“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1 ESV
My purpose in highlighting this particular trial is not to bring condemnation to those caught in this vicious cycle. Addictions are powerful taskmasters and can hold us hostage for years. One may want to quit, but lack the ability to do so. I get that. So please, don’t check out if this post finds you in need.
Addiction is defined as the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.
What started as one act of submission to a particular thing, whether good or evil, turned into a sinful craving that won your affections. It became ruler over you. An addiction is a wicked tyrant wanting nothing more than to destroy your family, your marriage and even your life.
Addictions come in many forms…
- Substance addictions: alcohol, drugs (illegal or prescription drug abuse), smoking, eating disorders, etc. These all are things one puts into the body that can take a chemical hold on your body and how it functions. You literally become dependent on the substance to make it through the day.
- Sexual addictions: pornography, adultery. This kind of addiction tends to escalate over time, making what once quenched your desire no longer effective.
- Entertainment addictions: movies, video games, poker, sports, internet use, even shopping.
- Behavioral addictions: Anger, control, cutting, and hoarding.
The only way to beat an addiction is to face it head on and humble yourself by surrendering your will, your desires to God. This is the starting place.
Some addictions, especially substance addictions, may require outside help. However, in order to receive help one must be willing to be known, to be transparent, and to be completely honest with those who love you. This is humility. It’s coming to a place of complete honesty as to the true condition of your heart…
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4 ESV
The battle requires more than simply saying NO. It requires all out war in the spiritual realm.
The Bible explains it in 2 Corinthians 10…
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
This is good news! It is God alone who is able to set the captive soul free, and if you are in Christ, you are a new creation–He will walk with you through this trial to the other side where grace and freedom reign.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV
C.S. Lewis depicts this well in his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Edmond had anger issues with his family, which isolated him relationally from his brother and sisters. They were the people who loved him most.
Note that this is a tactic Satan has used since the beginning of time–to isolate us from the safety net of relationships.
Once Edmund was alone, the White Witch made her move. She spoke kindly to him and offered him a taste of Turkish Delight. He trusted her to be harmless, but he couldn’t have been in more danger. He was befriending the enemy unaware. And he became addicted to it. He was willing to get more at any cost, even putting his family and friends in danger.
If you’ve battled addiction of any kind, I’m sure it started as what seemed an innocent choice. Had you known the true nature of the beast enticing you, you would have surely run, like Joseph who fled the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife. But if you didn’t run, and you find yourself in a prison of your own making, it is never too late! Seek the Lord with all your heart and He will lead you to freedom…
“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesians 5:6-21 ESV (emphasis added)
What addictions have you escaped? We would love to hear your story of freedom. And if you’re still facing the beast, we would love to pray with and for you. God is an ever present help in our time of need. Never forget it!
- The Addiction In Marriage No One Talks About, by Kate Aldrich with One Flesh Marriage (article)
- Breaking The Addiction: The Real And The Raw, a follow-up post by Kate above. (article)
- Addictions: A Banquet In The Grave, by Ed Welch (book)
- Addiction, Temptation and Voluntary Slavery, by Ed Welch (audio)
We are reading through “The Great Divorce” by C.S.Lewis, and there is a beautiful description of being freed from addiction. (The Divorce Lewis is writing about is between Heaven and Hell, not between a married couple!) From Chapter 11:
What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its taillike a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to
limp westward, away from the mountains.
Then there is a breakthrough, and an angel asks to kill the red lizard:
“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”
The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began
chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.
“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he
will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be
only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold,
bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no
real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit
I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but
really nice dreams- all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent____”
“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.
“I know it will kill me.”
“It won’t. But supposing it did?”
“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”
“Then I may?”
“Damn and blast you! Go on can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but
ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.
“Ow! That’s done for me,” gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.
But this is on the way to heaven, so death is different here:
What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was s
till struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled.
And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of
hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes.
What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and
tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and
stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.
The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them.
And the explanation, from the Teacher:
“Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest
and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot come to the Mountains. Not because they are too rank, but because they are too weak. What is a Lizard compared with a stallion? Lust i
s a poor, weak, whimpering whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.”
(Apologies for the long comment.)
David, What a great quote from one of our all-time favorite authors. Addictions are like a cruel enemy that wants nothing more than to destroy us. Thank you for sharing! I pray it helps those who read this post who are caught in this battle.