Addiction is a word typically used to describe a person's dependence upon a substance or habit, either physically or psychologically. Though traditionally used in relation to the abuse of alcohol or drugs, people also use addiction to describe an unhealthy focus on other areas ranging from food to video games.
What is a Christian view of addiction? Does the Bible say anything about addiction?
What does the Bible teach about addiction? First, the Bible clearly notes that addictions are a real problem people face in this world. For example, church leaders could not be addicted to much wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). Sexual purity is also often an area of emphasis in the Bible, teaching believers to flee from sexual immorality, highlighting the addictive nature of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Second, the Bible is clear about finding help for addictions. This help ultimately comes from God as we replace old habits with new ones. Colossian 3:8-10 explains, "But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
Third, other people can also help against addiction. Galatians 6:1-2 shares, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." James 5:19-20 adds, "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
Fourth, the Holy Spirit helps provide power against addiction. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit." The solution to addiction to a substance or practice is to replace it with an "addiction" or focus on God. This is also the teaching of Deuteronomy 6:5 that adds, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
However, it is also important to note that God may not take away every area of temptation. For example, the apostle Paul faced an unknown "thorn in the flesh" though he repeatedly prayed for God to take it away (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). He continued to struggle with a personal issue though God gave him the grace to deal with it on a daily basis. In some cases, God may allow the temptation or struggle to remain; however, this does not mean we are to give up. Instead, it causes us to depend on God's grace: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (1 Corinthians 12:9).
Addictions are a very real issue, but they are not impossible to overcome with the help of God and God's people. Scripture offers much encouragement regarding the reality of addiction, God's power to fight addiction, the importance of other believers to help, and the strength of God's Spirit for the believer who seeks to fight against addictive struggles.
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