I'm an addict.
I have been for as long as I can remember.
Right now, I think I have gone without a hit for about four hours. I'm pretty sure I can make it another eight because I'll be asleep.
I didn't plan on ending up this way. You know, you start small. "What could it hurt?" "It's not really that bad." "I'm not as bad as ___." If you've ever heard an addict talk, you know this sounds familiar.
The worst thing is that I can't stop with one addiction - I have a cornucopia of them. I resolve to stop. I go to confession. But, as Paul says, my flesh does what my spirit says it shouldn't.
You may look down on me now as you look down on the obvious drug addict or the drunk on the street. "I'm not like that," you say. But you are. I know it. You are just as much an addict as he is, you just hide it better.
You see, we are all addicted to sin. How many times do we go to confession, vow to "stay on the wagon", only to fall off again? It's this weakness that drove Luther to believe that we are basically evil and Christ "hides" our evilness to trick God into letting us into Heaven.
Fortunately, I know that God is merciful and forgiving if we ask. The comfort of hearing "I absolve you from your sins..." is almost addictive in itself because it's TRUE. It isn't a self-help, make you feel good, program. It actually cleans the slate. I am thankful for a merciful God because I know my own weakness and would despair of a God who is infinitely just without also being infinitely merciful.