Addictions of all types are very serious problems. Alcoholism is the most widespread addiction in our society. According to Taking Control (1988) by
Minirth, Meier, Fink, Byrd, and Hawkins, 70 percent of our society drinks—the largest percent ever—and consumes an average of 30 gallons of alcohol each year. Ten percent are heavy drinkers
and seven percent are problem drinkers or alcoholics. Alcoholism is the third leading cause of death in America and is responsible for 50 percent of highway deaths. It is also a major factor
in suicide. In the church, 81 percent of Catholics and 64 percent of Protestants drink at least socially.
In 1st Corinthians Chapter 6, we find a list of addictions that can separate us from the kingdom of God. As with most of
present tense Greek in the New Testament, I believe that these verses should be interpreted as continuous action. As an example, it is not getting drunk once that keeps a person from
inheriting the kingdom of God, but continually being drunk over a period of time. This is substantiated by the verses that follow this list. As we will see in the story of Samson's life,
either our faith will destroy our addictive behavior, or our addiction will destroy our faith. The good new is that, even though the power of an addiction can be great, each and every
addiction—including homosexuality—can be and has been overcome through a deep faith-filled relationship with Christ. Paul, however, strongly advises that we should do everything possible to
steer clear of these behaviors so that we will not be brought under their power.
1 Cor 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators,
nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the
name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall
destroy both it and them. Now the body [is] not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
As I have already discussed, Gibeon was a Hivite city. Hivite means life-giving and stands for those desires and lusts that we see as assisting the quality of our
lives and meeting our deepest needs. While the verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuser tries to get his needs met at the expense of others, the addict attempts to get his needs
met by killing his emotional pain through some form of activity or drug. Because the addict seldom quits his addictive behavior even when it is severely damaging to his life, he is
actually abusing himself. Today, addictions are categorized either as substance addictions, like drugs and alcohol, or process addictions, like sex, eating, gambling, or
In Joshua Chapter 9, the Hivites of Gibeon were subtle in their dealings with the Israelites. They convinced the Israelites that they were to be trusted as friends. In the same
way, the Hivite giants of today present themselves as our friends. It is only later that we learn the dangers involved in inviting them into our lives. Some counselors believe
that sexual addiction can be one of the most difficult to treat. It many times has all the traits of a drug addiction because the pornography, fantasy, and masturbation trigger
endorphins and adrenaline in the body.
Although the most comprehensive information concerning addictions in the Bible is found in the story of Samson's life, a number of other addictions are mentioned in the
Bible. Nabal possibly died of an alcoholic seizure. King Saul was addicted to rage and domestic violence. Solomon was addicted to work, sex, and possibly alcohol.
Eglon and Eli were most likely addicted to food, and Lot struggled with homosexuality. In addition, the Bible deals with drug addictions under the more inclusive name of sorcery.
A way to understand addictions is to consider the analogy of a person who has gangrene in his arm. He does not want to admit that he has a sickness that is poisoning
his whole body, so he covers it with a bandage and takes a painkiller so he cannot feel the pain. Similarly, the addict often feels badly about himself due to toxic shame that has piled
up throughout his life and most often dates back to his childhood. Rather than deal with this emotional pain, he attempts to deny its existence and tries to kill the pain of it through
some type of drug. External things cannot fix internal problems! As an example, how much food will a lady who tries to medicate her feelings of worthlessness have to eat before
she feels good about herself? The problem is that the more she eats, the heavier she gets, and the worse she feels about herself. Consequently, all the food in the world will not
suffice. Therefore, the harder the addict tries to fix the internal problem, the worse it gets. The denial is the bandage and the painkiller is the alcohol, drugs, sex, work,
food, or codependent relationship. The addict continues to avoid dealing with the problem even when it gets worse. This is because he does not see or feel like he has a
problem. He knows that in order to get help, he will have to give up the pain killer, rip off the bandage, and expose the wound. He believes that this emotional pain would
be too great to bear. As he becomes more powerless over the addiction and his life becomes progressively unmanageable, the addict begins to believe that he is so worthless and so
addicted that he cannot be helped. His problem is either not really that bad or the problem has progressed so far that recovery is impossible. Consequently, many addicts go to
their graves without ever seeking help.
Romans Chapter 6-8 provides what I believe is the most biblical, effective, and rapid deliverance from addictions for Bible-oriented Christians.
Nonetheless, these Chapters are “the meat and not the milk” of the Word of God. Therefore, they require an excellent foundation in the word of God. I am making a distinction here
because for those with little Bible knowledge or for new believers a Christian 12-step program is simpler to understand, although deliverance may take longer. I usually teach the Roman
method of deliverance in five steps.
1. In Christ, the addict is free to choose what he will do. This is very enlightening to addicts because by the time they seek help they have
usually reached the conclusion that they are powerless to quit. They are, but Christ has done something that restores their ability to choose to overcome every temptation! Romans
6 begins by telling us that although we, as people, have a selfish sin nature and are powerless over it, Jesus, by dying on the cross, destroyed the power of the sin nature. Because we
who are saved are “in Christ” and the spiritual realm exists outside of natural time, we were in Christ when He was crucified. Since Christ died on the cross, we died with Him to our
old sin nature. Dead men cannot sin. Through Christ’s resurrection we have now been given power over our sin.
Php 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed…work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good
Ro 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we
should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our
Our part is to believe and “reckon” it so. The Greek word translated as reckon, logizomai, in this verse means “to count, compute, or calculate that
something is true.” The fact that we can now choose not to fall to temptation must become a reality. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 10, the Bible states:
1 Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will
with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
Understanding exactly how this is done is critical. I teach addicts to go to God immediately in prayer every time they are tempted. They need to admit that
they will fail for sure if they try to resist the temptation in their own strength, claim 1st Corinthians 10:13 that God will provide a way of escape, and trust God in faith
to provide the escape from that temptation. They are instructed to then go about their work trusting God for their victory. Each time they are able to successfully overcome the
temptation with God’s help, their faith in God grows. Over a period of time, they eventually become convinced that anytime they choose to call on and trust God, they will not fail to
have victory over the temptation.
2. He must exercise his will to call on
God. It is not enough for the addict to realize that through Jesus, he now has a choice; he must exercise his will in order to choose to be delivered. He must decide that
he is “not going to live in his addiction any longer” no matter how desperate the emotional pain. If he is overcome by his compulsion and does not choose to trust in God to deliver him
from a temptation, he will relapse. Romans puts it this way:
Ro 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members [as]
instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.
3. He must not attempt to do any of this in his own strength.
Romans warns us concerning the trap of the law. When people are told not to do something, one of two reactions is almost automatic. Either they rebel and do not want to do what
they are told or they attempt to do what they are told in their own strength. Either way leads to failure since sin and addictions cannot be overcome in one’s own strength; but only by
grace (the unmerited favor and power of God). In fact, the first sign of a coming relapse is when the addict believes he again has control over his addiction. Romans puts it this
Ro 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 7:11 For sin,
taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me]. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 18 For I
know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I (in my
strength) would I do not: but the evil which I (in my strength) would not, that I do.
4. He must also trust God to make him willing to quit relying on
his addiction. My experience is that willingness is a critical factor in overcoming addictions. The good news is that God also provides us an answer based on His ability,
not ours. It is our job to choose and to obey, but He also provides the resources to do both. We find this most clearly stated in the book of Philippians.
If an addict is struggling with willingness, I instruct Him to again call on God, admit his inability to even be willing, and to trust God to make him willing. I sometimes suggest that
they pray, “God, I am willing for you to make me willing to be willing (as many ‘to be willings’ as needed to be truthful) to do your will.”
5. He must learn to
consistently walk according to the Spirit. In assisting addicts, I have found that even willingness and faith are not enough. Even after a victory over an addiction has
been gained, the devil will begin eroding the recovering addict’s willingness and finally cause a relapse if the client does not continue to walk according to the Spirit. This is not
surprising since spirits operate primarily through influencing a person’s will. If a person walks according to or is under the influence of the Spirit of God, he will consistently want
and choose to do God’s will. We find this answer in Romans Chapter 8.
Ro 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness
of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded [is]
death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall
In summary, the final answer for addictions is faith in Christ, reliance on Him to do the work, and a transformation through the Spirit as we walk with Him and become like Him.
Ro 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be
the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also
glorified. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
From the story of Samson (Judges Chapters 13-16) which is discussed in my book Transformation, we can derive
a list of steps for overcoming addictions. For a more in-depth understanding please reference my book or watch the video below. They
1. Understand that the underlying problem is trying to meet deep personal needs through something
other than God.
2. The client must overcome his belief that he can meet his needs through sin and not suffer the
3. He must understand that an addiction results in increased lust, denial, and neediness thus making
the problem worse, not better.
4. The client must understand that he is powerless over his addiction and that the harder he tries to
stop out of his own strength, the more addicted he will become.
5. He should realize that either his addiction will eventually destroy his faith in God, or his faith
in God will destroy his addiction.
6. It is the client’s choice to meet his needs either through God or through his addiction.
7. The client must be willing to build his faith, die to himself, and pull down his
denial and shame.