Question of the Week: How do Christians deal with addictions to sin?
The first thing we need to understand when dealing with sin is to understand where the issue actually is. Addiction is a very loaded term. When we use it to describe our struggle against indwelling sin, it levels the blame on our physical bodies rather than our fallen nature. Once the burden of personal responsibility has been passed off of our shoulders, we open the door for two self-defeating methods in dealing with temptation.
We either become passive in the approach, always allowing the excuse that it was a “relapse” or we just couldn’t handle going through “withdrawals.” Or we focus our attention in the wrong place. Any pursuit of purity in this life is the natural result of a pursuit of Jesus Christ. Not exclusively a change in lifestyle or psychological reconditioning.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Romans 7:14-17 (NKJV)
Paul the Apostle’s first and primary case in describing his struggle with sin describes it in terms of slavery. Being sold under something makes the case that your relationship with it is to do what you’re told regardless of how you’re feeling at the time. This conflict taking place within Paul concludes with him acknowledging he no longer relates to sin as a slave due to the redemption given to him through Jesus Christ, but still behaves like the old man who was sold under sin.
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7:22-25 (NKJV)
Terms like “flesh” and “carnal” often throw people into the realm of the physical as the exclusive reason people struggle with certain sinful behaviors over others. The problem is that while the approach towards overcoming addiction may be similar in a practical sense, but that doesn’t mean they are both coming from the same source. We are creatures of habit and it is possible to develop a physical dependency towards certain sinful behaviors. Examples of this are in drug abuse and some forms of sexual deviancy. The problem is when people carry over these examples to include all possible forms of sin as something that ingrains itself in our physiology. Examples of this would be like lying, lust, or pride. Conditions like being a “pathological liar” or “sociopath” are real conditions, but don’t make up or define all sinful behavior. If an issue in the heart is wrongly diagnosed as an issue in your brain, you’ll never resolve the actual issue because you’re focusing all your attention in the wrong place.
The question still stands how we deal with sin even if the term “addiction” is inappropriate to describe it. The solution is a passionate and practical pursuit of a relationship with Jesus Christ. A change of heart will produce a change of mind. Not the other way around. For more information about how to make this pursuit without being redirected or confused by modern terms, we would recommend the book “Rooted in Sin, Rescued by Love” by Peter Martin discussing this very topic in workbook format.
Rooted in Sin…Rescued by Love: Martin, Peter: 9780997837384: Amazon.com: Books
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
Listen: Monday – Friday 5-6pm, on 106.3FM Reach Radio
Email your questions: