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How to become an addict in 3 easy steps

    The word “addict” - {as a verb} was coined in the 1530’s from the Latin word addictus. This Latin is the past participle of addicere, and it means “to deliver, award, yield; make over sell.” Thus, the word addict means “to devote or to give up oneself to a habit or occupation.” The noun we use to describe certain people who are beholden to a thing is the word “addict” and in that way it means “one given over to some practice” as coined in 1909. 

    In my years of ministering to inmates, the Lord has shown me that the Word of God actually has much to say regarding addiction. However, most people do not think of what the bible says about addiction in terms of addiction because it uses another word. The word that the bible uses that really is addiction is idolatry. 

The word translated in the Bible as idolatry is the Hebrew word #8655 “teraphiym” and it is the plural form of the Hebrew word that means healer. So when we narrow the scope of our thinking about addicts and addictions to simple drug use, it is very clear that what the world calls an addiction, the Bible calls idolatry because we know that people generally use drugs to be “healed” of something physical or emotional. But what about all of the other things that people become addicted to… are those things idols too? The answer is yes they are. For the most part, people do not believe that they are addicts unless they are shooting up, and even then sometimes you can’t get them to say it out loud! But I would venture a guess that at least half of the American Adult population is and addict- is idolatrous. 

    Remember our definitions of both an addict and an idol? An addict is someone who gives themselves up to a habit or an occupation. Thus the idol would be that habit or occupation to which the person gives themselves up which give to that person healing of some sort. Because the definitions of these two words are so broad, there are many many things that they can encompass.

    For instance, what about shopping? Aren’t there people who shop to make themselves “feel” better? What about OCD? Aren’t there those people who wash their hands 15 times in a row because somehow that “heals” their fear of disease? Or what about the person who is manipulative in relationships by using guilt trips- aren’t they doing this in an effort to “protect” themselves and therefore “heal” past hurts? All of these behaviors are addictions and they are all idolatry!! So let’s take a look at how these happen….

Step 1:

        Do not acknowledge God as God. 

                        “…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

The entire context leading up to Romans 1:21 defines these people as any person to ever draw breath. The Word says that the invisible attributes of God are clearly seen and understood by His creation. All people know there is a God no matter what they might say. So, the first step to becoming an addict is to fail to glorify God as God and not to be thankful to Him. I’m sure that most people, have said “thank God” but this does not count. I am also sure that most of the church believes that they do in fact glorify God as God. Vine’s expository Dictionary of New Testament words describes the word “glorify” here to mean {in part} to acknowledge. Thus, most humans- saved or not saved fall short. Why? Because to “acknowledge” something is to “act on the knowledge” of that thing. In other words, as much as we know about God and what we are to do and not do, that is what we are to act on. This is what it means to “acknowledge” God as God. This failure to act on the knowledge we have of God will lead us to think that we are the ones making our lives work out and so we will not be thankful to God. This automatically, by default leads us to futile thoughts and dark hearts… which leads us to step 2.

Step 2:

    Let your own mind tell you what to think. 

            Once you have a darkened heart and your thoughts are futile, you have  to have some way other than God to manage your emotions and circumstances. The way that you would that then is that you would begin to rely on your own understanding of right and wrong. This understanding will be based on all kinds of things from TV to books, to your own experiences. However, there is one thing you will need but that you may not realize… that is the supernatural. In large part, “educated” Americans will not believe in nor adhere to anything deemed “supernatural.  Meaning that they won’t believe in ESP, ghosts, demons, too doo, magic, etc.  But, they will all engage in it even if they don’t believe in it. Why? because God created us to be more than natural beings, and because He did, we find ourselves “missing something” even when we seem to have everything. There comes with this “missing”  a hunger deep in our souls… Proverbs 27:7 says that “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.

    This dissatisfaction that exists in the soul of every human will lead us to our third and final step before full blown addiction. 

Step 3:

    Set up for yourself something that can “heal” the dissatisfaction you have inside you. 

        Now this step seems kind of silly to most people because they think to themselves that they are not going to place a golden calf in their house to bow down to or even if they have a little “buddha” guy, they aren’t going to lay flat on their face in front of him and tell him how great he is! So, since those are obvious  forms of idol worship, what are some not to obvious ones for the mainstream masses? Well of course we know that drug addiction is idolatry because using drugs “heals” something that was hurt inside of the person. Even if that person just uses them for recreation - the “have a better time” when they are high and so what is broken is that they are not able to enjoy life as it is. 

    What else? What about golf? I have a friend who, for his birthday one year, wanted to go golfing. He wanted his family to leave him alone and he wanted soak up the sun on a green. This request brought about a horrendous fight because, the wife said, you always golf. You miss everything because of golf. Did my friend set up golf as his addiction? Yes - and a successful golf game was the idol that my friend sacrificed his family for. He used golf as a way to "unwind” and “zone out.” This was his addiction and his idol because he was not thankful to God for giving him the ability to handle anything whether or not he was prepared to do so through the mind of Christ. 

    One of the main problems with addiction and idolatry is when an addiction doesn’t look like an addiction and it sure doesn’t look like idolatry. 

Proverbs 23:29-35 warns us that it is when the idol is the most appealing to look at that it is the most dangerous.

"29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, [When] it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, [saying]: 35 "They have struck me, [but] I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel [it]. When shall I awake, that I may seek another [drink]?”

The end of this passage clearly shows that the addict doesn’t see their own destruction, all they are concerned with is when they can engage in that behavior again. In fact, Proverbs 23:35 indicates that the addict not only excuses their behavior but implies that no matter how bad it may seem, “they can handle it.”

So what does God say about all of this idol worship and addiction? 

    First, that no matter how much you engage in your idol worship and addictive behavior, it will never ever satisfy you {Ezekiel 7:9}

In the Old Testament, God mocks those with addictions by telling them to cry out to their addictions and let them save them when they are in trouble. 

Today, of course the answer is to work backward- All you have to do to stop an addiction is to cry out to Jesus for help. This acknowledgment will lead you to be thankful to Him, then you will learn to hear Him and understand the mind of Christ within you and then you will have cast down ANY high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. The addiction can be anything- work, social media, television, your own temper, OCD, drug & Alcohol use, etc. He IS THE Healer so don't let another deceive you into thinking there is another way out!

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