“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).  I love that! He set you at liberty for the sake of freedom, no strings attached. It is God’s design that all of His creation thrive in the context of absolute freedom. God demonstrated His zeal for liberty when He set the children of Israel free. Unfortunately, we don’t always value or protect liberty. Paul warned, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage… For you brethren have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh” (Galatians 5:1-3). When we use our liberty as an opportunity for our flesh, we stick our head through the yoke of bondage all over again. When we choose to serve our flesh with that liberty, well, that would be like the children of Israel seeing God annihilate their Egyptian captors, deliver Israel from pursuing enemies by dividing a sea in two like one would open curtains, and then want to turn around and voluntarily return to Egypt! Oh yeah, but wait—that is exactly what they did. Why? The cravings of the flesh are pretty powerful.

When a behavior or use of a substance becomes compulsive, despite harmful consequences, it is an addiction.

There is much that promises freedom that in actuality brings bondage. It merely transfers it into a different form rather than conquers the dependency at its core. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage (2 Peter 2:19). When a behavior or use of a substance becomes compulsive, despite harmful consequences, it is an addiction. In all of its forms, addiction is ultimately bondage to yourself, your flesh, your cravings. Addiction is a form of slavery in which millions are bound.

Scripture provides powerful insight into how liberty can be realized if we look at it in the context of slavery. “For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage…”  That is the first thing we need to know. God has not forsaken us in our addictions. Truly, that is the foundation of our hope. He has proven Himself capable of delivering from the fiercest enslavement. The verse goes on to say, “…extended mercy to us…” This mercy does not shrug off the reality of our state but instead provides power and practical guidance for how freedom can be realized: “to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9).

Revival

Revival comes to those who in humility and contrition face the reality of their addiction (Isaiah 54:15). To get to this point some have to “hit rock bottom,” as it is often phrased. Recognizing addiction for what it is without making excuses, blaming, or inferring that it isn’t that bad calls for humility.

Revival is the groundbreaker for deliverance and a new life of liberty.

Repair the House of Our God and Rebuild the Ruins

What causes drug addiction? One might answer, drugs. What causes addiction to pornography? Pornography, of course. We assume that the cause of addiction is the substance itself, chemicals that hijack the brain’s reward system, but apparently it’s deeper than that.

 The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study was conducted in the 1980s and its results have been studied ever since. It included over 17,000 middle-class American adults who provided data relating to numerous adverse events potentially experienced in childhood such as the following: physical, sexual, emotional abuse; dysfunctional home life, such as an addicted parent, one parent absent from divorce or incarceration, violence, mental illness in the home, etc. The objective was to assess how events in childhood might later affect health status in adult life. One of the study’s authors stated, “In our detailed study… we found that the compulsive use of nicotine, alcohol, and injected street drugs increases proportionally in a strong, graded, dose-response manner that closely parallels the intensity of adverse life experiences during childhood… Our findings are disturbing to some because they imply that the basic causes of addiction lie within us and the way we treat each other, not in drug dealers or dangerous chemicals. They suggest that billions of dollars have been spent everywhere except where the answer is to be found.”1

Could our biography be an even greater factor than our biology in addiction? This must be taken into consideration. The Old Testament accounts of repairing and rebuilding the temple and Jerusalem provides insight that can guide us in experiencing personal restoration. In these accounts care is taken to emphasize the variety of workers and materials that were needed. It was a community effort, utilizing workers with various skills. Men and women provided their unique contributions, time, and effort. It takes community to repair the damage. God has given the assignment to His people to be repairers of the breach (Isaiah 58:12).

Give Us a Wall

Walls are boundaries and when it comes to overcoming addictions, boundaries and strong walls are vital. Most likely there are a variety of triggers that can lead to relapse of addictive behaviors. These can include events, situations, and environments. They can also be feelings of rejection, guilt, remorse, resentment, painful memories, fear, anxiety, insecurity, etc. Scripture connects “anguish of spirit” with “cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:9). When the trigger buttons are pushed, reverting to addictive behaviors can be almost automatic. The brain says, I know a substance that can help me deal with this.

Addicts need to learn psychological coping skills to replace self-medicating. Here again is the need for connecting with others who can teach these skills, exemplify them in their own lives, and nurture the addict into learning how to do the ups and downs of life in freedom. Boundaries must be built to provide protection, yes, even from oneself.

Ultimately the addicted need to know that the very same power that delivered the children of Israel from bondage is available to them. His promises are that He will bind up the bruises of His people and heal their wounds (Isaiah 30:28). He is the Healer of the brokenhearted and is proclaiming liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1).

  1. Vincent Filetti, MD, The Origins of Addiction, 2/16/2004, https://harmreductiontherapy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Origins-of-Addiction-ACE-Study.pdf.
Health Educator at Light Bearers

Risë is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and has been writing and teaching about health for many years. She loves the health message and takes great pleasure in seeing people thrive by the application of its principles. Her research and down-to-earth manner allow her to offer up the health message in both an intelligent and accessible manner. She and her husband, James Rafferty, have two children.