Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:15-21
Many years ago, I took a planning seminar to help me get organized. In the seminar, I learned it takes at least 21 days to develop new patterns of behaviors in a person’s life. They argued that if a person wanted to change bad behavior (stop procrastinating or quit eating too much), he or she must replace the bad behavior with good behavior (better planning and exercise).
If the person kept doing the good behavior for at least 21 days straight, it would become a habit in that person’s life. Although I took that seminar more than 20 years ago, I still think I am working on the 21 days.
This week’s lesson focuses on the dangers of substance abuse and why believers should allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives and not drugs or alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (ESV). In the passage, the Apostle Paul is exhorting believers to live under the control of Holy Spirit and not anything else.
Over the years, I have ministered to dozens of individuals struggling with substance abuse. We often recommend they attend a place called Hebron Colony, a Christian residential facility near Boone, N.C. They have an approach that is very effective in helping men break free of alcohol and drug addiction that is reflective of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18.
Basically, they teach the men first to find their identity in Christ, and secondly, they teach them how to replace old habits with godly habits. In other words, instead of focusing on what you cannot have (drugs or alcohol), focus on what you do have, which is a relationship with Christ.
Over a period of 12 weeks, men begin to understand what it means to allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives.
In the end, they realize God offers something far greater than any substance can provide – and they are willing to fight for it!