Summary: This sermon gives the clear Biblical prescription for overcoming ANY addiction!

“Overcoming Addictions”

Romans 6:14

By: Pastor J. B. Hall

Introduction: Addictions are at epidemic proportions in today’s world. Today’s addictions include a wide array of deviant behaviors; and range from drug and alcohol abuse, to addictions to pornography, gambling, excessive shopping and spending, and the list goes on.

Addictions are serious matters; and overcoming them is serious business.

Some will say there is no cure for the addict; that once he is an addict, he will always be an addict; that he can only stay clean, or stay dry, or, in other words, maintain his sobriety throughout his lifetime.

This is false! There is an absolute cure for any addiction! Therefore, we’re not going to look at band-aid solutions, or 12-point maintenance programs. We’re going to get to the heart of the matter; and not look at getting clean and staying clean, but having that addictive bondage broken and replaced by a life of peace, and power, and freedom.

1. Definition of ‘Addiction’

A. In order to understand addiction and how to overcome it, we must first understand what it is.

B. Let’s first look at what addiction is not.

C. First, addiction is not a disease.

D. Today, we attempt to clinicalize destructive behaviors so as to rid ourselves of having to take personal responsibility for our actions.

E. We call the drunk, an alcoholic.

F. We label the over spender as having OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

G. Second, addiction is not inherited because our parents were addicts and passed their addictive genes on to us.

H. Again, we’re always looking for someone else to blame rather than accepting responsibility for our own deviant behavior.

I. Third, addiction is not due to excessive social pressures upon us that we cannot withstand and therefore, must turn to an addictive substance or behavior to help us cope.

J. We cannot simply blame life’s social pressures for our addictive deviant behavior.

K. Addiction is a bondage that begins with a choice and/or behavior that is in excess of, a perversion of, or a rejection of, the Word and will of God.

L. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

M. So, addiction can begin by doing or ingesting something to excess.

N. Romans 1:25a says, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…”

O. So, addiction can begin by perverting the Word and will of God.

P. Romans 1:28 says, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”

Q. So, addiction can begin by rejecting the Word and will of God.

R. Again, addiction is a bondage that begins with a choice and/or behavior that is in excess of, a perversion of, or a rejection of, the Word and will of God.

2. Prevention is Better than Cure

A. Just as we must not clinicalize a spiritual problem; neither must we spiritualize a practical or clinical problem.

B. We cannot discount the pressure of personal abuse, economic difficulty, or broken relationships, and the external role they play in pushing one toward some practice or substance to anesthetize his pain.

C. These, and other difficulties, are real pressures that we as a nation and especially as a church need to address in being a neighbor and trying to help those who are hurting cope in a Biblical way.

D. Some people have much greater difficulty coping with pressures than do others.

E. We as Christians cannot just simply dismiss the role life’s pressures play in impelling someone to search for a quick-fix release.

F. We must recognize their need for help, and get involved in preventing addiction before we are faced with having to help them overcome an addiction.

G. Our involvement or negligence will often make the difference between whether or not someone becomes entangled in an addiction.

H. Romans 15:1 says, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”

I. There are also other factors that come to bear in a person’s life that could make him more prone to addictions, as well.

J. Psychological or emotional instability can be a powerful influence that will motivate someone to find a quick solution to mitigate his pain and frustration.

K. Identifying these problems early, and helping someone find a workable regiment to manage their difficulty, can be a powerful prohibitor to what would otherwise end up in an addiction.

L. Those who are saved understand the danger and damage an addiction brings to a person and to those around him.

M. Therefore, they bear a responsibility to employ preventive measures when they identify someone who might be susceptible to becoming addicted.

N. In preventing the addiction, we sometimes “…save a soul from death…” and “…hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20b)

O. Prevention is better than cure.

3. Addiction Sometimes Requires Intervention

A. When one is addicted, he is in bondage.

B. Romans 6:12 says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

C. In other words, instead of his reasonably choosing his actions and lifestyle, the bondage of addiction drives his life; it rules him and his actions.

D. His ability to think rationally is distorted, so his choices are often completely irrational.

E. He makes choices and involves himself in behaviors that he knows are foolish and destructive, but he cannot seem to stop himself from marching straight into what he knows will damage or destroy him or others around him.

F. Therefore, intervention by someone who loves him and understands the danger of him continuing in his destructive behavior is often required in order to give him a chance to recover.

G. Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

H. This intervention, this reproving, though, must be done in a meek, loving way, or it will be destructive to the addict, instead of constructive.

I. II Timothy 2:24 – 26 say, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,” “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

J. Taking decisive action on behalf of the addict, such as having them committed to a Christian treatment facility, is sometimes (not all the time) in his best interest, though he may not realize it, and may not like you for it initially.

K. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits, though, and a decision made on an individual basis of whether or not this kind of radical intervention is needed.

L. Sometimes, the direct intervention of God is the only thing that will be adequate to deliver the addict.

M. In this case, serious intercessory prayer must be made on behalf of the addict.

N. Prayer should always be a central part of intervention, but especially if direct intervention by God is the only course of action that will work.

O. We must be discerning, and learn to decide which measure is most appropriate in each individual instance when intervention is necessary.

P. Addiction sometimes requires intervention.

4. There is Only One Cure for Addiction

A. Since addiction relates to how we respond to God and His Word and will for our lives, addiction is, at its core, a spiritual condition that cannot be cured by an external source, i.e. medicine, counseling, etc.

B. The root of addiction is sin; therefore, getting into a right relationship with God is the only cure for addiction!

C. I don’t want to be over simplistic, because there are many symptoms of addiction that must be dealt with as well.

D. Just having a sin forgiven and the bondage of that sin broken does not mean that the collateral damage that has occurred as a result of that sin has all been erased.

E. In other words, medical attention is often required for the body when the addiction involves ingesting addictive substances.

F. Though the medicine is not the cure, it is often required to aid the body in coming off the substances being abused, and in recovering from the abuses of those substances.

G. But, we must use wisdom if medical treatment is required.

H. Substituting one addiction for another is not the answer.

I. A prime example is Methadone.

J. It is often used, supposedly to help the drug addict overcome his addiction to drugs; but usually is just simply a ‘legal’ substitute drug, that most often is not used in the proper or intended way.

K. Methadone clinics simply help the addict continue a legal addiction by keeping him coming for his ‘treatments’ sometimes for years; not even attempting to wean him off the Methadone, because the addict is a stable source of income for the clinics.

L. While medicine cannot be looked to as a cure, we must not be so foolish as to refuse it when it is needed; but it must be administered in the proper way, and for the right reason.

M. Counseling can be effective in a couple of ways.

N. While not a cure for addiction, counseling may be necessary to prevent addiction; or to help one learn to cope once he is no longer dependent on his addiction to anesthetize his pain.

O. We must not foolishly think counseling is the cure for an addiction; but we must not dismiss its function in prevention, or in redirecting the lifestyle of the former addict.

P. I said that the root of addiction is sin, and that it is a spiritual problem.

Q. Therefore, to overcome addiction, it must be dealt with on a spiritual level.

R. Let’s look at the cure now, not just a band-aid approach.

S. The Lost Person – The recidivism rate (the relapse rate) for those who approach overcoming addiction strictly from a personal self-help, or community support way, is astronomical.

T. According to the NADCP (National Association of Drug Court Professionals) “The national recidivism rate for drug offenses is nearly 67%.3 Up to eighty percent of child abuse and neglect cases4 and nearly fifty percent of domestic violence cases are substance-abuse related.”

U. The reality is that a lost person, while he may get clean and stay clean the rest of his life, can only be cured if he gets saved.

V. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

W. Romans 8:8 says, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

X. So, it is impossible for a lost person to be in a right relationship with God because he is walking in the flesh.

Y. Therefore, walking in the flesh, he has no power to resist fulfilling the lust of the flesh; and is susceptible to making a choice and/or get involved in a behavior that is in excess of, a perversion of, or a rejection of, the Word and will of God.

Z. So, he is easily addicted.

AA. His only hope of an absolute cure hinges on whether or not he receives Jesus Christ as his Savior.

BB. Romans 8:9 says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

CC. If he receives Jesus Christ as his Savior, he has the power of the Holy Spirit living in him.

DD. The Holy Spirit breaks all other binding powers in his life and sets him free from the bondage he was in.

EE. Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

FF. So, the hope of overcoming addiction for the lost person rests in his first getting saved; in receiving Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

GG. The Saved Person – The saved person can also become addicted when he makes the wrong choices.

HH. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

II. Here, we see that, even though we live in the Spirit (are saved), we still must make a conscious choice to walk in the Spirit.

JJ. When we choose to walk in excess to what the Spirit directs us to do in the Word of God, or in perversion of, or in rejection of what the Word of God says, we allow sin into our lives and become subservient to it.

KK. Romans 6:16 says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

LL. But, as I said earlier, Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

MM. So the key for the saved person to prevent an addiction is to walk in the Spirit so that some sin of the flesh has no power to command his behavior.

NN. But what if I’m already addicted?

OO. If the child of God has already violated this command, and has become entangled in some addiction, the deliverance he needs rests in his willingness to repent.

PP. We’ve talked often here at PCBC of the components that comprise repentance.

QQ. Proverbs 28:13 makes it clear, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

RR. Confessing and forsaking one’s sins is the way to have God’s mercy applied to his life.

SS. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

TT. So, when we repent, God not only forgives us of our sins, He also cleanses us, or removes the unrighteousness as well.

UU. Well, you might say, “If I’m addicted, I can confess my addiction, for it is a sin, but I am unable to forsake it!” “What do I do, then?”

VV. If you’re willing to allow God to take it away, that is forsaking it.

WW. It is when you choose to cling to it, not when it clings to you, that you are not forsaking it.

XX. When you are willing to forsake your sins, you are willing to take whatever actions are necessary to rid yourself of your sin; if that means checking yourself into a treatment facility, seeking some kind of counseling help, or simply asking someone with knowledge about addictions what the best course of action for you is.

YY. Once you, with the wise help and guidance of someone who knows what to do, decides what the best plan for you is, you must be willing to ‘take the medicine’; to take the necessary course of action, even though it may be uncomfortable for you.

ZZ. By your willingness to follow wise Godly advice, you demonstrate your willingness to forsake your sin; and God can begin to work divinely, supernaturally, on your behalf to break you free from your bondage, as you take the practical steps you know to take,.

AAA. A willingness to submit to wise, Godly advice is the first step in total recovery for the addicted child of God.

BBB. There is only one cure for addiction, for the lost person, or for the child of God; that is to get into a right relationship with God.

CCC. Once a person is in a right relationship with God, sin has no power to reign or rule in his life; and the power of addiction is broken.

DDD. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

EEE. The root of addiction is sin, a spiritual problem; therefore, getting into a right relationship with God is the only cure for addiction!

Let’s Review:

1. Definition of ‘Addiction’ - Addiction is a bondage that begins with a choice and/or behavior that is in excess of, a perversion of, or a rejection of, the Word and will of God.

2. Prevention is Better than Cure

3. Addiction Sometimes Requires Intervention

4. There is Only One Cure for Addiction – The root of addiction is sin, a spiritual problem; therefore, getting into a right relationship with God is the only cure for addiction!

In Summary:

Addictions are serious matters; and overcoming them is serious business.

Some say that staying clean is one’s best hope. This, though, is really no hope, for it depends upon one’s own strength and will-power to maintain his sobriety; and his inability to control himself is what triggered the addiction to begin with.

One must have a Power greater than his own to overcome addiction and be completely set free from it. God alone offers that kind of bondage-breaking and cleansing power. He only supplies this power though, through a personal right relationship with Him.

At the risk of sounding over-simplistic, and you know I’m not because you have heard the message, the root of addiction is sin, a spiritual problem; therefore, getting into a right relationship with God is the only cure for addiction!

Overcoming addiction also means one must be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to repair all the collateral damage caused by the addiction; and to bring the collateral issues into compliance with the Word of God.

Are you suffering from an addiction? Perhaps it is one no one else knows about but you and God. If so, are you willing to take the initial step you know you must take to get into a right relationship with God?