Addiction is a disease that impacts millions of people worldwide, and it can be very difficult to overcome. Many have seen how God’s Word has helped others who have been impacted by this disease.
When feeling the effects of addiction it’s common to experience a sense of guilt, loneliness, and self-loathing. However, the guiding force of God can help you through recovery.
This post will explore what the Bible says about addiction.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is defined as an uncontrollable desire or compulsion for a substance that causes harm to oneself or others. It usually involves repeated use of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, eating, pornography, etc., despite adverse consequences.
Whilst there is a common misconception that addiction is a matter of willpower, addiction is actually classified as a disease.
Addiction is the effect of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), which is also known as Substance Abuse Disorder (SAD).
SUD is characterized by compulsive use of substances leading to impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, legal, or other important areas of functioning.
Addiction is not always associated with physical dependence on the addictive substance; however, when used over time, it may lead to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
If someone uses an addictive substance long enough, they become physically dependent on it. When this happens, their body needs more of the drug to function normally.
This means that if they stop using the substance, they feel uncomfortable without it. They may even experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, muscle aches, nausea.
Experiencing such symptoms can lead to many behaving unlike themselves and potentially causing harm to themselves and others.
Examples Of Addiction In The Bible
In the Old Testament, we find examples of addiction in the form of drunkenness and idolatry. The following are just some verses where these things were mentioned.
Kings 21:13 – “And he drank wine at night…”
Samuel 11:14 – “He got drunk…and was sick in his bed…”
Proverbs 23:21 – “Drunkards and gluttons love to revel!”
Psalm 51:17 – “I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I detest them.”
Romans 13:13 – “Let us walk properly, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness.”
The New Testament speaks of addiction in terms of sin, grace, and faith. We see here that Jesus Christ came to earth to save sinners like ourselves.
He was tempted in all points like we are, yet never fell into temptation because of His perfect obedience to God. As Christians, we should strive to live our lives according to the example set before us by Jesus Christ.
We also see that the Holy Spirit works within us to change our ‘sinful’ nature. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to resist temptation.
What Does The Bible Say About Addiction?
The Bible does not specifically address addictions, but it does give us some insight into the nature of sin and its relationship to addiction.
We could say that the Bible gives us three different perspectives from which to view addiction. These are:
- The perspective of God – the creator of all things, including humanity. He created us in His image, so he knows our thoughts and feelings. We were made to know Him and love him, and we were given free will to choose whether to follow his commands or disobey them.
- The perspective of the sinner – those who struggle with addiction. Because of their sinful nature, they often do not understand why they behave as they do.
They may blame their behavior on external factors, like peer pressure or bad luck. They may also think that they cannot change because of past mistakes.
- The perspective of the redeemer – Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Through faith in Him, we can be forgiven of our sins and live life abundantly.
In the following sections, we’ll take each of these perspectives and see how they apply to addiction.
The Perspective Of God
As we saw above, God created us in His image. As human beings, we have a conscience, which is part of what makes us unique among animals.
Our conscience allows us to distinguish right from wrong. And yet, sometimes we find ourselves doing something that feels good, but is wrong. For example, you might enjoy drinking beer, but you know that drinking too much will make you sick.
You might enjoy smoking cigarettes, but you know that smoking too much will kill you. So, when you find yourself acting against your own best interests, you’re probably experiencing a conflict between two competing desires.
One desire wants you to act according to God’s law, while another desire wants you to act contrary to God’s law.
When we fail to obey God’s law, we sin. Sin is defined by the Bible as ‘transgression’ (Romans 3:23). Transgression involves breaking God’s laws. It includes morally wrong actions, such as lying, stealing, murder, adultery, etc.
The Perspective Of The Sinner
Those suffering from addiction typically do not consider themselves sinners. However, they often believe that they must be sinners because they have committed serious crimes or did harm to others.
They may also believe that they are powerless to overcome their addictions. They may tell themselves that no matter how hard they try, they just can’t stop using drugs or alcohol.
This belief about one’s inability to control addictive behaviors is called self-doubt. Self-doubt is an important component of the disease of addiction.
When people experience self-doubt, they begin to question whether they deserve forgiveness. If they feel unworthy of God’s mercy, then they tend to avoid church and other opportunities to receive spiritual guidance.
This sense of unworthiness leads many addicts to turn away from God. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
“But when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (Corinthians 10:13). This passage speaks of how there is always a solution. The message of this passage tells us that sobriety is possible even in times of hopelessness.
The Perspective Of Redemption
Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of humanity, and the ‘Redeemer of our souls.’
Through His death on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, making it possible for us to be saved. We can accept salvation through faith in Christ alone. Salvation means being forgiven for our sins and having eternal life with God.
We can receive salvation only if we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us. Repentance is turning away from sinful behavior and turning toward God. It requires admitting that we’ve done wrong and asking God to forgive us.
We can receive salvation only if God accepts our repentance. He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins. Conviction is the process of coming to understand that we have sinned and that God has provided forgiveness.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (Peter 5:10).
This passage sends the message that there is always hope for forgiveness and that whatever turmoil one has experienced, redemption can be rewarded.
However, that is not to say that confessing alone will stop an addiction, it will provide the person suffering from the addiction to be filled with the Holy Spirit to redeem their soul and challenge temptation.
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit… Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:18-20).
This passage gives the message that whilst substance abuse cannot be overcome overnight but is a continual development of growth that requires the practice of self-discipline every day throughout the recovery process.
The Effects Of Addiction
Addictions are a very complex issue and require more than just a simple behavior change. They are often rooted in deep-seated issues such as trauma, depression, or anxiety which may take years to heal.
For some people, these issues may never fully resolve and therefore remain a source of pain and struggle.
Addictions are also typically associated with co-occurring mental health issues like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.
These conditions are typically misunderstood by family members and friends because they don’t appear to make sense. But addictions are real illnesses that need treatment and support.
Let us leave you with a few final thoughts. First, remember that no matter what your situation, God loves you and wants to help you. Second, remember that you are worth something.
You are valuable and important. Third, remember that you are not alone. Many others are going through similar experiences.