Is Devotion to a False God Addiction?
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
What is the problem that so many people struggle with today? Why is temptation so attractive, unrelenting, and powerful? Does God shield us from circumstances that might provoke us to sin? Does God tempt us like Satan or does He test us? James 1:12-14 ~Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
The challenges of temptation are great. We live in a sinful world. We are sinned against and we sin against an holy God. Every day we are confronted with temptations, difficulties and overwhelming battles. God does not tempt us as Satan tempts but He does allow testing in our life to prove our loyalty to Him. The temptation to devote ourselves to anything other than loving the Lord Jesus Christ is known as IDOL WORSHIP! Addiction–––that is idolatry–––is a life-dominating sin. No matter how hard one tries to prevent it, every area of their life is touched by the worship of a false god. This false god dictates the friends they choose or the ones they abandon and rules their bank account, distracting them from their responsibilities to their family or employer.
Why is life so hard? Why do the addicted suffer so? The person who is addicted to drugs and alcohol especially, chooses to serve themselves (idolatry) and accomplish their own purposes. They do this by choosing to use the substance or engage in the behavior that has become their IDOL. They seek false comfort in their idol and that idol delivers, almost immediately, what the addict is seeking to gain: an escape from the realities of life in a sinful world. They experience euphoria, gratification, pleasure or comfort for a time but with a vengeance and overwhelming consequences for wrong behavior, reality will return. Wrong choice, after wrong choice, the addict soon discovers that they are in a downward spiral. They begin to build around them a defensive wall of denial, blameshifting and rationalization holding each prideful brick in place.
Here are some idols of addiction. The list is thorough yet hardly exhaustive.
drugs, exercise, anger, cigarettes
alcohol, prescription medication, food, spending money
nose spray, over-the-counter-drugs, chocolate, coffee
gambling, homosexuality, sex, pornography
shoplifting, gossip, ministry, relationships
work, television, romance novels, entertainment
Addicts can use great mental thought and physical energy in the pursuit of their idols. The addict, enticed by their own lusts, embraces the lie that this false god they need and now hold dear, is somehow profitable to them. Their heart is deceived and their eyes are spiritually blinded. Deceit is a characteristic of their addiction and they close their heart to the truth and open their minds to deception and delusion.
To simply tell someone that is addicted they have a problem, is not enough. We as believers, who are strong in the faith, must help them break through their blindness and assist them in recognizing the reality of what they are doing to themselves and to others. Scripture tells us that the idolater is unproductive or futile and the idol unprofitable becoming a snare making them void of life and power (Psalm 106:36). The addict is someone who chooses to ignore the truth about God and does not acknowledge His character forgetting that He alone is worthy of worship. Romans 1:25 ~ Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
When a woman or a man is an addict they attempt to accomplish one or more of the following rituals in their life every day.
They avoid responsibility that is rightfully theirs and resist doing what is honorable.
They attempt to dull emotions that they feel are too painful or unpleasant, such as loneliness,
fear, grief, rejection, failure, guilt, anger, stress, and there are many more.
They try to satisfy consuming lustful desires and then attempt to escape reality with its
genuinely difficult circumstances.
Thought: Overindulgence of any kind can become a sinful behavior when it becomes more important to us than doing what we know God wants us to do. Often Christians began their sinful behavior before they became Christians, and continue to struggle with their addictions afterwards. Becoming a Christian does not negate the desire for or the consequences of addictions, but does give us a spiritual outlet to help us deal with and become free of our addictions. The first step in overcoming addictions is to recognize that it is a problem both to themselves and others around them.
There is hope for the addict, but we must understand that this biblical reconstruction is a process, and not a simple one at that. There is not a formula for how to go about this biblical restoration but there are some principles for helping someone with an addiction.
1. We need to understand the routine someone has established around their worship of their idol. What are the circumstances they find themselves in when they are tempted to sin and then, what happens?
2. We need to help them sever their relationship with their idol. The Bible says; we are to “put off” the deceitful desires of the flesh and “put on” the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
3. We need to help the addicted re-establish their relationship with God or lead them towards having a relationship with God. We need to help them reconcile any broken relationships with their family, friends and their church family and build a strong network of accountability for them.
4. We need to give them hope and help them to know they can be confident in the Word of God that it contains all that is needed to loose the addict/idolator from the bonds of sins.