Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Get Outside Help!

To recover from addiction

Addictions such as alcohol, drugs and gambling destroy people’s lives. Addicts tend to be self-centered. Recently, one said to me, “I could see that I always tried to run my life my way. It was me that was the problem; all the things that I thought would make me happy never did.”

The only way that addicts can recover from an addiction is to first realize they have a problem, then realize they cannot fix their problem themselves, and finally seek outside help for their problem. In fact, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, their recovery is dependent on their relationship with God.

Addicts often go through a twelve step program, developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, before they can be freed of their addiction. This program requires honesty, humility and determination. The first three steps they go through are:

  • Admitting they are powerless over addiction and their lives are unmanageable.
  • Believing that only a power greater than themselves could restore their sanity.
  • Making a decision to turn their will and their lives over to the care of God.

But alcohol, drugs and gambling are just some of the sins committed by humanity. The Bible says we are all sinners and rebels against God and this is our main problem (Rom. 3:23). People are addicted to sin, selfishness and idolatry (Rom. 1:22-25; Eph. 5:5; Gal. 5:20). We are self-centered and driven by fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity. Our troubles are largely self-inflicted. The steps into our problem are evil desires, which lead to sin, and then to death (Jas. 1:13-15).

Like an addict the only way that we can recover from the problem of our sin is to first realize we have this problem, then realize we cannot fix this problem ourselves and finally seek outside help for this problem. No human power can relieve us of the problem. Fortunately, God provided the outside help through His Son, Jesus Christ. This help is outside humanity and outside the creation that is also suffering because of sin (Rom. 8:22). It is help from the divine Creator of the universe.

The steps of recovery are: acknowledge we have a sinful nature and that we need outside help; confess our sinfulness to God by naming our sins and forsaking them; and then receive God’s forgiveness as He has paid the penalty for our sins (1 Jn. 1:8-10). When we trust the infinite God rather than our finite selves, we can be freed from our addiction to sin and selfishness. This process of recovery is similar to three other steps in the twelve step program:

  • Admitting to God, ourselves, and another person the nature of our wrongs.
  • Humbly asking God to remove our shortcomings.
  • Having a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, which leads us to carry this message to addicted people and practice these principles in our affairs.

Because those with a tendency to addiction can easily lapse into past behaviors, these recovery principles need to become a way of life. Likewise, Christians need to be aware of their sinfulness and confess their sins daily in order to maintain a relationship with God. We need to seek outside help every day by asking God to remove our selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. So, our recovery is directly dependent on our relationship with God.

Published, October 2006

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