Freedom from Addictions - Part 1 of 3

This is the first of a series of three posts on freedom from addictions.

He was a great friend of mine, in fact, one of the best. I still consider him to be, even though I probably won't see him for a long time.

You see, my friend, who I'll call Frank, has struggled with drugs since his early teens. And today, he's sitting in jail, most likely headed for some serious prison time. *

It's not that he didn't try to get free from his addictions. It's not that he had bad intentions. Just three weeks ago he was sitting at my kitchen table telling me that for the first time in a long time, he felt good about life. But not today.

Frank did everything I could have asked him to do. He was living with a Christian family that took care of all his needs. He was avoiding the areas of town that made him stumble. He was coming to church and Bible study multiple times per week. He would come over to help me do stuff around the house on my day off. He was holding down a decent job. Things were looking up in Frank's world.

But no. While attending drug rehab classes, he met a woman who led him back into the drug scene. Within a week, the police caught him.

What is it about us and addictions? What keeps us enslaved to the things that destroy our lives, tear apart our families, ruin our relationship with God, and sometimes, even land us in jail?

All of us have experienced the pull of addiction in one way or another ­ overeating, gossip, television, alcohol, pornography, drugs, lust, greed and any number of other things. But for people like us, and people like Frank, the Bible offers hope.

No matter how long you've struggled, or how deep the addiction is embedded in your heart, you can find liberty. It begins with God.

Paul said it this way: "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 3:3-4)

You see, freedom begins with God's mercy. We have to cry out to God and ask for his help. But it doesn't stop there, and it's not all automatic. The Bible continues: "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit ..." (Titus 3:5)

Our need isn't just for forgiveness of past sins. Our need is for present-day power to live a new kind of life. We have to be washed clean and then we have to be renewed so that we don't slip back into the same mess again. Through Jesus, God offers forgiveness to those willing to repent and put their faith in him. From there, he works to transform us into the type of people we were created to be ­ free from sinful bondage.

It is a battle, and most don't experience "instant" deliverance from addiction. But with patience, persistence, and the power of God, victory over sin is possible.

In the next post, I'll share some of the practical principles Jesus gives to people who struggle with sinful habits. Today, I'd simply ask you to take the first step.

Admit where you've been wrong, and admit that you need God's help. Decide to turn toward new life through Jesus.

My sincere prayer for Frank is that he'll come to a point where he really does repent ­ turn away from his old lifestyle ­ so that God can begin shaping him into a new person. And that's my prayer for you as well.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

* "Frank" was released on probation shortly after the original publication of this article. Unfortunately, in Sept. of 2005, my friend died of a drug overdose, leaving a wonderful life and family behind. May his story inspire others addicted to drugs to quit today, before it is too late.

Dan originally wrote this article for publication in the Marco Island Sun Times.


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