Christians are not immune to addictions. Is it possible to overcome these vices? Today, Ed Welch identifies principles from Scripture that reveal the source of our addictions and the means of breaking free.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Can I overcome my addiction?
DR. ED WELCH: Obviously, that’s not a yes-or-no question. If we’ll take yes or no—yes, yes, you can. But let’s get into the details a little bit more. An addiction is something that we can love more than we love Jesus, and there is really bad fruit that’s associated with it. It typically will involve bodily appetites in some way. That’s why we identify sexual addictions and drug and alcohol addictions because they engage—your body wants this as well as your very soul.
Can we move from addictions? People move from addictions all the time—Christians and non-Christians. Hope this doesn’t seem inappropriate, but you don’t have to be a Christian to overcome an addiction. It happens. People get sick and tired of them, and they grow. But addictions can be pernicious, and they can come back and snap at us even when we think we’ve said goodbye to them.
Let me use the question as a way to identify a few different leads in Scripture that I found helpful. One is, “Tell me your story. Tell me your story, what happened?” Now that’s obviously a very simple question. I’m asking for the momentum behind the choice they made yesterday to say “yes” to their addiction and “no” to Jesus and “no” to all kinds of other people. “Tell me the story, what happened?” I don’t know what to expect from that story, but it most likely will be a complicated story. “Tell me your story.” In asking that question, I want people to think about what’s happened to them. The nature of addictions is you don’t want to think about it because who wants to think about things that are deadly? You want to push it out of your mind. Tell me the story, what happened? What happened?
Oftentimes in that story, there is suffering that has taken place in a person’s life. They found the addiction was the one thing that would quiet the suffering, in which case you can see the question then becomes not so much, “How can I overcome my addiction?” but “How can I turn to Jesus in the midst of my suffering? How can I speak to Him first and foremost? How can—He’s the God of all comfort—how can I know His comfort?” Now I’m not answering that particular question, but you can see some of the leads that Scripture offers that are very attractive and very hopeful leads. What happened? Let’s turn to Jesus in the midst of the suffering and let’s practice turning to Him rather than to our addictions.
Perhaps another thing. This seems very basic, but we should be identifying basic things because if it’s not, it’s not Scripture. Scripture speaks to us all. We don’t have to have this unique, special knowledge. I think one of the other things that Scripture does—you find this in Hebrews—let us speak our confession of faith. Let us not forget our confession. This seems very simple, but it would be, “What do you believe? Who is Jesus? Who truly is He? What has He done? How does that confession intersect with you? How does that confession speak to your guilt? How does it speak to your shame? Let’s speak our confession to the Lord.”
You realize all I’m trying to do is just identify a couple different leads in Scripture of a dozen that I think are very, very helpful. Can I overcome my addiction? Are you ready for a fight? Are you ready for a fight using spiritual implements? Are you ready for a fight where Jesus will surprise you with this in particular, John 6:37: those who come to him—well, Jesus is speaking this to us—“Those who come to Me,” He says, “I will never turn away.” Now, if there is anything that is music to an addict’s ears, that’s it. “Those who come to Me, I will never, ever turn away.”
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