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Lesson 11: Freedom From Addictions *

Introduction: If I asked you to name some addictions, what would you say? No doubt you would mention drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, sex and food. What about these things make them an "addiction?" The habitual and progressive nature of the problem - you cannot stop even when you know it is harming you - qualify these problems to be called "addictions." When you are addicted, you are obsessed. In our lesson this week, we will not spend much time on the type of addictions, as much as identifying the source of the problem and what the Bible teaches us about leaving our addictions behind. Let's dive right into God's word!

  1. The Problem


    1. Read Philippians 3:17-19. What is the pattern of living for these sinners? (Their desires in life are focused on their body and earthly things.)


      1. When the Bible says "their god is their stomach," do you think it literally means that? (In part. More likely it means they are living to indulge themselves, not to honor God.)


      2. What does "their glory is in their shame" mean? (They prize those things about which they should be ashamed.)


      3. Are we describing addictions in these verses?


    2. Read Philippians 3:20-21. How is the attitude of the Christian different? (We are focused on our citizenship in God's kingdom.)


      1. What is Jesus' goal for our lives? (To bring our lives under His control.)


      2. This text seems to primarily refer to the Second Coming. Is that our only hope for bringing our addictions under control?


    3. We can point to the drugged, the drunk, the smoker who cannot quit, or the morbidly obese and say, "That person's life is out of control." Are there any addictions that we think are acceptable?


      1. Can you be addicted to work, money, pride, beauty, power, gossip, laziness or exercise?


    4. Read Mark 7:14-15. Think again about what we usually consider to be addictions. How many of those are things "outside a man?" (Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, food and pornography - to name some.)


      1. How can Jesus say that none of those things make a person "unclean?"


    5. Read Mark 7:17. Well, well! The disciples had the same reaction as you did - how did that happen?


    6. Read Mark 7:18-19. Is Jesus calling you stupid because you thought what He was saying was wrong? (He says we are a little slow to grasp the truth. That must mean the truth is obvious once we think about it.)


      1. What is Jesus' logic for saying that things "outside" our body do not make us unclean? (Jesus says the things we drink, eat, ingest, smoke, etc., are processed and expelled from the body.)


    7. Read Mark 7:20-23. What is the true nature of addiction? What is the true source of addiction? (Our mind, our thoughts, and our desires are at the heart of our addictions. Science has found, for example, that nicotine helps us to be addicted to smoking. No doubt there are physical components to addiction. But Jesus says that the real source of addiction is how we think. Our attitude towards these things.)


      1. If this is so, can a Christian smugly point to the drunk, the smoker or the morbidly obese as those who are addicted? (No. Some people wear their addictions, others do not. The mind and the attitude are the true indicator of addiction.)


  2. An Example


    1. "Metabolic syndrome" is a cluster of health risk factors. These include having a fat stomach, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. These problems affect over 14 million Americans and the cost for treatment is about $1,700.00 a year. That makes this a 27 trillion dollar problem - just in the United States. How many of these factors do you have? (I have two of the four, and I'm pushing the envelope on a third.)


      1. We just discussed what Jesus said about what makes a person "unclean." Are these metabolic syndrome factors a result of what comes out of the body or what comes in? Careful now!


      2. My son is a medical doctor. He reports that in his hospital rotations, people with cancer are much "better" patients than those who have metabolic syndrome. Can you guess why? (The cancer patients take the doctor's advice seriously, are grateful for the advice, and follow the advice. The metabolic syndrome patients ignore the doctor's advice, and are generally annoyed to get the advice year after year.)


        1. Why is that? (The cancer patients are afraid that they will die. They view the doctor's advice as a life-line. Those with metabolic syndrome slowly progress to diabetes and heart disease. Those patients think there is no rush to reform.)


      3. What can we learn about addictions from this example? (First, Jesus was right about the "inside" versus "outside" nature of the problem. Metabolic syndrome is a matter of the mind, not the mouth. Second, the more obvious the nature of our addiction, the more likely we will do something about it. The unseen addictions are the worst, because we are not motivated to change.)


  3. The Cure


    1. Read James 1:13-15. How does the Bible say that we slip into addiction? (It starts with our own evil desires. After we let that desire mature in our mind, "it gives birth to sin." Sin grows ("full-grown") and we find ourselves in a life-threatening situation.)


      1. What does this suggest to you about the cure?


    2. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Are any addictions mentioned here? (Yes!)


    3. Read Galatians 5:22-25. We have decided that the root of addiction is our mind, our thoughts, our heart. What steps should we take to attack the root of our addiction? (The Holy Spirit gives us different fruit. We must ask the Holy Spirit to rule our mind, our thoughts and our heart.)


      1. When the text refers to having "crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires," is that referring to any action on our part? ("Crucified" reminds us that Jesus defeated sin. We must choose to accept Jesus' sacrifice. Thus, at a minimum, we must yield to the working of the Holy Spirit.)


      2. What is the Bible telling us to do when it says to "keep in step with the Spirit?" (This clearly tells us that we must assert some effort to have the Spirit reign in our minds. We need to look for the standard set by God and walk towards it.)


        1. Can you see how this agrees with James' warning against letting sinful desires grow in our mind?


    4. Read Romans 6:8-13. What practical steps can we take to "offer" ourselves to God instead of sin?


      1. If you make an "offer" to buy something, what steps have you taken? (You have gathered the money and taken the steps necessary to make the purchase.)


        1. How would this translate into making an offer to the Holy Spirit or making an offer to your addictions? (We make logical preparations to obey rather than disobey.)


        2. Think about your addictions. What practical steps can you take to prepare to have the Holy Spirit take control?


          1. What practical steps can you take to have your sinful nature take control?


          2. Once you have these in mind, you must decide what you will do.


    5. Read Romans 13:14. What practical advice are we given about how to live a Spirit-led life?


      1. Think again about your addictions. How much time do you spend planning what you can do to promote your addiction? (The Bible tells us don't think about how you can be involved in your addiction. Turn your thoughts away from the addiction and towards what Jesus has done for you.)


    6. Will taking these practical steps to live in the Spirit and not the flesh be easy? (Read Galatians 5:16-18. No. The Bible tells us that a war is going on in our minds. Sometimes (many times) we do what we do not want to do. That does not change our battle plan.)


    7. Friend, will you, right now, ask the Holy Spirit to come into your mind, your thoughts and your heart to help you live a life pleasing to God? Will you determine to take those practical steps to walk away from your addictions and be led by the Holy Spirit?


  4. Next week: Nature as a Source of Health.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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