On Addiction By repetitive obedience the hold of any lust is lost I received an e-mail from a fellow who asked the question many people have about addiction. This man's addiction was alcohol but I believe the application of my advice* to him works for all who are in bondage because of the nature of addiction… Dear Evangelist, Why is it that I can't stop drinking? I have broken so many promises to God to stop that I can't even recall the number...it is dozens of times. I want to be a more mature Christian, but this alcoholism is a serious impediment. Please give me some words of wisdom." (Name withheld) Though I am familiar with the struggle of addictions I was never addicted to alcohol. Here is my reply anyway. In this I am directly addressing the one addicted but I believe all will find it helpful... Promises to God don't work. Take that from me. If you had wanted to be free you would have been by now. So there are problems other than addiction, to address... First, we have to answer the question, "How does anyone stop an addiction?" All addictions are alike in one important point; they are compelling and sinful. All people have a propensity for addiction, because all sin; there is none good. When we are made new through regeneration we still have the flesh to contend with; we are saved, but we are in the process of being rescued. We are made clean but now we must be made pure as snow, shade by shade, through sanctification. It is a process and it can be painful at times. That pain can be quite intense with an addiction to overcome. Addiction is merely sin that has been left unchecked. Just as your sin developed into an addiction by your giving in to temptation repetitively, so is the cure acquired in that same manner. Whether that lust is drugs, sexual impurity, alcohol or any of the many sins of the flesh in which we indulge, only by repetitively denying that monster its food will your addicted flesh grow weak enough to be overcome. You are not alone. Every person has an addiction - Every Single Person. It's just that most people have learned to control their lusts through continually denying them the food of sin, or have learned to hide them well. But we all love some sin. That is the nature of sin that it is appealing. That lust we are so tempted with, if given in to too often, becomes addictive. Addiction is a sin that we want so badly, and our flesh is so used to getting, that we think we cannot live without it. That brings us to a key that I believe is the one which, when understood, will reveal our true problem... The power of addiction is in a lie: You do not need to give in to your lusts. When you are drinking and your pastor, or your parents walk in on you, your first response is to stop, if just for the length of time it takes for you to get rid of him, or them. But, the point is, you would stop. You can stop when you want to. You wouldn't indulge your sin in Church either, like a person addicted to alcohol would not be knocking down a cold one during the service: So you can control yourself. And this brings me to a hard to swallow but necessary inspiration for you to hear... If you want to be free you can choose to be: You sin because you choose to. Addiction is a choice, just as with all sin. The problem with addiction is in the lust being so well fed; it is extremely hard on your flesh to resist because that monster temptation is so very strong from your giving in too often. If you expect to be victorious you must take your conquest one success at a time, one resistance at a time. Keep resisting and, as you continue steadfast, you will succeed. The “d” word Discipline comes into play here. The reason you are even in the mess of addiction is from a lack of disciplined denial. There is no Christian that does not have to deny himself daily, but he is no longer enslaved to sin as he was when he was before repenting and trusting in Jesus, before he was born again. (…to be continued in part 2 of 3) Patrick J Burwell Evangelist and Author Click here for bio and archived articles Evangelist@OnlyJesusSaves.com Biblically Evangelizing Street Preacher Minister of Evangelism for the Church of Living Faith in Newton, NJ Founder and president of OnlyJesusSaves.com *the letter was altered and expanded on. On Addiction By repetitive obedience the hold of any lust is lost Part 2 of 3 One of the most pervasive indicators of addiction being only a symptom of the real issue is the fact that those addicted do not stay fixed to one addiction. The medical community likes to say those who are addicted have a propensity for it, as if they are born to sin more than others are. But, I have learned personally and from the experience of many other I have known, as well as from other brothers and sisters, that this idea of addiction being a disease you can catch, or is a gene you are born with is just not so. To suppose that someone like Hitler was more evil than you or I is to deny what scripture, and life, plainly shows. Take a good look in the mirror and at the news. Mankind, you, me, are all desperately and hideously depraved. We all want to be “in control” and given the right set of circumstances to remove our inhibitors, like moral codes, peer pressures and laws, you will do anything your evil heart desires. Deny this to your peril Why? Jesus did not come to heal the healthy but the sick; did not come to call the righteous but the sinner to repentance. If you go to a meeting of those with addictions you will note something right away: They smoke and drink coffee like it was going to run out. Anyone who was an alcoholic will tell you that this is a common problem; that they switch from one addiction to another… I recently spoke to a person who has many addictions and she plainly told me that she knows her problem is not addiction but one of control. Did you get that? You shouldn’t be surprised, if you know yourself. And you shouldn’t get too high and mighty over it either: all sin is to be as God, and there isn’t ANY of us who has that walking on water trick down yet, except Jesus. Peter got pretty close but FEAR tripped him up… That sounds pretty familiar… When I was addicted, and then managed to stop on my own, I found it was very easy to switch to another sin so my flesh would stop yowling and I could claim victory. But, once I faced myself honestly in God’s Law, seeing how depraved I really was, I saw I was not overcoming anything. Only by surrendering to Jesus and to His control of me did I finally find the peace I so desperately sought. But it wasn’t the peace I had expected… Jesus began exerting His Control over me, by the Spirit. The day I surrendered to Jesus everything changed and some things stopped right away, but then the process of purification began. I no longer willfully sinned against God but I sure was tempted to. Sometimes, either from foolish fear or ignorant anger, I would fall into some sin. But Jesus is gracious and doesn’t let you stay down. Sometimes He did let me walk into it to learn a valuable lesson, but sin no longer reigned in me; my desires had been changed by Jesus from the inside. And this brings us to probably the most valuable lesson anyone in addiction can learn: YOU CAN BE DELIVERED COMPLETELY, but only in utter surrender to Jesus. NO “higher power” will cut it… The day I repented, forsaking everything I could think of, trusting in Jesus ot not only save me from Hell but to be my LORD, a real WAR began inside me. Sin was no longer my master; I could say no and mean it, but MAN what a battle began. Some days I felt I was going crazy, but as I submitted and remained constant in my surrender I gradually saw light at the end of the tunnel. It took quite some time for my flesh to stop revolting constantly, mourning like an old dog, but, day by day, trial by trial, the flesh gradually got weaker as my desire to serve and honor Jesus got stronger… If I ever gave in and indulged the struggle took longer to get back to that same place and taught me the valuable lesson of immediate obedience, just like a child must learn. But the mark of a Christian is a growing holiness that can be seen. We have seen so many accounts of men who were thought they were immune to temptations; they and we learned the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. All the world has been corrupted by our lusts but there is an escape… There are several keys to deliverance from addiction and I have written as many of the ones I know following. All these are necessary and none of them should be left out: 1. The most crucial step is to evaluate yourself and see if you are truly in the faith. Take this test, and then do exactly what is recommended.: http://www.onlyjesussaves.com/good 2. Go to your pastor and confess all to him. Make it very clear what you have been doing and leave no detail out. Be cold heartedly honest with him. If you do not attend a biblically sound church this process will be much harder to go through. 3. Get help from a friend who you can trust to hold you accountable. He must be of such caliber that he will be with you all the way through to success over this sin and willing to have you check in with him for the rest of your life. I can elaborate on this further but ask your pastor what this means. If he is worth his salt he will know what I am talking about. 4. Get professional help if need be, but understand this well: most professional counselors only accept psychology as a resolution; most counselors do no believe the Bible holds the one and only solution for you. Psychology will keep you burdened, confused and frustrated for the rest of your life. 5. Deal with temptation wisely. Temptation is merely a suggestion, not a requirement. The Apostle Paul said that we are no longer obligated to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. In other words, you do not have to sin. If you are a Christian, you do have a choice. The unrepentant, the lost, have little control over their lusts, so they are exactly that: LOST. And if they have any seeming control their motive is selfish, making the cure worthless. But there is a cure gotten through forsaking that sin, that lust: Jesus paying the fine for their crime… The bottom line, the very first and critical stage, for overcoming ANY addiction, is that you must first die to your self. That can only happen as you repent of your crimes against God and entrust yourself wholly to Jesus to save you. There is no other solution my friend. You must repent of your sinning and trust in Jesus not only to save you from the just reward for your sins but also to enable you now to overcome the flesh. Jesus promises we can overcome all things through Him, who strengthens us. Remember, it is the greatest tool of the devil to get you to believe you cannot stop. But a Christian can stop anything he wants to, as he entrusts himself to Jesus to make him able to. Surrender to Jesus and then just let that temptation go by. Don't even respond to it. Know that every time you are tempted you are being enticed by what must die. Laugh at addiction for what it is: A pathetic attempt to try to keep you weak so you will not be the effective witness that God wants you to be and to kill you if possible. God gave me a vision of what that meant by showing me holding suitcase bags in each hand. Each bag was full and heavy with sins, past struggles. Each time I was enticed and picked up the bags, (thinking I had to) I was burdened with the weight of them. What God showed me was to let them go and not to pick them up again. Whenever I realize I have them in my hands again, however it happened, I must recognize what happened and let them go again, not taking any time between the realization and the action. By repetitive obedience the hold of any lust is lost. My friend, it is not your place to condemn yourself, but, it is your place, your responsibility before God, to correct your self. If you want more extensive Biblical counsel on addiction read "The Kingdom of Self" by Chaplain Earl Jabay. The site with his book has some good comments as well on some of Earl's exceptional insights. We all have a besetting sin that seems as if it is an insurmountable hill, but, as I said to this reader I also say to you, Only Jesus Saves. Patrick J Burwell Evangelist and Author Click here for bio and archived articles Evangelist@OnlyJesusSaves.com Biblically Evangelizing Street Preacher Minister of Evangelism for the Church of Living Faith in Newton, NJ Founder and president of OnlyJesusSaves.com *the letter was altered and expanded on.