This article is part of our new series on addiction. In this series, our counselors are sharing how everyone can understand, overcome, and find freedom from addiction.
February is the month that tests anyone who desires to change a bad habit. Whether we eat too much, drink too much, exercise too little, or feel trapped in damaging lifestyle choices, many of us will set New Year’s resolutions to change.
It’s rare that someone can get through the whole month of January without reverting to the frustrating habit.
Addicts deal with this dynamic often. For some, it seems like they’re in a regular pattern of failure every month or two. For others, it’s a predictable season of stress at work or in family dynamics that causes them to binge on food, alcohol, tech, or other damaging habits.
We may feel like we have to fight this battle all alone and muster our own strength to finally win. However, the good news is that you are not alone.
God is with you and desires for you to have victory even more than you desire victory for yourself.
Throughout the New Testament, we see an example of Christ who understands temptation but has victory over it. Rather than fighting the battle over addiction alone, Jesus invites us to a closer relationship with Him, where He can grant us what we need. Too often, the addict tries to fight their battle alone, and they will almost always lose.
We have to learn to pursue God.
We can go to God because He understands us.
In counseling addicts, our counselors find a common sentiment among those struggling with addiction: most feel all alone in the battle. They feel far from friends, family, and even God, and they wonder who really cares.
While it may be true that relationships have turned sour, the battle over addiction is an opportunity to pursue God as our friend and really build our relationship with Him. He reminds us that Jesus Himself experienced and understood the experience of temptation.
For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. – Hebrews 4.15
We can go to God, with our real struggles, because He understands what we’re facing and He cares.
Those struggling with addiction have often fallen away from church, God’s Word, meaningful spiritual friendships, and godly counsel – their walk with God has failed to be a priority for them. If an addict is to win the battle, they need to have the courage to go to God and seek to walk with Him every day.
We can go to God because He provides what we need.
It’s a helpless feeling to run out of gas. However, I would imagine that feeling pales in comparison to the feeling of those who have run out of food. We can live without gas, but physical starvation brings about a painful and tragic end.
Fighting the battle over addiction, without adequate resources, will also result in a tragic end. However, God provides unique resources for us to battle addictions when we turn to Him.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
The choice to turn to God is met with exactly what’s needed: mercy and grace.
Some imagine the shaming stare of a God who’s angry or watching down in disgust as we can’t seem to get it right. When we view God this way, we tend to distance ourselves and find cover like Adam and Eve in the garden. However, turning to God in our struggle, instead of hiding, is met with grace or the kindness of the Lord. He is actually happy when we come home to Him.
This was the scandal of the Prodigal Son. The son didn’t earn anything, he simply turned back to the father, acknowledging his sin, and asked for help. He thought he only deserved to become a servant, but God’s mercy (willingness to shield us from the consequences our sin deserves) was put on full display.
We need grace because it’s the only thing great enough to capture our hearts and reorient our desires away from our addiction towards our God-given purpose. If we are not motivated by God’s grace, we will remain motivated by “self,” which simply transfers our addiction to whatever our own heart desires from moment to moment.
The assurance of God’s mercy allows us to seek Him and know He won’t greet us with shame, judgment, or unnecessary consequences. God delights when His children come to Him in their time of need and realize that He provides for us in ways that cannot be found anywhere else. The battle of addiction cannot be won without the resources of grace and mercy that God provides.
We can go to God because He helps us.
There is hope and wonderful encouragement in the powerful promises of a God who is faithful.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common toman. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Turning to God in the midst of a battle over temptation has to be more than simply an earnest prayer for God to remove the urges and cravings of our hearts. When we go to God, do we see what He offers? Do we understand how He meets us at the point of temptation? There are six truths from the verse above that should bring us comfort as we consider how turning to God might help us.
- Temptations are common to all men – you can win!
- God is faithful to set limits to temptations- you can win!
- NO temptation is beyond our ability and strength to endure it- you can win!
- God provides a way to escape: His way, not our way – you can win!
- God is in sovereign control over temptations. – you can win!
- Temptations are not our enemy but our friends to grow us into greater Christ-likeness – you can win!
Just because we can win doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard to win, but I Corinthians 10:13 assures us that God desires to help us find victory.
You may look at the truths above and wonder how they apply to your everyday life. How would you even go about living them out? The answer is: by turning to God, God’s people, and God’s Word in your time of need. All of these will help you get the victory you desire.
There is hope for addicts because God cares for addicts.
If we try to win our battle over addiction without God’s help, we simply transfer our addiction from one self-centered pursuit to another. God has a better plan for our lives.
He invites you to draw near to Him, no matter where we are in the battle over addiction. He invites you to seek Him and find the help you need.
Thanks for such helpful concise encouragement. I feel like I can hold in my hand both of the lessons you have taught.