Breaking Free From Addiction
Duane Vander Klok
Everybody knows someone who struggles with addiction. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, pornography or something as seemingly harmless as shopping, television or food, an addiction is serious business. If nothing is done to stop it, an addiction has the power to ruin lives and destroy relationships.
If you or someone you love is trapped in addiction’s downward spiral, this article offers truth from God’s Word that can help anyone break free and stay free from addiction.
A Vicious Cycle
Many of those bound by addiction have tried everything they know to get free. Some have literally begged God to take away their desire for food, drugs, cigarettes, pornography or whatever it is they are addicted to – only to find themselves tormented later by the same pull toward addiction. The problem is, they don’t realize that there is a part God does and a part they must do. Their part is to say “no” to sin.
The Bible makes it clear that there is tension between the flesh and the Spirit. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5:17,19-20).
Your flesh would love to dominate your life – even after you are saved. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. Perhaps you can identify with him when he says, “What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).
You see, even though God makes you a new creation at the moment you receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), you still have the same old body and it still leans toward doing things the old, pre-Christian way. God has done His part, but you need to do yours. Titus 2:11-12 tells us: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” As you walk in the Spirit daily, God’s grace provides strength to say “no” to your flesh.
Resetting your Mind
Victory over addiction begins with your thoughts. You see, your mind is like a thermostat. Where you set it determines whether you will be spiritually hot, cold or lukewarm, and it determines whether you will say “yes” or “no” to sin. In Romans 8:5, Paul wrote, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
Your words and actions are determined by your mindset. It has been said that when you sow a thought, you reap an act; when you sow an act, you reap a habit; when you sow a habit, you reap a character; and when you sow a character, you reap a destiny. But notice, it all starts with your mind.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul recognized that some things have the potential to control us and become strongholds in our lives. Just as Paul set his mind, you also have the ability to set your mind so you are not controlled by anything or anyone other than the Lord.
Romans 12:2 gives this sound advice: “Do not conform any longer 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.” Renewing your mind by reading and meditating on God’s Word is like pushing a reset button that resets your thoughts and lines them up with His. It replaces the devil’s lies with the truth so you can say “yes” to God and “no” to the pull of addiction.
Three Lies Exposed
There are many who say “once an addict, always an addict,” but that is a lie of the devil. John 10:10 exposes him as a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to derail your life, and his plan includes these three lies:
1. You cannot change.
2. You are a prisoner of your past.
3. You are unloved and unacceptable – even to God.
The devil’s lies are designed to make you think that your sins (whether they were committed 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago) have made you unworthy to receive anything from God. If you fall for these lies, you’ll feel alone and isolated, and you will live like a poor helpless sinner who has no hope of changing.
The great news of John 10:10 is in the last part of the verse where Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” God’s vision for your life does not include bondage to addiction.
Here are some powerful truths from God’s Word that dismantle the devil’s lies:
1. You can change. The old person you used to be was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2). You are righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
2. There is freedom for you in Christ. There is no more guilt and condemnation in Christ (Rom. 8:1). God has taken care of your sins – all of them: past, present and future – at the cross.
3. God loves you and accepts you. He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5) and has given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and victory (1 Cor. 15:57).
Receive God’s Mercy
No matter how long you or someone you love has struggled with addiction, freedom is possible. It begins with God’s mercy. Paul wrote, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures … But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:3-5).
You may fail, but God’s love, grace and mercy never do. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
To receive God’s forgiveness and the freedom from addiction that accompanies it, you can pray a simple prayer like this one:
Dear God, I confess that I have been addicted to _________. I repent of this addiction and ask you to forgive me and help me to begin again. I confess that I have been in bondage to __________, and I renounce all involvement with it. I also renounce the devil’s lies, and I reset my mind to believe the truth. I ask, by the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit, that You set me free. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me and setting me free. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
The Choice is Yours
God will never force you to do the right things. He will love you, equip you, put people in your path to help you, and even guide you, but you still have to make the choice to say “no” to your flesh and the voice of temptation. As you daily walk in the Spirit and rely on God’s strength, it will become easier to say “no” over time.
Whatever you do, please do not believe the lie that you are hopeless. With God’s help and the right attitude, you can reset your mind and live free from addiction.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2).
(All scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible.)