No one wakes up one morning and says to himself, “Gee, I think I’ll be a crack addict today” or, “I think I’ll be an alcoholic.” But the reality of addiction is that it does take a soul as its prisoner. The writer of Hebrews refers to a “sin that so easily ensnares us.” I believe it is this kind of besetting sin that enslaves us. We want to break free of it with all our strength but it keeps tripping us up. No matter how hard we try, unless help from outside intervenes, we will be a slave to this type of sin. Several verses to consider as we approach this subject are the following:
“For what I am doing I do not understand. For what I will to do that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” – Romans 7:15
“… For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” – Romans 7:18
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by a so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay side every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” – Hebrews 12:1
It is an issue that will, most likely, continue until the Lord returns: “is addiction a disease or a sin?” In this pamphlet the purpose is not to present evidence to support one view or another. (Keswick’s view of addiction holds to the biblical concept of life-dominating sin.) The purpose of this transformation resource is to offer help to those who are struggling and to equip those who know someone who is struggling and to equip those who know someone who is struggling with a lifestyle that is characterized by life-dominating sin.
How does it start?
The progressive nature of any addictive behavior – whether it be drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, cigarettes, etc. – begins with an incident whereby the person who participates in that behavior is looking for something, other than God, to meet a legitimate need that only God can meet. An association is made with this object or activity. The more the activity is repeated, the more it is reinforced, and the deeper in bondage the soul finds itself. The process is similar to the old adage which states … “Sow a though, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
Turning the Tide on Addiction
A biblical understanding of idolatry (the worship of false gods) is fundamentally essential in turning the ride on addiction. Many Old Testament accounts illustrate the life-dominating control these false gods had over the lives of their worshippers.
A biblical understanding of idolatry (the worship of false gods) is fundamentally essential in turning the tide on addiction. Many Old Testament accounts illustrate the life-dominating control these false gods had over the lives of their worshippers.
A biblical understanding of the heart (the core of man’s being) is also necessary to understand the deceitfulness of addiction.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
The individual bond in addictive sin will do all that is within his power to guard and nurture his personal idol. However, the object that he once was in control of as a puppet master has now become the ruling puppet-king of his life. It controls what he thinks about, how his activities are planned for the day. Usually his addictive behavior takes precedence over all other activities. This puppet-king can even control how he feels.
Freedom comes ONLY from Christ.
Jesus said, “A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:35-36).
Christ has freed us from the penalty of sin as well as its power and influence over the life of the believer. It is the responsibility of the believer to walk in that freedom.
How to Break Free!
As simplistic as the following points may seem, please understand that breaking free is a moment-by-moment process and by no means a simple procedure. The following points are meant to guide the reader to begin the process of seeking help when breaking free from the bondage of addiction.
- Recognize that Christ is sufficient.
Many people turn to addictive activities because they believe they need something more than what God can give them. That is a lie!
Colossians 2:9-10 informs us that “In Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and YOU ARE COMPLETE in Him” (emphasis mine).
No matter what may come your way, the indwelling Christ is able to “keep you from falling” (Jude 24) into that sinful behavior.
- Reckon (consider as true of) yourself dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11).
Because Christ has set you free, because you are complete in Him, you are also dead to the power and rule of sin over your life. Give God the control over your life since you have died to sin. As a believer in Jesus Christ you are not just dead to sin, but alive to God and indwelt by His Living Spirit.
- Renew your mind
Because you are a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) you need to look at your life and your sinful activities that were enslaving you the same way God views your sin. Renewing the mind is the process of allowing God’s Word and the application of its principles to mold your thinking so that you can recognize when you are enticed to act contrary to the character and revealed will of God (temptation). When you see yourself the way God sees you, you will begin to act the way God wants you to act. This can only begin to take place by renewing your mind (Romans 12:1-2).
- Remain accountable to others. Friends, family, and church activity are essential in the process of breaking free.
God created us with the need for fellowship, first with Himself, secondly with others. He ordained the church to be a fellowship of believers to nurture and grow as each member does his part (Ephesians 4:16). Finding a local support group in the church will also help as you seek to break free from your life-dominating sin.
All scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.
If you would like to know more about the Colony of Mercy and Barbara’s Place approach to life-dominating sins, feel free to call us at 732.350.1187 or 800.453.7942. Some helpful books in understanding a biblical model of addiction are:
Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward T. Welch
Help from Above: the Biblical Approach to Alcoholism by C.R. Resener
Addiction and Grace by Gerald May
God is for the Alcoholic by Jerry Dunn
Freedom from Addiction (book & workbook) by Neil Anderson with Mike & Julia Quarles
Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick
America’s Keswick supplied this page. For more information on the multi-faceted ministry of America’s Keswick, call 800.453.7942