When grace replaced the law, sin was forgiven for all time. Every type of sin was no longer under the penalty of the law. There was no sin that was too hideous for God to forgive. Addiction was included in this list. Addiction is a state where a person is consumed by and focused on one pleasure giving substance or process. It is a sinful, selfish and broken state to be trapped in, but it is forgiven by the grace of God. There are those who insist that addiction is inexcusable, but through the eyes of grace, an addict is beautiful and forgiven.
Addiction is sinful because it is destructive. It does not do any good for anyone. Any person who is addicted understands this on some level, even if they are not totally conscious of it. The fact that they continue with their addiction despite this awareness is what makes it sinful. Grace is bigger than the sinful nature that gives way to addiction and it is capable of forgiving it.
Addiction is selfish in nature. The person who is addicted is only thinking of themselves when they are participating in their addiction. The pleasure they receive from their addiction is completely self serving. And it serves a person’s worse nature while defeating their better nature. Addiction damages a person’s personal relationships, reputation, finances and health, yet they selfishly still pursue it. Grace is big enough to forgive this selfishness as well and wipe the slate clean.
And lastly, addiction indicates brokenness. People develop addictions in order to cope with life. Addiction is obviously not a sustainable coping mechanism. It is an unhealthy one that does more harm than it does good. It allows a person to escape rather than confronting their problems. Grace came to do a lot of things, not the least of which was forgive brokenness. Grace offers the broken compassion and a soft place to fall.
Many people do not understand the true significance of what Christ did on the cross. When Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for the sins of all mankind, He replaced the law with grace forever. What this means is that forgiveness of sin became the new reality, doing away with the punishment that the law demands. Because people tend to use “eye-for-an-eye” logic, many people do not embrace the concept of death to retribution. They live their lives insisting that punishment be present for sins of the spirit.
People who continue living under the law despite its death seek punishment for themselves and people around them. They see God as one who relishes in punishment and delights in the retribution of the law. This is how the time before Christ is understood. People operated in reverence for the law and made offerings to appease God for their imperfections. People existed in a state of needing atonement to be fit in the eyes of the law.
Christ’s well know dying words, “It is finished,” referred to the law. The sacrifice he made of himself on the cross turned the tides on mankind’s relationship with God forever. The moment of his death and resurrection marked the most important occurrence in human history. It was the moment that the sins and imperfections of mankind were forgiven, and the weight of the law was lifted off of them. This does not mean that mankind cannot still wreck itself through bad choices, but it does mean that God is not keeping a record of our wrongs because the blood of Christ has forgiven them.
It is very important for all of us that we take time to reflect on which reality we live under: law or grace. The difference between the two is purely mental. If we understand that we are forgiven through grace, we are humbled. This humility makes us connect to our highest calling: to extend the same grace we have been given to one another, and to love the One who is the seat of grace.
The idea of law vs. grace is very significant to Christians, although not all Christians have been exposed to it. The idea would not be as familiar to a non-Christian, but it is reasonably plain for anyone to understand. Law is, of course, justice being served fairly, and grace is forgiveness of a law broken. These concepts appear in our lives on a daily basis, but when speaking about them in a biblical sense, they carry a bigger meaning.
The idea of grace replacing law through the acts of Christ is the message behind all of Christianity. It is also the concept that is most commonly adulterated by people. Before the work of Christ was put into motion, the biblical stance on the sinful nature of mankind was that it could not exist in the presence of God. Therefore, mankind was unfit to be in God’s presence because man is inherently corruptible.
However, Christ was sent to live among us for a very specific reason: to sacrifice himself and take the blame for our sin so that we could have the opportunity to be in God’s presence at the end of our lives. This act changed the way of the world in its relationship to God. This was the turning point when law was replaced with Grace. Until this time, it was the goal of mankind to live in a way that was pleasing to God in order to spend eternity with Him, which was not working out very well. Christ fulfilled the law by dying in our place, making us no longer under the law, but instead under the perfect forgiveness of God and the mercy of Christ. A radical concept, but a beautiful and divine one indeed.
In the context of addiction, speaking about law vs. grace is very applicable. Despite Christ’s incredible sacrifice, mankind does not emulate His selflessness. Instead, we jump at the chance to hold our fellow man up to every measure of the law. We do not treat addicts with forgiveness or patience, but with judgment, scorn and the creation of stigmas. This was never God’s plan or Christ’s intention for us. Christ showed mercy and love to those who were afflicted with disorders and battling addiction. He told them they were beautiful and worthy. Where the law states that an addict reaps what they sow and deserves the consequences they come by, the grace that replaced the law through Christ states that those who are broken deserve compassion and love to get them back on their feet. If someone you care about is struggling with addiction, give them the gift of knowing Christ by connecting them with a Christian drug rehabilitation program or a Christian alcohol rehabilitation program.