Let’s face the reality that we have a massive problem with addiction all around us. The fact one is in church every week doesn’t mean they aren’t having a problem with addiction. Normally when we think of addiction, we think of drugs and alcohol and these are certainly a massive problem for huge numbers of people. But we also face the addiction to Pornography that probably involves more people than any other form of addiction that can be considered. I know the line that is used over and over again with any form of addiction. “I’m not addicted. I can quit anytime I want to. I just enjoy it.” The same line is used no matter what form of addiction we may consider. No wonder the Alcohol Anonymous has the people stand each time to say their first name and declare “I am an alcoholic.” It is tough to admit that we have actually become addicted to a thing and need help to stop it.
Think of how Paul dealt with this conversation in his letter of I Corinthians. They had both written him many things with questions they had and and at times he simply quotes their sayings and responds to them. Two such instances are found in chapter 6:12 and 10:23-24. “I have the right to do anything you say – but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything – but I will not be mastered by anything.” “I have the right to do anything you say – but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Imagine the atmosphere if a favorite saying of the people is “I have the right to do anything.” From the way Paul deals with this saying from them, it must have been used in light of their being followers of Christ. Probably as they had heard statements about being no longer under the law they had carried such a thought to mean that if we aren’t under law that means we can do anything and it be alright.
Interestingly, when Paul first quoted this statement from them it was in a discussion of sexual involvement. Look at the following verses from I Corinthians 6: “You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both. The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” He will go on to plead with them to “Flee from sexual immorality.” So it becomes obvious that at least one use of the phrase “I have the right to do anything” was to say it was alright for them to be involved in sexual immorality. No wonder the man having sex with his step mother hadn’t been offensive to them if their favorite saying “I have the right to do anything” meant to them they could take the body and be in an immoral relationship and that it didn’t affect one spiritually.
Time and again I’ve listened to someone addicted to porn argue that it didn’t affect them spiritually. Most would also argue that there wasn’t any reason for their wife to be upset. Or if it was a teenaged boy, that there was no reason for their parents to be upset. The argument is that it doesn’t affect them. It just arouses one for sex with their wife. Husbands have actually claimed that when I look at the porn I’m actually thinking of my wife. Let me tell you for certain when such a claim is made they are lying to whoever is listening and even sadder they are likely lying to themselves. Porn is highly addictive. It affects the brain itself and makes it impossible for a man or boy to look at any woman in a pure and holy way. Just remember it was Jesus who said, “Whoever looks on a woman lustfully commits adultery already in their heart.” Jesus took it so seriously that he went on to say, “If your right hand offends you, cut it off. It is better to enter into life with one hand than to have both hands and be cast into hell. If your right eye offends you pluck it out. It is better to enter into life with one eye than to have both eyes and be cast into hell.” This wasn’t meant to be taken literally. It was meant to tell us when we find ourselves lusting from a person, we need to get out of that situation, that surrounding or that relationship immediately so that we aren’t tempted to lust for them again.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol are exactly the same. They almost always begin with something that I enjoy, that makes me feel good or helps me cope with my problems. But the same drugs used to ease the pain or help one heal from some problem can become far more than just something to ease the pain. When it moves from taking the drugs as the doctor ordered for the length of time they ordered, you can know that something is wrong and you need to get control immediately. When anything leads us to hide our actions from the people we love and who love us we are likely going down the wrong road. I need always to raise the question when I’m doing something I’m trying to justify of how I would feel if my children knew I was doing it. Would I want them to know I’m watching things on my computer or Television that I would be terribly upset if I knew they were watching the same thing. If I would be ashamed for the people at church to know what I’m looking at then I’m in trouble.
But here is the most important point that I want us to see. God offers redemption for the addictions that take over our lives. All such addictions come from Satan and are his way of taking control of our minds, our thoughts and our needs. He is the only one who would want you to do things that will destroy your influence, and cause you to be unable to fulfill the dreams and desires God has placed in your heart. If I’ve given into Satan’s control through drugs, alcohol or pornography I need to come back to God and change the life I’m living.
Remember a story Jesus told of the man who drove the demon out of his life. The demon went through arid places searching for rest and didn’t find any so he returned to the place where he had been in the life of the man. He found the man empty, swept and clean. He went and found seven more demons worse than he was and brought them back and they all entered into the man so that his last state was worse than the first. What is the point of this story? It is that simply determining to quit the addiction and be clean and sober doesn’t work. If I leave my heart empty, swept and clean then I’m inviting the demon to come back with all his friends so that things get worse than ever. What then can one do? The answer to any addiction is to fill our lives with God, with His Spirit and to the degree there is no room left for Satan. Efforts to simply reform a persons life without involvement with God seldom work. Empty spaces form a void that cries out to be filled with something. Telling people to just say “No” is worthless. I must say “No” to the wrong, to the sin while saying “Yes” to God to fill me up so that there is no room left for Satan or any of the addictions.
Notice how Paul concludes chapter six in I Corinthians after telling them to flee sexual immorality. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (Verses 19-20) Every time in the writings of Paul he tells Christians they need to lay aside some ways of life like taking off an old and filthy garment, he continues to tell them to put on the new man, the new way of living. In Colossians 3:12-14 we find a great example. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
The point I need to get is that God never leaves us in the sin to flounder. He offers redemption from the old way of life and gives us new life in him. Addictions are difficult to overcome. Let me challenge you to choose an addiction that fills your life with the right things instead of the wrong ones. In I Corinthians 16:13-16 Paul gave a tremendous illustration of the right kind of addiction. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have addicted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.”
Find a great work helping other people with some problem so that you leave no room for Satan’s demons to get back into your life. If you glory in simply being clean, you won’t stay that way long. Fill yourself up with service to others. Find another who is struggling with some addiction and help them overcome. In doing such we make way for healthy spiritual living and are true to the call of God Almighty.