«Indeed, because he transgresses by wine he is a proud man, and he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied he gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples” (Habakkuk 2:5).
Tolerance is a very dangerous part of addiction. It happens when a person gets used to the consumption or problematic behavior and ends up with fleeting gratification. Thus, he needs an increased «dose» in order to obtain the previous effects. This phenomenon is easily noticed in the use of drugs and medicines, but is not limited to narcotics. It can be found in other addictions like food (one piece of cake is not enough) or gambling (it is not enough to bet with small amounts; later larger sums are put at risk).
The verse from Habakkuk offers a terrifying image of wine addiction, but it can be applied to any other areas in order to illustrate tolerance. «He is like death, and cannot be satisfied» means that, in the same way, hell is the unavoidable destiny of the mortal. So the addict needs to get more and more to reach the initial degree of satisfaction. Unfortunately, the more the «dose» is increased, the natural law imposes its limits and the process collapses, causing physical or mental unbalances or even death by «overdose.»
This concept can also be applied to the moral life. The constant violation of a principle or the recurrence of a sin can also create tolerance. God gave us the conscience to avoid the ways that separate us from Him but repeated can «sear» it (l Tim. 4:2), and when it is silenced it does not bother us anymore. The Holy Scriptures present the example of Herod who was horrified (Matt. 14.9) when Salome, Herodias’s daughter, his sister-in-law and lover, asked for the head of John the Baptist. He had to give it to her in order to fulfill his promise. Months later, however, when Herod judged Jesus, his conscience had already become calloused. «Herod’s conscience was now far less sensitive than when he had trembled with horror at the request of Herodias for the head of John the Baptist. For a time he had felt the keen stings of remorse for his terrible act; but his moral perceptions had become more and more degraded by his licentious life.» (The Desire o Ages, ch. 77, p. 730).
Renew today your resolution of remaining faithful to e Lord Jesus. Pray that you never take the step toward tolerance of sin which can end up searing your conscience, making it insensitive to God’s voice.