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Those who linger long at the wine … will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea … saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” Proverbs 23:30, 34–35 NKJV

Overcoming Addictions

Addictions always lie. Proverbs 23 paints the picture of someone waking after a drunken night. Although he physically feels terrible, he intends to “seek another drink.” True, there is a short-lived pleasure in sin (Heb. 11:25); but like the seductive woman in Proverbs 7, addictions never reveal the personal cost they impose later. “She has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men” (v. 26). Indeed, many who were once spiritually healthy have been overcome by addictions.

It is therefore appropriate to talk back to addictive temptations with biblical truth, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). We can say, “Yes, this may bring brief satisfaction, but it will be followed by shame, guilt, and spiritual harm!” The truth is this: touching fiery coals always burns (Prov. 6:27–28); planting in the flesh always produces a crop of corruption (Gal. 6:8); and playing with the wind always brings a hurricane (Hos. 8:7).

God will open a “way of escape” for us when we are tempted (1 Cor. 10:13), but it may require a change to our daily routines. The apostle Paul spoke about subduing his body (1 Cor. 9:27)—a literal translation would be something like “hitting himself under the eye”—in order to avoid becoming disqualified from the Lord’s service. Furthermore, in most cases, an addiction needs to be replaced by some other behavior. Willpower alone is not enough, as the struggle of Romans 7 reveals. We need God’s Spirit, God’s Word, and godly activities to fill our hearts if we want to overcome addictive behaviors of the past.

Stephen Campbell