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What Does The Bible Say About Addiction?

What Does The Bible Say About Addiction?

Addiction In The Bible

As Christians, we must always listen to the word of God and learn to think His thoughts after him. Far too often, though, we listen to other voices and lose track of the truth.When it comes to addiction, we need to think biblically. We must understand how God views addiction so that his Church can respond accordingly.

You might be disappointed if you're looking for addiction in the Bible. The word "addiction" never appears in scripture because the term wasn't available when the Bible was written. However, that doesn't mean that scripture is silent on the topic of substance abuse.

Addiction can take many forms as a substance, person, or object. When an individual becomes addicted to a substance, it becomes a focal point of all their attention. Their horizon begins to narrow, and all that is left is their addiction. Habits start to form, and eventually, the addict becomes enslaved.

Paul says in Romans 6, "For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification."

In this passage, Paul is saying that when we love something, we will give that object our complete focus and become obedient to it. Ultimately, it's a matter of attention that Paul is addressing. We are either becoming more consumed with our desires OR for God. 

To take another angle, "addiction" could easily be replaced with "worship." The heart of an addict is worship. Therefore, addiction is not an issue of dependence but rather worship and value. To put it another way, we were all made to be "addicted," but the problem is that we are all addicted to the wrong thing. 

Once we replace "addiction" with "worship," it's easy to see that scripture has much to say. Most of scripture deals with people who worship incorrectly. The Old Testament teaches how God's people went astray after false gods and God's judgment on them. However, most of us don't worship idols today, and the idea of worshiping idols might feel disconnected from our everyday life.

Examples of Addiction In The Bible  

In John 4, scripture gives us a great picture of a more modern image of worshipping false idols and addiction. John 4 is a familiar passage to most of us about the story of a woman who comes to a well looking to get water but instead has an encounter with Jesus. In this passage, Jesus identifies that this woman has become enslaved to men and points out how she has had five husbands. Soon the conversation steers toward the idea of worship, and Jesus begins to connect the dots between the woman's life and her worship of men. 

This type of worship or addiction should hit much closer to home for us as readers. Maybe you're not addicted to alcohol or drugs but ask yourself, "what thoughts do I focus on?", "What couldn't I live without?" or "Where do I spend my money and time"? If you start looking at the things you prioritize and value, soon you'll discover what you worship. 

Some of us may focus and prioritize seemingly "good" things. It could be your family, work, reputation, status, comfort, or safety. However, these things can quickly become destructive if they become a place of worship. 

For instance, a father can neglect his family if he values his work, or a mother can overburden their child if they place their value on them. No matter our choice of addiction and worship, it's always destructive when we become the focal point.

Yet, even when we can identify where we've misplaced our attention, it can be a struggle to reorient our attention. However, struggling can be a good sign because it shows that a person has recognized a problem. The biggest problem can be the sins we are blind to and never ask for help.

Scripture always has a way of humbling the reader. When we begin to realize that we're not that different from those who struggle with substance abuse, we begin to understand addiction and how God speaks on the matter. 

Addiction was the way in, and Worship is the way out 

If, at this point, you're saying to yourself, "there is no way I can give up my career" or "there is no way I could give up my comfort," - BINGO. You're getting it! On our own, there is no way to break our addictions and false worship.

Paul says in Ephesians 2, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins …. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…"

Paul states that we were dead in our sins. That means there is no way in a million years that we could ever help ourselves. We can't just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need outside intervention to save us from our destructive thoughts and behavior. So, where do we turn?

It's not about white knuckling our addiction but finding something better than our addiction that Later in Ephesians Paul says, "do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…." What Paul ISN'T saying is that we just need to stop our sins and addictions; instead, Paul gives us insight into how we shift our focus. Paul is saying that we must move our horizons to something far better. We need to move to an overflowing source that pushes everything else out. Does this sound somewhat ethereal at this point? If so, the issue is that we haven't seen the beauty of what Jesus offers us. 

To give a quick picture of what this kind of worship looks like, Mark 14 provides a great illustration. It's a familiar passage of the woman who breaks an alabaster jar over Jesus' feet. She comes to Jesus and makes a dramatic scene in a place where she wouldn't necessarily be welcomed and breaks very costly perfume on Jesus' feet. As the reader, we don't necessarily get the background for why she would do this. However, it's evident that Jesus has probably met her before and has done something very powerful in her life. It wouldn't be hard to imagine this verse connected with the passage of the woman caught in adultery and about to be stoned. Yet, Jesus comes to her defense to rescue her. Now, in that context, the woman's tears, the breaking of expensive perfume, and the washing of Jesus' feet is a beautiful picture of true worship. 

In the same way, our worship begins to erupt when we understand what Jesus has done for us. We are in the same state as the woman caught in adultery or the individual struggling with drug addiction. Yet Christ saved us even while we were his enemies. When we understand that Jesus took on the death we deserved so that we get the life that he lived, that is when our horizon begins to shift, and worship starts to overflow.

When it comes to subsance abuse, ultimately worship is at the center of the addicts heart. At 8 Oaks, we want to help those who have become enslaved to alcohol and drugs to help them reimagine the wonder of who their creator is and help them find true lasting freedom in Christ. For more information please visit us on our home page at If you or someone you know needs help, please call us at 931-903-2500.

About Us

8 Oaks Recovery is a Christ-centered addiction recovery program located in Wayne County, TN. We offer a unique treatment approach blending spiritual and clinical work. We work with adult males ages 18-65 years old.

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The 8 Oaks is licensed by the State of Tennessee and accredited by The Joint Commission, the national leader in healthcare organization accreditation.


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