Freedom from Addiction
Galatians 4:8, 5:1 When you did not know God, you were enslaved… For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
In our addiction, those around us want to know why. Why would you do this? How could drugs be more important to you than family and career? There really is no answer that makes sense other than, it is my broken nature to do so. Therein lies the only route to understanding. We can only understand the defects of others in light of the defects we struggle with ourselves. The truth is, we all have something we wish we did not continue to do. We all struggle with something.
When looking on those with worse or different defects though, we like to point to today’s passage and insist that they can be set free in Christ. We believe in God’s word and we want it to be true, so, we apply it to others. You can be set free in Christ. We do not like to look inward and see that we still struggle. We believe others should be free, but we do not feel free ourselves. Why? Why do we not know freedom in Christ?
When we read that Christ set us free, we assume this is a forcible takeover of our will. We misunderstand freedom as absence of a choice, but it is rather, the opposite. Before we came to know God, we were spiritually dead, unable to follow him. We were capable only of following self. We could not follow God until we came to know him. In coming to faith, we were born again in a new spirit life. We carry that new spirit life in an imperfect flesh, and only now are capable of choice.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we may now pursue God or self, whereas previously, we could only pursue self. This is freedom. Freedom is not being made a robot. Sin enslaves. God never enslaves, so Paul told us that we must stand firm in faith, to avoid a return to slavery.
There are those who interpret this verse to mean that a Christian cannot be addicted to drugs. This verse means rather the opposite though, and serves as a dire warning. Christ died so you could follow God. Do not then, return to the disaster of self and again become enslaved to your defects. Paul would not have warned against a return to slavery if it was not possible.
It was to follow God that Christ set us free. We are to exercise our freedom to live in faith, denying self and following God daily. This is not a passive or automatic process. We do not remain free just because we came to know Christ once. We naturally drift back towards the gravity of self, again becoming enslaved to that from which Christ died to set us free.
If I have come to know God and then find myself living enslaved, it is not because Christ has not set me free. It is because I have made countless poor choices leading me back to my addiction. No amount of begging God to set me free will make me freer than He already made me. If I want freedom, I will must make radical changes and choices to live in the freedom Christ has already attained for me.