Can there be an “up” without a “down”? A mountain peak without a valley? Do we recognize good only because it is not the evil we had known? Does happiness override sadness? Is love requited a sign that our loneliness is at an end?
What we are asking” Is it the bad that now serves to recognize the good for what it is? The greater the difference between opposites, the more pronounced that difference, the more we appreciate the change. “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection … becoming like him in his death,” Paul testified [Philippians 3:10]. God can even use the bad to develop the good in us. Paul noted that tribulation (stress, hard times, opposition) leads through patience, character, and hope to a recognition of God’s love [Romans 5:3-5].
The Lord never takes something away without replacing it with something else far better. [This is a wise practice counselors and therapists as well as medical professionals have discovered, that addictions cannot be starved to death without replacing them with more wholesome behavior.]
“Do not get drunk on wine,” Paul counseled, “which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]. Wine might be representative of all kinds of addictions from drugs, any entheogen, pornography, etc. Consider the exchanges God has made and will make in us that have transformed our lives:
- “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” [Ezekiel 36:26].
- “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” [Hebrews 8:13].
- “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” [Revelation 21:1].
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” [2 Corinthians 5:17].
Evil is not this way. With sin, things just get worse without any benefit in exchange. Satan doesn’t believe in filling an empty life with something better: “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” [Luke 11:24-26]
We must not look on all the things we did that were self-destructive—before we knew the conviction of the Spirit and the forgiveness that is in Christ—as a worthless existence, irredeemable. A shameful past now serves to magnify what God has done and is doing for us and validates the change God is making in us for His glory [Romans 8:28].
We must reconcile with our past if it represents a life we no longer live thanks to Christ.