Life Recovery Bible - Page 53



M atthew / Page 1245
judged Jesus for breaking the Sabbath laws. To the Pharisees, it was more important to preserve their legalistic observances than to see a man healed of his deformity. They chose to be ruled by their interpretations
of the law and rejected the rule of the compassionate Messiah-King. There will be people who oppose our
recovery, doing anything they can to keep us enslaved to our addictions. We should make every effort to
overcome our dependencies, regardless of the pressures from those around us. With God’s help, no obstacle
is too great to overcome.
In Matthew 14:1-11 John the Baptist was arrested because he had condemned Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias. Rather than admit his sin, Herod put John in prison, hoping to silence him.
Herodias wanted John silenced too, but she was more vicious than her husband and wanted John executed.
In the end, Herod was too weak to refuse his wife’s request, and the prophet was beheaded. Our shame from
one sin often leads us to commit greater sins. To avoid the downward spiral, we must have the courage to
admit our smaller sins and problems before they grow larger. As we turn our sins and failures over to God,
we can be confident that we will receive his healing help.
insights A BOU T
H O N ES T Y A N D D EN I A L
It is clear from Matthew 3:5-9 that not everyone who listened to John the Baptist wanted to repent
and find a new life. John saw that the Pharisees and others like them were merely going through the
motions, trusting external appearances for their salvation. Similarly, some of us who claim to be in
recovery are simply going through the motions, appearing to work on our addictions while not having
changed our hearts through repentance. If this is the case, we are headed for painful relapses. We need
to begin with an honest assessment of our weaknesses and failures before we can receive God’s help and
forgiveness.
In Matthew 3:7-11 John the Baptist confronted the Pharisees with their denial. These religious leaders were
blind to the sins of their hearts and believed they were beyond the reach of God’s judgment. Perhaps we have
acted as if the consequences of our actions would never catch up with us. Our denial may have been so deep
that we weren’t even aware of the serious consequences we would have to face. It is only a matter of time
before God will take his ax of judgment to “unfruitful trees”—those who are not following him. For those
of us who truly repent, God fuels our recovery with the power of his Holy Spirit. The choice is ours: Either
we continue as we are and await God’s judgment, or we turn from our present lifestyle and enter recovery,
depending on God’s Spirit to help us change.
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus warned against our tendency of being critical of others. It is easy to hide from the
sins and dependencies (“logs”) in our own lives by pointing out the small failures (“specks”) in the lives of
others. This kind of denial destroys the relationships we need for recovery and blinds us to our own sins and
their destructive consequences. To be truly helpful to others, we must first recognize sin in our own lives and
deal with it. After humbling ourselves in this way, we will be ready to confront others about their need for
recovery.
The tax collectors in Judea during Jesus’ time were Jews who had sold out to the oppressive Roman government. They used their position to extort money from their own people. They were hated by the Jewish population, who considered them traitors to God and their homeland. In Matthew 9:9-13 the Jews were surprised
that Jesus would even speak to such people. Matthew, the author of this Gospel, and his friends were surprisingly open to grace and forgiveness. As dysfunctional as they were, they admitted their need and responded to
Jesus with humility. On the other hand, the Pharisees clung to their self-righteous denial, not recognizing their
own desperate need for recovery. It is not how we appear to others that matters; it is whether or not we are
willing to let God free us from the power of sin in our lives.
In Matthew 10:14-15 we discover that denial has eternal ramifications. Those who refuse the offer of
recovery in Christ are making an eternal mistake. This message may seem threatening at the moment, but it
is meant to bring peace and serenity. In the end, we who have become comfortable in our ever-increasing
denial will have to answer to God at the time of our final judgment.
insights A BOU T
GO D’S PR I O R ITIES
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 contain much of what God desires of us as we seek to follow his will for
our lives. This lifestyle affirms God’s perspective, priorities, and boundaries. As we look over God’s program
in this passage, we may wonder how anyone could live up to it. The truth is, no one can do it without God’s
help. Following God’s program requires wisdom and grace from above. But the lifestyle found in these verses
can replace our warped human outlook with God’s enduring perspective.
In Matthew 6:1-4 we see that God’s priorities are very different from ours. God is more interested in our
quiet service to others than our outward worldly success. Each of us has a public and a private life, but the





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