Our current devotional series has focused on how a Christian should approach the use of drugs... the good (proper medicine, properly designed, and properly administered), and the bad (good medicine abused for the wrong reason, including addiction). Today we look at the ugly. This is about bad forms of drugs used for recreational or evil purposes.
In the Bible we find that the same word we translate as pharmaceutical could be translated sorcery or witchcraft. There is power in drugs. Drugs can take you to a place that is other-worldly. Most drugs have a powerfully addictive nature. This is why people use them. They meet a desire, and they create a need for that need to be met.
While God created everything on the earth for a purpose, we in our fallen state have figured out how to manipulate various elements to bend our senses and give us an alternative reality... at least in our minds. Some people use this experience as a mild escape. Others use it as a regular pleasure. And others use it as a way to put themselves in a place where they can do things that are not good with no inhibitions.
Some people use legal drugs like dip, cigarettes or alcohol to calm their nerves, and let their hair down a little bit. These drugs are designed to change your mind. Using these in moderation the user seems to retain most of their faculties, but still loosen up enough to have a more free time with their friends. Most of the time, the worst thing that happens is some mild embarrassment, stinky clothes, and health issues that may or may not be life-threatening. If used to a more extreme level, these same drugs can result in financial trouble, severe life-ending health issues, and violent behavior towards others.
Then there are the 'harder' drugs like cocaine and heroin. These are illegal. Again, they are designed to change your mind, but to a more extreme level. Some people who use these in moderation can still 'function' in parts of their life and even hide the use from family and friends. But the more extreme cases often find the person in a life of deeper crime, and often without family, a job, or home. With these there are also life-threatening effects, that can exhibit themselves and escalate more quickly.
Along the continuum of drugs you will find marijuana, LSD, various types of pills, and smokes. All of these are designed to change your mind. That is why they are found in the sorcery field. They may look like material elements that you can hold, burn, or drink. But they are actually spiritual elements that take over your mind and cause you to do things you wouldn't normally do. Throughout the centuries people have used these drugs before going to war so as to bolster their 'courage', or more likely to numb their minds to the atrocities they were about to commit. Sometimes various religions use drugs to enhance their religious experience.
But regardless of what the drug is, or what the specific reason is that a person takes it, there is one common denominator. Drugs are designed to alter the mind and control it. Again, some people like this because they are trying to forget or deal with something that is too much for them. But this is dangerous for anyone. And for the Christian, to seek this out is unacceptable. Since these elements are being manipulated to manipulate ones mind, they are not good. Just because God created nature does not mean we get to use it however we like and call it good. God made plants, but we do not have the right to use those plants to alter our state of mind and give up self-control.
Aside from the obvious and serious health risks, it is this giving away control that is the crux of my problem with recreational or escape drugs. People use cigarettes to 'calm down'. People drink alcohol to 'loosen up'. People use other drugs to 'forget' and 'lose themselves' for a time. This is an alternative to transformation and the work of the Holy Spirit of God. God leads us into all truth. Drugs lead us away from truth. The Spirit convicts of sin. Drugs lower our inhibitions and blur the lines of right and wrong. The Holy Spirit comforts us as we are surrendered to Him, but drugs give us a sense of peace and comfort by pushing aside or covering up our real issues. We were created to have fellowship with God and receive our 'highs' from Him.
In the Bible we are told to set our mind on certain things. We are told to be sober-minded. We are told to flee from certain sins. We are told to submit to God and resist the Devil. We cannot do these things if we are not in charge of our mind. If I have been drinking, I can't control everything I think and do. The same is true if I am strung out on crack, or weed, or Xanax, or even dip.
Around a decade ago there was a young man who was growing up in our youth ministry. He would dip tobacco. He got in trouble for having it on the church van. One day we sat down and talked about why it was wrong to use that product because he believed the health risk was fairly minimal. I asked him why he used it. He said he liked it. I asked him why. He said that it calmed him down. I told him that is what it was designed to do. But I also said, "That is what God wants to do. If you continue using that product to do what God wants to do, you will end up putting your faith in that thing instead of God. And here's the thing... sometimes we have things in our lives that we shouldn't have peace about. We are disturbed because we are doing something wrong. God is trying to convict us, but we are setting that conviction aside by putting something in us that makes us feel better when God wants us to feel bad so we can seek true peace and forgiveness through Him." We had a good talk. We are still friends to this day.
Think about it. We are using sorcery or magic to trick our minds into believing we are experiencing peace, joy, love, courage, etc. We are fooling ourselves and missing out on what God has for us. Paul put it this way...
"Though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way,since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
You cannot... CANNOT bring every thought captive to obey Christ if you are smoking weed or Marlboro, or drinking Wild Turkey or Budweiser, or popping pills or shooting up. There is no material product that can save you or bring you the good things that come only through Christ. In fact, those fake feelings actually keep you from dealing with the deeper issues.
I will admit that I have never smoked a cigarette, or drank a beer in my entire life. That doesn't make me any better than anyone. It is just my experience. I have been around a fair amount of drug use in my ministry life. I have several friends who have been delivered from various types of drugs. I asked one who used to smoke weed, "If you were mentoring a young lady and she was dabbling in marijuana and asked you why it is wrong for a Christian to do drugs, what would you tell her?" Here was her response...
"First I would say it is illegal and God would have you to obey the laws of the land. Secondly, smoking weed robs you of so much... your money, because there is no return on your investment, and you are actually paying for something that is damaging your lungs... your time, because you spend so many hours, days months, and years either looking for some to buy or being inactive because all of your senses are on pause and you're basically a walking zombie... your dreams, because you just somehow never quite get around to accomplishing the things that you start. Now there are functioning addicts, but as a Christian we want God's best in our life in every area. God wants you to be healed, set free, and delivered from anything that is controlling you and keeping you in bondage. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us, 'Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.' Do not be ignorant of Satan's devices. He will use the things you think are harmless to paralyze your progress in life. 'Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.' (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) The closer you stay to Christ, the less you need the things of the world to fulfill you."
My friend speaks from experience, and I agree with her wisdom. Part of the point of magic or sorcery is to get you to believe in something that is at its core not true. If you are using legal or illegal recreational/mind-numbing/altering drugs I encourage you to consider what they are doing to your body, soul, and spirit. I know... you think you are controlling them.. but that's part of the trick. They are actually controlling you.
There is true freedom in Jesus. Seek Him. Find a pastor and church who can walk with you through your deliverance. If you need help in breaking free from drugs, feel free to contact me.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.