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Jul 15, 2018

#6 - Naming the Power of Addiction

Passage: Luke 4:1-22

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: When You Need More Than a Band-Aid

Category: Not By Chance But By His Fatherly Hand

Keywords: addiction, alcoholism, deliverance, devil, drugs, jesus, jesús, pornography, restoration, satan, temptation

Summary:

Not By Chance But By His Fatherly Hand, Part 6: Naming the Power of Addiction. There are well over 25 million addicts in America. On average every addict hurts the lives of at least four people, which means that well over 100 million people in our society are impacted by the devastating results of addiction and are in search of hope and healing. Addiction by one definition is “to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance.” Addiction by another definition is “to occupy oneself or involve oneself in something habitually or compulsively.” From alcohol to opioids to gambling and pornography, the power of addiction can threaten the life of almost anyone. While there is no one verse or chapter in the Bible on addiction, in Luke 4 Jesus is revealed as the one who faces temptation, defeats the devil, forgives sin, and comes as God with us to set every prisoner free, including the addict. So we address this topic looking to Jesus and the Spirit of God to make us aware, to cause us to lament our addictions, and to commit to healing and care in Christ’s name.

Detail:

Not By Chance But By His Fatherly Hand, Part 6: Naming the Power of Addiction.

 

I know a little about temptation:

its desire and its power.

Hiking Crypt Lake in Waterton National Park

on a hot day and we ran out of water.

We were thirsty and still had an hour or so to go.

We would pass over little streams of mountain runoff

and we knew to take a drink from these creeks

could possibly give us giardia:

not giardiniera – the pepper relish

you put on a beef sandwich,

but giardia – an abdominal infection caused by parasites in untreated water

that lead to painful sickness.

But we were thirsty.

And oh how we wanted to stoop and drink.

Temptation.

Desire.

 

And if I have heard rightly

the accounts and testimonies

of those who confess addiction,

my experience is nothing

compared to an addict’s battle.

There are well over 25 million young adult and adult

addicts in America.

On average every addict hurts the lives

of at least four people,

which means that well over 100 million people

in the US are impacted by

the devastating results of addiction,

and are in search of hope and healing.

 

Addiction by one definition is

“to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent

on a habit-forming substance.”

Addiction by another definition is

“to occupy oneself or involve oneself

in something habitually or compulsively.”

Some addictions involve chemical substances: alcoholism, opioids, illegal drugs, smoking.

Other addictions change the brain

by a different set of stimuli:

pornography, gambling, food, even gaming.

And when our brain is changed

our person is changed.

Addiction is any appetite on a binge.

Addiction is anything you continue to do

knowing it is harmful for you.

 

While there is no one verse or chapter

in the Bible on addiction,

in Luke 4 Jesus is revealed as the one

who faces temptation, defeats the devil, forgives sin, and comes as God with us

to set every prisoner free, including the addict.

So we address this topic looking to Jesus

and the Spirit of God to make us aware,

to cause us to lament our addictions,

and to commit to healing and care in Christ’s name.

 

We meet Jesus,

led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness,

tempted by the devil for forty days.

So Jesus in the wilderness is not an accident,

he goes on purpose,

God’s mission.

Luke 4 is about how the power of God

is present in your wilderness.

Jesus comes not to condemn but to save,

his power can set you free.

 

When we started our summer series

on human sufferings and sorrow,

we said some things need more than a band-aid.

Some hurts and pains are beyond our ability

to help and to heal ourselves or others.

We noticed that Jesus deliberately

went to those lonely places

and there acted as our mediator.

Luke 4 reveals Jesus deliberately

going to the desert places

the wilderness of life,

the place of temptation,

in order to set us free.

 

Here is good news.

Surprising!

God came in human flesh

in order to be with us even in the places

where life is most threatened,

to face for and with us

those things most shameful,

most tempting.

Where we would expect condemnation

we find mercy

and God present in his power to deliver.

 

The message: Jesus fights for you.

He promised to be with us always

to the very end,

and this one episode shows he keeps his promise.

 

While in the desert he is tempted by the devil.

And if we listen to the temptations

we recognize that these are the temptations

we all face

and which become the means by which

addicts are made.

 

Jesus has fasted for forty days.

He is more than hungry,

he is starving.

So Satan tempts him with bread:

turn these stones into bread

if you are the Son of God.

And of course, this is every temptation,

whether it’s alcohol or drugs or sex or gambling

this false god first tempts you into thinking

you are starving,

then lies by saying it will feed you

and will satisfy your deepest hunger.

 

And what adds to the temptation

is the subtle questioning of who you really are.

The devil questions Jesus’ identity:

IF you are the Son of God . . .

is that who you are, really?

Is that what you think about yourself?

Are you that connected to the Father and the Spirit?

So then the devil says,

turn these stones to bread,

as if that would prove who he is.

All the while the only thing it would prove

is that Jesus has listened to Satan

and followed his command.

Satan seeks to break apart your healthy connections

and take away relationships of blessing,

in order to cage you and isolate you.

 

And so every temptation to addiction

messes with who you really are.

You want this.

This will make you a man.

No one’s the boss of me,

I make my own choices.

This is what you are made for.

And of course, all of it is a lie,

because that is all Satan can do.

And the lie would imprison you alone.

 

Jesus answers with truth

because the truth will set you free:

we do not live by bread alone.

He quotes scripture.

He speaks the word of God.

Temptation tries to separate you and me

from truth,

from God’s word,

but Jesus clings to it.

He is not alone,

the Spirit and the presence of the Father

are with him.

 

The second temptation is for authority and splendor:

I can have whatever I want whenever I want it

and this is a beautiful and lovely life.

But listen to the cost:

Satan says, if only you worship me, it’ll all be yours.

And this is what addicts tell us about

whatever it is they are addicted to:

it becomes personal,

it demands your life,

it demands to be worshiped as your god.

Nothing matters more than satisfying the habit.

 

Alexander DeJong, late CRC pastor

who wrote a book on his own alcoholism:

No one chooses to become an addict.

Yes, we are each and all responsible for our choices. But in some way not fully yet understood

for some at some point one’s free choice

changes into becoming mastered –

at some point for some the choice is taken away

and the addiction chooses you.

Addicts are both responsible for their addiction

and a victim of it.

So give thanks for independence from addiction,

this is from God and not yourself.

For the one coming out of addiction,

give thanks to God each day for sobriety,

for freedom, for a measure of healing.

All health comes from God who gives good gifts.

 

He says to the addict:

you are responsible for seeking health,

just as any sick person is responsible

for doing what can be done to address the illness.

It is not just a turning away from the addiction,

it is turning toward

healthy free behavior and choices.

And just as someone who broke her leg

wouldn’t think of setting the bone herself,

so if you or someone who loves you

suspects you are addicted to a substance or habit

don’t think you can fix it yourself.

Our Heavenly Father has provided healing

resources like AA, or NA, or GA,

and safe place of healing like

Chicago Christian Counseling Center.

All these to aid you in choosing that first step

of accountability and a first step toward freedom.

 

One addict confessed:

 “You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life

where it is easier to not use.

If you don’t create a new life,

then all the factors

that brought you to your addiction

will catch up with you again.”

 

It’s about who you really worship and serve.

 

So is there a clue to confronting temptation

and its power in Jesus’ answer?

He responds to Satan:

worship the Lord your God and serve him only.

At its root, addiction is spiritual in nature.

It’s the process of substituting

a dependency upon God

for dependency upon something else.

 

The last temptation is for security and safety:

again identity is questioned,

IF you are the Son of God

throw yourself down,

for the angels will protect you,

isn’t that what God himself says in his word?

Satan uses an incomplete understanding

of the knowledge and grace of God against us.

 

But more, it is also about bullying

those who care about you:

forcing them to be responsible for your actions.

This is from an addict in recovery:

Addicts bully their families to maintain their habit.

If your loved one struggles with addiction

you will need support.

My friends and family worried about me.

They saw my decline, and tried to address it.

But I was not open to that conversation.

If you were worried about me,

it was you who had the problem.

I used you, manipulated you,

lied to you and broke your heart.

While you cried a thousand tears for me,

I was out getting high.

I make no excuses.

I was driven by an evil, urgent need

that had no conscience, integrity, values or morals.

I thought addiction was about drinking and drugging. But it’s not.

Drugs and alcohol are just a symptom

of dishonest thinking and unhealthy living . . .

When I took responsibility for my actions,

things began to change.

 

Again Jesus responds with the living word,

he submits fully to the Father:

do not put the Lord your God to the test.

Where Satan lies,

Jesus tells the truth.

 

Lies are natural to all addiction.

For the addict, knowing that you lie

provides a focal point in a scattered lifestyle.

Watch your language.

If you want to help those addicted,

do what you can to create a culture

that delights in openness and honesty.

For example, if someone voluntarily confesses

an addiction and its cover-up,

it is a time of grief for family and friends

but also a time when we are thankful

for the Spirit’s work.

The once enslaved person

is beginning to speak God’s language

rather than Satan’s.

 

Then the devil leaves Jesus:

but only until an opportune time.

And so addicts will tell you it is a daily battle.

But scripture tells us Jesus knows this by experience.

So he is with you

as the one who obeyed in the face of temptation,

who conquered Satan and sin,

and in that victory is with us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

because Jesus is victorious over temptation

he reverses Adam’s curse,

this not only brings into our lives the God who forgives and sets us free and restores us,

but also takes away from Satan

the ultimate power of temptation:

Jesus answers the prayer, lead us not into temptation in this victory he says,

“We are not tempted, Jesus Christ is tempted in us.” Satan pursues Jesus yet today

with all temptations in his members.

We are to let ourselves be found by grace

and the living word, and the kingdom is assured us.

It is our participation in Christ and in his cross.

Jesus strides out of the desert the victor.

And so Jesus announce freedom and release:

he reads from Isaiah

and says now this prophecy is fulfilled in him:

freedom for the prisoners

power to set the oppressed free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor to us.

 

It doesn’t seem to matter to Jesus who you are,

what you have done,

or what your life is like.

Are you poor? Good news to you.

Are you a captive? Release for you.

Are you blind? Sight to you.

Are you oppressed? Go in freedom.

Divine favor is not given to the poor, the captive,

the blind, or the oppressed

because they are good or righteous

but because God is good and righteous.

 

Hear Jesus confront shame and take it away.

Many addicts have been rejected

and treated as nothing

by those who claimed to love them,

which means that they are covered in shame.

Without an apparent way out,

addictions can be thought a means to avoid shame.

 

At every point, we expect Jesus to turn away

and not be sullied by the shamed.

Instead, he always invites, always surprises,

and offers a connection to himself

in which we are given cleansing, covering,

and belonging.

 

Shame will try to convince you

that you have to hide your addiction

and break free on your own,

but grace has a different message.

The message of God's grace is that

Christ has already won the victory

over your addiction,

and He's already taken on the shame.

His heart for you now is not to punish you

or to "see you pay"

but instead to see you healed,

whole and walking in His freedom.

 

from Boundless:  

Freedom is so much more than

"stop watching pornography"

or stop drinking,

or stop the drugs . . .

Freedom is living the life

pornography or gambling or alcohol or drugs

didn't want you to have.

Freedom is having your identity restored.

It is living under grace.

 

With Jesus not only by your side

but facing the temptation within you

will you respond by naming your addiction?

And then in the grace of God

make use of all the resources

the Father has given us in our day

to do battle!

The resources of counseling, therapy,

a small group of those who hold each other

accountable,

exercising faith, worship and service in church,

all of this is given to you to help you resist.

And the Book of James promises us:

resist the devil and he will flee from you.

 

I listened to a lecture by Johann Hari

in which he said:

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety,

it is connection.

Now I’m no expert,

and you may have your story to tell

to add to our understanding.

But if this is part of what’s going on

then our deepest, most sure connection

is in Christ Jesus,

who is our unshockable friend.

Knowing he is with us,

to the very end,

as he promised,

allows us to face addiction in these ways:

 

Tell someone you are an addict:

someone God has placed in your life you can trust,

someone who will stick by you,

connect with a gracious community in truth.

 

Then pray: for you are not alone,

Christ is with you even to bear your temptation.

Tell someone you are praying

that others may pray for and with you.

 

Then make it inconvenient for you

to satisfy your addiction.

I think that’s behind Jesus saying, Matthew 5 -

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Put your computer in a public place in your home.

Limit or give up your cable package.

Get rid of the alcohol in your home.

Stop seeing your friends if they tempt you

to drugs,

and by the way, if they do,

they’re not your friends.

For this is the truth:

the only ground the devil gains

is what we give him.

 

Then you’ll begin to discover your triggers

so that you can find help to deal with it.

Do you turn to that habit because you’re

angry,

sad,

bored,

anxious?

Promise to connect with someone

when those emotions attack you.

 

And for those of us loving those who are addicted:

a colleague of mine who ministers

to some of the worst on the streets says,

First, my primary job is to simply love our people,

do my best, then leave results to Jesus.

Just loving someone is a win.

Period. I rejoice daily in that.

A second thing is even deeper,

richer than simply loving someone.

You see, while loving people

I make many new friends,

building loving, two-way relationships

that bless us both.

Those friendships are a beautiful thread,

weaving our lives together

through all manner of ups and downs.

Being and having a friend, that is a big win.

And we have a lot of those wins!

 

We confess all things come to us not by chance

but by our Father’s hand.

Jesus shows that even this is not too big or strong

for the power of his love.

Herman Bavinck –

We can be reached by the melodies of angels

and the howl of demons,

by creation’s song and creature’s sigh.

Addiction is a demon’s howl to be sure.

But more sure is the word of Christ

that brings new life.