Who is an Addict?
John 8:34 Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
Do you know what it is like to struggle with some behavior that seems to control you? Despite causing some destruction, you return again and again to this thing that you do not want to do. You want to stop but the behavior has a mind of its own. You are enslaved to it.
Yesterday at the jail, I asked Daniel, who had just returned after being out only a short time, how he came back. His legal charges were drug related, but that is not how it started. He told me he had previously found freedom in jail while following God. In jail, he prayed and read his bible daily. When he got out, he intended to continue this pursuit of God but slowly, he drifted back to the old life.
It did not start with drugs. It started by hanging out with certain destructive friends. It started with small bad choices. He told me that once he made a few bad choices, he was out of control. It ended predictably with drugs and a parole violation. Daniel’s addiction was not just to drugs, it was to a lifestyle that revolved around the pursuit of self. Once he dipped his foot in the old life, he was swept away by it.
My kids and I have a favorite swimming spot at the inlet of our lake that reminds me of this. We start on one side of the current and swim under it, coming up on the other side. As long as we purposefully stay under the current, we remain in control of our direction. If, however, we get just a foot or hand up in the current, running swiftly above us, we are sucked in and dragged out into the lake.
This is the source of much amusement in the water, but in life, this is the source of much misery. It is this same force that Jesus described in today’s passage. He said the pursuit of our own desires is akin to slavery. We dip our hand into a thing because we want it, but it then sucks us in, becoming our master, leading us to destruction. When we pursue sin, we become enslaved to it.
We can know freedom when we follow Christ. Pursuit of God instead of self is the path to freedom, but still, we all know the struggle of something that seems to control us. Whether it is anger, lust, greed, resentment, appearance, status, success, drugs or pride, we all have some defect of our nature to which we are enslaved at times. We are all familiar with addiction.
The worst defect may be the inability to see this truth. Many will insist they are not addicts. I don’t have a problem! The Pharisees said as much, We have never been enslaved (v 33). Pride, that most devastating of defects, blinds its victims to its presence, convincing them that they have no need for God.
Brutal honesty is required to admit that the defect exists. The truth will set you free (v 33). It is only in recognizing the truth of our condition that we can choose to continually turn from self to God. It is only in continually pursuing him that we find freedom from ourselves. If you abide in my word… you will be free indeed (vv 31, 36).
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.