How to Overcome AddictionsOct 14, 2023
Addiction is something many people struggle with.
Some struggle with it for so long, they feel they will never be free.
I was recently talking to a young man who felt that exact way.
He told me that it was impossible for him to ever be free of the thing that gripped him.
That is a lie.
Addiction is not forever.
And if you will permit me...
I would like to take this Saturday Morning and explain how to be free from Addiction. (over a cup of coffee)
This will not be exhaustive. As whole books have been devoted to this.
But just because it isn't exhaustive, doesn't mean it won't be effective.
So let's jump in and see how we can be free from this thing called Addiction.
1. Addiction is Idolatry
The first thing we must recognize is that our addiction is not merely an illness... it is a sin.
Please, Don't check out yet.
This is one of the most important realizations necessary if you want freedom.
Addiction is Sin.
Specifically... it is Idolatry.
In their book, "Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel" (affiliate link), Edward T. Welch explains that sin is our core problem, and that Jesus came to deal with sin.
Friend, if Addictions are merely sicknesses... then there is no hope.
If addictions are merely genetic... no hope.
But if addictions are sin... Hope abounds because Jesus came to deal with sin!
Now I am not saying that there are not people who are more disposed to certain addictions... there most certainly may be.
But disposition is not the same as causation.
You have a choice!
I pray you heard that...
You have a choice!!
Even at the time when you feel like you are a slave... you don't have to be.
Christ came to make you free.
So how can we experience freedom from this idol?
I may be getting ahead of myself.
I haven't yet explained why it is an Idol.
Here are the cliffnotes:
- Idols are things that are more important to us than God: God has one way... your addiction has another way... (you choose to listen to your addiction over God.) = Idol.
- People often served Idols to get something out of them... all addiction has some promise of control or reward... but they never follow through completely.
- Instead they end up enslaving the people who serve them.
We could go on and on, but I believe this is enough for us to realize, addiction is Idolatry.
You have a "god" in your life that is cruel and has usurped the throne from the true God...
And it is time for him to go.
Here are 7 quick steps. (I may turn these into longer posts in the future)
Step 1: Make sure you are saved
Friend, if you are not saved... you are still a slave to sin...
And none of the steps that will follow will make a difference.
IF you want freedom from sin's power... you must be saved!
If you are curious about how to be saved here are a couple things for you to listen to.
Short Video: "What is the Gospel"
Longer Video: Romans Explained
It is absolutely essential that you know you are saved before moving on to step two.
If you are saved, and after reading this list, still find you can't see victory...
I encourage you to watch those videos and firmly plant your self in the Gospel before going on to the next steps.
Step 2: Make sure you are walking with God
This is one of the most delicious privileges Salvation purchased for us.
We GET TO WALK WITH GOD!
What a mind blowing truth!
Friend, God is Light...
And if we are going to walk with Him, love for the light will become more and more a part of us.
Walking with God does a few things:
- It shows us what is right
- It shows us that rightness is beautiful and desirable
- It shows us that holiness is true freedom
- It motivates us by love
- It weakens our commitment to our old master of sin and death.
Friend, make it a point to walk with God.
Schedule time each morning to begin your day in His Word and in Prayer..
Make this a PRIORITY!
Even if you don't feel like you are getting much out of it yet...
Just start, and stay consistent.
This relationship will be key to experiencing the Freedom in Christ.
Step 3: Make confession a regular part of your day
This may sound like a weird step.
But it will prove to be one of the most important.
Confess your sin regularly to God.
Don't let shame, embarrassment, apathy, or anything else keep you from confessing.
1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
There is a need to come to Jesus and openly tell Him what we have done.
Here is an example:
Let's say you are addicted to alcohol.
"Lord, I am so sorry. I got home today and was so stressed. And instead of casting my care on you, I went and relied on Alcohol to calm me down. Lord I loved alcohol more than you... I trusted alcohol more than you... and I'm sorry! It was wrong! You said 'be not drunk with wine...' And I thought I knew better... please forgive me."
Friend, confession does so many things!
Here are a few:
- It helps peel back the deceitfulness of sin
- It helps you consciously side with God again
- It provides the cleansing from sin your conscience needs
- It restores full fellowship with God.
Friend, confession is vital.
It must be regular!!
And not just in the area of your addiction... every area.
Don't give place to the Devil.
I have seen where people get regular with Confession, but they only confess the "big sin" in their life... yet they allow the devil to stay in other areas...
Friend, they are still living in bondage and deception..
They think some sin is dangerous and others are not.
Confess and forsake it all!
I am realizing that all sin is connected.
Sin is sin.
You don't want any of it in your life..
And believe you are forgiven. (this is often the hardest part.)
Our God is so good... that after you confess you are completely forgiven.
Let that sink in!
No need to stay away from God for a while to let Him cool down... you are INSTANTLY forgiven after confession... why?
Because of how powerful Jesus' Death, Burial, and Resurrection are.
You are clean.
Step 4: Believe God has already Freed you
This is another tough one, but is so essential.
You must believe that Jesus already broke the chains of your addiction.
You are not fighting for victory but in victory.
A helpful illustration I heard was about baby elephants at the circus.
When training them they would take a big chain and wrap it around one of their legs very tightly...
They would then drive a massive stake into the ground.
The Baby Elephant would tug and tug and tug...
Until the Baby Elephant realized.... THERE IS NO WAY I'M GETTING FREE.
So it stopped trying.
After that, all that is needed is a small rope, tied just tight enough for the elephant to feel it...
They can attach that rope to a stick and lightly push that stick into the soil...
And even when the elephant is full grown...
It won't even try to escape...
Because it remembers all the times it tried and failed...
I feel that is how many Christians are.
With their mouth they believe they are saved...
But there is still that old man inside who remembers trying to quit... and failing.
But Jesus said He came to save you from your sin.
And friend it is time you "Reckoned" it so.
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
You need to count it as an absolute fact that you are dead to sin...
You died in Christ!
Sin shall not have dominion over you...
Do you believe that?
Step 5: Victory lies in Dying not Trying
Now we come to the practical...
Temptation has reared its ugly head...
Dopamine is coursing through your system...
Promising you that if you do what you have always done, a reward is waiting for you...
What do you do in that moment?
The moment you feel impossible to resist.
What do you do?
What do you do?
Try hard to not want to do it?
Although that is what most people do...
and that is why most people fail.
They think... "If I were really saved, I wouldn't want to do this..."
So they try to get themselves to not want to do it...
And that works while they're in the spirit... but the moment they get into the flesh they realize what Paul realized.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. - Romans 7:18
Trying to get your flesh to want what is right is a losing battle.
You can't do it.
It is impossible.
Your flesh will always want evil.
So trying to fight the flesh with the flesh is a losing effort.
Mark my words... you will not see lasting victory by trying to eradicate the flesh completely.
No, stop trying to not want it...
and Start dying.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. - Romans 8:13
The goal is death to self...
Die to the cravings, not change them.
When the craving for your sin comes...
Don't try to change the desire...
DIE TO IT!
Realize your flesh needs to die!
and then walk in the spirit.
That means you may not feel like putting down the bottle...
You may not feel like putting down the phone...
But you are going to "Trust and Obey" God.
You will trust that God's way is better... EVEN WHEN IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT!
You will trust...
And your trust will be proven...
Not by a change in feelings per se...
But by obedience.
Friend, the first time is the hardest...
But each time you trust and obey...
IT gets easier and better!
Walk in the Spirit...
Trust and Obey the Word of God...
And the Spirit will provide the power to Obey..
Step 6: Remember "One failure is not a complete reset"
So you have had some victories?
But recognize, failure will still happen for many.
You've gone weeks without your habitual sin..
Then you slip up.
The devil wants to take that slip up and say the following.
- See, that victory wasn't real... if it was you wouldn't have fallen again.
- See, now you have to start all over again... might as well spend some time here at the bottom having fun before you have to go back to being "righteous."
The devil is lying!
Friend, you have experienced real victory... real progress... and one mess up is not a complete reset.
The Devil knows that, but He is a liar!
If he can get you to believe your one "messup" puts you back where you started... he can get you to give up valuable ground you have gained...
Don't believe the lie.
True, You messed up.
Confess it honestly before God.
And begin to follow God again in sweet fellowship.
Step 7: Continue to Allow God to Renew your Mind.
Sometimes after a few victories... people become arrogant and think they did it in their own will power.
Don't fall for that trap.
Believing that lie takes you from walking in the Spirit to walking in the Flesh... the very thing that will prime you for a fall.
As you walk in the Victory of Christ,
Meditate daily on the Word!
Without going too far into the weeds, Science is catching up with the Bible.
There is something called "Neuroplasticity."
This means your mind can really change... you don't have to think the same way you have always thought...
Your mind can literally be renewed!
And the best way to do this is to meditate on the Word of God.
Sin comes from a lack of faith in God's Word.
Faith Cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word.
So the more you meditate on God's Word...
The more your mind will be transformed...
And the less you will believe the lies of Satan that lead to sin.
There is so much more that can be said...
But I believe that is enough for this weekend.
There is Victory in Jesus...
You are not fighting for victory over your addictive sin... But from the Victory that Jesus already Won!!
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