Addictions are truly rampant in our society. To read about the opioid issues in the Northeast, the alcohol addictions facing millions, the pornography addictions ruining many people’s lives is heartbreaking. I do not think anyone caught in these addictions started out by saying, “hey I want to ruin my life! Let me get addicted!” However, things happen, life gets hard, we look for relief and escapes, and one day you wake up and you are in a bigger mess than when you started.
I am writing this piece, not as a judgement against people with addictions, but as a resource to help you. If you or someone you know struggles with addictions, I believe there is a truth that God shows us that is powerful enough to end that addiction.
I obviously need to preface all of this by saying that addiction is a terrible thing to have to go through, and once you reach a certain point, there are factors like chemical imbalances, changes in brain chemistry, etc. that can terrorize an individual. Acknowledging all of that (in one-way too short sentence), I want to focus on the less often talked about spiritual side of addiction.
The ROOT issue of addiction is idolatry. (Ugh Christian speak). Hang with me for a second, and I think you will begin to see it. Here are a couple snapshots. It is a worship problem!
A man worshipping the way women look.
When men are caught in this, they can see an image… a beautiful image… an enticing image… and act to discover more. Maybe that’s a click on an internet site, or an attempt to make eye contact, or a whistle or a shout on the street. Some men caught in this can go throughout an entire day, thinking about every woman/image of a woman they see to judge if it is beautiful enough to act upon. Scaling and grading in their minds, searching for the MOST BEAUTIFUL image they can find. It’s like a search, a hunt, a discovery for the greatest beauty, with the hopes that it will bring them pleasure. Do you see the idolatry? Do you see the worship?
Women worship beauty as well. The image of a beautiful human.
(I obviously am not a woman, and do not claim to know the inner depths of the female mind… this is simply my feeble attempt). When women are caught in this, becoming beautiful can consume their minds. Comparing, contrasting, judging, and ultimately acting to become more beautiful. If they could just acquire this, it would give them happiness, pleasure, contentment. The quest for beauty becomes what will bring them fulfillment in life. Do you see the idolatry? On a side note: You can see how this is directly connected to men’s desires as well… for when women become what they desire, they actually have power over the men who are desperately searching for this exact image. Women can actually BECOME the objects of worship from men. However, let me assure you, God never created you for that.
People worship pleasure. We act to feed it.
The desire to do whatever it takes to make us happy. After all, isn’t it our RIGHT to pursue happiness? How dare anyone stand in my way of chasing after this idol. The idolatry in this is that we are acting out of our own interests, for our own will, instead of submitting to God’s interests and God’s will.
People escape into addictions. We put our lives in its hands to overcome hardships.
Think about that for a second. When we are overwhelmed with life, what or who are we running to for “salvation”? Think of all the addictions: a book, Facebook, browsing the internet, blogs, a cigarette, a glass of wine, a cold hard drink, a Netflix binge, hydrocodone, etc.
None of the things I listed just now are sinful on their face, but when they become escapes… when they become our refuge from a hard day… is that not idolatry? They are taking God’s role to be our refuge; to be our provider; to be our salvation; to be our King.
“Though I walk through the valley… I will fear no evil”
“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid… for the Lord your God is with you.”
“All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me”
This truth is SO important to bring into the light. We cannot combat idolatry, until we bring it into the light and call it what it is. We are trusting in things other than God to bring us pleasure, refuge, escape from hardships, and ultimately we are ACTING in faith for these things. THAT IS WORSHIP. That is idolatry.
Romans 1:23 says that we have, “swapped the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal humans – and of birds, animals and reptiles”
Colossians 3:5 says to, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Let’s not be afraid of that word idolatry. This has ALWAYS been our problem, and every single sin is tied to idolatry. James says, “Faith without works is dead”. When we act in faith of something other than God to help us that is idolatry. Whether it be stealing, lying, envy, greed, sex, drugs, addictions…. It is Idolatry.
If you or someone you know is caught in this (this most likely is every single person reading this), here is what Scripture teaches us to do in order to escape this idolatry.
1. Submit your will to His.
You will never beat this on your own. In fact, scripture makes it clear that you CAN’T. We are SLAVES to these things. Think back to the men and women addicted to the images of beautiful people. Slaves. Dominating their thoughts. God calls us to surrender our lives to him. Giving our thoughts, actions, emotions, will to him. What God does is he declares you righteous, you are reborn as a new creation, and then he gives you his Spirit to begin transforming you, “renewing your mind” every single day. Submit to HIS will for your life. HE is our sole source of worship. WE become the image of God, just as he created us to be in the beginning.
2. Call out the idolatry.
God regularly calls us to root out the idolatry in our lives. We do this by BRINGING it into the light so that it is exposed for what it is. Men worshipping women. Women worshipping beauty. Men and women worshipping pleasure. Men and women worshipping the escapes of life. We bring this into the light, repenting before God, and calling on HIS authority in heaven and on Earth to help us overcome these things that have enslaved us.
3. Take captive your thoughts and make them submissive to God
When you catch yourself going back to your old mindset, take that thought captive and tell it… I WORSHIP THE LORD GOD; I DO NOT WORSHIP THIS WOMAN/MAN/ DRUG/ADDICTION. When you surrender to God, you come under his authority, and he has clearly told us, that he has ALL authority in both Heaven AND on Earth. Jesus proved this by conquering death. Jesus can conquer the idols in your life.
4. Come and Die
This seems obvious, but it is the hardest statement I have made today. When you are in pain (physical, emotional, spiritual) and you NEED something to stop it, it can be the hardest thing in the world to trust in God to help you with that pain, and not turn to the proven idols of life, which give temporary relief. The pain pills. The internet clicks. The Netflix binge. The orgasm in a sexual experience. Jesus Calls us to Come and Die, and the great hope in that call is that when you die to yourself, HE gives you even MORE life than you’ve ever experienced.
So the question you must ask yourself is, DO YOU TRUST GOD to be the Lord over your life? He is ready to take your hand and lead you into amazing places, but you must trust him with your whole life. No more worshipping anything else for your happiness and fulfillment. Put your life in God’s hands.