Thursday, October 6, 2016

Proverbs Week 3: Addictions

An addiction is a sin that you cannot seem to stop because it has great power over you. In this way it is a self-selected enslavement to an idol. - Ed Welch, Christian psychologist.

I want to pull out two words. First, sin., We get addicted to a lot of things… money, alcohol, sex, internet, drugs, video games, our cell phone, gambling, shopping, sports, etc. In the right context most of these things can be incredibly good and bring about pleasure, but when we become addicted to them they become an idol, we become a slave, and it becomes sinful.

Second, self-selected. Society would tell us if you have an addiction it’s a disease. Alcohol addiction… disease, drug-addiction…disease. But if you have a disease that makes you a victim. We aren’t victim of our addictions we have freely chosen them ourselves, at least to begin with. They may have power over us now that they are fully grown. But when we look at our addictions we have to view ourselves as sinners not victims. 
Victims never walk in victory but sinners can always be rescued.

Addiction is idolatry
The first thing to know about addictions is that there is no such thing as an addiction. Addiction is really just another word for idolatry. Addiction is idolatry. It doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to TV or Taco Bell or pornography. It’s all idolatry, placing something as more important than God.

Let me unpack this a little bit more because when I say idols most of us think of this… a primitive man-made structure or statue of a god that we bow down to and worship. But when the Bible speaks of idols it does so in a much broader sense. In fact, as far back as Ezekiel it talks about idols of the heart. That the idols in our life are less what is in our hands or in our gaze, but more what is in our heart. Idolatry is our heart clinging to something other God, finding our identity, value, or comfort in something other than God.

Romans 1:25 says it this way… “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!”
The greatest question you will ever have to answer is will God be primary in my life. When he isn’t we have inverted the natural order and placed created things above him as primary and that is idolatry. That’s because we are all worshippers. You were created to worship and so you are worshipping something. If you aren’t worshipping God then something else will take his place.

Idols always lie
Idols always lie, steal, and destroy. 

They may make big promises and look really good but it is always a lie. Remember Romans 1, idolatry is exchanging the truth for a lie.
Proverbs 30:8 says “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  Idols lie.  Period. 

That is what idolatry and addictions do. They promise a lot of things but never deliver because underneath whatever is tempting you… food, money, sex, alcohol, sports, relationships, music… lies a nasty hook that will always destroy.

Proverbs 5:3,4-6 - For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. What’s the bait, what’s the lie? This is sweet, it will be good like honey and oil. It will be enjoyable. But that is a lie. Here’s the hook… But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.
Addictions offer honey, but deliver death.

Proverbs 7:21-23 puts it like this… “So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.”

That is us, every time we choose that sin that we have grown addicted to, that has just become part of us, that is so natural. We go down the same road because it entices us and lures us with good thoughts of enjoyment and pleasure and comfort, but little do we know that every time we travel that road there is a hook and the road always leads to deathNo matter how many times you’ve traveled down that road, whatever that road may be in your life, you’ve got to let it die. 

If you won’t let your past die, it won’t let you live. 
The reason we keep going back to it is because the consequences of addiction are never immediate.

The Problem isn’t the Habit, it’s the Heart
Proverbs 4:23 - “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
If you are addicted to something the worst thing you could say is “God, I promise to stop doing this from now on. I’m never going to do it again.” 

we don’t have a behavior problem we have a worship problem

We don’t need behavior modification, we need a change of heart. Only by changing our heart will we ever remove the idols of worship that we’ve created.

Remember the women who embodied the temptation of addiction in Proverbs 7? 
Here’s what it says to do…
Proverbs 7:25 - Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path.
Proverbs 23:9 - My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course.

So the problem isn’t that habit, it’s not what we are doing. The problem is our heart, it’s who we are. The problem isn’t what we are doing with our with our hands, and our eyes, and our mouth, it’s what we are worshipping with our heart. Don’t just tell God you’re going to stop doing what you are doing. Ask God to change your heart.

The Cross is the Answer to Addictions
When we stop focusing on our situation and begin focusing on our savior everything in your life will change.

Proverbs 1:7 - Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and disciplineFearing God means that you honor him above else, that you respect him above all else, that you love him above all else. You need, you pursue, you are in reverence of, and you are satisfied in God alone. A heart that fears the Lord says “I’m going to worship God, I’m going to be after God rather than idols, because he gives life and idols give death.”

Think of it this way. The Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Old Testament has over 600 laws and rules. God knew that was crazy so he narrowed it down to 10. If we could just obey the 10 commandments we would be perfect and sinless. But let’s take a look at just the first two…
Exodus 20:3 - You must not have any other god but me.
Exodus 20:4 - You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind.

Worship the Lord only as God and do not have any idols that take God’s rightful place as primary in your life. If we were to do just those two things we would not break the other 8 commandments. Because all sin and addiction has to do with the placing something else above God, even if just for a moment, but it’s momentary idolatry. Idols never remain momentary, they never remain small. Their desire is to be God.

There’s one God and you only worship him. That’s why they are the first two commandments. If you follow them you follow all the rest. It’s not Jesus plus money, or Jesus plus success, or Jesus plus friends, of Jesus plus romance, or Jesus plus alcohol, or sex, or games, or possessions. It’s just Jesus, he died so that you could put your addictions and sin to death we worship him. If you only worship him it will keep you from idols which will keep you from addictions.

John in his first letter wrote 5 chapters of how to live as children of God and follow Christ with our whole life and he closes with one sentence.
1 John 5:21 - Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.
It all boils down to that. You are worshipping something. Make sure you are worshipping Jesus and nothing else is taking his place in your heart or else you are like an oxen being led to the slaughter. You are like a deer frolicking through the field having a great time, but an enemy is drawing his arrow and getting ready to strike you right through the heart.

Listen, we’re all broken, we are all in need of being fixed.

People that makes excuses will never make a difference.
What addiction is crippling you? What is causing you to feel broken? What idol of sin have you kept going back to instead of turning to God? It’s time to smash it once for all. 
Proverbs 21:21-22 - He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.  A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.
In the old testament when they repented of their idol worship they ransacked the temples and smashed the idols on the ground. That needs to happen in every one of our hearts tonight. We’re broken and only God can fix us.
Listen, you might feel defeated, you might feel hopeless but every miracle in the Bible began with a problem. So if you have an addiction problem, or an idol problem, or sin problem in your life, guess what… you are a perfect candidate for a miracle!

The Challenge
- Identify, admit, and confess of the idol or idols that are in your heart
- Do whatever is necessary to get the idol out of your system so you will be addicted no longer
- Fix the worship problem by focusing your attention and worship towards God rather than the idol

  1. What is this message has been most helpful to you and why?
  2. How have idols lied to you in the past? 
  3. What idols in your life need to be smashed right now?

DYM Curriculum for ALIVE Student Ministry 

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