Welcome to class today, students. Please take your seat and open your books, “The Heart of Addiction,” to the introduction. And so it begins…
In group class Tuesday morning, we read the introductory section to Pastor Mark Shaw’s book, “The Heart of Addiction.” While I don’t want to ruin the entire book, I do admit there are some spoilers in the introductory section. As Pastor Shaw told the ladies himself, “we don’t need to read any of the rest do we? We got the heart right here and that’s all we really need.” He teased them that the rest of his pages were superfluous now that the heart was exposed. Yet, the girls called his bluff, and are excited about continuing the book.
The introductory section was hearty. Literally, it presents the “heart” of addiction in a matter of paragraphs. One of the main discussion points in class today was “worldly wisdom” vs. Biblical understanding. The wisdom of the world comes from the heart of the world, the heart of man. The heart of man is undeniably and irrevocably prideful, idolatrous, deceitful, and desperately sick (see Jeremiah 17:11). This is the heart that underlies our philosophy, our reasoning, etc. In other words, not a trustworthy instrument of interpretation! Yet, this is the background and trajectory of our world.
This relates to the area of addiction in many areas, one of which is terminology or “language” used by the world to describe sin (yes, sin). The world does not like the word “sin.” (granted, it is offensive to look at; it’s meant to be). Instead, the world is in the business of masking, minimizing, and justifying. The world will tell you, “It’s not a sin, it’s a struggle,” or “it’s not an idol, it’s an addiction,” or “it’s not gluttony, it’s a binge.” These were all examples given in class when the residents (as well as myself) were challenged to compare/contrast the world’s language with the Bible’s.
Another crafty “language” used by the world is not in term, but in attribution. A disease, an illness, a struggle, an addiction (I could continue) carry an air of “from the outside in” attack on our person. With this attitude, a disease, illness, struggle, addiction, etc is not OUR fault, really. It attacked us! I mean, what could we do? We are innocent. This is, fortunately, incorrect: we are totally and inexcusably guilty. Our wickedness is our fault. Our sin is our sickness AND our choice.
Now, you may have caught my use of “fortunately” in the previous sentence and are confused. It wasn’t a typo, and here’s why:
The tragedy of minimizing sin lies in consequently minimizing the message of the gospel. “The Heart of Addiction” states it this way: “if sin is rarely mentioned, the cross becomes less important (viii).” When sin is belittled, so is grace. FORTUNATELY, when sin is acknowledge, grace abounds, and mercy is given (see proverbs 28:13). The power of the Gospel is not magnifying sin, however. It is magnifying grace through the radical act of facing heinous depravity. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB). Remember, God did not come to make the good better, but to heal the sick, the desperate (see Mark 2:17).
The truth: Jesus died for me; I am a wicked person who does wicked things and thinks wicked thoughts; wow, Jesus died for ME! That’s the Gospel.
And that’s just the beginning of “The Heart of Addiction.”