A question was asked at alumni night at The Home of Grace the other day. It was, “how does God end addiction?” Well, let’s attempt to tackle that question. There are a few things we need to discuss to answer this question. So, let’s get to it.
by Greg Bufkin
ADDICTION IS A CONSEQUENCE OF SIN.
Some in the medical field refer to addiction as a disease. Some in the faith-based community say that isn’t true. They say that addiction is caused by sin. I would say both of those answers can be right.
1.) I would say that addiction is an “incorrectly functioning organ (the brain) resulting from developmental errors or unfavorable environmental factors.”
2.) I would say that addiction is an “abnormal condition in a person that interferes with vital physiological processes caused by unfavorable environmental or genetic factors.”
3.) I would say that addiction is a “harmful, depraved, or morbid condition of the mind or society.
So we see that addiction is a disease. BUT……..
Addiction(s) (and/or the actions that are caused by addiction) are:
1.) transgressions of divine law.
2.) a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3.) reprehensible or regrettable actions, behaviors, lapses, great faults, or offense.
So we see that addiction is a sin as well. So is that a contradiction? No and I’ll tell you why. Sin IS a disease, of the soul. It is not how we were created to live. It is an incorrect functioning, an abnormality, of the system God designed. God designed a system in which humans lived in peace, walking in perfect relationship with God. We had all of our needs more than met. But we didn’t feel satisfied (even though we were). Satan convinced us that God had something better that He was withholding from us. He convinced us that God was not the loving selfless being that He actually is. Our pride convinced us to strive to be like God. And because of that we suffer the consequences of our choices. Our choices left a fractured relationship with God. All of our needs were no longer met for us, we had to work for them. In essence, our sin is a disease that has corrupted every facet of life. It has thrown our entire system out of whack.
THE HUMAN SOUL LONGS, DESPERATELY, TO RESTORE THE SYSTEM TO WHAT IT SHOULD BE.
When the physical body gets an infection it creates a fever to destroy the infection and return the body to normal. When something in the body is not functioning correctly it creates the sensation of pain (and many other symptoms) to get our attention so we will discover the cause of the discomfort and rectify the problem, returning the body to normal. When our relationship with God was broken, our spiritual system was thrown out of whack. We became spiritually uncomfortable. We’ve often heard it described as a void inside of us, and empty hole, that we are constantly trying to fill. This pain is what the addict is trying to numb. Rather than fixing the cause of the problem (the broken relationship with God that was caused by sin) we simply treat the symptoms so we don’t feel the broken relationship with God.
Think of it this way. If we have a tooth that is hurting very badly, we can take antibiotics and pain medication. That will make the tooth not hurt often times. It will NOT, however, fix the problem which is causing the pain. To truly fix the problem we need to fix the tooth. We need to see a dentist and have a filling, root canal, or maybe even have the tooth pulled. Until we have the tooth fixed the problem will continue to resurface over and over again.
It is that way with our broken relationship with God. Until that relationship is repaired we will continue to treat the symptom (our discomfort) with anything that temporarily makes us feel better. The things that most effectively make us feel better are things that violate God’s will (sin). Thus the sin is the disease causing us to feed our addiction. Until we treat the broken relationship with God (the actual cause of our pain) we will never be satisfied. That is what causes our addiction. Our addiction is the disease of sin which rips and tears at our souls, never fixing the actual problem. It only masks the symptoms for a while. And with each passing moment we feel more broken, more separated from God, and more desperate to solve our problem…….the wrong way.
SO HOW DO WE FIX THIS BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
We can’t. That is what drives the addiction. Often times we don’t even know what’s causing the pain. That is where the church has failed, far too often, to fulfill its calling. Since we don’t know the cause of our pain we don’t know how to fix it. So we do what makes the pain feel better. It may not fix the problem but it does make it more bearable. So we settle for a little temporary relief, rather than the permanent relief that Jesus Christ offers. Only God can repair the relationship.
SO HOW EXACTLY DOES GOD REPAIR THE RELATIONSHIP?
Just like a repair on a car, or the dentist fixing that tooth, if we don’t have the ability to correct a problem, we have to take it to somebody who does have the ability to correct it. But that costs something. To mend our broken relationship with God was beyond our ability. We didn’t even know where to begin. And the cost was so incredibly high that we couldn’t even begin to pay it. But God loves us. He loves YOU. He never stopped loving us. Even when we chose to rebel against His love, He never stopped loving us. He had a plan in place to repair the broken relationship all along. He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. To continue the metaphor, His blood was the cure for the disease of sin which had ravaged our soul for so long. He offered to pay the terribly high cost, and he offered it freely. However, He will not force the cure on anyone. We have to accept it freely. We have to make the choice to surrender our freedom to choose the sinful things that caused the relationship to be broken in the first place, and to surrender our lives to Him.
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
WHAT DOES THIS SURRENDER LOOK LIKE?
When we go to the doctor for our physical ailments he gives us special directions, things to do to help, or solve, the problem facing us. If we have high blood pressure he might tell us to lose weight, stop eating salt, reduce stress, and take medicine. He is offering us the option of healing. We are free to disregard all of the options for improving our health. But the problem will not only NOT get better, it will likely get worse. It is the same with Jesus Christ, The Great Physician. We can thank Him for His sacrifice, but unless we surrender our free will and live how He has called us to live, that healing will continue to escape us.
John 10:10b I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus did not come to take away our fun. He came to help us learn how to live a life that will TRULY satisfy us in every way. But we cannot live that type of life, or be truly satisfied, and free from addiction, if continue to choose the way we live. Freedom from addiction, and living the truly content, satisfied, abundant life that God knows we are desperately yearning for can only be acquired if we will sincerely submit our lives to Christ and allow him to show us how to live. We must yield our free will to Him, intentionally, and then we will be set free from addiction. But only in obedience, intentionally submitting our ways to Him, will we find the freedom we yearn for.
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