Last time we met I blogged to those who have loved ones that practice addiction/idolatry. Today I am addressing a couple of commonly asked questions with respect to addicts and their sin.
When Christians are in bondage to alcohol, drugs, sexual sin or another vice, very often the first questions are with respect to their salvation. It is common for an addicted idolater or their loved one to be plagued by doubts of salvation. There is such despair as the addicted idolater continually questions his or her salvation as they fight against the doubts and fears that arise as they practice their idolatry. The reality is that perhaps there has been a false assurance of salvation; repentance and time will bear out if a person is truly regenerated.
Christians falling into sin is not new, Paul spoke of it in Galatians 6:1. He instructed those who were currently standing strong to help those who had fallen.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (NASB)
We should not be surprised that Christians struggle with sin; even strong Christians fight against the sinful desires of the heart. This is both encouraging and discouraging. The lure of sin is always present and the power of sin living in us is strong. It is not only the unspiritual who fall prey to sin, the Bible is replete with examples of those who loved God and were loved by God that struggled deeply with besetting sin. If you doubt this is true, read about Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and Peter.
As God did with these heroes of our faith, He will forgive and restore the repentant person. He shows them the pathway of change and gives grace, mercy, and hope for the journey.
A person who is an addicted idolater is in a battle. There are temptations and challenges on all sides to fight against. The choice is to engage in the battle or be enslaved (Titus 3:3). The addict can choose to fight his or her sinful desires and lusts or be hardened by them.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Heb. 3:13 (ESV)
Christians who struggle with various forms of addiction typically ask other questions such as, "Why me?" and "What's wrong with me?" A question that often goes unasked is, "Do I have an addiction I am powerless to overcome?"
Sin calls to us, and calls us away from God. It lures like a baited hook (James 1:13-14) and appears so very appealing. It entices with the false promise of fulfilled desires and hope of satisfaction- for a time. It bribes with false security and false confidence. It promises to be a companion and bring comfort when we are all alone. These are the deceptions of the heart that tell us that something other than God will satisfy the longings within. It promises what it cannot deliver.
Addictions are idols of the heart. The idol is what occupies the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the heart. In the beginning the person who uses or abuses a substance is in control of it. It does not take long before the substance becomes a cruel master. The substance or activity takes over the life of the user and what the addict once controlled is now controlling them. Is it any wonder that the addict has a sense of hopelessness?
The addict must remember that as a Christian s/he has been set free (Gal. 5:1).God has called the Christian to something different; He has called us to passionately desire Him. This passion will be fueled by the Word of God acting upon the heart (mind, will). This is the transformation of the heart that leads to transformation in life that Paul wrote about in Romans 12:1-2.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform 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. (NIV)
The addict must realize that only God satisfies!
[God] who satisfies your
desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s Psalm 103:5
[God, who ] satisfies the
thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.Psalm 107:9