I was baptized in my late teens. I genuinely believed at that time everything I was supposed to based on Scripture. Since then, I have done all sorts of things that are wrong and sinful and it is now ten years later. I have a serious physical addiction to drinking alcohol and dipping, which developed after baptism. I have recently tried, and had some success at abstaining from dipping and am trying to quit drinking.
Should I be re-baptized? I do not feel sure of my salvation, and want to understand if God will have mercy on me, or because I "know" the truth and have not fully obeyed it (e.g. fall short by drinking and using snuff sometimes) am I simply fooling myself by thinking that these happen to be my downfall I can still be saved by God's grace? As I speak, I am trying to quit all of the above but have not yet "kicked it." I feel confused. Paul murdered Christians, and then turned around and was a warrior for the gospel. I am trying to turn things around, but it is not easy! Any suggestions?
You are correct; stopping drug addictions is not easy, and I consider nicotine and alcohol to be drugs. I work with people who are trying to overcome addictions constantly. I recently lost a good friend who fell back into marijuana use after five years of staying clean -- that one still hurts me to the core though I'm still working hard to encourage him back. I'm working with another young man who is battling marijuana and nicotine, plus beginning to help a third one who recently quit alcohol for the second time. I'm mentioning these to say I very much understand where you are and where you want to be.
In every successful case that I've seen, the person made a deliberate choice to reject drugs. Until you see that it is controlling your life and keeping you shackled, you won't break free. And unless you admit that you will be addicted to these substances for the rest of your life, and thus you need to keep constant vigilance against them, there will be the danger of falling back into them.
But what you are battling isn't impossible. I've known many people who've won their way out of drugs. I've also seen people struggle with other types of sins who haven't been nearly as successful. The basic nature of sin is the same. Your use of drugs is a choice on your part. Because of past choices, those drugs have altered the chemistry in your body to create cravings for the drugs, but it remains a choice.
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).
Paul's statement always seems easier for the other guy and not you. Your temptations are just too strong. I've heard it from the men struggling with pornography. I've heard it in from men who, every time I hear from them, admit that they been having sex with yet another woman. I've heard it from the people who constantly use profanity. You pointed to Paul, but he said, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:23). (The Greek is much more strongly worded than this English translation.) What I'm hoping you see is that sin is addicting -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. What God promises is that there is always a way out.
If you would like strategies for breaking your particular addictions, let me know.
In regards to whether you need to be baptized again, the answer is probably not. I tell people if they have doubts about the legitimacy of their original baptism, they ought to be baptized again. If the first baptism was real, the second won't hurt anything. But it sounds like you did what was right, entered into the covenant with Christ, but since have fallen so badly that you want a fresh start. Again, if it makes you feel better, it won't hurt anything, but it isn't how God said to take care of your problems. The truth of the matter is that being a Christian isn't dependent on your feelings, but on the truth of what you have done (I John 2:3-6). You are a child of God. You have access to the Father.
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:5-2:1).
I want you to notice that John didn't say "some unrighteousness" but "all unrighteousness" can be handled by the Christian simply asking God for forgiveness. You are struggling against alcohol and you've probably gone to some AA meetings. Most of what is taught in AA originally came from the Bible. One of the first steps is to admit your problem: "I am an alcoholic." The idea came from God. The first step out of sin is to admit (confess) that we have a problem with sin.
If, in your wallowing in sin, you believe you've gone too far, then find a Christian to talk to and ask him to pray with you and for you on your behalf. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). AA borrows the idea by having sponsors mentor those coming out of addiction. But in Christianity, it goes further in that your brethren are there to fight for you and with you. "Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Thank you so much for your answer. Your on-line ministry alone is a huge blessing to believers like myself looking for confidential outlets to share our problems and struggles with. Thank you for empathizing with me, as it does give me a level of comfort in knowing that you understand where I'm coming from.
I want to quit drinking so badly, but I feel confident by your response that you understand how "scary" it is to an addict to give up the very thing that I crave throughout every day! One of the things really holding me back is my family background, and not wanting to cause my family pain and embarrassment of my addiction. I have the best Christian family and was taught and raised in the most caring, and loving Christian home you can imagine. I know that subjecting my parents to this type of thing would be detrimental to them and do not want to do that.
I think what you are referring to was Paul's translation that actually says it is better to mutilate your body if it will keep you out of the kingdom?
What are some practical ideas that you give your addict pupils? I am ashamed of what has transpired here. At one time I spoke to kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol! I know that through God and Jesus I can overcome this addiction, and I pray about it weekly. I also know, unfortunately, I will need serious professional help, and sadly will always be addicted to these substances, as you mentioned earlier. This is a hard thing to come to grips with for a control person like myself.
Anyway, thank you again for your open forum, and your time spent sharing the truth with so many people! I know many who are preachers and teachers of the gospel, and I want to be a part of the solution, but feel that this is a huge hindrance to teaching and baptizing the lost!
Here is the next lesson for you and it will be a hard one. I'm sure you didn't notice, but read over your note and see that the ropes Satan is currently tying you down with are your pride. You are proud of your upbringing, proud of the services you've done in the past, and proud of the work your family is involved in for the Lord. You understand you are in the wrong, so you hide it because you don't want to lower your family in other people's eyes. Thus, you make no move toward freedom from alcohol because to do so is to admit failure.
There is a reason James said,
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:4-10).
I seriously doubt that if your family knew what you are struggling with that they would tell you not to get help because it would embarrass them. That is you talking, giving excuses as to why you are dragging your feet, and it originates in your personal pride. In truth, if your situation is like most that I've seen, your family suspects. They might not know the extent. They might not understand how to handle it. But few families are really that blind to the struggles of those in the family.
The side-effects of your alcohol usage have been impacting your family if this situation is like others I've seen. To your family, you are not your old self. You are moody, depressed, overly sensitive, etc. You probably have been giving your family pains, but you've been too wrapped up in your own misery to notice the misery you are causing to those around you.
You are correct. You need to work on removing your current problems first before you can seriously help other people with their problems. "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5). Don't get the cart before the horse.
You have a problem. You need people to help you. I'm holding out my hand. Are you going to let your pride keep you from taking it?