Addictions: Habits of the heart and mind…..

For several years I have taught about 1 John 2:16 where John says “all that is in the world – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life….”. As I have contemplated the various temptations that plague humanity, it does seem that every one can be categorized into one of these three.

1 John 2:16 says that “all that is in the world is:
– lust of the flesh: physical pleasure, indulgence of physical appetites
– lust of the eyes :covetousness, desire to have possessions or the power that they offer
– pride of life: desire to be prized by self, God, or others above anyone or anything else, ego gratification

You can see this same triad when you compare Eve’s response to the deception by satan- Genesis 3:6 and satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-10.

Celebrate Recovery approaches addiction from the standpoint that all addictions are the same and all have to be addressed in the same way, through a relationship with Christ.

Looking at addictions, they can be classified as:
– Substance addiction- drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, chocolate, etc.
– Process addiction- gambling, overwork, sex, shopping, etc.
– Thought addiction- anger, selfishness, entitlement, negativity, inferiority, unforgiveness, perfectionism, etc.

All of our habits:
1.) arise out of our heart’s desires. Each one is an effort to obtain feelings of pleasure (including physical pleasure or emotional pleasure such as power, wealth, acceptance, etc.) or to avoid pain (physical or emotional pain). In the end, biologically, they all stimulate release of neurotransmitters that cause pleasure, a sense of wellbeing and happiness, excitement and stimulation, or calm peacefulness.

Mark 7:21 “For from within , out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts , fornications , thefts, murders, adulteries …”

Acts 5:4 “How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?”
Matthew 15:19-20 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

2.)begin with a thought that we dwell on. We begin with exposure -> curiosity -> fantasy -> fascination -> obsession -> compulsion -> oppression -> possession/slavery/captivity

Luke 9:47 “But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts….” Jesus knew what was in the hearts and minds of people he encountered.

Acts 8:22 “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.”

It’s not enough to simply free ourselves of one substance/process/ or thought. We will be at risk for another soon taking its place unless we pursue freedom through Christian transformation of our hearts and minds (our motives and our beliefs/thoughts/expressions)

Matthew 12:43-45 “”Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came ‘; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

Romans 12:22 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We have to allow our hearts and minds to be changed through relationship with Christ and knowledge of the principles in his Word if we desire freedom from addiction. This is the freedom that Christ said he came to bring.

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.

John 8:32: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free , you will be free indeed .

When we are liberated from a particular habit of the heart/mind, we have to diligently set about to fill our hearts and minds with the motives and thoughts that are like Christ’s own. Otherwise, something else equally destructive and self defeating will come in and we’ll be back on the same path to oppression, just with a different vice.

How do we begin that work of filling our lives with the goodness of Christ?
– participation in a community of faithful believers- church, Celebrate Recovery, other groups
– personal Bible study to allow the spirit to teach us and convict us about motives, thoughts, and behaviors that God wants to change, both individually and in groups.
– prayer- individually and in groups.
– service to others so that we are not focused only on ourselves
– accountability in a relationship of trust with another fellow pilgrim