Freedom From Addiction, Part 3
By John Woodward
When we lived in Pennsylvania, USA, our first apartment was on a rural road. One winter’s day we needed to drive to another state, but it had snowed the night before. A blanket of snow more than a deep covered the ground everywhere. Our car then was a Ford sedan that didn’t have much ground clearance. We made our way to the car and started our trip. After turning out of the driveway onto the road (which had not been plowed) we only drove about one block and got stuck in the snow! How frustrating. It took extra traction and strategy to get unstuck and make our way to the cleared roads and finally to our destination.
We have been comparing addiction to being “stuck.” The power to pull out of the “ditch” of sinful, compulsive thoughts and behavior is the indwelling power of the resurrected Christ! We gained this favored status when we received Christ as our personal Savior by grace through faith. As Romans 5:10 says, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [salvation], much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” [liberation].
Yet this power seems to have been appropriated by some believers who have continued to struggle with besetting sin–addictive behavior. We have used the concept of putting “traction” under the wheels of a stuck vehicle to illustrate the validity of biblical principles that relate to gaining freedom from bad habits.
These principles are “planks” that facilitate us with needed “traction” to get out of any “ditch” of bondage: We have noted so far:
1. The Importance of a DEFINITE DECISION
2. An ACCOUNTABILITY RELATIONSHIP
Now the next Freedom Principle:
3. The Value of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Sometimes the Enemy discourages us by attacking our perception of God’s love. We think we have to get free to qualify for receiving real love. This yanks us back to a works mentality. Feelings of guilt (usually inflamed by “the accuser of the brethren” [Rev.12:11]) deflate our awareness of God’s compassion for us.
Yet God does love you! Consider these quotations from the Word:
“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you'” (Jer 31:3). “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:32-33,35,37-39).
Why is this appreciation of God’s love for you so strategic to living free? We are made in God’s image; we are designed as relational beings. Divine love calls forth from us a response of grateful love. As Paul wrote in Romans 2:4, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
Picture the love of God as illustrated in the joyful, eager, loving response of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). You recall how the son got fed up with wishing for pig’s food. He realized then that he preferred fellowship in his father’s house to wasting away in the world. This led him back home. He didn’t have to settle for servanthood at home; the father lavished him with the gracious blessing of family status (see Eph. 1:3; 1 John 3:1,2). When we focus on the limitless ocean of God’s love for us, it gives new motivation to chose His best for our lives. The next Freedom Principle is…
4. A BALANCED VIEW OF YOURSELF
Although this concept is often exaggerated and misunderstood, we need to place value on ourselves as well. The familiar “second greatest commandment” reads, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Granted, loving ourselves is not a command; it is an assumed healthy concern.
But consider this: if you think you are worthless, how can you adequately respond to the basic motivations of life … such as fear of personal loss and desire for personal gain? Take salvation, for example. The appeal to be reconciled to God assumes that the sinner cares enough about himself to desire avoidance from hell (fear of loss) and prefer the eternal benefits of heaven (desire for gain). Likewise, you have to care enough about yourself as a person to think your life’s potential really matters; it really is a tragic loss if you stay stuck in a rut. It really does matter that you gain freedom, because there are positive benefits to you, the Lord’s kingdom, and others in your life. As the Scripture says, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:7,8).
If you rationalize your lack of freedom with a “Who cares? / My life doesn’t matter” attitude, then you are being duped by the Enemy. Your Savior says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31).
We don’t feel worthy of such love because it is undeserved. God loves us by His sovereign grace. Because He cared enough about us to create us and redeem us through the infinite value of the blood of His Son, we must value ourselves as well (1 Pet. 1:18,19). Your creation and redemption is God’s gift to you; what you allow God to do with your life is your gift to Him.
As we appropriate the freedom that is ours, we do ourselves a huge favor!
“Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart”;
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 37:4; 84:11).
Forget about the TV hype, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” A better offer is, “Who wants God’s best for his/her life?” That isn’t just a matter of chance; it is a matter of faith and freedom.