I recently read an older article about addiction, a problem the author (and others before her) called “the spiritual disease of our time.”[i] A few quotes about addiction capture the author’s thinking:
- “One of the hallmarks of addiction is ‘tolerance’—the experience of requiring an ever-increasing amount of a particular substance or behavior in order for it to satiate us.”
- “Yesterday’s thrill is today’s old news. We always need more.”
- “We are obsessed by unworthy masters who can never truly satisfy.”
Replace the words “addiction,” “thrill,” and “masters” with the word “sin” or “sins” in these sentences, and this article speaks to all of us. We drink from the well of sin, thinking that our choices will somehow bring fulfillment – only to discover that sin leaves us thirstier in the long run.
So, how do we begin to break this pattern?
- Believe and share the gospel. No unbeliever can win this battle. Thus, the starting point is to assure that people — beginning with us — have heard the gospel and responded to Christ in repentance and faith.
- Point to the beauty of Christ. Regrettably, churches often teach Christ as Savior, but neglect to present Him as the priest who prays for us (Heb. 7:25) and the king who is above every power (Eph. 1:20-23). Only when we truly see Christ for who He is will sin lose its attraction.
- Teach about standards of holiness and the seriousness of sin. Let’s be honest: some believers struggle because we have never taught them about sin, the Enemy, and the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17). We should not be surprised when those we have not taught don’t live up to standards they don’t know.
- Build confession into discipleship. In the context of healthy discipling relationships, encourage careful, God-honoring confession (James 5:16). Then, offer restoration and forgiveness (Gal. 6:1); let godly love overcome the power of sin.
- Pray for others before they fall. If we don’t pray for each other until after we’ve fallen, it’s no wonder so many of us do fall. If you want to read more about this topic, see “Strange Ways We Pray.”
The goal, of course, is to long for Jesus, meet him, long for more of Him, grow in His grace, long for more still . . . and just keep longing for and loving Him more. Ask God today to cure your sin addictions by making you addicted to Him – and then teach others how to live in that victory.