Have you had it with your struggle with addiction? It might be drinking, eating, sexual, or shopping; whatever it is you are at the bottom and you are tired of trying and failing over and over again. You’re done making those empty promises of; “I will never do that again”!
In today’s post I want to share 4 clear steps you can take to have some meaningful victories over your addictions. Over the next several days I will unpack the steps in a series of upcoming blog posts. As always, send me an email at [email protected] to let me know how I can pray for you or answer your questions.
This is hard work and I want to be clear, you will have to be honest with yourself and others.
First, let’s look at the problem, and to do so I want to focus on what Ephesians 4:17-19 says about our addictions:
Ephesians 4:17-19 (NLT) – With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
As we look at the passage of Ephesians we see a progression. When we allow ourselves to get into addicted behaviors we become:
- confused about life
- our thinking becomes darkened
- we wander through life
- our mind and heart rejects truth
- we go deeper and deeper into sin
- sinful behavior permeates our thoughts and actions
Do you get the picture? Our additions start out with just a sin but it soon takes over our entire life – to point that it becomes hard to really function successfully in life. And many times we are blind to the unhealthy patterns in our life, but not to those around us. They see our struggles and our blind spots. They see that we are struggling or are involved in unhealthy habits. They might not be able to pinpoint exactly what we are struggling with but they know “something is just not right with…”
So how do we get the help we need? How do we break the cycle of addiction? Today I will briefly share the four steps and in the days ahead I will unpack them with more detail and give some practical application points.
Step 1: Draw Close to Jesus
Ephesians 4:20-22 (NLT) – But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
For many of us, we have probably already started this process. We act out in our addiction and then afterward we get on our knees to pray and confess our sin to God; promising to never do that again. At that moment we feel both close and distant from God.
But there’s more it than just confessing our sin; it needs to be a daily and maybe even moment by moment walk with God.
Think about the Garden of Eden; when Adam and Eve first sinned they felt shame and guilt. Then they covered their sin (nakedness) and hid from God. Their hiding from God was physical, He actually came down daily to “walk with Adam.” They had a relationship with God and God missed it.
So our first step in victory is to confess our sin to God and draw close to Him. Again, I will elaborate on this more in the days ahead and give you some specific applications.
Step 2: Renew Your Mind
Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT) – Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Sin, especially addictive sins, has a real and negative effect on our brains. There have been significant studies on the results of addictive behavior on the frontal cortex (decision-maker) of the brain in recent years. Brain scans of people in addiction confirm what the Bible has clearly stated in Romans 1 and here in Ephesians 4 that addictive sin will cause us to have confusion in life.
GOOD NEWS! We can renew the mind/brain. God, in His wisdom has told us we can reNEW our brains to be healthy and functioning properly again. It will be hard and it will require effort and diligence, but we can renew our mind.
Again, in the days ahead I will be unpacking this more and giving specific exercises you can do to renew your mind. This is a vital step in having the victory over the addictive sins we are seeking.
Step 3: Draw Close to Safe People
Ephesians 4:25 (NLT) – So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
Back in step one I shared that we need to draw close to God and confess our sin to Him. But the REAL LIFE Healing comes when we confess our sins to safe and healthy people (that statement right there has a lot to unpack – we will get to that in the days ahead). James 5:16 tells, us to confess our sins to “each other” and to “pray for each other” and those honest prayers will have wonderful results in healing the effects of sin.
This is a HUGE step because this is where it gets real for us. We have to humble ourselves and tell someone that we have a sin problem and we need HELP! This is difficult, but let me tell you. I have done this and it has given me healing in my life that I desperately needed.
Step 4: Accept Love from God and People
Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) – He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
The final step, and for some of us it might be extremely difficult because if we are not used to sharing our “real us”, the sinful habits we have been hiding, then when we do confess our sins to others we might become very insecure. We start to think awkward thoughts like…
“I just laid it all out there, what do they think of me now?”
“They could never love or accept me for what I did.”
“I am such a loser, why would they want to love me?”
Have you ever had those thoughts? Well, if we have relationships with legalistic/self-righteous people then we might hear those statements. But if we have relationships with REAL, loving and authentic people we will get love and acceptance back. And we need to be open to accepting that love. Take it in and allow that love to penetrate our hearts and thoughts to bring about the change we need in life. YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR SINFUL HABITS ON YOUR OWN.
I hope this post has brought some hope to your struggle. As I stated early, I will be unpacking these points in greater detail over the next several days and giving some specific application points.
Thoughts? Email me your thoughts or question at [email protected]