Overcoming Addiction

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” (Titus 1:3). Our foolishness is evident when we think that we can overcome our enslavement to sin by human effort or by the strict enforcement of some well-intentioned program. No program can set anyone free, only Christ can do that. The key to overcoming any addiction is to get out from under the law and into the grace of God. Just trying to stop sinning will never work. If abstinence were the goal, then Ephesians 5:18 would read, “Do not get drunk with wine, therefore stop drinking!” Paul’s answer is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).

Before we came to Christ, we developed certain flesh patterns as a means of relating to others, dealing with pain, coping with stress, and trying to succeed, or simply survive. Some will turn to alcohol and drugs. Taking away the chemical will be met with resistance, because that was their means of coping. They become miserable “dry drunks,” with glaring needs and many unresolved conflicts. Turning to chemicals to deal with their problems also arrests their mental and emotional development. They mask their problems rather than find biblical solutions and grow through the crisis.

The first step is to admit we have a problem and come to Christ. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 1:5). We don’t change in order to come to Christ. We come to Christ in order to change. Those who are “enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” need the support of the Christian community where their needs can be met through their relationship with Christ and His body. That is why, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives” (vs. 14). Their need for eternal life, identity, acceptance, security, and significance can only be met in Christ. In Christ they are not alcoholics or addicts, they are children of God.

The next step is to resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts. See the “Steps to Freedom in Christ” for the complete process. This process helps you establish a righteous relationship with God and resist the influence of the devil. Those who struggle with addictive behavior have no mental peace and are being deceived (vs. 3). Eliminating the accusing, tempting, and blasphemous thoughts is necessary for their recovery. They need to know the truth that will set them free and start them on the path of sanctification. The final step is to be involved in trusting and accountable relationships. They need to cut off destructive relationships and behaviors and start living a responsible life in a supportive Christian community.

Dr. Neil

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