The Brain Disease of Addiction
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler . . . Proverbs 20:1
I recently listened as a gambling addict detailed his horrific story. Throwing away massive amounts of money and then lying and stealing to cover it up, simply became routine behavior, eventually leading him to prison. It was hard to for me to comprehend. Why would you throw everything away for gambling? How could you be so stupid? Then it struck me, that if I replaced gambling with pills in his story, it would all become painfully familiar.
Most of us struggle with something. Addiction is not just about the wine and strong drink mentioned in today’s passage. Like the apostle Paul, most of us know some behavior that we wish we did not do. When we indulge in it, it takes control, causing us to do, think, or say terrible things.
Why is this? Why does one allow shopping, rage, lust, pride or selfishness to intoxicate and control his mind? There is no other explanation except to say that we all suffer from the brain disease of sin and self. Though we may have come to know God and though we may have been given a new spirit life, we still retain our decaying flesh nature.
I once heard a Christian counselor insist that addiction wasn’t a disease. It’s a sin. The destructive behavior we engage is sinful of course, and it stems from the brain disease of self from which we all suffer.
If the disease is in following our broken selves, then the cure is in following something outside of ourselves. As Christians, We believe that the only adequate solution to our problem of sin and sickness is God. As he designed us, he is the only one who can set us free from our problem of self.
Following God does not mean that all of our destructive appetites are instantly removed, though he does absolutely change our desires as we obey. Following God today, means I have the freedom to seek something other than my destructive appetites. Daily, God saves me from my brain disease of self as I follow him.