Addiction

From Addiction by Greg Boyd

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March 11, 2017

If we try to look up the terms such as depression or addiction in a Bible concordance the chances are that there wouldn’t be any references to those particular terms. Yet we know from what we understand by those terms, they have affected or afflicted humanity since the Fall.

Of course, there are those theologians who have also studied the psychological sciences and are able to give a reasonable opinion of what certain characters in the Bible may have suffered from. Presumably, in more modern translations we may see footnotes to this effect.

Greg’s explanation of addiction gave a pretty clear understanding of it’s drivers, notwithstanding the many forms and variants of addiction that exist in the community. Effectively, we see a circle of repetition that is involved in addiction that by undertaking a certain action, leads to a ‘pay-off’ or ‘high’ which requires the individual to repeat the action again to obtain a similar result. It is not until there’s an intervention within this circular process that the addiction can be broken…so that freedom can be obtained

Interestingly, this reminded me of some verses in Romans (1:28-32),

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.”

So where “God gave them up”…what proceeds from there is an ongoing, Fallen life…effectively an addiction to that form of lifestyle.

In most cases, this lifestyle starts off ‘well’ but eventually overtakes the individual leading to physical and/or mental torment or deterioration. The lifestyle is self-centred or selfish love and not selfless love as was the original intention and reflected in Jesus’s ministry.

(In fact, it reminds me of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son(s)’. The younger son effectively embarks on a Roman’s 1 lifestyle where this addiction eventually finds himself at a lowest point where, “he came to himself” and returned to his father. (Interestingly, his father would possibly have been aware of what his son was going to do and in one sense ‘gave him up’ but received him back and restored him, when he had effectively repented of his former lifestyle.) The older son who stood to inherit all his father’s property was astonished by his father’s actions as it could be said that the younger son had lived a ‘lawless’ lifestyle while he lived a ‘law-based’ lifestyle, “he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command”. So with or without the law, both sons had addictive lifestyles…the younger in terms of what lawless living brought to him and the older where obeying the law justified his position in life and his condemnation of the actions of his younger brother (ie he was Pharisaical).
So both sons displayed self-centred love while the father showed selfless love in restoring the younger son and imparting his remaining assets to the older son.)

So, as Greg indicated, it’s God’s love that is the intervention in our addiction to our Fallen state where we cannot find True freedom of ourselves.

In my previous post I mentioned, “we have situations where Jesus healed (or made whole) people by forgiving their sins”…where I had in mind Jesus healing of the paralytic (Mk 2:9-10), “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. We see the dramatic impact that forgiveness can have in a person’s life in restoring that which was broken.

I am further reminded of Ezekiel 36:25-27 in relation to God’s restoration process,

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.”

I can’t help but think of this situation/intervention in today’s terms where heart transplants are becoming the ‘norm’. However, these transplants only restore biological life in the recipient. There are also issues with obtaining a suitable donor heart together with the matter of bodily rejection.

Yet with God’s love, the ‘transplant’ restores True life (Jn 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” and 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”). There is no waiting for a ‘suitable’ heart nor the fear of ‘rejection’. So, in a sense, we find ourselves and those who attend church are effectively heart transplant ‘outpatients’ recovering to new life in the freedom that Greg describes. We are released from the shame, depression and addiction that plagued our previous life or, while we come to understand our new life, we also come to know God’s grace through His forgiveness of our failings.

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Video Information

In the Kingdom of God freedom is an end in of itself. It is part of our nature as created beings to be free and not be ruled over by one another, any agent in the spiritual realm, or by substances or behavior patterns. For many people addiction is one of the key stumbling blocks that perpetuates cycles of shame, hiding, and a lack of fullness of life. In this message Greg explores what lies at the heart of all addictions, substance or otherwise, and how we go about untangling ourselves from their grip so we can step into the full life that God desires us to have.