Freedom From Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction of any kind, you understand the stranglehold it has over your life. Even the apostle Paul, to my mind the greatest Christian who ever lived, struggled with addictive sin.

In Romans 7:14-15, Paul writes, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” And in verse 17-18, he laments, “For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

Right now, you might be thinking, “If Paul can’t beat his addictions, what chance do I have?” The plain truth is that while Jesus gives us a new heart and a new life when we come to Him, we still live in the flesh, in a mortal, human body in a fallen world. The Spirit of the Living God is within you, but that doesn’t mean you no longer deal with the flesh and its desires. That will be a constant struggle for all the days of your life. Even as a Christian, you will continue to fight spiritual battles.

We know that as believers in Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed and will spend eternity with our heavenly Father. But until then, Satan revels in the pain and misery he can cause to the children of God. The Gospel of John, 10:10, warns that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Satan knows an addiction not only destroys the addict, but those closest to him. Rather than experiencing the freedom that salvation brings, we suffer as our sin pulls us further from God. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11-3, addictions and sinful thoughts “led [us] astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Our understanding of addictions and our ability to diagnose them has never been greater. Despite that and the innumerable treatment programs and counseling options available, addictions grow at an exponential rate. Blame it on Satan, the father of lies. He is still telling us lies, just as he did with Eve in the Garden, and we still believe them. Then we lie to ourselves about our dependence on our addictions.

Over 40 years of ministry, I’ve heard just about every excuse there is. “It’s harmless.” “I don’t really have a problem.” “I can quit whenever I want.” “It’s not hurting anyone.” And occasionally, I hear this whopper: “God made me this way.”

When a believer begins to say, “I need this forbidden fruit,” that’s when you know Satan is in your head, sin is in your heart, and chains are wrapped tight around your life.

Many deny their addiction. Others recognize the things that bind them, but feel powerless to escape. Satan whispers that there is no way out, and the addict accepts it. But that lie minimizes the power of God to remove the shackles of addiction and restore the freedom that Jesus brings us through salvation.

In truth, there is only one question for both the addict who denies the addiction and the addict who believes he’ll never be able to break free: Do you want to be healed?

To break the chains, you must admit your addiction, confessing to God the Father. You must deny yourself and trust in the name of Jesus. Admit that you are powerless over your addiction – pornography, gambling, sensuality, whatever holds you in chains.

The way to victory, to purity, to freedom, is to begin by saying, “I can’t defeat this on my own! I’ve got a problem! I must seek God’s help, the help of my Lord and Savior and His people. Because the good news is that in Jesus Christ, we are not powerless!”

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, 5:16-17, he declares, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

The list of fleshly sins is a long one – immorality, impurity, fits of anger and strife, envy and drunkenness among them – and a dire warning follows in verse 21: “… those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

But for believers, Paul brings the good news that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire” (5:24).

So stop believing the lies, even the ones you tell yourself. Stop defining yourself by your behavior and instead define yourself by your identity in Christ Jesus. You are not an addict. You are the redeemed and precious child of the Living God, a person who struggles just like the apostle Paul, but a person alive in Christ, in whose strength you can do all things!

Live in the victory that Jesus has given us. He is the life-maker and bondage-breaker, the Holy One of God who will free you from sin and its power.

In Christ, you can be free of anything that controls you, body, mind, soul, and spirit.