Overcoming Addictions Through Godís Power and Resources
(by Ed Wrather, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Sweetwater, OK)

Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and sexual addictions, these problems have been classed too many times as being beyond the power of God. Does God have the answer for really serious problems such as these? I believe the answer is a resounding, YES!

For many years I served as an adult probation and parole officer for the State of Oklahoma. My caseload reached numbers of over 100 for the majority of my time of service. Clients on probation, parole, pre-parole, and house arrest were supervised. Clients serving sentences for murder, robbery, rape, other sexual offenses, drug offenses, and a whole range of minor offenses were supervised. In addition, pre-sentence investigations and recommendations were made to the courts.

For approximately 90% of my clients (May have actually been a higher percentage.) there was a common denominator, they had a drug or alcohol problem. This substance abuse problem contributed to most of their offenses. From the use of traditional treatment methods, I know personally of few long-term successes in solving those substance abuse problems. They are, however, the best thing available to many and are a good starting point for serious addictions. Also, in the short-term, traditional treatment programs are effective for many who have the desire to change and can be a starting point for the use of Godís resources.

In November of 1990 I responded to Godís call and entered the ministry. One of the factors involved in answering that call was the frustration experienced in using manís methods to help people solve their problems and seeing mostly failure. Sure, for many clients intensive supervision provided a temporary respite to their problems. However, when supervision was reduce or ended, most returned to their old life style. Through my service as a parole officer and my failure to induce change, I have come to believe God has the only real solutions for addictions on a long-term basis.

In addition to observing sin at work in the lives of my clients, and others; I have over the years experienced my own problems with sin. Problems such as: greed, lust, selfishness, dishonesty, anger, pride, and others. Can God solve these problems? The answer is, YES! This is not to say that we can ever be perfect, for only our Savior, Jesus Christ, is perfect. But for all practical purposes in our day to day lives these problems can be controlled. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit which are listed in the bible. ďBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlĒ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). God has given me and countless others the fruit of self-control and since it comes from God, it is really God-control. You can have God-control too.

How does a person go about receiving relief from their problems of substance abuse, sexual addiction and other problems? These problems and all sin problems are like a terrible cancer which destroys and consumes. The result of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) and whether we agree substance abuse is a sin the result is the same. The result of all these problems is the destruction of all that is good in a person. Call it sin, or whatever you like, the result is the same, the result of these problems is self-destruction, the very opposite of what God wants to give to us. In the bay at Naples, Italy lives a variety of snail which the jellyfish there love to eat. Little do the jellyfish know that when they eat the snails, the snails do not die but instead begin little by little to eat the jellyfish from inside out. Eventually the jellyfish dies and the snail lives on. Of course the best way to avoid the results of sin is to avoid eating one of those snails like alcohol, or drug addiction.

Solving problems of sin can be as simple as going to our Heavenly Father, confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness through Jesus Christ. For some, God has immediately taken away their problems, but we know that for most people itís not that easy. Personally, I know of very, very few people that have had their problems with addictions taken completely away upon forgiveness of their sins. Receiving Christ as our Savior is, however, the starting point for us all. If we want Godís help we must be sure we belong to him. Come to Jesus in repentance, ask Him to come into your heart and life. Ask Jesus to be Lord of your life and to solve the problems of sin in your life. Right now you can do that by praying a prayer such as the one following. Remember it is not so much the words that you say but whether or not you mean it in your heart.

ďDear Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day. Please forgive me for the sins, the bad things I have done, I want to change. Please help me to change, be my Lord and my Master and my Savior. In your name Lord Jesus I ask You to come into my heart and save me. Amen.Ē

The Bible says, ďBut as many as received Him(Jesus), to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His nameĒ (John 1:12 KJV). God has the power to enable you to live a Godly life. Putting your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is the starting point.

The Apostle Paul talks about baby Christians and mature Christians. The Christian life can be viewed as a journey from immaturity to maturity. This process of maturing as a Christian can be speeded up if you are willing to take advantage of the resources which God has provided. The Bible says, ďAnd my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ JesusĒ (Philippians 4:10 NIV). God has provided the resources and they are available to us, we must make use of them. Some of those resources are prayer, the Bible, the church, and the most of all the Holy Spirit.

We can view sin as a problem, like a physical disease which needs treatment. For many diseases the whole body must be treated before relief is found. For sin the whole person must be treated at the same time. The effects of sin cannot be removed and handed over to the preacher or someone else to deal with. Sin has an effect upon the total person, every part. For relief a person must immerse themselves completely in the resources of God. Godís resources of prayer, the Bible, and the Church, can be viewed as a Heavenly microwave which zaps sin. In order for the sin to be treated, we must get inside of that Heavenly microwave and turn up the power.

Now, let us look more closely at how Godís resources can help you in a very practical way. Consider first, prayer. The Bible says, ďDo not be anxious about any thing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ JesusĒ (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). The Bible also says, ďThis is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of HimĒ (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). Prayer will activate Godís resources in your life. Personally my prayer life only began to grow when I made a commitment to pray every day.

How much time in prayer should you spend on a daily basis? The more serious the problem the more time in prayer that will be needed. For someone that has never prayed, fifteen minutes can seem like it goes on forever. But when we see Godís hand working in our lives in response to our prayers, we can easily begin to stretch the time we spend with our Lord, from 15 minutes, to 30 minutes to an hour or even more. Because that time with God becomes something we treasure more than anything else in life. Itís almost like developing a new addiction, and addiction to God.

However you do it, the important thing is to get started, begin talking to God. Do it in the way that is most comfortable for you. During my regular prayer time, I spend some time sitting, some time kneeling and some time walking. Take advantage of the times during the day when you are not using your mind for other things, to pray. You can pray while driving, or doing household chores, or while standing in line, donít waste those opportunities to spend time with your Lord. One final thing about prayer. Ask others to pray for you, the more prayer support you have the better. Itís not a substitute for your own prayers but the prayers of others do make a difference. And, of course, you should pray for others too. You can be assured that I pray for all those that read this message, Godís Help For The Tough Problems.

Now for the Bible, another of Godís fantastic resources. The Bible is the sword of the Holy Spirit. ďAnd take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of GodĒ (Ephesians 6:17 KJV). Daily Bible reading is an absolute necessity for the defeat of sin in our lives. But even more of a necessity is the memorization of verses of scripture. The Psalmist asks the question. ďHow may a young man keep his way pureĒ (Psalm 119:9a NIV)? He answers his own question by saying, ďBy living according to your wordĒ (Psalm 119:9b NIV). And how does the Psalmist live according to Godís Word? The Psalmist then says, ďI have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.Ē We must do the same.

Several years ago I found myself going backwards instead of forward in my Christian journey toward maturity. I found myself sinking deeper into sin, even though this was not what I wanted. A verse in the book of James seemed to come out of the recesses of my mind and speak to me. The Bible says, ďDraw near to God, and He will draw near to youĒ (James 4:8 NIV) The question for me at that time was, how could I draw near to God? I was praying every day, I was reading the Bible, and I was attending church. What more could I do?

The Psalmistís answer began to loom in my own heart as to what was needed. I needed to hide Godís Word in my heart, I needed to memorize Godís Word. Now, my memory has never been that great, but desperate people do desperate things. I became determined to memorize verses of Scripture, whatever it took, if this would help, I wanted to find out. I purchased a Scripture memorization program and began memorizing two verses of Scripture a week.

My problems didnít immediately disappear, but I kept memorizing Scripture. For me, this was my last stop, if this didnít work I didnít know of anything else to try. If this didnít get me back on track and moving toward maturity, nothing would. Immediately I did sense that there was power in Godís Word. With each new verse that was memorized it was as if a brick out of the wall separating me from fellowship with my Lord had been removed. Brick by brick that wall came down and God did draw near as I sought to draw near to Him. It took several months before it seemed I was again headed in the right direction.

I eventually memorized 200 verses of Scripture and through His Word, God has brought me to where I am now. I will never out grow the need for Godís Word. Each day I repeat out loud 60 or so verses, usually in the morning. I do this while showering (Some people sing in the shower, I repeat memory verses.) and getting dressed. Sometimes I repeat these verses while walking or while driving. And whenever I feel temptations, have anxiety, or experience anger, or depression, I immediately pray and run Godís Word through my mind. His Word always soothes my soul. Godís Word can do the same for you. There is no problem too tough for this resource of God and everyone can memorize. It just depends on whether you are really serious about breaking free of the bondage of sin. I know that I was very, very serious.

Next, we come to the resource of the Church. God has used the church powerfully in my life. Through the church God has held my family and my marriage together when nothing else seemed to be working. In the church is where I heard about Godís amazing resources. The Bible says, ďAnd let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is but so much the more as you see the day approachingĒ (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV). It is Godís will for us to be in church, faithfully serving and worshipping Him there. In the church we are lifted up and encouraged, we are ďprovoked unto love and good works.Ē In the church we see a focusing of Godís power. Jesus says, ďFor where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of themĒ (Matthew 18:20). This focus of Godís power cannot be found by simply watching TV on Sunday morning by yourself. Many times my family would go to church on Sunday morning with frowns on their faces. When we left the church building to go home, replacing those frowns would be a radiance, a glow of joy on our faces. The Church is where you can find people who will love you, help you, lift you up and pray for you. No matter what terrible dark sins you may have committed, in the church you will find people who will forgive you and care about you. Thank God for the Church!

The plan which I have given here is not an easy plan. It will not happen automatically. In this life we have to make some tough choices. Do we want to continue down the road of self-destruction? I have seen hundreds of people who have chosen to do exactly that, they have chosen to destroy their own lives and the lives of those around them. You donít have to follow them, you have a choice. My prayer for all those who struggle with sin, is that you would not only get into that Heavenly microwave of Godís resources, but turn the power up on high. Iíve seen nothing else that truly works. It has worked for me, I have seen it work for many others, and I am convinced that God has the power to change and transform the lives of every person sincerely committed to using Godís resources.

Copyright 1993 Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. This message may be copied and redistributed on a free basis.