What God Says About Addiction

Addiction is a tough and complex topic and our heart at Woodside is to come alongside those who are or know someone battling addiction. With this at heart, the intent of this blog is to open a conversation that we recognize will require much further dialogue and resourcing.

Please refer to the bottom of this blog for ways to access help today.

Addiction can be defined as a compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance typically causing well-defined symptoms upon withdrawal or abstinence. It the way your body craves a substance or behavior and often times creates a lack of concern over it’s consequences.

The topic of addiction can be challenging to handle, as we have likely all experienced the heartbreak, trauma, or even death caused by addiction at some time or in some close relationship in our lives. Such painful scars can result in a desire to avoid thinking or talking about it altogether. With this in mind, I pray that our heavenly Father’s tender care will lead our hearts to be healed and aligned with His.

While there aren’t any places in Scripture that directly deal with “addiction” per se, there are many instances revealing how God designed humans to live in dependence upon Him, apart from anything else.

In his devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “redemption creates the need it satisfies.” I believe dependence is very similar. That in our deepest, most authentic self, we are entirely dependent upon God, and that dependence displays very real needs. When those needs feel unmet or unrealized, we feel a void, and awareness of a void leads us to attempt to fill it so that we might experience satisfaction. This is where I believe the root of addiction lies.

One commentary says, although people might not be aware of it or able to articulate it, the fact is, God is what every soul craves. That is why Jesus said that it was only those who drank of the water He gives would never thirst again (John 4:14).[1] The psalmist’s personal yearning expresses a need or desire that all of humanity has:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” — Psalm 42:1–3

Augustine put it this way: Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.[2] Filling our needs/voids (designed by God, to be filled by God) with anything other than God (His eternal love, light, and very life) begins a tragic cycle of quick fixes that do not last or ever truly satisfy.

Along with being created to depend upon God, we were created to worship. From Genesis to Revelation and thousands of places in between, we see how God’s creation is built to bring Him glory.

We are under the authority of God our Father and every other authority He assigns or allows. While we were created with enormous authority “made in His image and likeness,” none of it originates in us. We are subject to God’s authority in all matters, including the very nature of our own creation. He wants us to find total satisfaction in Him, which is indeed possible. However, sin has perverted our definition of satisfaction. When we recognize that His ultimate authority satisfies our need for satisfaction, we can live in appropriate dependence.

As we see ourselves created to worship, subjected to God in all things, it ought not to be too far of a stretch to suggest that we are/become subject to the object of our worship. When we experience the “void” inside of us that I would argue is allowed by God to be filled by God, we are met with difficult choices and feelings. Will we seek God no matter how long it takes to “feel good?” Or will we pursue other means to fill the void?

We must remember that it is not ourselves who have been created to be worshipped, but God, Himself. When we exalt our own feelings, intellect, physicality, etc., and believe the worldly logic that “we deserve to feel good,” we are abusing our privilege to worship.

We’ve all messed up in this area. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. We’ve all tried to replace God’s rightful place to “fill the void” with someone or something. Whether for you it’s drugs (illegal or prescription), alcohol, physical intimacy, social media, food, attention, etc. (the list is likely innumerable), we seek them as a means of masking/avoiding pain/reality, and this hijacks the body so that a person’s physical self is reworked to a kind of slavery to the sin.

But, we have hope. The Lord sees you and wants you. Because this is His heart for “the addict,” this absolutely ought to be our heart, not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones, friends, families, and even enemies.

There are countless stories of grace being extended to those who’ve messed this up, and countless stories of grace being withheld from those who’ve hurt us because the pain feels to deep to forgive. When we’re being filled by God and our hearts are aligned with His, we can see how His grace has shaped us and how it should be employed to shape others.

There are countless stories of victorious replacement where people have found hope in experiencing that “void” being filled by the Lord and His people. Just as there are countless stories where people either didn’t make the choice or didn’t feel like the choice was extended to them. When we’re being filled by God, and our hearts are aligned with His, we can correct our sin-stained outlook on satisfaction and experience it more fully from our Creator.

All these may be countless to us, but they are each numbered by God. His heart is deep enough, Christ’s sacrifice is wide enough, and the Holy Spirit’s might is powerful enough to bring forth reconciliation and restoration to a broken people and world.

Is there a person in your life who cares about you? Prays for you? Wants what’s best for you, even if it’s not what you think you want? I pray you would have the humility of heart and boldness of faith to reach out this very day (moment!) and confess whatever area of struggle the Lord has brought to your mind.

Please know there is hope and there is healing available to you. You do not have to walk this path alone. There are lots of different support groups available to you, one being Celebrate Recovery. To find a Celebrate recovery support group nearest you, click here. If you are a metro-Detroit local, we have Celebrate Recovery groups that meet at many of our Woodside Campuses.

You can also call the SAMHSA national hotline 24/7 at 1–800–622-HELP if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorders. For more information and resources, you can check out their website by clicking here.

Written by: Ryan Russell
Published by Woodside Bible Church,
www.woodsidebible.org

References:
[1] Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 52.

[2] Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 52.

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Woodside Bible Church

Woodside Bible Church

We exist to help people belong to Christ, grow in Christ, and reach the world for Christ across Southeast Michigan and the globe.