I think that I may have a compulsive personality. I’m like a pitbull on hobbies, issues, and interests. Once I get my teeth sunk it, I don’t let go very easily. I’ve learned over the years that not everyone is as interested or enamored with the same things I am, and they tend to get this glossy-eyed look as I froth at the mouth about something I’m interested in.
I mean, why in the world people wouldn’t people be hot-to-trot about fantasy football, reading, basketball, blogging, Xbox, movies, coffee, and Macs? Everyone of those has been proven scientifically to prolong your life, bring peace, and make you rich. Really. Just check out each of the previous links. and then read Mark’s excellent column about how reliable science is. (Of course, there’s also Steven Johnson’s new book, Everything Bad is Good for You.)
To be truthful, I can see how anyone of those things (and yours are most likely different) can become more than just hobbies. For some folks, they can become obsessions. For others, it might even approach the "addiction" level. Addictions ain’t good. You can quote me on that. It’s quite profound.
Here’s the rub: for those seeking to have a biblically-shaped and informed worldview, you will find quickly that Scripture doesn’t deal with addictions the same way our culture does. In Scripture, we are simply told, for example, not to get drunk. But what about someone who is an alcoholic? Our culture prescribes a 12-step program replete with reliance on a "higher power." Scripture has a simple imperative: don’t do it. Let’s continue using the alcohol analogy:
- The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions andenvy; drunkenness,
orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before,that those who live
like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5.19-22)
- Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. (Ephesians 5.18)
- For you have spent enoughtime in the past doing what pagans choose to do?living in debauchery,lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. (1 Peter 4.3)
As you peruse the scriptures above (and dozens of others), you’ll
readily notice that what is being forbidden as sinful here are many of
today’s modern "addictions." Could it be that we have replaced sin with
more palatable terminology for our egos and self-esteem? For a
modern/post-modern culture, the idea of not doing something because it
is offensive to a holy God is not acceptable. Rather, then we must
define our poor behavior and negative attitudes on things that are not
"healthy," or things that are hurtful to others.
For when we call something an addiction, or a disorder, or the like,
we in some ways absolve ourselves of spiritual responsibility. The
fault becomes chemical, genetic, or substance-related rather than being
a matter of a weak will.
The Christian should seek to have a contemporary perspective
informed and guided by scriptural truth rather than cultural trends.
The problem is a sin problem. God’s demand for our holiness is not
alleviated by any modern method of treatment. Consider the following:
- Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set onwhat that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8.5)
- Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8.8)
- Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (1 Peter 2.11)
- So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
- Forthe sinful nature desires
what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the
sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not
do what you want. (Galatians 5.16-17)
- Let us behave decently, asin
the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality
and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13.13-14)
Over and over in scripture, the reality presented is not that we are
addicted to external things, whether substances, behaviors, or systems;
rather, the reality is that we are inherently sinful, and we must
choose to exercise our minds, or our wills – with the empowering of God
within us through His Spirit – to purposefully choose thongs things
that please God. When left by ourselves, we will allow our sinful
nature to lead us into behavior patterns that are ungodly and horrific
to a holy God.
So, the problem is not our addiction but our sin. And if sin is the
issue, then we are given a solution through the enabling of God. It is
not the elevation of our esteem ("I’m OK, but I have a problem…"),
but it’s forgiveness.
If you, O LORD kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared. (Psalm 130.3-4)
This is massive, life-upending and restoring news. It is peace to
the roaring, chaotic life. It is comfort to the desperate and hopeless
who have "tried everything." It’s good news. It’s the gospel. You are
forgiven. You are not… an alcoholic… a pervert… a drughead… a
sex offender. You are forgiven.
For all those whose identities have long been lost in their addictions, the identity gift described in the Word of God leads you back to the person you truly are, the one you were created to be.
- How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3.1)
- So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All
this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave
us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5.16-18)
All this is free. Given to us by God. It’s not something we have
ever deserved, worked for, or earned. John 3.16 begins, "For God so
loved the world that He gave…" Tremendous truth. Forever forgiven.
The addiction is not the problem. The sin is. We do have a choice.
God has the power and the desire. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be a
daily choices and rigorouos personal discipline to experience the
freedom that God provides for us. It does mean that He can if we will.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us
our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9)
It’s no one else’s fault. It’s our sin against the God of the universe. A Holy Creator. A Loving Savior.
Let’s quit accepting prescriptions for wholeness from our culture and start seeking provisions for holiness from our Creator.
If you are confused about all the scriptural references above and/or
have never considered who God created you to be, I’d like to point you
to some excellent resources and links below:
- Billy Graham Association:
has links for spiritual help, crisis situations, health &
lifestyle, relationships, religion & philosophy, and society &
- Two Ways to Live
- The Ooze
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