Judge, Jury, Executioner

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Shortly after you got into legal trouble last year, you were ready to plead guilty to your charges because you knew you had sinned gravely. I pointed out that it would be a lie to plead guilty to what you did not do. You had sinned, but your charges were not in line with what you had done. We talked about the possibility that you might be found not guilty by a jury even though you were not innocent. At that time, I pointed out that it would lead you into a trap. After you were found not guilty, I had hoped to talk to you about the issue, but never got a chance.

The trap Satan uses is one of guilt. You know you've sinned and deserve punishment, yet that punishment did not come. Though rich mercy was given, you know you didn't deserve it. It is almost as if there was no resolution to the problem.

A part of the problem stems from our childhood. We do wrong and our parents punish us. Some children will even turn themselves in when they do wrong because they know the punishment is deserved and it gives them a sense of completion.

When it doesn't happen with adults, some become consumed with unresolved guilt. They plunge into sin, knowing that it is harming them, to punish themselves for their sins. Thus, a foolish cycle is established of sinners using sin to punish themselves for sin -- and Satan is hollowing with laughter. "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).

The source of the flaw is that the person who is in the wrong is judging himself and deciding for himself what his punishment should be. The flaw is that he is not an impartial judge. "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (II Corinthians 10:12).

The truth is that you were punished. You lost full control over your life for over six months. You went through the stress of a trial, not knowing what the result would be, and rather than seeing that as the end, you turned to drugs.

Your current behavior is bringing down more punishment on you. Your health is deteriorating -- I've heard from multiple people that you're wheezing. You've pushed your friends out of your life and are lonely. I know you've gotten a puppy as a substitute, but it isn't the same. You've closed off your life goals to yourself. You wanted to possibly be available to adopt your niece if she needed you, but you are making yourself unqualified.

And though there is a way to escape this endless cycle of guilt and self-inflicted punishment, you run from it because you don't want to go through the pain and time it takes to recover. Getting out of this pit you've dug for yourself and thrown yourself in will be hard -- no doubts about it. You will have earned every moment of the misery that comes with recovery, and probably much more. But isn't it worth it? To gain back your freedom? To have control over your life once again?

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