Freedom From Addiction, Part 4
By John Woodward
In the journey to freedom from addiction, we have looked at the adequacy of knowing Christ as our LIFE. Since He is the true Vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5), we can look to Him for the strength and virtue that is necessary for all of life’s demands–including freedom from a stubborn habit. We have also seen the strategic value of other biblical principles in the process of appropriating God’s power for specific habitual struggles. These freedom principles include:
1. The Importance of a DEFINITE DECISION
2. An ACCOUNTABILITY RELATIONSHIP.
3. The value of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
4. A BALANCED VIEW of YOURSELF (as a person)
And now we consider:
5. The PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES of the behavior.
An alcoholic who came in for counseling was asked, “What has drinking cost you?” He replied, “It has cost me everything!” and then went on to list the financial loss, broken relationships, and inner conflicts that were left in the wake of this addiction. Sometimes the severity of the consequences is not obvious to the one in bondage, but it is definitely obvious to those around him/her. As the saying goes, “No man is an island.” The quotation from Romans 14:7 fits here also: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.”
This factor was important for Jack, who severely harmed his family through an addiction to pornography. Through God’s power and grace, he has been restored and they allowed his wife to put their story (and God’s remedy) in print. He confesses, “My wife has been writing this book for over two years now … She has suffered more than I’ll ever understand. I pray that God will show me the suffering and pain she and the children have endured. It’s essential to have a strong idea of what your family has gone through in order for the addict to take responsibility, start giving back, and start healing. My wife and children have shed many, many tears over this addiction … Just as Nehemiah and the children of Israel needed to see the damage to Jerusalem before they could start to rebuild the wall, when I began to see how hurtful I’d been to everyone, the healing began to take place. The Lord gave me courage to go through this difficult process … “
After being sensitized to this, we should resolve to “not put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom 14:13). When we avail ourselves of freedom in Christ, we become available for His divine purposes in the lives of others: “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim 2:20-21). This equips us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Freedom principle 6: CLAIMING GOD’S PROMISES
Imagine God’s will as a beautiful, framed picture. When you get a framed picture and want to put it on the wall, you choose the right spot and put a nail there to hang it on. Now consider God’s promises as NAILS to HANG YOUR FAITH upon. “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd” (Eccles 12:11).
The apostle Peter affirmed the importance of God’s promises: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and PRECIOUS PROMISES, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:3-4).
How about doing a Bible study and recording the promises of God that are most relevant to your situation? Here’s a head start: Phil 4:13,19; 1 Cor 10:13; and John 8:32.
Freedom Principle 7: The wisdom of REPLACEMENT
If we remove a negative behavior without replacing it with a positive one, we remain unnecessarily vulnerable to trip up again. The Lord Jesus illustrated this concept when He taught about exorcising a demon: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Matt 12:43-45). An unsaved man–even if freed of a demon–needs to be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; 5:18). Even in the Christian life, reforming the flesh will never change a person’s heart. When God takes His rightful place of preeminence there, He will change the believer from the inside out (2 Cor 3:17-18).
Scientists tell us that “nature abhors a vacuum”; likewise we are not only to “put off” the negative, but to “put on” the positive (Col 3:8,12).
For example, instead of unlimited eating, enjoy planned, tasty, balanced meals.
Instead of drinking alcohol, choose delicious unfermented beverages.
Instead of smoking, buy special gifts with the money saved.
Instead of watching seductive TV, read a good biography or novel.
Instead of listening to music that is addictive and sensual, listen to music that is uplifting and faith-inspiring.
Instead of immoral internet surfing, use a filtered access and explore educational CDs.
Missionary and author E. Stanley Jones prescribed an imtimate relationship with God as the secret to overcoming negative coping patterns. He called this “the expulsive power of a higher affection.” How can you most easily remove a dangerous item from a toddler grip? Offer the little one something that looks better! “Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Freedom Principle 8: SCRIPTURE MEMORY
Spiritual disciplines won’t achieve freedom if cranked out as a form of self righteousness, but when we discover the power of abiding in Christ and claim our victory in Him, the disciplines fortify His righteousness in our character. The Psalmist testified, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:9-11).
Remember the value of God’s promises? How about memorizing them? When you have God’s Word in your heart, it is available for the Holy Spirit to use to protect you from the Enemy and from thoughts that trigger temptation. Notice Christ’s skillful use of memorized Scripture in resisting Satan! (Matt 4:4-10). Likewise, when tested, we are to wield the “Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17).
A major issue in the freedom process is the tearing down of strongholds (2 Cor 10:3-5). Since this is such a big topic, it would be worth studying in a separate series of articles.
There is so much more that can be written about this topic, but I pray God will bless these principles to maximize your experience of freedom spiritually, psychologically, and physically. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).