Summary: Many sincere Christians are caught in a trap. They have a habit that is extremely hard to change, perhaps an addiction. This message talks about what it takes to break free.
Jesus said (in John 10:10), “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV).1 God’s purpose for every child of God is that we would live a rich, full, rewarding life. God wants you and me to enjoy our relationship with Him and with one another. He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has provided all things that pertain unto life and godliness.2 But, there is a thief who has other ideas in mind. That thief is the Devil and all his demonic forces. There is a battle being waged against the heart and soul of God’s people. There are all kinds of traps laid out there to ensnare the child of God and keep him from enjoying the fullness of God’s purpose for his life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” That is always your adversary’s intent.3
I want to talk this morning on the subject: How to Get Free from a Stubborn Habit. We live in an increasingly addicted society. The laws of the land are not only changing to allow addictions and perversion, but to actually promote the bondage. Instead of guiding our nation toward healthy, natural behavior; our Supreme Court forces businesses, by law, to accommodate sexual perversions and deviant behavior. It’s as if the gatekeepers have opened the door to every unclean, defiled spirit and said, “Come on in.” America is being invaded by wickedness like never before. And that is affecting many Christians, especially through the privacy of the Internet.
As a pastor, I deal with a lot of sincere Christians who have gotten trapped in destructive habits. There is a desire to get free. But it is not always easy to do. Nancy Reagan’s slogan, “Just say no” might work if you’ve not gotten addicted. But once the habit has formed, it’s simply not enough.
This obviously won’t be comprehensive; but I want to provide some insight on how we can stay free and how we can help others be free. How to Get Free from a Stubborn Habit:
1. Realize how much destruction it will ultimately bring in your life.
The Devil is a liar. He has been one from the beginning. He brings people into bondage through deception. He told Eve she would be better off if she disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit. He convinced her it was a good idea. An effective trap always has enticing bait. What causes a fish to bit is the deception of the bait. He only sees the worm wiggling in the water. It’s only after he bites that he discovers there’s a hook in there.
The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season (Heb. 11:25). There are basically two attractions: thrill and comfort. In our stressful society people seek comfort, relief from the pressures. God has provided us with all kinds of legitimate comforts: the tender kiss of a spouse, a hug from a grandchild, a working air conditioner, a mattress that’s not too firm and not too soft. We could go on and on; and of course He Himself is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). But when we find too much of our comfort in food, then it becomes gluttony. When we retreat into a bottle of alcohol every night, it becomes alcoholism. Comfort and stress reduction is a lure. On the other side is thrill and ecstasy—feeling high. The kleptomaniac experiences it when shop lifting. The sex addict experiences it briefly and then feels the remorse latter. Drugs like meth and crack offer the addict a euphoric experience. These are just some of the extremes to illustrate the attraction. In my experience, the most common addiction among Christian men is pornography; and the most common addiction among Christian women is prescription drugs. A Christian woman is less likely to go to an illegal drug dealer than a doctor; and a Christian man is less likely to go to a prostitute than a pornographic website. We do have a problem in the church with these things.
So the Devil lures a person into an addiction with the lie that the reward is greater than the cost. It’s usually based on a very short-sighted mentality. That deception has to be broken if the person is going to get free and stay free. The consequences of the habit have to be felt to the extent that the person genuinely decides “I want out of this and I want out of it bad.” There has to come that epiphany because the human will is always involved.
The first step toward recovery in the Twelve Step Program is “We admitted that we were powerless over our problems and that our lives had become unmanageable.”4 I have to begin with an acknowledgement that I have a problem and I can’t fix it on my own.