What does God say about addictions?
The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being God's promise He will help us with our addictions.
Jam 1:13-14, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” If God isn't tempting us, who is? Once we are lured into action by temptation, we surrender our will to the power of the addiction, and it begins to devour our lives, Rom 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Paul describes the problem of addiction, Rom 7:19-20, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” The seeds of sin dwell within every one of us, in the form of our weaknesses. However, when we seek God, He will deliver us, Ps 50:15, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Each of us has our own unique set of weaknesses. When I have been tempted by drugs, it was easy for me to say no. However, it was not so easy to resist when alcohol or gambling came along. The devil is always looking for our weaknesses, our lusts, to tempt us into an addiction, 1 Pet 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” When we witness people freed from addictions, by their faith in Jesus, God is glorified. When we witness someone recovering from an addiction, we are drawn to reason with God for ourselves because of their faith in God. This is but one form of God’s evangelism in this broken world.
The path leading away from addictions begins with our reasoning with God. Reading and learning to apply God's Word provides powerful defensive mechanisms we can use when we are tempted, as Jesus demonstrated for us in the desert, Matt 4:3-4, “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” When we call on the God's Word, the devil will retreat, Jam 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We cannot defeat the devil on our own. We need God’s Word to provide a way of escape, Matt 4:10-11, “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” This is why successful addiction treatment programs have the belief in a higher power as one of the first few steps, 1 Cor 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
My testimony is God does provide a way for us to escape if we would only call on Him. When I began reading the Bible, my eyes were opened, and I began to see the addictions in my own life. It was not a pretty picture; most of my free time was being consumed by my addictions or the thought of how I would next satisfy those additions, and it was affecting the lives of everyone I loved. One seemingly innocent addiction was to sports. I not only played sports but in 1977, I began running fantasy leagues, both baseball, and football. I watched as many games as I could and personally attended many SF Giants and GS Warriors games. Time and money were being diverted to these activities. This meant less time with my family and no time to reason with God. Of course, I rationalized all of this by saying sometimes I took my family to those games. Once I decided to give God fifteen minutes of my life every morning, the truth slowly began to change my life.
The Bible tells me to obey all laws, so I wrote to my state attorney general, asking about the lawfulness of fantasy leagues. The answer I got led me to abandon the money leagues I was participating in. Suddenly, less time was needed for sports and a few more minutes went to reasoning with God. God led me away from my sports addiction, as I realized it was a form of idolatry. I was still interested in sports; however, it was entertainment and no longer an addiction. I now know athletes are not heroes and certainly should not be worshipped as idols. The current civil commotion has soured my taste for sports, even affecting the entertainment value, as some of those idols from my past have demonstrated they are not following Jesus. This is an example of how God leads us through the sanctification process to improving our lives, one step at a time. I chose to highlight this addiction because it seems like such a small thing. However, no addiction is a small thing, and every one of them is like another chain that binds us to the devil's lures. Each addiction opens the way for another until we can no longer squirm out of the binds. My sports addiction kept the temptations of alcohol and gambling constantly before me. Each addiction escaped makes it easier to free ourselves from the next, like dominoes falling. The devil's plans include starving us by stealing our time, which affectively denies us the bread we need, Matt 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Just the commercials from the games I was watching devoured more than I was spending with God. He is not asking us to give up our entertainment, only to have balance in our lives.
We need to decide who we are going to follow, God and the hope He brings of an eternity with Him, or the devil and the temporary pleasures he places before our eyes, 1 Jn 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The devil's temptations divert our attention from the important things in life and quickly turn into horrible addictions. Each temptation we embrace requires an ever-increasing need for more, like cancer, slowly eating away at everything else in our lives. When we look to heaven and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we can resist all of the devil’s temptations, for we then understand our God provides all we need, Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” those once so important temptations the devil uses no longer require our devotion. God wants us to have an abundant life and to avoid the suffering that follows for those who submit to the devil’s temptations, Jn 10:9-10, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The thief is the devil, and if we exam the suffering of those who have chosen to follow his temptations unto addictions, we will learn the truth of the last verse; as we mourn the lives the thief has stolen. The devil is always trying to change God’s truth, and those who believe those lies will suffer the consequences, Rom 1:25, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
God wants us to understand the works of the flesh, so He told us, Gal 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” God is warning us about the devil’s temptations and the resulting behavior, which includes our attempts at hiding our addictions from everyone. God wants us to bring our addictions into His light by confessing them, Jam 5:16, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Our addictions want us to hide in the darkness. However, when we bring them to the light of confession and prayer, they lose their power over us. Phil 4:6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
He has not left us alone and helpless, He has given us His Word to feed on and to guide us to Him and His peace, 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
It is Jesus’ blood that saves us from sin and temptation, Rev 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” which He willingly allowed to drip from His body, as He hung on the cross, for all of us. His sacrifice has made it possible for us to call on Jesus and escape the devil's addictions. All we need to do is, Rom 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” This is how we accept His sacrifice on the cross. We can’t just say the words. We must honestly believe and experience the transformation process, which will surely follow. This transformation process follows His love unto obedience. We then learn He only wants the best for us, in this life and the next. When we understand this, we not only accept Him as our savior but as our Lord. Thus, we can be saved from all of the devil's addictions. But, it is a personal decision, and no one can make it for us.
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