This week, I will focus on a four-part mini-series concerning addictions and deliverance.
One visitor that has arrived on my porch to visit my family, knocked on the door, and stayed far too long is “Addiction.” My family, like so many others, have suffered at the hands of every “common” addiction: drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, and pornography. On far too many occasions, I have personally witnessed the spiritual and physical decline of those loved ones who indulged and literally died with their idols of choice.
It breaks my heart when I know God has something so much better for his children. All sin breaks God’s heart, yet there is much biblical support that God is especially grieved when his own children willfully continue in sin when he has offered them freedom in Christ.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone one who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:34-36 NIV
Jesus speaking again: “The thief [enemy or the Devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).”
Writing on this topic is very much a struggle for me. I confess that concerning it, I sometimes have more questions than answers. I am disheartened because many local churches have not handled the issue of addiction well and therefore offer no hope of spiritual deliverance for their church goers.
With that disclaimer, there are a few specific convictions I have concerning the topic and I will only address one of them in this post:
1. We must change our language.
We cannot continue to use the same language for Christians who are struggling with sin and nonbelievers who are struggling with sin. For starters, there is no biblical ground for affirming that a true believer in Christ has an “addiction.”
A proper definition is needed here. Merriam-Webster defines “addiction” as 1. an compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal and 2. the quality of being addicted, to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.
By its very definition, addiction means that the “addicted” person is a slave; he or she is fully controlled by something and has no other alternative but to continue in it because the practice is “compulsive, habit-forming causing one to devote or surrender oneself to it obsessively.”
It is interesting that we rarely use the word “addiction” when people have life-giving habits like healthy eating, exercising, faithfully studying God’s Word, or praying diligently.
The word “addiction” commonly has a negative connotation that does not align with our identity in Christ.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should not longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Rom 6:6-7).” Also read Rom 6:11-14, or all of Chapter 6.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:22-23).”
For further understanding, I recommend reading: Titus 3:1-11, Hebrews 10, 1 John 5:18-21, and 1 John 3:5-10.
Do devout Christians sin? Absolutely, that is the consequence of living in a lost world. On the contrary, however, devout Christians are not slaves to sin, are not addicted to it. Christians have a choice to not sin and the power needed to make righteous choices consistently.
I do not mean to oversimplify this issue. I do believe, however, that this basic biblical understanding makes a huge difference when training ones heart and mind in righteousness. Yet, my understanding of this truth cannot stand apart from the other convictions: The Work of the Holy Spirit, The Desire of One’s Heart and the Study of God’s Word, and the Need for Life-Giving Community, all of which we will discuss in this mini-series.
For starters, what are your thoughts on Christians and addiction? On what grounds do you base your conclusions?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012