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God and Addiction

There are all kinds of addictions in the world, and all of us are subject to them. If you are reading this, you might very well be struggling with one, or on your way to falling into such a struggle. There are two categories for addictions: substance addictions and behavioral addictions. Most of us are familiar with substance addictions. In substance addictions, people are consumed by a particular substance they ingest, inject, inhale, or otherwise put into their body. These include things as seemingly innocuous as caffeine, and as dangerous as heroine. Substance addictions are pretty easy to understand, and the damage caused by them is often easier to identify. Behavioral addictions are addictions to things we do. Some of those things can even be good when they are done within the right boundaries, like exercise, or sexual activity. And some of them can be overtly sinful, like pornography, or demonstrably unwise, like gambling. But all of them, whether good, bad, or unwise, become addictions when they overwhelm your life or when you continue to engage in them despite harmful consequences.

All of these addictions, both substance addictions and behavioral addictions, are associated with one or both of two things: People have sought pleasures or good outside the parameters established by God, and have then been consumed by the flaws and desires of their broken humanness. Or they are using their addictions as armor to shield themselves from bad feelings, terrible past events, anxiety, or an inability to cope with current stresses. In both cases, they become overwhelmed by the pleasures or the protection they seek. And anything that overwhelms us becomes our master, and we become its slave (2 Peter 2:19). What we thought would liberate us from pain, fears, or anxiety becomes heavy baggage that we must carry everywhere we go; that we must pay extra to haul around; that slows us down, and that often prevents us from getting where we really want to be, or where we really need to be.

But there is a way out. Reassess what you want to have mastery over you, and have no other God but that one (Exodus 20:2). Then surround yourself with godly people who will hold you accountable, pray for you, and help you carry the burdens of life (Galatians 6:1-2, James 5:16). Finally, learn to trust God for strength (Philippians 4:13), as well as to trust that he has a life for you that is better than any life this world can offer (Matthew 10:39).

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