illness until he is able to say, “I am a schizophrenic.” Until this frank admission is made, any help offered such a person will only be understood as good advice for other people who have such a problem.
*Miriam Siegler, Frances E. Cheek, and Humphry Osmond, “Attitudes toward Naming the Illness,” Mental Hygiene, 52 (1968] :2.

People in Alcoholics Anonymous are especially aware of the need to make a flat statement with regard to
11their bondage. Each speaker at their open meetings begins his witness by saying, “My name is _______________ , and 12I am an alcoholic.” This may seem like a very simple and obvious thing to say, but not so. It is agony to speak those words. They have a way of sticking in our throats because they play havoc with our egoism. This simple, honest admission—“I am an alcoholic”—is usually preceded by years of hedging and dishonesty with regard to the bondage. For years, the alcoholic said, “I am not an alcoholic,” or, “I am a little bit alcoholic,” or “Maybe I am.” Not until he is able to both admit and accept that he is an alcoholic, will a person truly want to do anything about his problem.

If it is true that we are all in bondage similar to alcoholism, it is time we become honest with ourselves and lay claim to what we have. Again, make your selection of the more than 100 bondages listed above. Remember that the bondage is yours only when you say it belongs to you. The judgment of others with regard to the bondages we are under may be deadly accurate, and surely we should listen to these people, but the crucial matter is not the diagnosis of others but what you can now accept as your bondage.

When my daughter, on one occasion, said to me, “Dad, you are a crab!” my immediate reaction was to deny the unpleasant charge. Upon a few centuries of reflection, however, I had to admit that she was right and accept the bondage. I am a crab.

I have since come to understand that not only am I a crab, but I will always be one. As the alcoholic can never be
13cured of his alcoholism, so I will never be cured of my crabbiness. There are no cures for our bondages. I hope we will both be successful, however, in arresting our problems. That, we can take steps to do.

I think of an
14arrested bondage as a sleeping wild animal. Much as we would like to kill the animal, it is possible only to put him to sleep. Asleep, he does not trouble us. We are free from him and can function normally. It only takes one good kick in the ribs of the sleeping animal, however, to quickly arouse all the old ferocity and destructiveness.

Our bondages remain, therefore, howbeit in a dormant state. I think it is a divine arrangement which keeps our bondages with us but in a dormant state. For one thing, it reminds us from whence we have come. We once lay helpless in the gutter of our lives, and but for the grace of God, we would still be there.

What does one do with his bondages? What steps can one take to enter into freedom? Four suggestions:

A. Claim your bondage(s).
Admit and accept. We have already talked sufficiently about this.

B. Kiss your chains, and they will become a key.
This idea comes from the life of a very courageous Frenchman Pierre D’Harcourt, who was in the French underground during World War II. Somehow he was betrayed, and after a gun battle in which he was wounded, Pierre was taken captive and thrown into prison. He wrote:*

Before I knew what had happened, they had handcuffed both my hands to the iron frame of the bed.

The hour which followed was one of the blackest of my life. How could I get through the night stretched out in this position? If I had let myself go and struggled, perhaps I would have driven myself mad by the next morning. It was clear that my plot (to escape) had been discovered. And as I realized my chance had gone, despair came over me. For a long time I lay with dry eyes, turning over in my mind every possibility of getting out alive and assessing the chances. Having made every sort of calculation, having peered into all the slightest possibilities, I saw that it was hopeless. At that, something gave way inside me. Left utterly alone with the wreck of my plans, I did what I should have done before, I turned my face to God and asked for help.

It is difficult to describe exactly what I felt. Beneath everything, beyond everything, I felt myself humiliated and defeated. I had been so confident, and now my pride had been laid low. There was only one way of coming to terms with my fate if I was not to sink into an abyss of defeatism from which I knew I could never rise again. I must make the gesture of complete humility by offering to God all that I suffered. I must not only have the courage to accept the suffering He had sent me; I must also thank Him for it, for the opportunity He gave me to find at last His truth and love. I remember the relief of weeping as I realized that this was my salvation. Then the inspiration came to me to kiss the chains which held me prisoner, and with much difficulty I at last managed to do this. I am not a credulous person, but even allowing for the state of mind I was in that night, there can be no doubt in my mind that some great power from outside momentarily entered into me. Once my lips had touched the steel I was freed from the terror which possessed me. As the handcuffs had brought the terror of death to me, now by kissing my manacles I had turned them from bonds into a key.... In the blackness of that night my faith gave me light. Peace returned to me and I slept quietly, accepting death which would bring me life.
*Pierre D’Harcourt, The Real Enemy (New York: Scribners, 1967] pp. 42-43

C. Let go of the bondage.., let God handle it.
By letting go, we mean that we no longer fight it. No longer do we assault the problem and try to overcome it in our own strength; we turn the problem over to God for solution. Our bondages are more than we can cope with. It is only sensible, therefore, that we should stop the “I-will-power” approach to our problem and call in Someone who is a higher power—God.

To be sure, that creates a crisis in itself: if God is invited in, He comes in as Number One because that is what He is. This means I must resign as Number One and become a Number Two. This is agony to the egoist. He suffers—yes, must even die. The only immediate compensation we can give him is that the dying unto self is not nearly so painful as the suffering he will endure if he continues as Number One. So we have a choice of sufferings. To remain an egoist and live in bondage is terribly painful. To choose to die to self is also painful, but not for long, because God’s freedom, peace, and joy will make us “more than conquerors.”

Just this morning, I received a letter from a man who was a former mental patient. I came to know him intimately during his illness. He displayed strong psychotic symptoms, was episodically suicidal, withdrawn, and worrisome. Listen to parts of his letter:

Right now I am so full that I truly feel my cup is running over. More and more I am finding it easier to let go.... I was saying, “I will to do”—but I realize I should be saying, “I’m willing to let go.” . . . I really want to be taught this new way.... My entire family is changing. . . . I only hope that more people will find this new way.

The new way is very old. Jesus Christ taught us this new way.
The new way is for every human bondage, not just “religious problems.”
The new way is for everyone, not just a few perceptive people.

D. Remain under the rule of the Kingdom of God.
I made the point before that God arrests but does not cure our bondages. That almost sounds as if God does a shoddy job of saving us. Nothing like that was intended. I simply meant that an alcoholic, for example, once God has freed him from the bondage of alcoholism, cannot return to social drinking. The arrested alcoholic cannot so much as take one drink without plunging himself headlong into his old prison of alcohol.
15Once an alcoholic, always. What is true for alcoholism, holds true for all bondages.

If it is true that bondages are arrested rather than cured, it follows that we will need to stay under a continuous discipline to maintain our freedom. By a “continuous discipline,” I mean an authority-structure which can represent God to us, for God Himself is the key to freedom. This is the whole idea behind the Christian church, though it is rare today to see it function as an instrument for inner freedom. But ideally, the church is a loving discipline invited over us by one who affirms Jesus Christ as Lord. Such a church cares for, admonishes, trains, and counsels its membership. Note especially, however, that one never outgrows the need for such a program. No one ever finishes going to church. We note, in passing, that psychotherapy claims to reach a termination point—one based, I feel, on the erroneous assumption that our bondages can be cured.

The Belly of Hell
Out of the belly of Sheol (death) I cried.... (Jonah 2:2)
Life in the Kingdom of Self adds up to only one thing—suffering.
Eventually, the cup of suffering overflows in the lives of each one of us. We hit bottom.

A new friend of mine has told me how he came to have six livid scars on his left wrist. “I was bursting with anger and despair. This was the end. I grabbed the razor and began slashing myself, but the sight of blood brought me to my senses. I cried out, ‘God, you go to hell! Oh, Jesus Christ help me!’ Then I slept. When I awoke, the first thought in my mind was to go to a hospital.” This is one man’s description of being in the belly of death.

Most of us stop short of attempted suicide, but there are few of us who do not at some point in our lives reach the end. Pierre D’Harcourt described his end as “hopeless. At that, something gave way inside me. I was left utterly alone with the wreck of my plans.”

A married couple reached out to me for help some time ago. The husband is debonair and exudes self-confidence. He is successful in the business world. I am sure a battery of psychological tests would show this man to be strong, while his wife appears to be weak. She has numerous bondages—countless fears, inability to do her work, hiding from life by staying in bed all day, suspicion, and suicidal tendencies. Add to this, however, one thing: she is at her end. She is sated with suffering.

In the course of our counseling session, the husband complained that his wife no longer cooked his favorite dishes. The wife, in turn, complained that she was no longer taken out to her favorite restaurants. As I heard these complaints, I decided to ask each to “give in” on these small issues.

The wife immediately complied. She was willing to do anything that would help. I turned to her husband and soon learned that all his “strength” was weakness. He saw no reason to take her out to eat, since he felt no love for his wife. Besides, he was not the problem. It was his wife who was breaking down—and he rattled on, ad infinitum. His decision: no eating out. The wife decided to serve him his favorite dishes nonetheless.

This wise woman was in better shape in her brokenness than her husband in all his glorious strength. She is very close to the Kingdom of God, for she has the necessary qualifications of brokenness, poverty, and desperation. This is why the Beatitudes bless those in poverty, persecution, and mourning. They are the only ones who are ready to leave the Kingdom of Self. They are at the end of their ropes. They have spent their last buck and shot their last bullet. To all such people, our Lord says, “Congratulations! Because you have lost everything and are so wretchedly poor, you are now in position to leave the Kingdom of Self and enter the Kingdom of God” (cf. Matthew 5:3).

Sometimes I think my mental-patient parishioners have a great advantage over us so-called mentally healthy people. At least many of my patients know they have problems. Moreover, they are oftentimes ready to do anything to find a solution. They will even go to the extent of accepting God into their lives! It is suffering people who come to God. They come, not because it is a nice idea or because they feel like it, but because their suffering is so intense they will be killed by their pain if they do not come. So thank God for pain and suffering, else few of us would find Him.

When does one reach a bottom? Where is that point at which the cup of suffering overflows? That point is reached when one says he has reached it. The point of surrender is different for each person. One is well-advised, however, to say, “I have had it,” as quickly as possible.

Why will you die, 0 house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

As freely as one is able to declare his contentment with whatever the degree of his blessings, so we are free to declare our readiness for God at whatever point of suffering we find ourselves.

This strange paradox—that only the End brings the Beginning, that suffering must precede our joy, that we must die before we live—is nowhere better illustrated than with God. God, in a certain sense, knows the taste of failure. His “failure” with the Jews is recorded in detail in the Old Testament. He “failed” in the eyes of the world as He hung on the cross.

God’s “failures” are apparently shown for no other reason than to welcome us “failures” into His fellowship of suffering, so that we may share the delight of His eternal victory and success.

I doubt very much whether this book will mean very much to people who have not done their share of suffering. The positions taken in this book are all formed in the crucible of my own suffering. My prayer is that my suffering will connect with yours and that together we may rejoice in the fantastic way in which God has turned our sorrow into joy and our weeping into shouts of laughter.

Let us now turn to some unbelievably good news. The good news of the Kingdom of God is too good to believe. If it were not so good as it is, more people would believe it and buy it. Those who reject the Kingdom of God can do so only on the grounds that it offers too much rather than too little. So let us look at what our Lord taught concerning the Kingdom of God.

3 According to the Bible we do have a right to experience the emotion of anger. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” Anger is not a judgment, it is a response. God himself displays anger in various passages of scripture (Exodus 4:14; Numbers 11:10, 12:9, 32:14 to name but a few). “Be ye angry, and sin not,” simply means that in displaying the emotion of anger we are not to allow anger to rise up and rule over us (sin not).

4 Indeed, judgment is a natural part of our lives, and rightfully so; it is a God-given attribute. All debate about judgment is settled in one verse of scripture.
Paul’s discussion of judgment in Romans 14:4 is in connection with the attitudes that two kinds of Christians have toward each other regarding ceremonial matters - eating foods, observing days. The more mature Christian, in Paul’s day, saw these things as unimportant. The weaker Christian, who did not yet have a firm standard for his conscience and was “feeling his way along,” felt greatly disturbed at the actions of his stronger brother. The conscience is said to be strong if it has a sound standard for judgment and weak if it has an inferior standard.
In general, scriptures that denounce judging another are really denouncing our CONDEMNATION of others.

5 As we bear in mind that Jesus was the Messiah, we do well to remember all that he did was done in his humanity, not in his Deity. He was the perfect man, operating perfectly in anger “yet without sin,” and all but one of Jesus’ actions preceded his crucifixion. Jesus had no singular license to experience anger.

6 This is a critically important point on which I very strongly agree. Another word for “fearlessness” could be “faith.” Faith is only obtainable, not attainable. That is to say, we can freely receive faith from Christ, but there is nothing we can “do” to earn it (Hebrews 12:2).

7 Here we have a classic deviation from basic Biblical theology. Though some will view this as a matter of semantics, it is infinitely more serious than that.
All of our freedoms, strengths, and power are the result of the work of a man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. God could not do any of the things Jesus did because it would be unfair. God is not the one who sinned against God in the garden. It was a man, Adam. It must, therefore, be a man who wins back for us all that we had lost in the fall. The only way to accomplish this was for God himself to become a man and, AS A MAN, pay sins penalty for us. The solution to all of our problems is not God, but the God-man, Jesus Christ.

8 You will recall the previous discourse on the prohibitions on judgment (see footnote 4). Here, Rev. Jabay breaks his own rule of judging when he makes the statement, “I do not agree...”
The only way one can make such a statement is to JUDGE another person’s spoken or written ideas, opinions, or words as being invalid or in error. This judgment came natural to Rev. Jabay because God had given him the ability to discern between good and bad; right and wrong; valid and invalid. Rev. Jabay has not sinned against the Bible in making this judgment, but rather he has sinned against his own misunderstanding of the prohibitions against judging.
In his statement, “I do not agree...,” Jabay does not condemn his colleague for his belief. Rev. Jabay’s only purpose in stating that he did not agree with this colleague was to show that his thinking was not in agreement with the colleague and he gives reasons why. This is a value judgment, not a condemnatory judgment. Scripture prohibits condemnatory judgment, not value judgment.

9 The lordship of Adam and Eve did not fall into their hands, it fell into Satan’s hands. That is exactly what happens to us when we send God packing; we give lordship of our lives to Satan. We may have the mistaken impression that lordship has fallen into our own hands, but that is only because Satan has not yet tightened his grip on our lives. Once Satan determines to exercise his full authority in our lives we will realize, all too clearly, that lordship is his, not ours.

10 This argument is based upon Rev. Jabay’s erroneous assumption that our will is ineffective in ceasing from activities which are wrong or harmful. This simplistic thinking is to be rejected on scriptural grounds as follows.
God sets before us life and death, blessing and cursing, and exhorts us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) God understands that we are free to choose to stop doing what is wrong or harmful and to begin doing what is correct and life-giving.
Joshua challenged Israel to choose whom they would serve (Joshua 24:15)
The prophet Jeremiah understood that turning from sin was a matter of choice of will.: “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.” Jeremiah 44:5
These scriptures show that turning to or from something is a matter of choice made by exercising our will. Therefore, true bondage, is the inability to exercise our will. While I may be submitted to a particular practice, I am not in bondage to it so long as I may choose to cease that practice.

11 Although this is a very tempting approach to take to any bondage, it is unbiblical and, therefore, wrong. Nowhere in scripture are we told to confess our bondages. We are, instead, commanded to confess our sins and our faith.

12 “I am” is a statement of being, a confession of what we are. This type of confession must ALWAYS be kept in harmony with scripture. There is a vast difference between stating, “I have given myself to alcohol and I am continually drunk,” and stating, “I am an alcoholic.” The first is a statement of fact in the form of confession of sin, while the latter is a declaration of being regardless of practices.
We are supposed to confess our faith in God’s word. God ís word tells us we are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21); a chosen generation (2 Peter 2:9); kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:6); healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24); set free (John 8:36 [more on this later]); redeemed (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18); sanctified (Acts 26:18; Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:21); and holy (Colossians 1:22).
To confess, “I am an alcoholic” is to set alcoholism above God’s word, stripping it of its divine power and authority. Each speaker at an AA meeting should begin his witness by stating, “My name is , and I am set free from the bondage of alcohol by the shed blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I am redeemed from my willful surrender to alcohol and sanctified (set apart ) for God’s exclusive use in his kingdom.”

13 If an alcoholic can never be cured of alcoholism then there is no point in turning to Christ for help. But the Bible I read makes it abundantly clear that, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Also, in Psalm 103:3 we are told, “Who foregiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” There is most definitely a cure for any bondage, and that cure is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

14 An arrested bondage is still a bondage; it still has lordship over us. Jesus does not promise to give us a respite from our bondage, he promises to liberate us from it, set us free from it, heal us from it, and cure us. The fact that we are, indeed, set free from bondage is shown to us in these verses of scripture:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Romans 8:15, 21

But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Galatians 4:9

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 2 Peter 2:19

15 This is a remarkably egregious statement. Scripture stands as the antithesis to this type of thinking wherever it is found. If it is true that, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” then it must also hold true that, “Once a sinner, always a sinner;” and “Once a murderer, always a murderer;” and “Once a prostitute, always a prostitute;” and “Once leper, always a leper.”
Rev. Jabay has overlooked a fundamental element of Christianity, i.e., “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” creates a prison from which there can be no escape; one which strips God of his sovereign power and grace. This idea must be put to death both quickly and decisively.
If I am still a sinner then God has not freed me from the bondage of sin and corruption and I am still lost. But, Praise be his glorious name forever, he HAS set me free, and I am no longer a sinner. I used to be an alcoholic. Now, by the grace of God, I am set free and can even enjoy an occasional glass of wine with a meal and not plunge myself headlong into a prison of alcohol. “Once a (nameit), always a (nameit)” is false doctrine and should not be heeded.

Read Chapter 5

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