The Truth About Addictions

Addictions are a common problem for which people seek counseling.  Some of the addictions people have brought to our counseling office are:

Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling, Love, Exercise, Sleep, Nicotine, Pain, Food, Shopping, Cocaine, Chocolate, Work, Sugar, Sports, Lying, Shoplifting, Stealing, Nose drops, Sex, Caffeine, Television, and the internet.

So, what is yours? We all have them, you know. Some are as mild as spending all day on the internet at your favorite social networking site, and others are as severe as losing the mortgage payment at the casino. Life dominating sins are also known as addictions.

All the things on the list above have a common bond in that they can bring pleasure and evoke emotion. They deliver an experience to the senses and we find many of them very pleasurable and desire to have them frequently. Several of them provide a full-body experience, affecting your whole being. Not all of those things are sinful by themselves, but they all could be sinful if they become a larger part of our lives than is appropriate.

Our culture sure encourages self-indulgence, doesn't it? A person with a life dominating sin experiences many conflicting emotions as a result of their desires. They express feelings of being trapped, out of control, desperate, in bondage, stuck, enslaved, controlled, and will often express being hopeless. At the same time they will describe feeling more alive and alert when they are indulging their desires. Things that bring us such intense pleasure feed our flesh and cause us to want more and more of it.

Ed Welch, in his excellent book, A Banquet in the Grave, makes the following statement: "The basic theology for addictions is that the root problem goes deeper than our genetic makeup. Addictions are ultimately a disorder of worship."

Thanks Ed, for saying what I have been saying for years! The truth is that when our desires conflict with Scripture, we do not always live according to what we say we believe. We say we believe, yet our behavior betrays us, and it reveals the real love of our heart.

We know that we have a problem when we are denied one of those things or we can't get enough of them. People who are considered addicted are seemingly unable to let go of that substance or person even when having it (or them) as a part of their life causes pain and problems. They seem to not be able to let go, even when the pain of the pursuit and the consequences are very costly.

Christians who struggle with addictions have managed to compartmentalize their hearts and minds. They have a "Sunday heart" that worships God, can sing and praise and really mean everything they do in worship- because at that moment they are really engaged in glorifying God. They also have the "everyday heart" which is what takes over the rest of the time. They worship themselves and they obey their desire to be independent from God and become their own god, living by their own rules and making up their own theology.

Often, these folks don't see this conflict in their lives. Our propensity toward self-deception is so huge that we often don't see our dual lives. A counselee may not understand she is attempting to hide a part of herself from God. Psalm 139 reminds us that it is impossible to hide from the One who is omnipresent and all knowing.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. Psalm 139:7-8 (NIV)

What about you? Are you able to admit whatever your secret sin or life dominating sin is? I find myself extremely convicted in some areas as I meditate on God's Word and He lays my heart bare. It grieves my heart to know that I still find ways to make excuses for my sin.

I love God's Word- it rips the blinders off my eyes and causes me to see clearly what God wants me to see. I have the opportunity see parts of myself I choose to overlook and to repent.

The changes we experience will come from an understanding and application of the  Bible As you realize what the Bible says about your thoughts, beliefs, and desires and you internalize those truths you will begin to live them.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

Put off the old attitudes of the heart, renew your mind, and put on the new attitudes of the heart.