Killing My Addiction
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
Several times in the Bible, we’re instructed to kill our evil, sinful behavior. I’ve always wondered what they meant, and I’ve often wished those passages would be a little more detailed in their instruction. While enslaved to drugs, I became desperate to understand this process. I once thought that crucifying my addiction simply meant believing really hard that it was gone. It was my lack of faith then – just not believing hard enough – that explained why I hadn’t gotten sober yet.
I misunderstood faith and I misunderstood what it meant to put the old life to death. So, what does it mean – to kill the old life? As Christians, we often get this wrong, but it happens to be a terribly important part of the Christian life. Putting the sin in us to death means that we first recognize that we still have evil desires and then, we daily do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from the corresponding behaviors, actively and violently cutting them out of our lives.
Practically, this means that if I’m an alcoholic, I must stay out of the bar. I may also need to attend treatment, go to meetings, and change my entire life. If I’m in an adulterous relationship, I must end it. If I’m addicted to internet pornography, I’ll likely need to do something radical to disrupt my internet access. Likewise, if I’m addicted to my smartphone screen, I may need to get an old flip phone. If I’m always angry and yelling at my kids, the solution isn’t to cut them out of my life. The solution is to address my anger, perhaps seeking counseling or medical help, exploring and dealing with the source of the rage.
The problem is that all these things are painful and difficult to do, so most of us just won’t do them. These old behaviors have become part of us and amputating them means amputating part of ourselves. Instead, we beg God to change our nature without any disruption to our comfortable lives. If God will take away the impulse and the appetite, I’ll stop. God does change us, but usually, we must obey before we see his miracle of transformation. This may take time and sometimes, we must kill a thing every day for years.
Crucifying the old life isn’t easy, but God doesn’t leave us alone in the process and the only alternative is to remain addicted. If we truly want to be free, we must daily do whatever it takes to cut those things out of our lives that keep us enslaved.