Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Do You Really Want to Change?

Extend Compassion

Now, more than ever, we need your help in showcasing Christ’s compassion to a hurting world. By giving toward our year-end need, you empower our efforts to put love into action.

Donate Now

Leslie Basham: Here's Ed Welch with one of the most powerful questions you can ask someone with an addiction.

Ed Welch: Do you want to change? That's a loving question directed to the person to help them consider their own hearts. Do they really want to change?

Leslie Basham: It's Friday, September 5; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over and over again we're receiving letters, e-mails, calls, urgent pleas from women who are saying, "I'm living in a marriage to an addicted man--pornography, gambling, drugs, alcohol; this is wreaking havoc in our home. Please help me."

And my heart goes out to these women who are living in these desperate, difficult circumstances for which there is no quick-fix; there are no easy answers.

And yet we know from the Word of God that there is mercy available from the Lord Jesus to help us in our time of need.

We've been talking all this week with Dr. Ed Welch, who's a biblical counselor and the author of the book, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel.

Ed, thank you for joining us again today on Revive our Hearts. 

Ed Welch: Hard topic, but I appreciate being with you, Nancy. Thanks.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It is a hard one, but I'm so glad you started right here on the cover of this book by saying, "There is hope in the power of the Gospel."

Now we've been talking about this woman living in a marriage to a husband who is addicted. And she may feel that she has taken all the steps she knows how to take.

We talked yesterday about searching your own heart, letting God deal with your own issues and then going to find biblical help ideally through the means of your local church.

She may feel, I've done that. I've been there. I've confronted. I've done everything I can think of to do, but he is not changing. He makes promises. He says he'll change. He comes back. And tomorrow night it's the same thing all over again.

Let's try today to just unpack some biblical principles that will give this woman help through the Gospel. Where does she start?

Ed Welch: If I could just rehearse some things we've spoken about before, just to make sure that hearts are in the right place.

I am going to feel guilty and I must know that there is complete forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

I also must know the nature of sin is that it blames.

That's what you see in the Garden. It blames so there are times I'm going to feel guilty and it's because the finger has been pointed at me when it really wasn't an issue in my own heart. I want to remember that.

I want to remember that it is shameful; it is a shameful experience to talk about these things with other people.

I would rather cover them up and not let anybody see, but I'm going to go against that secretive, dark strategy of addictions. And I'm going to speak to others.

So I want to make sure that those things are evident in my own heart. Now, there's really only one other principle at this point.

The principle is love.

It sounds very easy but this is why we must have the Body of Christ surrounding us because there are hundreds of different ways that love can be manifested. It can be manifested one way on one day and another way on the very next day.

But that is the principle. What does it mean to love this particular person who is in great danger?

Well, here are a couple of possibilities--"Honey, you know that you are struggling, do you want to change? If you want to change, I will do anything to work alongside of you to help you to change."

"Do you want to change"? Simply ask that particular question. That's a loving question directed to the person to help them consider their own hearts. Do they really want to change?

They might say, when they're feeling particularly bad, "Yes, I want to change," but do they truly, during a normal day, do they want to change? Just hold the mirror up and ask that particular question.

If they do, then to ask, "Okay, honey, what is your plan? I want to partner with you on a plan." If somebody does not have a plan, they do not want to change. They want you to think that they want to change, and they also want to think that they want to change.

But, ultimately, if they don't have a plan, they do not want to change. And it would be helpful, if I am that husband, it would be helpful for my wife to say, "Honey, I hear what you are saying.

"You want to change and on some level I think you probably do, but you don't have a plan; therefore, you don't want to change. Honey, you don't have a plan. You haven't included other people in this.

"You've committed to dealing with this in a very private manner. And this is something that is beyond our own self-confrontation. We need other people to be part of this process."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Here's a wife whose husband really gives no evidence of wanting to change.

Ed Welch: If the person struggling with addiction is a member of a church and the church does church discipline, which is the church we want to attend certainly, if that's the case then certainly the formal steps of church discipline take place.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And help us, where do those steps start? It doesn't start with the whole church being involved. How do we get into that process?

Ed Welch: Using the Matthew 18 [v. 15-20] principle a wife would begin speaking in love to the spouse saying, "This is what you are doing and this is what it's like to experience your sin.

This is what it was like for me to have these incessant phone calls from creditors. This is what it's like for me to have a drunk and angry person come into the house. Honey, do you see what this is like?"

That is an expression of love. It's not simply trying to make a person feel bad. That is an expression of love to a person living in darkness who does not see reality correctly.

"Honey, do you see that you've made this promise and this promise and this promise to the children and you have not done any of them?

"Do you understand how each broken promise separates your relationship with your children more and more and more"?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now there's a world of difference between the way you're suggesting a woman speak the truth to her husband"¦

Ed Welch: It's not an attack; it's a mirror.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And I think it's real easy for a woman to fall into this attack mode, "I'm angry, hurt, frustrated. I think I'm losing my mind." And so as a reaction to his choices, she finds herself flying off the handle, screaming.

In fact a woman wrote me just in the last couple of days and said, "I found myself just with a string of profanity and anger toward my husband."

He had pushed her button one more time and she knew as she wrote this to me that this had not been productive. But don't you think that's a way that is a more common but not productive way to deal with this?

Ed Welch: Certainly more common. And the nice thing about that is, if we sin, (and wives who live with addicts inevitably will have their own hearts exposed in this very, very difficult situation) we have the freedom to go to our spouse and ask his forgiveness for those specific sins.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: But first she had to realize that that is her issue in her heart that has to be repented of if she's to be right with God--and if she's to be any part of God's solution in his life.

Ed Welch: His sin doesn't excuse her own sin. And, frankly, when we do sin, it's not a great thing obviously but isn't it true that so few people in this world have had somebody come up to them and ask forgiveness?

And when that happens, isn't that a glorious experience? It is an undeniable expression of the love of Christ.

So the worst thing that will happen is in the course of trying to love, holding up the mirror, saying, "This is what your behavior is doing to me and other people," in the course of that, if a person sins, well, the Lord seems to turn around our sin for good somehow and asking forgiveness is a potent way to minister to our spouses.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: But it takes humility for the woman who realizes how greatly her husband is sinning to be willing to go to him and say, "I sinned against you in the way that I responded, would you please forgive me?" because in her mind it's so easy to think that it's his sin that caused this.

You're saying his sin does not justify or excuse my sin.

Ed Welch: Otherwise she probably is just beginning to think just like he thinks. It's not me who's doing this. It's my wife who nags me so I have to go out to the bar to do these kinds of things or it's my boss; it's my financial pressure.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And there's no hope that way.

Ed Welch: There certainly isn't. There certainly isn't.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So she's dealing with her own heart. She's really seeking the Lord on this. And she's speaking the truth to him in love.

He turns a deaf ear. He doesn't hear. It goes in one ear and out the other, whatever, or he says, "I'm sorry. I really feel bad about this and will do better." But next week nothing is changing.

Ed Welch: Here's that Matthew 18 principle which is very simple.

If I'm struggling with sin, I confront my own heart; if I'm still struggling, I enlarge the circle and I bring my wife or good friend in; if I'm still struggling, I tell it to the church and by that point I'm going to have a Body of believers around me that really help me with my struggle.

It's just a normal way the Scripture operates when we struggle with sin. This woman now, according to Matthew 18, has the opportunity to bring other people into the relationship.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Not just the opportunity, but the responsibility.

Ed Welch: Yes, that would be a better way to put it. If it's just simply an opportunity, we don't realize that that is truly an important expression of love--to bring other people to confront this person who is in great danger of living permanently under the wrath of God.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Just this week, I've been involved in a situation that is requiring speaking the truth in love to a believer who is acting very unbiblically.

One of the passages that's been on my heart in the midst of this situation is the last two verses of the Book of James because our fear is, I don't think I can go to this person. I don't think I can speak the truth to this person.

And James, chapter 5[:19-20] says, "If anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."

This is God's way. This is not just an option. This is a requirement if we really love the person involved and the motive is restoration--the motive is to see that person restored to a right relationship with God.

And so we've got to be willing to say, "I will get involved. I will follow this progression of Matthew 18. I will get godly counsel as a wife about how to walk through this knowing that in the end a sinner may be saved from the error of his ways and God will be glorified."

I so appreciate Dr. Ed Welch having been here with us all week helping us think through from a biblical standpoint this very practical matter of addictions.

We've just been able to touch on, barely to scratch the surface of what I know are some very difficult, serious, tough to deal with issues so I want to encourage you if you need help, if you need additional resources, go to our Web site, call our toll-free number and ask for additional resources that will be helpful to you.

One of those is Dr. Welch's book on addictions. He has a lot more practical insight about not only how to go to the addicted person--the first time in relation to Matthew 18--but what if they don't respond?

How do you go back the next time?

And how do you keep dealing with this issue?

So if you're living in that situation, we want to help you. We want to know how we can pray for you.

Write to us, share with us your situation, tell us how we can pray and then let us supply you with some additional resources that will help you walk through this in a way that will be glorifying to God.

Leslie Basham: If Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Ed Welch have been describing your marriage today; if you're living with an addicted spouse, we hope that you'll write to us at Revive Our Hearts. 

We've been learning about addictions all this week from Ed Welch. If you missed any of the programs, why don't you call us and get the complete conversation. It comes on one cassette for a suggested donation of $5 or on CD for $7.

When you order on cassette or CD, you'll hear additional discussion that we didn't have time to put on the air. Call us for more information at 1-800-569-5959 or go on-line to ReviveOurHearts.com.

Over the course of this year, Nancy has brought us two different series on Proverbs 31. We'll embark on the third series and finish this important chapter starting next week. We hope you can be with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.