Addictions – alcohol, coffee, shopping, exercise, sex, drugs, gossip, worry, control.
My definition of an addiction is a mental obsession that has a physical effect and emotional response. Many people think of addictions as physical behaviours. But those behaviours don't happen on their own. It first starts with an obsession inside the mind that is gnawed on.
Your physical need or desire first starts with thoughts, which develops into actions, which we think about and act on day after day. Emotionally, we're looking for it to fill a need. This begins to take on a level of importance in our life that we find hard to give up, leading to a compulsion that we don't deny, and now we have an addiction.
I’m no psychologist but I have had grassroot experience of addictions personally, and friends with addictions. This seems to be how it goes.
Addictions are all the same to God. Alcohol is not worse than food. Shopping is not worse than gossip. Gaming addiction is not worse than drug addiction. There’s not one that’s worse than another, mentally speaking.
In the bible, Exodus 20:3 and Matthew 4:9,10 refer to the worship of something else other than God as being an idol. Exercise or food are a necessary and pleasurable part of our every day life. But some things, such as incest, child sex, and pornography are evil because they’re an affront to the nature of God. Thoughts and ideas become sinful when we fixate on them. When we allow them to rule us they destructively strip us of our freedom to think without that driving compulsion.
If Eve (in the garden of Eden) hadn’t entertained the idea of doing something God expressed not to, she wouldn’t have sinned. If Adam hadn’t wanted to please Eve more than God, he wouldn’t have sinned. We're no different.
Matthew 6:19-24 refers to the treasures that we store up for ourselves, and whether it comes from a healthy, or an unhealthy place. Generally, anything that we treasure to an unhealthy or obsessive level is applicable in these scriptures. Even relationships can fall into that category. We have to be willing to scrutinise our hearts and lay down what God calls idolatry. (Psalm 44:20,21 "If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?")
To live IN Him is to live in devotion TO Him.
We cannot follow Christ as well as an addiction. If we deny the addiction and do not determine to starve it out of our lives, it will quickly become greater and more important than Christ.
We might ask, how can that be? If Christ is more powerful?
Our hearts are bent on fulfilling bodily cravings. When we don't seek God, we seek comfort, reassurance, stress-relief, escape. Once the euphoria of that expression has worn off, our mind begins to obsess over it again. Over time, the need for it becomes toxic because we are unwilling to have control over it - we allow it to have control over us. Our well is never satisfied. Even if the addiction has a physical response that eventually becomes toxic, and we recognise its poison, the initial relief or euphoria seems to outweigh the toxicity because we crave that initial respite from whatever well we’re trying to fill, or whatever we’re trying to escape from.
I’ve had to ask God to help me recognise what it is I’m attempting to escape from and why. I've had to ask God to fill that well because I couldn't fill it with what I was seeking. In some ways I didn't want God to fill that well. I wanted the other. I had to own that and ask God to forgive me and help me over that hurdle before I could begin addressing the obsession.
The exchange of something from God for what you've bodily craved will feel different. That may cause you to not want the exchange. What God offers is clean. What the body craves is unclean and the craving can almost become the pleasure. That’s why addictions are so hard to overcome. They can be hard to even want to relinquish. The bible calls this a stronghold.
Matthew 12:29 ((NLT)
For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strongman and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger - someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
Alcohol was a friend of mine for years. It became a part of my socialising, then a part of my evening experience to ‘unwind’. Then it became a ‘must have’ throughout each weekend. Then it became part of my grocery list of staples. Then I travelled overseas and found people even extend this to the morning in social gatherings and that gave me the ‘ok’ to do it at home for myself whenever I felt like it. Finally, it just became routine and was firmly part of my lifestyle that I justified with ease. It was something that provided me with comfort, pleasure, escapism. Any time was a good time for a drink. It was my friend. I didn’t have to talk about it. I didn’t have to make excuses for it. I could just sit quietly with ‘my friend’ and it understood, because it reflected me back at me.
We crave things when we’re empty. That craving chips away underneath the foundation of who we are, when BAM! Soon enough it’s corroded in on itself and we’re buried under the rubble of the well we tried to fill.
Jesus Christ say's He is our firm foundation.
We must be willing to be rid of our obsessions and think on Jesus Christ, on the meaning and beauty of God, on His love for us, and His purpose in us, on who we are in Him not apart from Him. It’s a completely different pursuit. It can happen with His help. It can happen when we truly love Him more than the obsession of our mind. It can happen when we are desperate enough to starve it because we’ve realised it’s too toxic to keep.
I believe addictions are spiritual in nature – an attempt to replace God’s position.
Thankfully, God shows us how we can overcome a stronghold in our lives. Something stronger must overcome. Jesus Christ said He came to destroy things like strongholds - the works of the enemy (1 John 3:8).
Colossians 2:15 (NLT)
In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
If we want to be truly clean, we need the Holy Spirit’s power in us, His love and counsel to restore what is lost and craven.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
If you have an obsession that you need Jesus Christ to help you with, and you're ready to let it go, He can help you like He has me.
Prayer: Lord, I repent of my addiction and the position I've allowed it to take in my life to replace you. Forgive me and help me to want to exchange what is clean in you, from what is unclean in me. I renounce and remove this behaviour from my life that has taken control. Help me do the work each day I need to do and be fully committed to you. Thank you that you care. In Jesus Name. Amen.