Freedom from Addictions - Part 2

What we all wish for, of course, is an easy way out of our addictions.

We're hoping that some new principle or method will take away our desire for whatever it is, and voila! ­ no more bondage!

Of course, we know that life doesn't work that way. But freedom is possible for those willing to make the effort. In the previous post,  we discussed the first step toward freedom, admitting our sin and calling upon the mercy of God to help us.

But God isn't going to force you to do the right things.

He will equip you, love you, put people in your path to help you, empower you, and even guide you, but you still have to make the daily choice to say no to your temptations. Most of the time, these don't just disappear. There's a process involved.

I can promise you this: if you'll make the hard choices necessary day-to-day to deal with your addictions, it will get easier to say "no" over time. That is, as you get into new habits of doing the right things, you will be less and less tempted to fall back.

I believe change is possible at the deepest levels. I believe it because the Bible teaches it, and because I've watched people change. I've changed.

How do I begin the process?

1. Stop making "provisions for the flesh." In the book of Romans, the Bible says "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh." If I'm going on a diet, should I lay up "provisions" of candy bars and cookies in the pantry? Of course not! Those "provisions" will be calling my name in the first weak moment. If we're serious about overcoming addictions, we have to get rid of the things that lead us to fall. If for you it's certain magazines, end your subscriptions and throw all your issues away. If it's certain foods or alcohol, toss all of it, or give it away. Whatever your addiction may be, ask yourself, "Do I have provisions around my house or workplace that feed my habit?"

2. Practice radical amputation.
That doesn't sound like very much fun, does it? Jesus taught this figurative principle in his famous Sermon on the Mount, and, fun or not, it works. He told people that whatever caused them to sin should be cut off from their lives. I heard of one man who was hooked on sinful images he was downloading from the Internet. His addiction was ruining his marriage and stealing the joy out of his life. The only way he was able to break the bondage was to cancel his Internet service. "But that's kind of radical," you might say. Right! Radical amputation! Ask yourself honestly, radically if necessary, "What is the daily source of my temptations? What causes me to sin?" Then, make the tough choice to get rid of it. Ask a trusted friend to keep you accountable, to make sure you follow through.

3. Begin replacing bad habits with good ones. In the next part of our series, we'll get into more detail on "positive replacement," but here's a thought to get you started: Calculate the time you spend each day feeding your addiction, whatever it is. What could you do instead with those moments, or hours? Here's some good habit ideas to choose from: Take a walk each evening, read three chapters of the Bible daily, join a community group or evening Bible study, make new friends with neighbors, volunteer to help the needy once a month, use some time every morning to pray for others, or get involved in a city sports team.

Never believe the lie that you're hopeless. With God's help and the right attitude, you can change.

"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 ... " (Titus 2:11-12, NIV)

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


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