Isn’t it true some addictions look harmless? Yet anything that enslaves you, harms you. Thank God that He empowers you to overcome an addiction.
Hard work helps. Workaholism harms.
Eating good food—satisfying. Binging for comfort—sad.
Clothing your kids in cute outfits rocks. A shopping addiction hurts.
Driving her minivan to the mall, Karrie* told herself she’d buy only one outfit for her seven-year-old daughter. She had made this promise last week and broke it. “I can do it this time,” she pep-talked. Three hours and many shopping bags later, she collapsed on her couch and cried. “I can’t do anything right.”
Her challenge? Overcoming an addiction by loving God most of all.
What’s an Addiction?
An addiction is a bondage of the heart and body to something that produces immediate pleasure or relief. This bondage becomes increasingly destructive over time. It rules the heart, promising the sensation of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Addictions have an object, such as:
- visual stimuli like pornography or television;
- ingested substance like food, alcohol, or pills;
- possessions like a home, a car, or even shoes.
Indulging in addiction brings short-term pleasure or relief. Over the long run, the soul and body experience pain and decay with each indulgence. Relationships may suffer. Bank accounts may shrink. The lie of “just one more” cheats and convinces and deceives.
If you think Christians are immune to addiction, think again. When our cravings conflict with Scripture, we don’t always live according to what we say we believe. Karrie says “Jesus is Lord” at church on Sunday, and on Monday she itches to shop. Her husband says he loves his wife yet views pornography. Anna* sings and plays keyboard on her church’s worship team, but when she feels lonely she looks for sexual relationships with men.
This disconnect is described in Scripture. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul says “we all know many things about God and his law, but we suppress those truths when they interfere with our wants and desires,” writes Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. “As a result, it is as if we practice two religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another . . . (that) we can make the laws we live by, not God.”
When you or I reject Christ’s rule, we become enslaved to something. We exchange the wonderful for the unholy because we want self-rule. The created thing enslaves us.
We become cold to God.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6, ESV
Those days? They look like these days: commercials sell alcohol to numb, cars to feel significant, and sex to mimic love and respect, and we buy the lies and do what we think is best.
How to Get Free
Most important to overcoming an addiction: invite a stronger power to rule. Consider Jesus’ question, “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?” (Matthew 12:29, ESV).
Here are two more important ways to overcome addiction:
1. Pray to be mastered by nothing but the Lord and pursue knowing Christ.
2. Confess your sin and repent, or turn away from addiction. You cannot go halfway. You need to totally eradicate it.
If you love Christ, then you have everything you need to overcome an addiction.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 1 Peter 1:3, NIV
Yet spiritual battles cannot be won alone.
Addictions like to stay private. God invites people dealing with addictions of any sort to share their struggle with the church. The church is people who say Jesus is Savior and are growing in their love for God and one another.
Yes, the church is full of sinners.
Yes, some churches have significant problems.
But you may belong to a church that loves like Christ—unconditionally and sacrificially—or, if you are seeking a good church, you can find a Bible-believing group of believers who welcome the hurting and help them.
Some people struggling with addictions want the advantages of biblical counseling too.
If you’re interested in someone coming alongside you, listening to your story, and helping you find hope in Christ, please contact us. We want to help you be free.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20, NIV
(*not her real name)