Not the most flattering picture right? But it’s the real picture of a struggle so I’m going to leave this here!
If this offends you and you’re wondering what my motive for this post is — you should probably pass through and read my first ever post Broken Hearted.
I honestly believe that Christ’ power is made perfect in weakness, it is in the overcoming of struggles, not in the non-existence if them!
SO FULL DISCLOSURE
What you see here is me stoned — bible on the right, spliff in ashtray on the left. I took this picture myself with a tripod and my phone. It was taken a while back when I decided to spend sometime with God and confront a weakness I had had for the longest time; WEED. I propped the camera up and let it roll as I smoked what I thought would be my last joints.
This is a struggled that lasted way longer than it ever had to; I’m talking over a decade. I started smoking at 14, and for me that was it – I was buying blues every day after school (that was £5 worth of weed in the late 90s early 2000s) — at the worst in my early 20s whilst working in the city I would go through an ounce every two weeks (about £240 worth at the time, inflation is real).
Before I did anything I’d toke — I even climbed Kilimanjaro completely stoned (it probably would have been sooooo much easier if I hadn’t *rolls eyes*). On every travel the first thing I’d sort was the weed.
SO LET’S TALK QUITTING
The photo above was taken in Wales — I decided to rent an apartment in the middle of nowhere, and I went determined to quit. Taking a few joints with me, I had a plan; I was going to smoke those on the first day and spend the week in the word and prayer. I thought that if I simply ran out, that would be the end of it.
Well it wasn’t.
Anyone who has ever tried to stop smoking, tried to put down any form of crutch or make a major lifestyle change knows it can be such a difficult thing to do. I went to bed at the end of that first night pumped up like “Abraham believed, Lord I believe.”
But boy oh boy, I woke up the next morning literally like ‘Am I Abraham though?’ [Laughs] – I was pissed. Now before I left for my mini break, God had been speaking to me about a particular scripture, and it was about how Jesus had overcome the world. This scripture kept popping up a few times a week and I would read it but never really digest it – I had other scriptures I was favouring.
That morning when I woke up I was anxious, I opened my bible at a random page, and guess what? There was that same scripture again. I can’t even begin to explain to you how angry I became; and this really is the focus of this post.
CONTENDING WITH GOD
Now whenever someone tries to put down a crutch they have to face things they maybe weren’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to be angry or bitter. Full disclosure – I actually ripped that page out my Bible and threw it against the wall kissing my teeth. “I’d driven all this way to be with you and you’re dropping the same scripture Lord?”
Smoking weed numbed so many emotions – just like sexual immorality did before it got dropped. Weed was the vice I had left while working on everything else, and my smoking became the true stronghold. But now it’s Mask’s off — I’m in the middle of nowhere and I can’t even hola at anyone there’s literally no phone service and there are freely wondering sheep outside the front door. I’m like “man I should have brought 2 scores” [sighs].
I had smoked more or less every day for the last 8 years – there were a few days off but that was it. But now didn’t have access to what I depended on I could see that that old hood, hardhearted Ferai was still well and truly there. I could see my flesh for what it was. It hadn’t gone anywhere. 24 hours no weed – my thoughts were dark. By the evening of that second day, though really frustrated I picked up that ripped Bible page and forced myself to read it. You know I’m not even going tell you that daily bread and word of God went down smooth because it didn’t, it was like swallowing the bread of affliction because my heart was so hard.
My relationship with God goes something like this:
Good times: “I love you Lord”
Trying times: “Lord this is hard I trust you” or “why me and everyone else is prospering” “I’m sorry I said that yesterday, I love you, but help me Lord”
Growth times: “I can’t see what you’re doing here Lord, it’s not easy but I will endure” or “what do you want from me Lord maaaaannnnn; like am I Jesus” — “Okay, I’m not Jesus, but through Him you have made me whole, strengthen me”
It’s not always picture perfect; it’s raw and it’s emotional, it’s real life. But good or bad, in struggles, disappointments, rest and joy — in everything we always contending with Him, He consumes our thoughts – that’s the life of conviction, of renewal, of growth, of stages. The more mature you become the less you moan to be honest!
So was that the last time I smoked – no. But it was here that the Lord gave me the words to overcome, He began to renew my thinking in this area, so that I would one day be completely free – process. It was here I began to understand what bondage really was; truly was. It was here that I gained a deeper understanding of what the battle with the flesh really is.
In Genesis 6 there are some things that are said about the ways of man and the flesh in the days of Noah just before God flooded the earth.
Genesis 6 vs 3 (KJV)
And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
This is the word God spoke after seeing that man had been corrupted in all His ways. What strikes me is that God says he will not contend or strive with man forever, and the reason given is that man is also flesh. When we become saved we receive the Holy Spirit but we still remain flesh. That old man exists here in this world; we live Holy lives only by putting that man to death daily and walking in the spirit. Why because the spirit is the only thing that will remain, God will not endure or strive with the ways of flesh forever.
In my tantrum, seeing how broken, how dependent on weed I was, God was not condemning me – He was renewing my mind so that I could understand how this could be put off once and for all. Yes God changes our tastes, but we also remain in flesh.
So what is the way of flesh, the wickedness in the heart of man than God describes throughout the Bible?
Genesis 6 vs 5 (ESV)
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
See what was really revealed was what I truly already knew, a truth that is revealed in every department of our life where we fall short. That I was not good, in flesh I will never be good “For those who are in the flesh cannot please God’. Not matter how much you may want to.
Every inclination I naturally have is tended towards bad. Just let God withdraw His spirit from me for one second and what will be revealed is an angry, bitter, jealous, spiteful, haughty and prideful person. Even in what I think is right there is so much pride and entitlement it’s actually unbelievable. It’s in my weakness I see the wisdom and glory of God revealed.
I spent the first few days with ugly me, until I decided to pick up that word and swallow it. You see that only cure is the Holy Spirit, to walk in the Spirit continually casting down every vain imagination – He is living water.
What was God’s solution for the world being filled with sin in the day of Noah? A flood of water that would put to death and destroy all flesh.
Genesis 6 vs. 13 (Young’s Literal translation)
And God said to Noah, `An end of all flesh hath come before Me, for the earth hath been full of violence from their presence; and lo, I am destroying them with the earth.
The solution was an end to all flesh. It’s the only solution even today – God does not change. We sometimes forget that the flesh cannot enter the Kingdom and that a time will come when all flesh will be completely destroyed – it is because there is nothing and I mean nothing redeemable about the flesh. So even today we are instructed to put off the ways of the flesh and walk according to the spirit – the living water.
It is the reason why Apostle Paul looked to the day he would be completely free, the day of his death when he would be delivered from this body of sin. (Romans 7 vs. 24.)
So what saved Noah? GRACE
Genesis 6 vs. 8 (Young’s Literal translation)
And Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah
He entered the ark – the ark of Salvation that would mean He could survive the flood.
Genesis 6 vs. 18 (Young’s Literal translation)
And I have established My covenant with thee, and thou hast come in unto the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy son’s wives with thee;
We have a covenant with Christ now, which means we enter the ark not by works but by grace – but it is grace, which then causes us to produce works, and His word, which renews our mind. It is written “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”.
The reality is that to overcome anything — it must be by the Holy Spirit; the arm of flesh will fail. No man will enter the Kingdom except He is born again of the water and of the spirit. And it is the same principle in the body of Christ; again what makes us spotless is the spirit of God, the living water.
Ephesians 5 vs. 26-27
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In concluding; what then shall we do?
Isaiah 52 vs 2-3 (ESV)
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.”
This is freedom – this is true victory. We are told to put on our new garments, our new man. We are told to rise up and dust ourselves off, shake it all off and be seated, another version says “arise; sit enthroned’. This hits me in the gut, we already have the victory, and we are told to rise up and sit enthroned in the seat of royalty to which we have been called, into the dynasty of Christ. The righteous shall shine like the stars.
I don’t want to be that guy (no offence if you are it’s just an example) – you know the “it’s been one thousand three hundred and twelve days and two hours since I last smoked”. I want to be truly free, not swapping one kind of bondage for the bondage of the law and works of flesh.
Any addiction is like bondage, but the craziest thing about weaknesses and learned behaviour is that it is so cheap to acquire. It starts in such a small cheap way before it takes ahold and leaves us bound.
The scripture here speaks of being sold for nothing. But even though bondage is so cheaply gained – God here beautifully, and in perfect justice balances the scales; because you were sold for nothing – you shall be redeemed without any money. Deliverance is free – just as Christ died for all our sins and we had to only believe, so it is today!
Galatians 3 vs. 2-3
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?
If we truly see who we are in Christ, the power of His word, and not who we are in the flesh; we will shake off that struggle and loose the bond from our neck by walking in the spirit by faith and standing on the truth of His word, His victory over our flesh – not my victory over the flesh – because I never been mastered myself – only I’m mastering surrender in Him.
God our redeemer!
He gives passion in and by the Spirit — in exchange for anger in the flesh
And so may he exchange addiction— for purpose and calling in Him — that NEW man.
Peace & Love!