What Does The Bible Say About Addictions

Addiction in any capacity whether it be to drugs or alcohol, gambling or shopping has become a worrying problem in the 21st century. But what does the Bible say about it? Does it offer any consolation or possibly hints of understanding around the struggle of addiction?

The Bible does not directly address the subject of addiction as we understand it today. However, It does offer an array of scriptures that can offer help and hope as it presents wonderful truths about God, human nature and relationships.

In Proverbs 23:29-35, the Bible covers the dangers of over-indulgence: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who stay long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘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?”

We can also find biblical direction in Galatians 5:16-26, where The Bible tells us that we should give into the Holy Spirit. “This I say, then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish”. The bible is careful to explain that we should be careful with our desires, yet it speaks positively of the ability to take control of those desires and to walk in the spirit.

Likewise, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 encourages readers to remain free from sin and to not become slaves of indulgence and was written for the church of Corinth but holds true for all of us today. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body”.

The Bible offers us a different approach to overcoming addictions and bad habits. The book of James provides good advice in James 4:7-8 as to how to rid yourselves of temptation. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. It warns us of sin and teaches us how to resist it. Every one of us is tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires, yet we have the opportunity to submit the temptation to God, to rely on Him for strength.

Confronting Our Faults and Finding Freedom

The Bible often talks about being aware of our faults such as pride and ambition and instead to focus on humility and meekness as discussed in Matthew 5:5. It argues that in humility, we can be spiritually lifted up and in turn be raised in the eyes of the Lord. The humbling of ourselves before God brings freedom. The Bible promises in Revelation 21:8-9 that God will make all the necessary changes in us through His power, and those that over­come will be rewarded with freedom. We can’t rely on ourselves, but must rely on the Lord and accept his guidance to reach inner freedom.

Rebuilding Family Relationships

The family unit is often put under tremendous pressure when addiction is present. Family relationships can be disconnected and decimated, which is why it’s so important to focus on rebuilding them. The Bible speaks of the importance of reconciliation and relationships in a variety of books, with Mark 3:25-35 being particularly relevant for those facing addiction. Jesus is recorded talking about forgiving a brother ‘up to 70 x 7 times’ in order to connect and synthesize relationships, a grand concept for those trying to mend what addiction has broken.

Healing Through Prayer

The Bible teaches us that God is the ultimate healer. He can help those in need and is only a prayer away. Jeremiah 17:14 remind us of this point, saying “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise.” Similarly, 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 emphasises the importance of prayer when entreating the Lord for help; “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” It is encouraging to know that Jesus is available to comfort and help, and will stay by our side if we but call on Him.

The Power of Forgiveness

Ultimately, the bible places the guilt and the burden of blame onto none other than ourselves. Romans 5:6-8 speaks of the ability to accept the forgiveness of God and of our sin, saying “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. It talks of how the Lord loves us deeply, beyond the boundaries of our sin, and offers us a second chance. We must only accept and open our hearts to it.

Claiming Victory Over Our Demons

The Bible states that God has already won the battle for us but we ought to do our part in claiming the victory. Romans 8:37-38 says “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can take confidence in the Lord, strengthen ourselves and claim the victory His blood has already won.

Knowing the Source of Strength and Power

God is our ultimate source of strength and power. God promises in Bible that he will be our strength when our own strength fails. Psalm 28:7 states ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him’. Isaiah 40:31 says ‘But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’. Looking to the Lord for all our strength is key to overcoming and defeating addiction. As we build our relationship with God, we can come to understand that all things are possible.

Beginning a Life without Addiction

1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches us that no temptation is greater than what God offers in terms of strength, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”. The bible continues to demonstrate that God is always by our side and ready to help us if we but choose to rely on Him, no matter how big or small the problem may be.

Striving for Purity

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 gives us the perfect advice on how to rid ourselves of all unrighteousness, “Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. It tells us that we have the power to live a pure and fulfilling life and one without addiction, we only need to be prepared to accept the challenge, rely on God and do the work.

Relying on God in All Situations

The Bible constantly encourages us to rely on the Lord’s strength and promises us he will never leave those who call on him. When faced with addiction, we may feel overwhelmed and helpless. But no matter how bleak the situation and how difficult the obstacles may be, we should call on the Lord to help us and he will provide us with ‘divine strength’. Ephesians 6:10-11 say ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’. God will grant us the strength to face up to our addictions and overcome them.

Receiving Support from Other Christians

The church is an incredible source of help for the broken and vulnerable, but more so for those who are trying to overcome addiction. James 5:13-16 calls on us to help those who are struggling. “Are any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.

Living a God Fearing Life

It is important to remember that God wants us to live a god fearing life and not one that consists of addictions and such. Ephesians 5:3 speaks of ‘sexual immorality or any impurity or greed’ being a sin, while Colossians 3:5-10 describes that these are all things to be avoided in order to become as ‘children of God’, where “the ancient practice of angry, hateful words has no place in your lives”.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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