Michael Jackson’s pre-mature death seems to be the hottest, saddest and most likely the longest story ever to unfold within the entertainment business. The entire world held its’ breath while awaiting the popular singer’s cause of death. Some in his family even called it a murder. One thing was certain; drug abuse was involved.
Jackson’s death brings the subject of drug addiction front and center in the world media’s eyes. In its quest to find answers, various media representatives such as Larry King only turned to medical professionals and attorneys with their questions.
Doctors identify and treat severe drug and alcohol use as a disease. (3)
While the media processed all the medical and legal experts’ jargon the Christian community seemed to have been forced to sit quietly on the sidelines not being asked for any input at all.
When the media needs a comment it calls on Dr. Drew Pinsky, the Piped Piper of celebrity addictions specialists.
Doctors and lawyers were the only people being called upon in the media for opinions. Where were all the Christian ministers, pastors, and teachers and what did they have to say about Jackson’s untimely death from a possible drug overdose?
I was asked to offer my opinion and insights during at a recent talk I gave at a California prison chapel service. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the 250 inmates in attendance freely admitted they would not be in prison had it not been for their abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Not knowing the actual cause yet of Jackson’s death at the time, I stated I was holding off in offering my take on the matter until the results of the autopsy was in. However, I did bring up the age-old debate on whether substance abuse (including drunkenness) is really a disease or a sin.
The Bible calls it a sin. (4) Identifying sin and receiving forgiveness is the simple solution to many if not all of life’s troubles, not just substance abuse issues. It also brings everlasting peace, joy and righteousness.
“Drunkenness” is a term that refers to activities with definite spiritual and moral implications. Galatians 5:19-21 labels drunkenness as a sin, a real moral choice that will keep the offender from inheriting the Kingdom of God. However, an individual can be an addict or alcoholic without being a drunkard. The regular “social drinker,” for instance, can still be a drunkard, without being caught up in the web of compulsive alcohol or drug use that characterizes addiction. (5)
“Acknowledging all substance abuse as sin is an addict’s (sinner’s) only hope for recovery,” I informed the prison audience. “Once we acknowledge and confess our addictions as sin we can repent and receive forgiveness. By receiving God’s forgiveness will actually clear one’s conscience, (6) which in turn, proves God is real, all powerful, and loving. This is the basis of Christianity.“
This may sound foreign, too religious or maybe even too simple to understand, however the Gospel of Jesus Christ actually does change people from the inside out, transforming sinners into saints. Jesus makes repentant sinners into new creatures in Christ, not having to forever remain sinful powerless drug addicts or alcoholics.” (7)
Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, “Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation” states, “Sin is our only hope, because the recognition that something is wrong is the first step towards setting it right again.” Taylor continues, “There is no help for those who admit no need of help. There is no repair for those who insist nothing is broken, and there is no hope of transformation for a world whose inhabitants accept that it is sadly but irreversibly wrecked.” Taylor concludes, “Sin is our only hope, the fire alarm that wakes us up to the possibility of true repentance.”
Substance abuse (sin) is only the tip of the iceberg in an addict’s (sinner’s) life. It is what is seen and felt by the substance abuser (sinner) and unfortunately the consequences are experienced and felt all too many times by friends, families, and the innocent victims of the crimes addicts willfully commit.
The deep down root of the problem (sin) is what only God can touch, forgive and transform. It has nothing to do with “disease” as defined by the medical profession.
The Bible states that Jesus Christ gives believers in Him everlasting life (John 3:16). Forgiveness of sin is the direct result of receiving eternal life.
The Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 1:15 that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is just as true right now, today in the 21st century as it was in first-century Christianity. And in the process of saving and forgiving sinners, Jesus takes away the cravings and desires to continue to willfully sin including any kind of substance abuse (sin).
What is missing in most doctor’s attempt to correctly identify, diagnose, and eventually treat addiction as a disease is an accurate medical test or exam. Doctors can test an addict’s blood or urine. However, the results will only show how much alcohol or the type, quantity or quality of drugs one has in his or her system.
Medical testing cannot identify an actual substance abuse disease.
Medical testing does not and cannot actually identify substance abuse as a disease. There has never been a test developed that can do that. The lack of such a test clearly proves then that substance abuse is not a disease. (8)
“If, alcoholism and drug addiction cannot be properly identified as a disease with medical testing then what are they?” I asked the inmates in attendance. Many sat with questioned looks on their faces. I calmly and assuredly stated, “They are called, sin!”
A doctor can test a so-called addict’s brain. It is very easy to do that nowadays with modern technology. However, the medical profession must come up with an actual test that can first identify the person is an addict. The addict’s brain test may surely find some damage. However, the test results will only show the effect of the substance abuse but not find the actual cause why the addict used in the first place!
For example, the medical fields can expertly and precisely locate a patient’s cancer or many other diseases through various reliable tests. However, there are not many people who are sent to prison or sit in a county jail cell because they have broken the law because they have cancer, diabetes or other easily identifiable diseases.
No one tries to use those diseases as excuses for wrongful behavior. In fact, it can and should be very insulting to someone who has an incurable disease to have alcoholism or drug addiction clumped in with his or hers.
“Then why do drug addicts and alcoholics try to use their so-called diseases as excuses when they get in front of a judge or jury in a court of law?” I queried the group of inmates and then went on to answer my own question. “Because it starts with the medical field wrongly trying to identify sinful behaviors as diseases. This then allows a criminal to shun personal reasonability for breaking the law and instead use the disease excuse. They try to convince the court they are not responsible for their actions because they were either too drunk or too drugged when they committed the crime.”
Criminals think they can get away with breaking the law because if they get caught they can blame their actions on their diseases. If you want to really prove if substance abuse or drunkardness is a disease try attending a criminal’s sentencing hearing. One will quickly learn first-hand that a prosecutor, judge and/or the jury do not believe for one minute that line of defense. The overflowing prison population proves it as well.
NO … substance abuse is not a disease and the sooner a person comes to grips with that fact he or she and the rest of the world will be much better off. A person does not have to remain an addict (sinner) the rest of one’s life, especially if he or she follows the true teachings of Jesus Christ.
Alcoholics Anonymous’ “Big Book”
The first message of the gospel has always been to admit one is a sinner and be willing to “repent,” meaning turn from one’s sin. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and many other Anonymous type groups (there are now hundreds of them) have similar sounding teachings but they have replaced identifying oneself as a responsible sinner into identifying oneself as some poor irresponsible, powerless, sick and/or diseased addict. Right there is where one of the real problems lies.
Alcoholics Anonymous was originally founded on Christian principles. (9) However, their choice of descriptive words was changed so that the organization would not sound too overly religious. It figured people would not come to group meetings to seek help if they thought the groups had anything to do with organized religion.
A.A. officials wanted to only help people with their self-indulged substance abuse problems and not for really offering to help change one’s life permanently for the better through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. They wanted to leave that task up to the various churches. You are never officially healed through AA or NA.
Anonymous groups are somewhat effective. Their track record is about 3% recover. (10) However, that leaves a large percentage aimlessly hanging in the wind. Christianity offers a whole new life. AA/NA principles forever keeps oneself a powerless diseased addict. Some Christian treatment programs boast an 85% cure rate. (11)
People first need to identify their own substance abuse or drunkardness as sin so they can truly repent of it. If you leave out calling any type of substance abuse as sin then you have nothing to repent of and receive forgiveness from. Therefore, a person will still remain in a “sick” (sin) state for however long he or she cares to call it that. Therefore, maybe never winding up believing or obeying the gospel. However, that is between God and each individual man and woman.
God is not going to force His forgiveness or deliverance on anyone. But, the fact still remains; Jesus Christ forgives sins today as He has for over two thousand years. This is the simple life-changing power of the gospel message.
There are millions of people over the ages who have overcame so-called and misidentified “substance abuse” and/or “drunkardness” as sin through the power of Jesus Christ without ever stepping one foot in a AA or NA meeting or rushing off to a doctor for a pill. The forgiving Gospel is not something new.
The infamous and ever-changing DSM Code Book
The medical profession is guilty of mistreating and/or misdiagnosing addicts (sinners) in trying to keep addicts in bondage to doctors, DSM-IV and ICD-10-CM codes, insurance companies and drug manufacturers. (12) It pays to keep one an addict! It pays big-time!! Just ask many of Michael Jackson’s doctors.
Doctors are not offering total deliverance from addictions. Why? Most doctors do not have the slightest clue as to how to even begin a true healing nor do they have a DSM-IV or ICD-10-CM code for it so they can bill their patients for their services.
Marty Angelo speaking to inmates at the California Institution for Women
“Many doctors do not even have deliverance and forgiveness themselves, which is why there are so many psychologists and psychiatrists who are just as confused as their patients.” I stated to the prison inmates. “They are like the blind leading the blind.”
The medical profession is only offering a temporary bandage for people’s (sinners) substance abuse problems (sins) and one that has to stay on for the rest of an addict’s (sinner’s) life.
Doctors cannot offer overcoming power. They just continue to medicate, hospitalize and suggest secular counseling. In addition, an addict (sinner) is also ordered, many times by the court, to attend the dreaded never-ending secular AA/NA type meetings for the rest of his or her life.
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Unfortunately, too many people have already moved way past any and all type of help by spending the rest of their lives either in prisons, psyche hospitals or worse; die from overdoses or suicide. Singer/songwriter Michael Jackson is the latest tragic example of such a life.
Jesus Christ came to set men and women (sinners) free. He did not come to earth to put people (sinners) in bondage to the medical profession. The Bible says, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mark 2:17).
When the Bible clearly calls sin, sin (any kind… not just substance abuse)… then it is man’s responsibility to turn away (repent) from the, “if it feels good do it” mentality, and get on with a new life in Christ.
The Bible clearly also does say in Hebrews 11:25 that “there is pleasure in sin for a season.” However, it also says in Number 32:23 that “your sin shall find you out.” There are always consequences for sin in both Christians and non-Christians lives.
Sin, in any form, can NOT be covered or kept secret, no matter how hard we may try to conceal it. We might fool our wife, our husband, our family, the preacher, the whole community, but remember: “the wheels of God’s justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.” (example – 2 Kings 9:35-37). We eventually do “reap what we sow.” (Galatians 6:7-9). There are many examples in the Bible that prove consequences from sin do come. However, they come in God’s timing not ours.
God is an “if” God. “If” we obey, He blesses. However, “If” we disobey He curses. (see Deuteronomy 28) He chastens/disciplines those that He loves. (Hebrews 12:6)
Prison inmates in chapel service
“It is fairly easy to see the direct consequences of sin as we sit here in prison.” I remarked to the inmate crowd. Many shouted out an “amen” in response. “This is not rocket science,” I continued.
The entrance into God’s new birth consists of believing the good news that Jesus is the Messiah who died and rose from the dead for our sins. Next is identifying oneself as a sinner (not as an addict), repenting (being willing to turn) of all known sin (including all substance abuse), confessing sin to God and receiving the forgiveness and cleansing from the unrighteousness it brings.
Water baptism in Jesus’ name should follow and allowing God to baptize with His powerful Holy Spirit. This process is very simple and was the first entrance statement as to how to enter the Kingdom of God stated by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 on the Day of Pentecost. It is what brought people then in the 1st century and the generations that followed, and is what continues to bring people (sinners) now into the overcoming newness and power of life and right into the Kingdom of God.
Prisons will empty overnight if inmates would just receive, believe and obey this simple message. Budgets could be balanced. Rehabs would have to close due to lack of clients. Drug overdoses would cease. Bars and breweries would close. Judges, prosecutors and prison guards would have to find other lines of work. The reduction of victims of crimes would be so reduced that police forces would need to be decreased instead of having to hire more officers.
A highly visible witness?
The gospel is a simple life-saving message. Yet the organized Christian church itself is forcing the secular world’s media no other choice but to point out believers as a bunch of defected, delusional, miss-guided nutcases. It does not take much effort to understand that mentality when you look and study many churches behavior and beliefs today.
The denominational Christian church is still so divided it is no wonder the secular media has a field day with it and only turns to worldly experts for advice. No one really seems to want or care to hear from Christians today about anybody or anything!
One of the main reasons people could care less what Christians think about the world is that a large majority of today’s futuristic dispensational thinking church members live with their heads stuck in the clouds. They are waiting for Jesus Christ to come a second time in “this generation” to solve all of life’s problems and show the world just how tough their God really is.
Many of this generation’s futurist dispensational thinking churches preach and teach their special denomination will not be here for the return of Christ because they believe before He comes they will be taken (raptured) out of the world before the real trouble begins.
Is the Great Tribulation in the future or did it already happen?
Some futurists figure this will happen before, during, and/or after a “great tribulation” period. Therefore, these futuristic believers do not care about what is happening in the world right now. As far as they are concerned the world is lost and there is no need to “polish the brass on a sinking ship.”
To make matters even worse; many futuristic dispensational thinking Christians today feel they do not have to go through any tribulation at all yet alone the “great tribulation” in order to be a part of God’s kingdom. However, the Apostle Paul teaches all Christians must go through much tribulation to enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
The Apostle Paul certainly went through his fair share of tribulations (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). He did not pray to be raptured or taken out of the world. He gloried in his infirmities for Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:30). Is this what the churches teach today? Hardly!
Should we watch football, feed the hungry, or play golf?
Many Christians cannot wait to get out of Sunday morning church services so they can get to the big football game of the week at the nearby stadium or play a round of golf. However, there is more to Christian living than just enjoying its’ fruit. We are commanded to be doers of the word too by reaching out to the poor, sick, hungry, widows, orphans, prisoners, homeless, etc.
Who is suffering or going through tribulation for Jesus today? Too many Christians today think that this generation…(the one we are living in right now) is the one Jesus will return in, not even studying for themselves exactly what Jesus really taught. They want to change and twist Jesus Christ’s words around to fit their own beliefs when Jesus clearly taught He was returning in the generation He and all the first century believers were living in. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21)
The correct teaching is Jesus Christ already came back spiritually in the clouds in the generation ending in 70 AD, when the entire Old Testament religious system was destroyed and His everlasting spiritual Kingdom and overcoming power came in its fullness.
No one can live in the present, the now… if one’s thoughts and behaviors remain in the past or are off somewhere in the future. There is no victory living in the past or placing false hope in the future. All we really have is today. The present. The now!
Jesus Christ came to be a now God now. He is the “now” God of all yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows! Yesterday God was the “now” God then. Today He is the “now” God now. And tomorrow He will be the “now” God then.
The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). It all started with them. Believers need to make sure of when and where Christianity began. This is important because it affects how we are to live today… now! Christianity did not start as any one denomination. Therefore, it is not based on who is in the right denomination.
The infamous Rapture photo -Literal? Spiritual? Then? Now? Future? Never? Is the word even in the bible?
God is not going to take one denomination of people out of the world (raptured) just to leave the rest of the other denominations to fend for themselves. No, all Christians are stuck with each other and the rest of the world, whether we like it or not. Therefore, we all have to contend with and live in the world now, helping to bring the life-changing gospel to those people God brings across our paths. He does have a plan and purpose for everyone. The message is “love God first and our neighbors as ourselves.” Everything else falls in place after heeding God’s word.
The obvious people in need right now are drunkards (sinners) and substance abusers (sinners). They (sinners) are costing society trillions of dollars and causing countless numbers of pre-mature deaths. Prisons are overflowing with criminals who committed hundreds of thousands of crimes because of their willful abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. Seven out of ten prisoners, in California, return to jail or prison within three years. This is the highest recidivism rate in the nation. (14)
The Second Temple was built in 20 B.C. by Herod the Great, though the surrounding outer courts were not completed until A.D. 64. The Temple was destroyed by Titus in the year A.D. 70.
God broke down the wall of partition of Jew and Gentile back in the first century (Ephesians 2:14). That is the mystery of the Gospel; God will live in both Jew and Gentile believers.
God was never confined to a building (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49). Though during the Old Testament days He did allow temples to be built in His name. The temple was where the Jewish priests would go into each year to make animal sacrifices for “atonement” not forgiveness of sin. That came later through Jesus Christ’s dead, burial and resurrection.
However, in the New Testament God will forgive and spiritually enter into anyone who believes and obeys the Gospel. The church believers become the new spiritual Israel, the spiritual temple of God, the New Jerusalem, living in the spiritual Kingdom of God. Now! Today! This is not about being in the right church or denomination… it is about individuals being in Christ and Christ being in them!
One has to study what really happened over two thousand years ago to truly understand and appreciate what we have today, now! No one group or individuals are considered special any longer in God’s eyes. The Bible clearly states in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. We all need forgiveness of our sins. That includes all races, religions, nationalities, whether they are doctors, lawyers, celebrities, prisoners, drunkards, substance abusers, etc. etc. etc.
Jesus Christ came to give us life and life more abundantly… NOW. TODAY! He came to forgive and deliver sinners from sins. NOW! TODAY! We do not have to wait for this to happen, someday. Jesus and His everlasting Kingdom are with us NOW… TODAY just as prophesy pointed to. (Psalm 145:13, Daniel 4:3, Daniel 7:14, 2 Peter 1:11).
There are not any more prophecies to be fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled all of them just as He said He would. In Luke 21:22 Jesus stated, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” He returned spiritually within the first century generation at 70 AD to complete His plan of salvation. He used the Romans to bring about vengeance upon a disobedient, unbelieving and rebellious generation who turned their back on God. He destroyed their old Jewish religious system and ushered in His everlasting spiritual Kingdom.
Jesus Christ is the one in charge of building His church. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus explained to the Apostle Peter after he made the statement that identified Jesus as the Messiah that “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is building the church. Not man! Believers are supposed to be believing, spreading, living and obeying the Kingdom message, not waiting for Jesus to come again… when He already did!
Popular misleading end-times prophecy book – “The Late Great Planet Earth”
The futuristic dispensational thinking Christians of today are causing more damage to the Kingdom of God then they can honestly and properly understand. They cannot live in the “now” today because they are too busy waiting for a future physical earthly kingdom. They are only repeating the words of numerous dooms-day authors and so-called end-time scholars who some believers like to call prophets.
Another misleading end-times prophecy book. This one predicted rapture in 1988.
These are actually false prophets who take scriptures way out of content and try to apply Jesus’ words to the generation we are living in today instead of teaching to keep His words to the generation Jesus was actually speaking to back in the first century. This is critical!! Jesus predicted false prophets coming in His generation and warned His followers not to believe them or follow after them. This same principle applies today.
If Jesus said He was returning in the 1st Century then who are we to say or act differently? That has always been the problem. Man wants to “change” God’s words to fit man instead of allowing God’s word to change and transform man into the image of God.
A prophet is considered false when his prophecies do not happen when they said they would. A perfect example is all who have said Jesus is coming over the last two thousand years. And there is a whole gang of them. Jesus warned of false prophets coming within His generation and the apostles taught that as well. (Matthew 24:24)
It is no wonder the secular world laughs at today’s Christians. The futurist dispensational thinking Christians have wrongly followed misunderstandings or outright lies for years, thinking Jesus is coming again when He already did spiritually back in the first century, just as He promised and prophesized. The Old Testament first prophesized this would happen within the first century generation.
The 21st Century church has turned into a wishy-washy watered down version of what God intended. The first-century church had the overcoming power of the Holy Ghost. The modern day church has basically thrown in the towel and holds defeated secular sounding rehabilitation meetings in their sanctuaries. It has taken on the world’s understanding of life instead of applying the Holy Ghost overcoming life-changing power of God.
Destruction of the Temple and entire Jewish religious system – AD70
The futuristic dispensational thinking church of today has become a medical treatment center calling and treating sin as disease instead of helping people receive real true deliverance and forgiveness from their sins. Many teach it is ok to sin. That God will continually forgive sin no matter how many times one commits it. Christians should be asking themselves why this has happened and do something to correct it. We should not wait around for Jesus to come again when He already did in 70AD. He is not going to do this all over again. It is up to man to accept God’s plan not God accept man’s plan.
Many churches have bought into the addiction disease modality instead of offering total and complete deliverance. (15) It is a sad day to see this. One of the real reasons for this is the futurist thinking believer’s understanding of what really happened in 70 AD. That date is being treated as a non-event happening, when instead should be considered as one of the most important events to ever happen in mankind’s history. It is the date of the spiritual return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the old religious Jewish system. (16)
The forty years following Jesus Christ’s resurrection is what Christians should be focusing on to try to figure out how the Church and the world has gotten so far away of the simple Gospel message.
What really did happen within the 70 years of Jesus’ generation leading up to the destruction of Israel, Jerusalem and its’ temple? Are we really living in the spiritual Kingdom of God now? Once those issues are resolved individual problems as well as the entire world’s problems can easily be solved. Until then it is just “pass the pill, needle or bottle” because the substance abuse disease (sin) concept and all it consequences will be around for a lot longer than necessary and will become even more damaging and costly than ever before experienced.
please see this site for more information: http://martyangelo.com/called_sin.htm