We Become What We Worship – The Theology of Addiction

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This article was written by BCC Counselor Jack Lezza as part of our new series on addiction. In this series, our counselors are sharing how everyone can understand, overcome, and find freedom from addiction.


Humans love to search for glory to enjoy and obtain.

From sports icons, beauty pageants, animal shows, to food competitions, all seek to show us the best and hook us through glory.

That is not to mention the commercials in between the shows that are selling us glory as well: the high life, the toughest Ford truck, the best jewelry, the most extravagant travel destination, etc.

Why are we seemingly hooked on glory? Because humans are wired to worship glory.

So how does this impact our understanding of addiction?

We often say that addiction is a “worship disorder” rather than a disease. While there are real physiological factors at play, the remedy is not found in simply fixing one’s biology.

We fall prey to addiction because we glorify the created, rather than the Creator. We put our hope in substances, people, and sexual experiences to bring satisfaction, rather than placing our hope in the Creator and trusting His ways.

Throughout Scripture, you see worship, idolatry, and bondage intertwined as a battle that rages within the human heart and desires. God wants to be first in our lives and the thing we value and prioritize most, but addictions rob our ability to bring glory to God and worship Him as He desires.

Worship Designed

As you read the account of Creation in Genesis 1, you cannot help but notice the same phrase at the end of each day: “it was good.” What this phrase means is that God’s creation perfectly reflected the character or glory of its Maker.

God is a glorious God, and everything He made has glory as it reflects Him. God created man and designed man in such a way that we crave glory. We love God’s creation and see/worship God through our interaction with God’s creation.

This is what we read about in Psalm 19. Creation is speaking about the Creator. These lesser glories are to point us to the greatest glory in our God. So as 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, even eating and drinking should be done in a way that recognizes and gives glory to God.

We use and enjoy the gifts as we praise and enhance our relationship with the Giver. However, this compulsion for glory and excitement can be dangerous when God is no longer Who we are trying to please or worship.

Anytime we glory in the creation over the Creator we are heading into addiction. That is exactly what happened in Genesis 3.

Worship Distorted

As we come to The Fall in Genesis 3 we see something very significant happen there. For the first time in history, humans looked to the creation to bring them glory of their own.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5

The major shift here was that creation was no longer enjoyed in a way that glorifies God. Now, man would look to creation to be god. Man would look for creation’s glory to be his alone in the worship of self. This was the beginning of humanism or the worship of man.

Since that time, fallen mankind has sought to garner every pleasure he can out of creation without any thought of the God who created and owns all they have consumed in creation as they worship self. This is the real ugliness of idolatry. All idolatry is truly worship of self, and it is the beginning of chasing after what will never satisfy.

Humans are designed for glory but addicted to the pleasure they can get for themselves out of creation. Mankind cannot stop worshipping the same as they cannot stop breathing air! It’s how they are designed. The question is, are they breathing clean air or polluted air? Are they worshipping the Holy God or lesser, corrupting gods like self?

Romans 1 tells us that God gives us over to the lusts of our flesh as we seek to worship the creation over the Creator. This is the theology and reason for addiction!

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” – Romans 1:21-25

Worship Direction

How does one fix this addiction problem and the direction of their life?

The interesting thing about worship is it is not just something we do, but it is something we become. It is a direction we are headed.

It is clear in Scripture that as we see the glory of God, we are being changed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3:18). God allows us to see the revelation of Himself in the Bible and more specifically in Jesus.

As a matter of fact, 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that just as God called light to shine out of darkness, He shows us the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

  • As we see His glory we ADMIRE Him. His character is noble and beautiful.
  • As we delight in this we DESIRE Him (Psalm 37:4). We begin to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
  • This drives our choices and soon we ACQUIRE Him. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, we see His glory, and we are changed into it.

G. K. Beale said, “We become what we worship for ruin or for restoration”. This is exactly what God said all throughout the Old Testament. God said the children of Israel became like the ox they worshipped.

“They made a calf in Horeb, And worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory Into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their saviour, Which had done great things in Egypt;” – Psalm 106:19-21

In the New Testament, the Jewish people wanted political freedom from the Romans, which made them very excited for the Messiah to come. They wanted the Messiah to do their bidding or fix their problems, but that was not why He came.

Jesus came to free them from their addiction to self and the sin they were pursuing that had them in bondage just like their forefathers in Egypt. They did not need someone to fix their external problems, they needed freedom from self and the addictions that came from their desires and distorted worship.

The reason people today do not get freedom from addiction is because addiction is worship, and we will never stop worshipping. However, addiction (worship) is not the problem. The problem is what are they addicted to?

If we are addicted to the glory of God, we will be changed into His image. If we are addicted to creation and the glory we can get out of it, we will be destroyed by our sin (James 1:14-15) as we rob God of the glory He deserves.

I am the Lord: that is my name: And my glory will I not give to another, Neither my praise to graven images. – Isaiah 42:8

Conclusion

There is only one way to overcome addiction or the glory one can get from creation, which includes all substance abuse, porn, immorality, etc. It is by worshipping the God of glory and allowing God to change us into His image and righteousness.

In this we can live a blessed life of contentment in our Creator. May God bless you as you seek to live for Him in His presence and with His power.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:57

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