Most approaches to “winning” the addiction battle do not work. Many of us have a mind set of “I can do this”….”I’m going to do this”….”I’m trying quit”….”This time I am really done”
The reality is, when we are in bondage to addiction, whatever that addiction may be, we cannot set ourselves free from that bondage. Striving in the flesh does not set you free. Some reading this might think, “that’s not true, I quit this or that on my own”…but the reality is, in many cases, we go from one addiction to another. To go from a “bad” addiction to a “good” addiction is still addiction. For example, if I was drug addict and quit using drugs, but then became obsessed with financial success I have turned in one addiction for another.
If you want to be truly free of addiction you need to quit striving in the flesh. You need to let go of this attitude of “rugged individualism” and the mind set of “I’ll get it done”. This is not easy for us, especially those of us that are very competitive, those with a type ‘A’ personality, “go getters”…we don’t do well with this. I have the blessing of talking to many men in jail. If you want to see someone at their lowest point, visit them the day after they are put in jail. In almost every case, these men say something to the effect, “I’m trying to do right, but I just keep screwing up…but I am really trying.”
Before we get too far along I would like to be clear, this is not about “surrendering to your higher power. Of course there is a “Higher Power”, but we need to define “It”. Making up your own higher power has no power; it would be like trying to start your car without a battery, the power source is gone, it will not start. The “power source” is the Creator of all things and everyone, the triune God of the Bible, the Source of absolute Truth. That is where we start, God’s Word, our source for absolute Truth. We must study what God says about being set free.
If you are not a Christian, or you are unsure of what it means to be a Christian I would encourage you to start on page one of this study and work your way through before continuing here.
First, God wants us to have an assurance of our Salvation. 1John 3:4-10 are the verses that the Lord has used as a wakeup call for many (myself included):
1John 3:4-10 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Let’s get to the root. Let’s call addiction what it is. Addiction is sin. Whether you are addicted to drugs, booze, pornography, golf, sex, fame, fortune, sports…whatever….it is sin.
When your addiction is what you think about first and almost continually you have made it your idol, you have made it your god. You are bowing down to that addiction as your god. You are a slave to that “god”. You are a slave to sin. I know that is a huge shift in thinking for many; after all, we have been told that addiction is a disease.
Once we are willing to concede that addiction is sin, and practicing sin makes us a child of the devil, our heart has been prepared for the real solution. On the other hand, if you feel it is not sin, but a disease; and you are not a child of the devil, but instead a “carnal Christian” trying to do better; you are not ready for the solution.
Let’s take a closer look at 1John 3:9 to make sure you caught it the first time:
Who is the person John is talking about in verse 9? ….A person born of God. This is crucial for victory over addiction, but above that, Jesus made it clear in John 3:3 that unless a man is born-again he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What does verse 9 say about this person? He does NOT practice sin.
Why doesn’t he practice sin? Because God’s seed abides in him!
That is the mystery Paul talks about in Colossians, CHRIST IN US!
Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The BIG question then becomes; “how do I know that I am IN CHRIST, and CHRIST IS IN ME?…Jesus tells us in John 8:
John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
Before we get to the last piece that completes this “puzzle”; let’s take a look at what it means to abide in Christ, what it means to remain in Him:
1- We must continually be in His Word; reading, studying, meditating on, and memorizing His Word. To truly worship Him you must be in His Word to know the Truth.
John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
2-We must be constant in prayer
1Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
3- Fellowship with other believers to be of mutual encouragement
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
4- Protect what goes in to your mind, don’t let the garbage in
Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
5- Prepare your mind for action; decide now what are you going to do the next time you are in a situation where you have been tempted and fallen in the past
1Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
If you commit to doing these things, not in a legalistic way, but in a Biblically practical way; you will be abiding in Christ. If you are abiding in Christ you will bear fruit for His glory. That fruit may be small and you may not even know it’s there; but you will be bearing fruit for the glory of God. For example, maybe someone sees you constantly reading your Bible and it plants a seed in their life. You didn’t notice them looking, you don’t see the seed, but it happened.
If you are bearing fruit, take a look at what happens:
John 15:1-11(Jesus speaking) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Let’s unpack these 11 verses a little bit. We see the picture of those that are not bearing fruit and the picture is clear, they are thrown in to the fire, this is an illustration of eternal condemnation for those that have not been redeemed in the Blood of Christ. But from a “victory over addiction” stand point, the main take away as it relates to addiction is the pruning. Consider for a minute what pruning is; pruning is a procedure the vine dressers use to clip away less desirable parts of the branch so the branch can produce more fruit. So, put simply, Jesus has promised that those abiding in Him and bearing fruit, the Father will prune so that they will bear more fruit. WHEN WE ABIDE IN CHRIST GOD CUTS OUT THE GARBAGE SO WE CAN BEAR MORE FRUIT!
So, ask yourself this question: “If I’m abiding in Christ, will He leave the addictions of my life firmly in place, or will He cut them out?”….He will cut them out!
Follow up to that: If God promises to prune the garbage in my life, who’s responsible for pruning the garbage?….HE IS!
What is my responsibility?…..ABIDE IN CHRIST!
Do you see the massive paradigm shift here?!?!?
It is not you “trying harder” that sets you free, God does it. He has always been the answer. Take a look at how many times He says “I WILL” in Ezekiel 36:
Ezekiel 36:22-33 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. 33 “Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt.
Isn’t that amazing relief? He does it! He gives a new heart with new desires. A desire to hate the things He hates and love the things He loves. He puts His Spirit within us. He causes us to walk in His ways. He cleanses us from our idols. He sets us free, and when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!!
It is all about surrendering to Jesus Christ and abiding in Him.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Not only will He set you free of your addiction, but more importantly, He will set you free from the law of sin and death:
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.