Everybody knows someone who struggles with addiction. Whether it is to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, pornography or something as seemingly harmless as shopping, television or food, an addiction is serious business. Left unchecked, addictions have the power to ruin your life.
If you or someone you love is trapped in addiction’s downward spiral, this article offers truth from God’s Word that can help anyone get free and stay free from addiction.
A Vicious Cycle
Many people who are stuck in addictions have repeatedly called out to God to set them free. They’ve literally begged Him to take away their desire for food, drugs, cigarettes, pornography or whatever it is they are addicted to – only to find themselves still tormented by sinful desires. They want God to do it all, but there’s more to it: He does His part, but we still have to say “no” to sin.
The Apostle Paul – who had a very dramatic salvation experience – wrote of his struggle in Romans 7:18-19. Anyone who has ever been addicted to anything can identify with him when he said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”
The Bible is clear when it talks about the conflict between the sinful nature and the Spirit. “For the 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. 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 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like…” Galatians 5:17,19-21.
Face it: your flesh would love to dominate your life – even after you are saved! Why? Because even though God makes you a new creation in Christ when you get saved (2 Corinthians 5:17), you still have the same old body and it still leans toward doing things the old, pre-Christian way. God has done His part, but you have to do yours. You have to determine daily to walk in the Spirit and say “no” to the flesh.
Victory Begins in the Mind
Your mind is like a thermostat. Where you set it determines whether you will live hot, cold or spiritually lukewarm, and it determines whether you will say “yes” or “no” to sin. In Romans 8:5, Paul wrote, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
He said it even more plainly in Colossians 3:1-2 where he wrote, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2 NKJV).
Every action and every behavior is determined by your mindset. It has been said that when you sow a thought, you reap an act; when you sow an act, you reap a habit; when you sow a habit, you reap a character; and when you sow a character, you reap a destiny. It all starts with where you set your mind.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me” - but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” - but I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul recognized that some things have the potential to control us, to become strongholds in our lives. Just as Paul set his mind, you also have the ability to set your mind to not be controlled by anything or anyone other than the Lord.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Renewing your mind by reading and meditating on God’s Word literally sets your mind where God intends it to be. It replaces the devil’s lies with God’s truth so you can say “yes” to God and “no” to the pull of addiction.
Three Lies Exposed
Here are three of the devil’s favorite lies:
1. You cannot change.
2. You are a prisoner of your past.
3. You are unloved and unacceptable – even to God.
The devil wants you to think that you are a poor helpless sinner who has no hope of changing. He wants to make you think that because of your past sins (whether they were 10 years ago or just 10 minutes ago) you are unworthy of receiving anything from God. And one of Satan’s most effective lies is aimed at making people – even Christians – feel alone and isolated.
Here are some powerful truths from God’s Word that replace the devil’s lies:
1. The old person I used to be was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:4). I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), who is dead to sin (Rom. 6:2). I am a righteous saint (2 Cor. 5:21).
2. There is no more guilt and condemnation in Christ (Rom. 8:1). God has taken care of my sins - all of them: past, present and future - at the cross.
3. God loves me and accepts me. He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5,6) and has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and victory (1 Cor. 15:57).
Receive God’s Mercy
No matter how long you or someone you love has struggled with addiction, freedom is possible. It begins with God’s mercy. Paul wrote, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures ... but when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:3-4).
You may fail, but God’s mercy never will. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” To receive God’s forgiveness and the freedom from addiction that accompanies it, you can pray this prayer:
Dear God, I confess that I have been addicted to _________. I repent of this addiction and ask you to forgive me and help me to begin again. I confess that I have been in bondage to __________, and I renounce any and all involvement with it. I ask, by the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit, that You set me free. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me and setting me free. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
The Choice is Yours
God will not force you to do the right things. He will love you, equip you, put people in your path to help you, and even guide you, but you still have to make the choice to say “no” to temptation. As you daily make the hard choices, it will get easier to say “no” over time.
Whatever you do, do not believe the lie that you are hopeless. With God’s help and the right attitude, you can stay free from addiction.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age ... “ (Titus 2:11-12).
(All scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)
Our prayer for you is that you would live each day totally free in Christ. If you’d like someone from our team to agree with you in prayer - and especially if you have never received Jesus Christ as your Savior - please contact us at 800-988-5120 or by clicking on the “Need Prayer?” button located on the top of each web page.