As in every problem solving situation, one must first recognize there is a problem. It is a key element. There was a man who was suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms (DTs) and his family rushed him to a detoxification center where he underwent treatment for several weeks. He was told not to return to the same environment because he would be extraordinarily tempted to slip back into his old habits and old ways. He deliberately went back home. He went right back to his old ways, and two years later was found dead in his closet. It appeared he was trying to get dressed for work. There are so many other stories where people’s lives have been ruined by addictions, and never acknowledging they have a problem.
There is hope!
Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins never prospers, but he who confesses and forsakes them shall have pity. You can’t confess what you don’t recognize or know is a problem. Therefore, we know there is hope for those who take that first step—recognizing there is a problem.
The second step is recognizing that the problem is wrong. So often we immediately recognize sins for what they are, but rationalize and justify certain sins because we enjoy them. For years and years I justified my smoking because “it helped me to relax”. What relaxed me was taking a short break away from my work, not the puffing or the nicotine. I had held a baby in one arm and a cigarette in the other hand. One daughter had asthma and the other daughter had huge allergy problems. I have no doubt my smoking aggravated those problems. I was wrong to subject them to that; it breaks my heart that I did.
1 John 2:16 because all that which is in the world: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Proverbs 8:13 The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil; I hate pride and loftiness, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth.
The third step in the difficult process is never blame others for our sin. Counselors hear, “If my wife were just more loving.” Or “If my husband understood me better.” Or “My work is just too stressful so I deserve this night on the town… these four drinks… this hour with my porn magazines… What’s the harm? It’s just a drink with a co-worker.” And it doesn’t have to be one of the BIG sin addictions. It can be as simple as hitting the snooze and not getting up to spend time with God, not spending time with God’s people, eating double portions, forgetting your body belongs to God and is His Temple. We rationalize everything which soothes our conscious to the point of numbness. It dates back to Adam and Eve. He pointed his finger at his wife, and she pointed her finger at the serpent. It is always someone else’s fault.
Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”
The fourth step is found in Proverbs 9:10-11 The fear of the Lord is the start of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One gives a wise mind For by me your days will be increased, and the years of your life will be long. And in Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and good faith evil-doing is taken away: and by the fear of the Lord men are turned away from evil.
Only through recognizing the LORD is the Almighty Sovereign of our hearts can we possibly conquer our addictions permanently. God will discipline His children. It is the way of any loving father; God designed it that way. Sin has consequences, therefore our sinful addictions have consequences, sometimes with far reaching effects. God is in control, of us and those consequences.
The fifth step is understanding that will power alone can’t break addictions. People often say, “If she just had a little more will power, she wouldn’t be so fat!” It isn’t a question of will power. The flesh is weak. Temptations come along, the mind starts toying with the temptation, entertaining the “enjoyment” of yielding to the temptation, and soon the action follows the mind’s thought process. At a weak moment, the Christian will give in—Romans 7:18 For I am conscious that in me, that is, in my flesh, there is nothing good: I have the mind but not the power to do what is right.— unless he depends upon the power of the LORD, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead, that parted the Red Sea, that fed the 5,000, that turned water into wine. Make no mistake, breaking a sinful addiction is no less a miracle than those feats. The Christian has the access to the mighty will of God. . Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
The first five steps can be taken almost simultaneously. The sixth step is ongoing. The Christian who has a deep desire to break the addiction must learn to flee temptation. The man I told you about earlier knew he must not go back into the same environment where he had become stuck in the web of alcoholism, but he went back anyway. For most of us, the consequence is not as dire as his, but we must recognize that it most certainly has the potential for it.
Joseph fled the seduction of Potiphar’s wife. He wound up in prison, but wasn’t that more of a blessing than a curse? Potiphar’s wife could have continued pursuit of Joseph if he had remained within her vicinity. God put Joseph in a place where he would eventually benefit Pharaoh and become second in command of all Egypt. Fleeing temptation has rewards. We need to recognize that not every seeming bad thing is truly a bad thing. Joseph's prison was actually his freedom from that particular temptation.
Proverbs 4:15 Avoid it. Pass not by it. Turn from it and go on your way. I Corinthians 6:18 “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:22 But keep yourself from those desires of the flesh which are strong when the body is young, and go after righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those whose prayers go up to the Lord from a clean heart.
Step seven is somewhat harder to do. The Christian must graft in, permanently attach and become one with, the Word of God concerning the specific sin one is addicted to. Whatever sin that has you or a loved one enslaved is written about in the Bible. God has made sure that no one has any excuse for sin. Whether it be the occult (Leviticus 20, 1 Samuel 15:23), idolatry (John 2:8, Galatians 5:20), or any other of the issues addressed in the Ten Commands, God boldly speaks out against sin and gives examples of consequences endured because of that sin. David never had a moment’s peace within his family because of his adultery and murder.
Step eight may seem harsh, but in order to flee temptation, one must get rid of the temptation. That means throw out all the pornography, erotic novels (you do realize that graphic love scenes are a form of pornography, right?), junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, work that you bring home which steals your time from your family, every thing that you allow to come between you and God, all things which has enslaved you. Except, of course, you cannot throw out your family or church. There are people who worship their church work and their children to the point of idolatry. Numbers 33:52 then you shall dispossess all the ones living in the land from before you, and destroy all their engraved images; yea, you shall destroy all their casted images, and demolish all their high places.
There are such things as demons and Satan uses them to attack our weaknesses. Christians can become oppressed by demons. Read the book, Escaping the Cauldron by my friend Kristine McGuire. Another good one is by Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Step nine. There is such a thing a generational curses and generational sin. Deliverance is needed and cannot be done alone. Pray for God to deliver and seek help from your pastor. Keep seeking, but know that Satan will do everything in his power to keep you from being delivered. James 4:7 Submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee. Understanding that it is not all about what NOT to do. There is significant help in submitting to the authority of God, submersing ones self in His Word, and in keeping company with His people who will hold one accountable. Always remember that the prayers of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). ). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrew 13:17).
Step ten in breaking a sinful addiction requires deliberate choice on the part of the Christian to disable Satan’s hold and enable God’s control. Once the deliberate choice is made, then the healing process may take a long time or a short time depending upon how entrenched the addiction is in the person’s life. Babies do not come out of the womb walking and talking. It takes time for a baby to develop into a mobile, communicative being.
Next time we will study how to put up a shield of protection while you are breaking the chains.