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The Best (and Worst) Thing for the Addict

The Best (and Worst) Thing for the Addict

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

I daily find freedom from my addiction in following Christ. I believe that following his way, instead of my own, is the foundation of my recovery. I also believe however, that Christians have often tragically led addicts astray because we’ve misunderstood what freedom in Christ means.

Using passages like today’s, some Christians have taught addicts that they’re no longer addicted when they come to Christ. “Your self-destructive desires have been removed, and you’re free from the influence of drugs and alcohol.” What the addict hears is, “I no longer have a life problem.” In his newfound freedom, he doesn’t need to change his life or go to meetings. Then, when the opportunity to have a drink inevitably comes along, the alcoholic tells himself, “I’m not an alcoholic. I can have a drink, because I’m no longer addicted.”

The problem of course, is that he’s completely misunderstood what freedom in Christ means. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we cannot be addicted to something.  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). When we engage in behaviors that are addictive to us, we will become addicted, even as Christians.

To be sure, there are those who’ve been miraculously delivered in an instant, but miracles, by definition, are not the norm. Even those who’ve been delivered from one behavior will tell you, if they’re honest, that they still struggle with food, lust, greed, anger, or selfishness. All of our self-destructive desires are not immediately removed in coming to Christ.

What then does freedom in Christ mean? What it means, is that he opens the door to our prison. When we come to faith, we’re free to follow him. He leads us out, but he does not force us and as long as we remain in this flawed flesh, we retain some pathologic desire to go back. Freedom in Christ means we can follow him to recovery, but that freedom also means we can choose to return to our self-destructive nature.

The best thing we can do for the addict, is to show him that he is free to follow a new path. Daily, he can be delivered from his addiction, finding blessed recovery in following Christ. The worst thing that we can do however, is to get this wrong, telling him that he’s instantly freed from all addictions and that he no longer needs to do anything.

The son truly sets us free. Now we must use that freedom to follow him daily.

One Response

  1. Gwen Nelson says:

    So true! Thanks Scott!

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