Professors, researchers, scholars, authors, and even residential and non-residential recovery centers have adopted various philosophical approaches to resolving addictions, but there is no consensus among them as to what addiction is or how to address it. The church has been particularly slow in realizing that there are much better options than the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Worse yet, the church has been virtually silent in the discussion, offering no emphatically biblical understanding of addiction. Hence, even the church and Christian addictions ministries cannot agree on what addiction is. Some scholarly study and research is called for in an attempt to arrive at a unified definition of addiction and, therefore, the approach that should be taken in helping believers find true and lasting freedom in Christ. That is what I am trying to accomplish at Provision House.
[A biblical approach to addictions must] “teach spiritual truth and disciplines. Instruction and life-on-life discipleship about how to do spiritual battle and fight the good fight for faith and obedience. This should include practical biblical teaching on sanctification and important concepts like putting off/putting on and renewing the mind. The [addicted person] must understand sin and sanctification”.
~Seminary Professor Sam Williams, Ph.D.
I believe that addiction is a spiritual stronghold within which sin predominates. Two of the effects of sin are that it enslaves (John 8:34) and controls (Romans 6:12). I assert that failure to recognize that all addictions are also sin is to fail to consider the enslaving and controlling effects of sin. Failing to consider the enslaving and controlling effects of sin is to attempt to accomplish redemption, conversion, and sanctification apart from Jesus Christ.
- Redemption in the sense of liberating someone from enslavement.
- Conversion in the sense of changing one’s direction and orientation in life.
- And sanctification in the sense of a progressive change in one’s behavior.
Every approach to addiction attempts to get a person out of their addictive behavior (redemption), get them headed in a new direction (conversion), and engaged in a continual process of change and growth (sanctification). These are noble intentions to be sure, but extremely difficult to accomplish apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
“My approach to helping Christians find true and lasting freedom from addiction is neither medical, psychological, nor sociological. It is theological.”
The pathways to addiction are as numerous, varied, and complex as the addicted individuals themselves. To attempt to eradicate addictive behavior by resolving issues of the past rarely succeeds. There need be no reason for an addiction to have developed other than a person simply made one or more bad decisions.
In fact, attempting to resolve relational issues, financial issues, emotional issues, spiritual issues, or other circumstantial issues before ceasing the addictive behavior is likely to fail–the addiction sabotages these efforts nearly every time. Once the addiction is gone, a person then has the capacity to deal with any residual issues that need to be addressed.
I encourage you to review this website and its resources and see if you agree with me that programs don’t set you free, mental health experts don’t set you free, even ministries don’t set you free. Jesus Christ sets you free. I will continue to work very hard to not only help Christians find true and lasting freedom from addiction in Christ, but to help the church begin to understand addictions from an emphatically biblical perspective.