The alcoholic spends his entire paycheck at the bar, in one night. The crack addict steals money from her daughter’s savings to get her fix on. The fearful person is in a situation she can’t control. Now she’s afraid. The porn addict is tired and exhausted, feeling defeated. He gets his fix by surfing the net… again.
The gossiper needs her “approval fix,” so she passes along some juicy info about a friend. The mocker fulfills his desire to control others by making fun of people through put downs and sarcasm. The insatiable shopper has two closets full of clothes. She softens the blows to her conscience by calling herself a “comfort shopper.”
And what do these people have in common?
They all are habituated in a sin habit that has been going on for many years and they believe it will never go away. In this sense, the gossiper, the fearful, the druggy, the alcoholic, the mocker, the shopper and the porn guy are all the same.
It is important to understand when you think about addictions that you also include the more refined addictive sins like frustration, fear, self-righteousness, criticalness, insecurity, or mocking. Addictive behavior is not just reserved to the more sensational or socially understood sins like alcohol, homosexuality, and drugs. We’re all addicts in our own way. I’m an addict; you’re an addict.
I’ve never met a person who was not an addict in some way. Sinful addictive behavior is a result of our fallenness. Therefore, the obvious questions are:
- How did these people get this way?
- How did you get this way?
- How did I get this way?
- Did we choose one day that we would yield our lives to the cruelty and slavery of sin?
- Are we responsible for our condition? …our actions?
- And the most important question of all, “Can I stop my addictive sinning?”
I’m in a trap. I can’t get out.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1, ESV). To begin unpacking these questions we must begin where Paul began. As a son or daughter of Adam, our default heart condition is an unquenchable and undeniable loyalty to ourselves. At our core we are self-centered.
With a pre-conditioned heart that is motivated toward self-centeredness it is not hard to understand how and why we have been caught in various sin patterns. When I say “we have been caught” I’m not saying we have been caught as though we were busted like a policeman pulling someone over for speeding. Though that can be called “getting caught,” that is not what Paul means by the word “caught.” Paul is saying we get caught as though we are in a bear trap and we cannot get out of it.
I do not control it. It controls me.
For example, there was a day when each of us made a choice to sin, whatever that sin may have been. In that day, we were in control of our sinful choice. We had power over our sin and could pick and choose when, where, and how we wanted to participate in sinful thoughts, desires, cravings, behaviors, or activities.
However, in process of time, we began to lose the control we once exercised over our sinful choices. We began to develop habits. Habits are, in part, how God wired us. Habits were never meant to be evil.
The bad news, post Genesis 3, is that we do not just develop good habits. Because of the invasive power of the doctrine of sin, we have the ability to create bad habits too. Habit is the word for repetitive behavior. The word habit does not distinguish between good or bad. The word is neutral. It is our heart motives, which eventually become specific behaviors that determine if the habit is good or evil.
When evil habits begin to exert its power over our hearts, then we’re not far from what our culture calls an addiction. Paul called it being caught, as in being caught in a trap.
The Rest of the Story
Join us again for Part 2 when we explore God’s path and power for rescue from the trap.
Join the Conversation
How do you apply God’s Word to experience victory over sinfully habituated thoughts, attitudes, and actions?
Note: This blog was first posted by Rick Thomas at Counseling Solutions. To read the original post in its entirety, visit Why Do I Keep Doing the Same Sin?