How to Become Addicted
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:22-23
Every once in a while, I hear this advice from someone regarding eating. Listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat. Your body knows what it needs and if it’s telling you it’s hungry, it’s because it needs food. So, eat whenever and whatever you feel like you need to eat. Usually, this advice is given by someone who’s never struggled a day in his life with being overweight. This individual can and does eat whatever he wants without putting on fat.
This person has some struggle, but overeating isn’t it. He doesn’t get it and – if you’re at all like me – he doesn’t understand your struggle. For the one who wrestles with weight, over-eating, and self-control, this recommendation – to follow your appetite – is terrible advice. It’s like telling an alcoholic he should just drink when he feels like it because his body would never lead him wrong.
In today’s passage, Paul addressed what is perhaps mankind’s greatest problem – his own will. Giving a brief history of time, he said that though man knew of God, he preferred his own way. Abandoning the one true God, he made a god out of his own appetite, doing whatever he thought best. In doing so, he claimed to be wise, but proved himself an utter fool as God gave man over to his appetite and all of the painful, miserable consequences that come with it.
Freely following our appetite is exactly how an addiction begins. Not every desire becomes an addiction, but we all struggle with something and addictions develop when we follow that thing impulsively. As our brain is rewarded, we do the thing again and again, rewiring our brain. Eventually, that thing becomes a compulsion and isn’t a choice anymore. Now, an addiction has been born. This isn’t just about drugs. It’s about pride, selfishness, gluttony, greed, status, possessions, pornography, or appearance. Whatever controls us, enslaves us.
Freedom is found then, in doing what it takes to abandon that thing and turn to God. Though we think we want to follow our way, that always leads to misery in the end. If we want to know life, freedom, joy, and peace, then we must daily choose, not to follow our appetite, but to follow Christ.