Addiction, How Do We Help Them?
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Do those who are addicted realize their addiction is idolatry?
To help those who are addicted we must first show them their addiction is idolatry–––a life dominating sin that needs to be severed by practicing “spiritual amputation.” God created man to worship and serve Him and to experience a personal relationship with a holy God. Addiction is a problem of misdirected and inappropriate worship coming from an idolatrous heart. The addict either does not know the character of God or they have chosen to ignore and doubt the truth they have already been taught. Addicts can spend much time, energy, finances and metal consideration in pursuit of their idol–––while neglecting the things essential to life. This idol is the ruling factor in their life which distracts them from their responsibilities and dictates the friends they choose or those they abandon.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29-30.) Jesus was not suggesting self-mutilation but a graphic exaggeration was depicted to demonstrate the seriousness of the sin of lust and evil desire. The point being, it would be better to loose one’s own body parts than to bear the eternal consequences of guilt from such a sin.
Are there Biblical solutions for those suffering in their addictions?
There are a few solutions that the addicted will make up in order to relieve their conscience when they are tempted to sin. They will blame their actions on something or someone else. They will rationalize the extent of their sin or justify why they did what they did. They will lie and use cute or silly phrases to describe their sin in order to avoid the reality of what they have done. They will avoid people or circumstances that remind them of the consequences of their sin and glamorize their situation only recalling the good times. The addict needs to be reminded that these are wrong solutions in their battle over their addiction and only the pursuit of God can change their heart.
How do we help those whom we know are addicted and fall repeatedly?
Be mindful that addicts can be guilt-ridden and full of shame. Always speak the truth in love to those that are hurting from addiction that they may gain an awareness of what they have done and are doing hurts them and others. They need to understand–––sorrow that produces repentance leads to salvation and embraces God’s wonderful grace. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ~ For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Sorrow that produces death, forgets God and in pride embraces worthless self-effort in an attempt to save face. Humility and submission to God must replace pride and self-effort along with the understanding that repentance is not a one time act. Choices to serve God and not one’s self must be made every day to re-establish a relationship with God and break the chains of bondage their idolatry holds them captive to. Ephesians 4:22-24 ~ That ye put off concerning the former conversation (behavior) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (typically, deceitful lusts is on a habitual basis intending to mislead or deceive) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The addict must realize they cannot deliver themselves from their addiction; “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Those that suffer from addiction must re-establish their relationship with God or come to the saving knowledge of Christ for God to do a work in their life. They need to realize addiction causes trust to be broken and that rebuilding trust takes time and effort. How they treat others, especially their brother’s and sister’s in Christ, is demonstrated by noticeable acts of love. The Scriptures below will provide a starting place to show how they are to “love others” or “each other.”
Romans 12:10 ~ Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (to show genuine appreciation and admiration for fellow believers with love.)
Galatians 5:13 ~ For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Galatians 5:15 ~ But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Imagery of wild animals attacking and killing each other––a graphic picture of what happens when Christians do not love and serve each other.)
Ephesians 4:32 ~ And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
1 Peter 4:8 ~ And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (Fervent means to be stretched, to put another’s spiritual good before one’s own desires even if your are treated poorly. Covering sin means to over look what someone has done to you and be ready to forgive unkindnesses and personal insults.)
Thought: To those of you who want to help friends in addiction, consider all of the points above and then build a network of accountability for them. Help them to establish a daily routine to develop discipline and godly character/attitudes. Consistency is important when attempting to put their lives back together. Help them to understand biblical truths when dealing with the challenges of life and distressing emotions–––this gives them hope. Most importantly, it is critical for them to know that Christ has won the victory over sin on the cross. They need to be reminded that their sins are forgiven, forgotten and eternally removed.
Psalm 103:12 ~ As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Micah 7:19b ~ and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Hebrews 10:17 ~ And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.–––this gives them assurance, hopefulness and confidence that he which hath begun a good work in you (them) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6) Amen!