Addiction is deplorable for every reason. The person addicted to a substance or action is often miserable in the addiction. Family members suffer for multiple reasons: seeing a person addicted, loss of finances, stability, fighting against manipulation, crime, and the heartache and devastation coming from the addiction. Of course the most important issue is the person’s relationship to Christ. Addiction does not magnify God’s worth or exalt Him. An addict has little hope she truly knows Christ because she is not living under the direction of the Holy Spirit, but controlled by her fleshly desires.
When dealing with an addict, it takes little time to convince people one of the problems is the addiction. No one argues a pornography addict needs to stop viewing porn or a drunk stop drinking. When it comes to the solution, most believers realize the addict has to follow the Lord righteously. Even unbeliever addiction organizations realize this. They try to reorient a person’s thinking and actions. So, we often single out and address the addiction. This is right, but not enough.
When counseling addicts, I want to be thorough. I want to get at the heart issues while also addressing some of the bigger sins too. Aside from the addiction, there are two other glaring sins that accompany addiction: lying and laziness. These are often overlooked by family members and the addict. Most addicts have to be shown they are in sin in these ways too.
Before addressing the point of this article, I assume the reader understands some basic counseling principles. First, counseling requires addressing heart issues. Second, we are not in the business of action reform, but helping edify so that a person is transformed in his worship. Third, we know the Holy Spirit transforms. Fourth, the Gospel is always the starting point. Only saved people can grow in holiness. The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).
What other issues require our attention when dealing with an addict?
First, addicts are liars. Most addicts are professional conmen. They lie to themselves justifying their own sins. Isaiah 47:10 provides a good insight into our actions and how we justify ourselves. “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.‘”
Addicts tend to be resourceful too, they lie to others to get our support in order to fund their needs. I’ve never met an addict who did not know what others wanted to hear. When confronted, they are great at telling me, and even agreeing with me regarding the problem and solutions. But when it comes to actions, they will always prove themselves to be liars. Substance abuse requires financial resources. The ones I know and worked with, knew exactly what to say to get money to aide their addiction. Porn addicts are great at lying to their family and hiding their sin from others. Most of them believe, “No one knows I do this.” They even know how to work around Covenant Eyes and other software protections. I speculate, most addicts lie to themselves too and aren’t even aware of it on some level.
Knowing this is beneficial because we need to confront their actions and point out how they fail by making empty promises. Believers cannot be shocked when the addict gets upset when we confront them either. Remember Isaiah 47:10, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” Addicts think they are the Lord. For you to tell them they are wrong confronts their skewed view of reality. They live in their world. How dare you tell them differently. But we must tell them differently. We must provide the Gospel and the reality that Christ is Lord, not us.
The second hidden sin of an addict is laziness. Laziness stems from our selfishness and using the freedom granted to us to pursue our own desires, rather than to serve the Lord by serving one another. Addicts use their freedom for fleshly opportunities. Consider Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Christ frees us from sin and the demands of the Law. We are free in Christ. But a truly Spirit-filled Christian wants to submit and follow Christ. Our actions will be governed by Him. Yet we must walk in them too.
Whose time is it?
Think about it the addict’s behavior. A husband, steeped in pornography, is using the time allotted to him to pursue his own lusts. Instead of serving the Lord, the man abrogates his responsibilities to follow himself. He lies to himself by thinking, “It’s ‘my’ time.” But what has God called him too?
If he is to serve his wife (Eph 5:15-33), father his children (Eph 6:4), lead his home by serving them Christ. Men are to be churchmen, contemplating, serving, and stimulating the church to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24). We have jobs, we need to labor and provide (2 Thess 3:10). It behooves our walk with Christ to use our free time to reflect and get better at our jobs too (even though we may not be paid for it). An addict could be using that time to get to know his neighbor, pray for them (2 Cor. 5:19-21). Even if he isn’t interacting with any of these people, use the time to study God’s Word to better know how to servant-lead them. Use the time to pray for them.
Is it okay to relax? Joy comes when relaxing at the end of a labor filled day because you’ve honored Christ. The exhaustion from good labor is joyful producing thanks to our Lord. But this does not describe the addict. The addict usually labors the day in his selfish sins.
So the man steeped in pornography has abrogated responsibilities to his wife, children, work, church, and his neighbor. He therefore has decided the Lord’s will is not important. Instead, his personal goals and lusts are most important.
Knowing this is important. Part of helping an addict is showing the person these sins. Knowing about laziness helps in my counsel. It’s not enough to give up drinking, drugs, or porn. The addict must learn how to serve others. He must take his eyes off of himself and learn to exhaust himself serving the Lord by serving His people. He must learn his responsibilities to the Lord.
The most common answer I hear from addicts, “I need to pray and read Scripture more.” This is true. But brother, you must learn how to follow the Lord and be satisfied in His will. There is more joy in serving those God put in my life than anything the internet, a bottle, or drugs offers. Knowing this serves the counselor well.
I want to encourage a person to fear the Lord and follow Him. How does this look? Encourage him to know His Lord and love Him by serving those in his life. Teach her to follow Christ by serving others (Titus 2). Instead of thinking, “Time exists for my will.” Show them time exists to worship the Lord. We worship by the way we serve others. Get involved in God’s plan and will.