BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Addiction is defined as “the state of being compulsively committed to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma” (Dictionary.com).
It is also defined as the “habitual repetition of excessive behavior that a person is unable or unwilling to stop, despite its harmful consequences” (Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation).
There are different kinds of addiction, including drug addiction, computer addiction, cell-phone addiction, gambling addiction, masturbation addiction, sex addiction, alcohol addiction, and food addiction. Generally, addiction is considered negative though the word is also now being used in an approving way especially with regard to the concept of positive addiction which is not my major focus in this message.
A sin is not necessarily an addiction but every addiction is a sin. When a particular sin becomes habitual, it can be described as an addiction. An unsinful behavior may become an addiction when one is enslaved to it or one repeats it with adverse consequences on one though the repetition of such addictive behavior may not be considered immoral. Computer, food, cell-phone, etc. are beneficial to man but addiction to them has adverse health consequences hence addiction to them is a sin.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV). A child of God should not be enslaved to or be under the control of anything. Hear Apostle Paul’s struggle with sin: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 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 7:19-25 NKJV). You must strip off every weight that can slow you down in the Christian race and hinder your progress (Hebrews 12:1).
As a child of God, you must be sensitive to identify whatever you’re becoming addicted to, something you can’t do without, and break the control of that thing over you as early as possible. You must flee from all appearances of evil before you become deeply rooted or entrenched in such sin. “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1Thessalonians 5:21-22 NKJV). Addiction is a sin. If you’re born again, do the following to have victory over it. If you’re not born again, the first thing to do is to give your heart to Jesus.
How to Gain Victory Over Addictions
1. Acknowledge that you can’t deliver yourself and you need the help of God. Your cry should be, “Jesus, Son of David [Son of God] have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:37; Mark 10:47; Matthew 9:27). Paul expressed his frustration at delivering himself. He couldn’t deliver himself from his addiction to sin until Jesus came to his rescue. We saw that earlier in Romans 7:15-25. That is the condition of some people in one addiction or the other. As I’ve said, deliverance for someone who has not yet received Jesus into his heart is to be born again because he is a sinner not just because of a particular addiction; he is a sinner without Jesus in his life. “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us” (Romans 3:23-25 NLT).
2. Avoid making excuses. That addiction is a sin therefore don’t make excuses why you engage in it. Victory will be elusive as long as you’re making excuses. Don’t rationalize it; don’t explain it away. Don’t say everybody is doing it. Don’t blame someone else or even the society or government for your addiction. Instead of admitting his guilt, Adam said to God, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12 NKJV). Eve also blamed the serpent for deceiving her, and she ate the fruit. Such an attitude is an incentive for continuing in addiction. Jesus says, “They [the people of the world] would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22 NLT). There’s no excuse for your addiction. That man at the pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years was asked by Jesus, “Do you want to be healed?” But he said he had no man to push him into the pool (John 5:1-11). But that wasn’t what the Healer was asking him. He wasn’t asking for excuses; he wanted to heal him. Stop making excuses for your addiction. Open your heart to your Deliverer.
3. Ask God for forgiveness, and forgive yourself. If you cover your sin, you won’t prosper. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Open up to God. He already knows your addiction but he still needs you to confess your sin, receive His forgiveness, and be delivered. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10 NKJV).
God may forgive you but until you forgive yourself, it will do you no good. Lack of self-forgiveness amounts to a lack of faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Don’t put yourself in self-captivity even when God has released you.
4. Cry to God to deliver you and cut you off from the source of addiction or enabling environment for the addiction. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you” (NLT). The source of addiction or enabling environment for the addiction could be some relationships, television programs, porn sites, pornographic publications, location, and so on. When spirits are involved, it may not just be enough to make some decisions; you need the power of God to intervene in the spirit realm and change the situation in the physical realm.
In Mark 5:1-20, nobody could bind the demon-possessed man of Gadara who was living in the tomb. He could easily pull apart the chains used to bind him and break into pieces the shackles because his condition wasn’t natural. He was being controlled by demons, legion, dwelling in him and giving him the strength that was beyond natural – supernatural strength from satan.
When a negative habit is spiritual, making a resolution or decision may not be enough. “No one will succeed by strength alone” (1 Samuel 2:9 NLT). You must cry to the Lord to deliver you and cut you off from the source of addiction or enabling environment for the addiction. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
5. Renew your mind daily with the Word of God and walk in the Spirit. Your mind is the battleground. There are strongholds of addiction in people’s minds. You have to unlearn sinful things you’ve learnt before and expose your mind to the right things in the Word of God. This is called transforming your mind. It is a continuous process. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
At salvation, a sinner is born again but his mind is not. You must continue to transform your mind by constantly exposing it to the Word of God. You become what you behold. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV).
Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (NKJV). Let the Holy Spirit lead you – those led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Have nothing to do with the flesh. Think of things above. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1 NKJV).
2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (NKJV). Maybe you’re no longer a youth but there are sins common to every age group which you must flee from too; your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which must not be defiled. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NKJV).
6. Exercise self-control and engage in healthy habits. You’re a free moral agent so you have the power to choose. With the help of the Holy Spirit, use that power to make the right choices and reject evil. It’s often said that nature abhors a vacuum, therefore, replace the negative addictions with healthy and beneficial activities similar to what is referred to as positive addictions. “So, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Romans 8:12-14 NLT).
Discipline yourself. Paul says, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV). Don’t make selfish choices. Deny yourself and carry your cross daily to follow Christ as his disciple (Matthew 16:24).
7. You need an accountability partner. This is a mature Christian – not a gossip but a friend, an older person in the faith, etc. – you can confide in and who can support you in your journey to victory over the addiction.
From time to time you can share with your accountability partner the challenges you’re facing and the progress you’re making. There must be openness and transparency based on mutual trust. He’ll take personal responsibility to monitor you, encourage you, and pray for you and with you. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (NLT).
8. Go for deliverance. Some cases of addiction have to do with demonic possession, and the demons need to be cast out for the persons concerned to be free. If your condition falls into this category, and you’ve taken the previous steps but not pleased with the result or progress you’ve seen, go to a minister of God or a mature Christian to pray for you and cast out the demon. Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils…” (Mark 16:17 KJV). Deliverance is possible. “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions” (Obadiah 17 KJV).
CONCLUSION: As I’ve said, there are different kinds of addiction, and a sin is not necessarily an addiction but addiction is a sin. Be honest with yourself; deal with every addiction by replacing these sinful habits with positive habits. Don’t become a slave to anything even when it’s ordinarily not sinful. “You may say, ‘I am allowed to do anything.’ But I reply, ‘Not everything is good for you.’ And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NLT).
You’re Christ’s slave; you’re bought with a price; don’t be a slave to any man or anything (1 Corinthians 7:22-23).
As you seek to gain victory over addiction, understand that you need faith and patience because total victory may sometimes take time (Hebrews 6:12). You must never become frustrated. Never give up!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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