Plowing Through Addiction: The ABC's of Victory

by Adam McClendon August 2, 2017

I’m assuming that you are a believer in Jesus. I’m assuming that you believe that Jesus is the Messianic King who died and rose again providing deliverance from sin and death and restoring all who believe in him to a right relationship with God.

That being said, I consistently deal with believers who genuinely love Jesus, but find themselves stuck in addictions. These patterns usually developed over years. They came to Christ or possibly developed their addiction after they were a believer, and while they embraced God’s grace, they never understood his sanctifying power or methods. Now, many theological tomes are written about the sanctifying power of God, but few people talk about God’s sanctifying methods. Proverbs is full of them. God often uses ordinary means to accomplish his extraordinary purposes. These aren’t means carried out on our own strength or wisdom, but these are actions committed in surrender to the Lord in acknowledgment of the ordinary system that he has created within this world. We often follow God’s common-grace-methodology in areas of finance or exercise, but rarely when it comes to sinful addictions.

Now, I’ve worked with men struggling with some form of sexual addiction for almost twenty years and there is much to this problem. Regardless of the addiction, recovery as a believer after involves these 3 beginning, common-sense steps.

A: Admit a problem.

That’s right. It’s profound, isn’t it? But, here is the key, admit unequivocally, without hesitation, and take full responsibility that a problem exists. Whether you are struggling with addiction yourself or leading someone to victory in Christ, healing will not happen without this step. It’s the first part of repentance. One has to acknowledge that they are stuck in a habitual sin without making exceptions and excuses for their sin.

B: Begin accountability.

Next, accountability is essential. Did I mention it is essential? I’m not talking about having an accountability partner necessarily. If someone’s a liar, that person won’t have a problem lying to an accountability partner. If someone is proud, that person will find a way around the honest dialogue necessary. The question is, “Is there a transparent brokenness where the person realizes that he/she is untrustworthy, unfaithful, and prone to this sin, which will likely not be overcome without consistent, lifelong accountability?” Yes, lifelong accountability. Does this person realize the necessity of biblical community to encourage and at times enforce obedience?

Now to be fair, when dealing with sinful addictions many people are good at recognizing and beginning these first two steps. It’s the third one that loses many people.

C: Cut off access.

Struggling with drugs? Then flip on your dealer. That’s right, turn the dealer in. Struggle with alcohol, don’t go into any store that sales it, ever! Sound extreme? Listen to the advice I’ve given to men over the years regarding their addiction to pornography. Here’s a sample:

  • Change jobs.
  • Get rid of the internet. This pruning step is a must for any man I’m meeting with regularly. If the internet is absolutely necessary, then find a filter or something cannot be undone. Put a block on the internet where your spouse has to log you on in order to access it and he or she stands there while you pay the bills and log off.
  • Put a block on the tv where you don’t have the code or get rid of cable.
  • Get an old-fashioned-flip-phone.

In other words, is the person willing to do whatever it takes to find freedom from this sin? Isn’t this what Jesus was talking about when he declared, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29–30). Jesus is saying that if you want to walk in holiness you have to be willing to discard the very elements that are causing you to stumble.

Now again, these ABCs are just a part of the process. They are not a cure all, but for the gospel-driven believer, they are a great place to start walking in victory.