1 ad·dict Pronunciation: &-'dikt
Function: transitive verb1 : to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively
To what are you addicted? Are all addictions sinful? Think about this word and how it applies to you in light of the definition provided us by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2006). Are we not a people actually called by God to surrender ourselves to Him, His Kingdom and His will both habitually and obsessively?
Read these verses, out loud, slowly.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Colossians 3:17 NIV And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Matthew 6:33 NIV But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 4:18-20 NIV As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
1Corinthians 15:58 NIV Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Romans 12:9-12 NIV Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Identify some commonalities that you read in these passages. What are the common threads in them?
Are you addicted to Christ? Honestly, can you say that you have surrendered yourself to Him habitually and obsessively? Are you obsessive in your worship? Has anybody, either in a joking way or in a hurtful way, ever called you a “fanatic” or a “nut” about God or about what they would call “religion”? Having those labels stuck on you from time to time is a fairly good indicator that you are addicted to Christ.
What else are you addicted to? What else are you obsessive about? What else are you surrendered to? Surrender is voluntary defeat. Think about it, fighting till the death leads to, well, death. What does surrender lead to? Surrender does not lead to death, not immediately at least. It first leads to captivity, subjectivity, dominion…slavery. Let’s back up and think deeply. None of those words are bad in and of themselves are they? Has not, for example, Jesus taken our hearts captive? Are we not His subjects? Does He not have dominion over our souls? Are we not repeatedly called the slaves of God in the Bible? Indeed, the context of Christ being applied to all of those words sound strangely liberating, don’t they? They actually sound comforting when used to describe our relationship to Christ.
Let’s try on some other words that we’ll exchange for Christ. How does being held captive by cigarettes sound? How about being in subjection to pornography? How about being dominated by alcohol? Would you like to be the slave of food for the rest of your life? Or how about being under the control of low self esteem for the rest of your life? How does being submissive to anorexia sound to you? Or would you prefer to be controlled by anger from now on?
To the Christian, the thought of being surrendered to Christ is comforting. The thought of being surrendered to anything else is absolutely appalling. It is, isn’t it?
What else are you addicted to? Is there anything, other that Christ, in your life that has dominion over you? Read this verse, out loud:
Exodus 20:3 NIV “You shall have no other gods before me."
“I have tried and tried and tried to stop this, I can’t”. Is this how you feel? The truth is that you can not liberate yourself from an addiction, a stronghold or a vice. You don’t have it in you. You don’t have the will power, if you did, you would have stopped a LONG time ago. Only God can set you free from a destructive addiction. Repeat this out loud: “God can” and “God will”. Repeat it out loud as many times as you need to. Repeat it until it sinks in.
Jesus had given his disciples power to cast out demons. There was one occasion when they were simply not able to cast the demon out of a little boy. The boys father brought the boy to Jesus and He rebuked the demon and the it fled the boy. Later, after the people were gone his disciples asked Jesus, “why couldn’t we cast that demon out of him?” Jesus answered in this verse, read it slowly and out loud:
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:29.
Some manuscripts of this verse say that Jesus replied, “this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting”. (the majority of manuscripts do not contain “and fasting”. The best and most reliable do not, as a matter of fact)
Don’t miss the point. If you have faith in Jesus Christ and if your eyes have been opened by Him…if you’re saved, then you do not have any demons in you. This is another topic for another teaching. But born again, Spirit filled, Christians can not be possessed by Satan or a demon. BUT, we can be tormented by demons on the outside. They can and do target us. They can oppress us, tempt us, mock us and shame us.
The principle for dealing with addiction, it seems, is the same as the one with the disciples not being able to cast out the demon in the boy. Some bad habits are easier to give up than others. Everybody is different. For some people eating right is not a hard habit to form. For others, alcohol is not difficult to turn down. God has empowered us to be able to put many things down without much thought or effort, that’s an act of His grace. But some things can only be removed by prayer and fasting. It is not hard at all for me to not drink too much alcohol, but knowing when to stop eating is beyond him. Some sinful habits can only be broken by prayer and fasting. If you are addicted to anything but your worship of Christ then you must be serious about having it removed. Remember the verses we read earlier, we must worship the Lord our God and serve Him ONLY. The Bible also says that we can not serve two masters.
I challenge you to pray and fast, earnestly, that God will break your addiction. Are you willing to fast? A fast is a denial. I challenge you to fast your addiction for three days (that’s 72 hours). If you are a smoker, then I challenge you to stop smoking and start praying for 72 hours. If you are an over eater, then I challenge you to eat in proper moderation and pray for 72 hours. Whatever your addiction is, you get the point. After three days, if God has given you strength, then commit to fast another three days and pray. If you fall and break your fast, at any point, then we challenge you to repent, get back up and start your three days over again. God will deliver you, He has empowered you that trust Christ for you salvation, but something’s only come down by prayer and fasting. Fasting is great, but don’t waste your time with it if you are not also going to be earnestly crying out to God.
Here is a sample prayer you can pray, do NOT pray this prayer unless you are serious. The Bible says, “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” Numbers 30:2 NIV
I am so grateful for your calling of me. I am so unworthy to be yours. I was a sinner when you called me, I’m a sinner now. But for reasons known only to you, you called me. You are my God. You have changed my life, you have saved my soul. I want to be obsessive in my worship of you, I want to be habitual in my obedience. I want to be surrendered to none but you. I do not want to be controlled or manipulated by anything but you.
You know my area of addiction. I am addicted to (name everything that you are addicted to, if it’s more than one thing then name them all) and I can’t get over it. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and yet I don’t have it in me to quit. But I have you in me. I have been filled with your Holy Spirit, thank you. You will give me the strength to stop. You will free me from every ungodly addiction in my life. Now, for the sake of your glory, I humbly ask you to start the process of my deliverance, tonight. I want to walk through each step and I want to learn each lesson along the way.
I commit to you now God, I make a vow, to fast _____________ for 72 hours. I need your strength for every second. I will call my pastors every day if needed for prayer, I’ll call my friends and family from my church and will ask them to pray. I will pray earnestly during this 72 hour period. And Lord, if you give me the strength to fulfill this fast, I will vow and commit to fasting another 72 hours. And if you give me the strength to make it through that fast, I’ll fast another and another and another.
I want you to fill me with your Spirit once again, please, for your glory, fill me again.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Tuesday, September 12, 2006