Freedom from Addictions - Part 3

For some people it's difficult to imagine life without sin. Somehow they've grown to associate the words "sin" and "fun" as mutually dependent.


Their assumption is that if you take away the booze, sex or gossip, what's the point?


If I don't smoke, chew or go with girls that do, won't life get a little boring?  How long are we really supposed to play golden harps in the clouds?


I've been actively involved in jail ministry for years, and over and over again inmates look skeptically on as I tell them that I truly enjoy my life. And that addictions aren't a part of it.


The irony is that they're the ones sitting in jail precisely because of their addictions, still clinging to the idea that the supposed "fun" they have sinning is worth any price ­ -- their family, their job, their reputation, or even the next five to 15 years of their lives.


In the previous two posts, I've discussed the importance of calling upon God for help and of being willing to turn away from sinful habits even if it means making significant lifestyle changes. The last key to experiencing freedom from addiction is simple:


You have to find something better to do than continue in your old way of life.


The Bible says it clearly enough: "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)


What will replace the hours and energy you spent on your habits? What will fill the longings in your heart that used to be band-aided by drinking, or pills, or porn, or whatever it may have been?


1. Choose to enjoy life without your addiction. I was recently talking to a 30-something friend who told me, sadly, that he'd never been to a parade. "What?" I asked. "Not even one?" He said he hadn't, and not the zoo either. In fact, he said he'd never traveled more than 40 miles from where he was born. He said he was always worried about the next high, or the next drug sale, and so he never had time to travel or enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Imagine! And this guy has four children. Positive replacement means choosing to do other things ­ good things ­ with your family, friends and neighbors. It means enjoying life.

2. Choose to love God instead of your addiction.
We devote ourselves to the things we love. If you are a workaholic, alcoholic, or any other "holic," offer yourself to God. Perhaps Jesus' instruction to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" would be a good theme verse for addicts. Get to know God personally. Let him be your passion.


3. Choose to fill your life with meaning beyond self-pleasure. I met one broken young man, probably about 14, who told me that his mother loved the bottle more than she loved him. Even worse, she actually verbalized that. If we are to break the bondage of addiction, we must look past ourselves. We have to love others. No addiction is worth hurting yourself, your family, or anyone for that matter. Start to do good things for those around you. Loving others is the key to personal freedom. The moment we stop living for our own pleasure, we find real joy.


God wants you to be free from your addictions. His power can break the chains of habit and release you into a new life of joy, fulfillment and productivity. So, what steps do you need to take to break your bondage?


Will you begin to change today?


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

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