Obedient slavery

What is it that we are afraid to face or deal with? And why?

Let me ask …  when pressure comes on you, what habit, escape, comfort or way of ‘busyness’ do you turn to (rather than go to Father God for comfort and help?).

Whether we are prepared to admit it or not, most of us are addicted to something. If you’re unsure about that, ponder on this definition of addiction from Gordon Dalbey: 

“An addiction is something you do consistently to avoid facing the truth about yourself.”

Read and linger over that statement a few times… allow it to really sink in.

In order to identify what we’re addicted to, and how to be free of those addictions, we will need to answer Dalbey’s question – honestly. What do we run to consistently to avoid facing the truth about ourselves? And what is the truth about ourselves that we are running from? What is it that we are afraid to face or deal with? Why?

My understanding of how essential those questions are to this topic is personal. I have learned that answering them honestly gave me freedom from those things that enslaved me, and it’s that personal experience that has helped me invest into many others through this ministry that I serve.

Two key men have been particularly helpful with the wisdom they have imparted on this topic.

The first is obviously Gordon Dalbey. His books have changed my life, and heavily influenced how I teach. I am also blessed that Gordon has been a personal friend and mentor who has invested into me from time to time over the last decade or more – something for which I am very thankful. I highly recommend his book Fight Like a Man where he unpacks many powerful truths on this key subject of addiction - in particular how shame impacts on addictions.

The other man who has influenced me greatly on this subject is Gerald May. Whilst I’ve never had the privilege to meet him, he has ‘passively’ mentored me through his excellent book Addiction and Grace, which carries powerful insights.

What I’ll share with you from here on will draw significantly from both men and these books, as well as my own experience in ministry here at Ellel Ministries.   

For most people who come to us trapped in some form of addiction, they are not always just held captive by what we might refer to as a ‘classic addiction’ like alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sex or food. Addiction can have many faces, especially if it is something we are substituting to avoid letting God reveal a deeper level truth about ourselves that we have never wanted to face.

What are some other examples of addiction? You can be addicted to another person – this is called co-dependency. You can be addicted to a style of music, to a sport or activity, or to work. Remember - the addiction will be something you do consistently to avoid facing the truth about yourself.

If we dig deep enough, we usually find a behaviour or habit that we’ve allowed to become ingrained into our personality - like a besetting sin. That behaviour or substance becomes our substitute for going to a Holy God for true comfort. Eventually, if you go to that habit or comfort often enough, you will lose your ability to say ‘no’ to that pattern of behaviour.

You will find yourself trapped. You will have been ‘mastered’ by it, as the Apostle Paul would describe it. A better term might be ‘enslaved’.  

You have in fact, become an addict.

In Webster’s dictionary it notes that the word addict comes from two Latin roots, the preposition ‘ad’, meaning “toward,” and the verb ‘dicere’, meaning “to speak”.  Join the two together and we get “addicere” which means “to speak toward,” or as in Webster’s definition: “to give assent, to give [oneself] up to a [a strong habit].”

If we’ve “given oneself up to a strong habit”, we have actually ‘given assent’ (approval, sanction, agreement or power) to something in our lives. We have given permission for that habit or false comfort to have a prominent place in our lives - a permission we never should have given to fill a void that only a Holy God was meant to fill.

In other words, if a habit or false comfort is given prominent place in our life over and above God, we end up elevating that habit or false comfort (i.e. we give ‘assent’ to that habit) above the throne of God! We in effect make the habit more important than Him. When we do that. we break the 1st Commandment: 

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3 NIV). 

In verse 5 in Exodus 20 it adds this: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”.

Friends, whenever I break this commandment, I am committing idolatry - and any form of idol worship will always get me into a truckload of trouble!

However, the bigger concern for God isn’t that we’ve committed the sin of idolatry – it’s that we have chosen to run to a ‘lesser lover’ for the comfort we need.

It breaks God’s heart when we run to such ‘lesser lovers’ rather than the One True Lover of our Soul! We’re rejecting Him, settling for a practice that places us in bondage. If it gets out of hand, it could eventually destroy us and those closest to us. Consider alcoholism, gambling debt and sexual addictions that lead to adultery and family break-up.

Just pause for a minute and consider …  a fight with your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, a relationship breakup, a scolding from a boss, when you feel like a failure, suffer a betrayal, feel rejected …  whenever life goes pear-shaped, or calamity and despair descend, what do you do?  Often the first thing we run to is some form of false comfort, like getting busy at work, alcohol, chocolate or pornography, etc.

Whenever I responded like that, you could hardly say I was taking my issue or my pain to God to seek His comfort, could you?

In fact, when life’s pressures mount and I willingly (rebelliously?) choose to run to ‘something else’, rather than run to Abba Father, I am choosing something else over and above Him.

I am bowing to an idol.

I am trusting in something other than Father God to rescue me, or take my pain away. That is exactly what the enemy is depending on, because that is the “hook” upon which he gets me addicted.

Every time I run to something else for comfort other than God, what I am doing is really a surrender of sorts. Any time we surrender to a false comfort of the enemy, there is usually a snare waiting to trap us.

Romans 6:16 NIV states Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey?

To surrender to an ungodly habit or false comfort is to ‘offer yourselves… as obedient slaves’ and as a result, we fall into the enemy’s clutches. All because we surrendered to the enemy’s ploy of false comfort – in whatever form that takes for us – and we refused to receive true comfort from “The Comforter”.  

Curiously, the same action that gets us addicted in the first place, is the same means by which we must be rescued - surrender!

One path of surrender leads the ‘Father of Lies’ (Satan) turning us into ‘slaves’ and the other path of surrender leads to Abba Father making us ‘sons’.

As always – God lets us make the choice.

Do we want to remain enslaved? Or do we want to walk into our true inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High God?

If you’re willing to explore the question “Am I doing something consistently just to avoid facing the truth about myself?”, then I would want to encourage you that we have a good Father waiting to break the chains of bondage to our addictions – and more importantly, reveal to us how precious we are to Him.

I’m considering unpacking more of this teaching centred around addictions over future blog articles. I’m not sure how far the Lord will lead me in this – I’d love to bring an online course on addictions this year - but that’s all part of the adventure of being a son, asking Him “What’s next Papa?”

It all begins with just an admission, that the idols we have bowed to are too powerful for us to overcome in our own strength. We are going to need Abba Father to set us free.

Until next time,