Self-dependency is a basic tenet of American culture. “Go west young man,” “make something of yourself,” “get off your lazy rear end,” “get a job,” “give it all you got,” “be strong,” “get your head in the game,” “grow up,” “act like an adult,” “man up,” etc., and the philosophy embodied in phrases like these does not work with addiction. Trying harder only brings more heartache and failure. We cannot end the cycle of shame by applying more sweat in our work of recovery. “Do not be deceived” (1st Corinthians 6.9; Galatians 6.7 NAS): we do not control our addiction. It controls us. No amount of good intentions, will power, strength of character, sincerity, positive thinking, positive confession, positivity, or self-confidence will make a difference. Our efforts are futile. We must accept our total and complete powerlessness over “the sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12.1 NAS).
You cannot trust both Jesus and yourself.
- Trusting yourself = not trusting Jesus
- Trusting Jesus = not trusting yourself
Our wisdom, our efforts, our energy, our power, and our drive will not get the job done. Our history of failure alone should be enough to prove this point beyond all possible doubt.
Self-reliance is a setup for despair because when it fails, as it inevitably will, we feel hopeless and convince ourselves that nothing, not even Jesus, can save us from our horrid dilemma. We form an unholy alliance with the power of darkness and eventually fully embrace our secret identity. We surrender to biblical anti-truth, becoming “one flesh” with porneia (Genesis 2.24) and continue down the path of destruction.
We accept that personal change is “not by [human] might, nor by [personal] power” (Zechariah 4.6 KJV), and therefore conclude change is not possible at all. We become resigned to our shadowy destiny and locked into the false belief that there is no healing for our battered souls. We agree with Scripture’s assessment without Scripture’s solution. We know from experience that we cannot free ourselves from porneia’s grip, but we refuse to seek help from our brothers and sisters in recovery. So, we continue to lie to ourselves: I can stop sinning sexually. I just have to “try harder,” “be more disciplined,” “just say ‘no’ to temptation,” and “re-commit myself.”
Christian variations of the "try harder" theme (e.g., read the Bible, pray more fervently, fast weekly, get busy serving God, attend church, sing worship songs, say confessions, witness for Jesus, join a ministry team, pass out Bible tracts, become a missionary, tithe, start a non-profit, etc.) do not guarantee victory over addiction. Trying harder to be good, even after copious amounts of positive self-talk and renewed commitments to change, will not work no matter how well we spin our efforts or how dedicated we try to be.
The foolish confidence of trusting in self will destroy a man or woman, just as both the psalmist and the prophet alleged:
Personal effort without trust in a power bigger and higher than ourselves, namely, the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, is a subtle form of pride which paradoxically guarantees our ultimate failure. Check out Proverbs 16.18 in both old and modern English:
Personal effort without trust in Jesus is a form of deception typified by comments (or attitudes) like, "I can fix myself." This is a cover for isolationism and can never bring the healing an addict longs for. 423 Communities offer men, women, and young people a place for honest self-disclosure in an emotionally safe environment. Join today!