Romans 7:15 NASB – “15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
The experience of feeling addicted to something destructive is not new. The Apostle Paul admits that on the one hand he understands an activity to be sinful and yet he does it. His will power is helpless to keep him from doing what he hates. This would be a person who has become aware that they no longer are in control. The Apostle Paul has left denial.
There are several stages to dealing with such addicting destructive behaviors.
Stage one: Happy in the addiction and denial there is a problem.
Stage two: Awareness that the behavior is destructive and efforts made to stop it by a decision of the will.
Stage three: After our best try we find that the very thing we hate we are practicing. At this point we feel trapped and defeated.
Stage four: We begin practicing a true spirituality flowing from a true relationship with the Lord Jesus and this provides new sanity, stability, and spirituality to our soul.
Stage five: With the power of God found in the gospel of Christ Jesus now actively leading us to live a life of faith we now can overcome by the grace of God the destructive practice. (Note – people do end addictive behavior outside of faith in Christ but this is focused on how a Christian might overcome an addictive practice.)
If you struggle wit an addiction, where would you put yourself on this chart?
The key here is not to separate the struggle against the addictive practice from improving the overall condition, health, and strength of the entire person. A healthy soul has the strength to stop addictive behavior while a unhealthy soul will fail to be able to stop the behavior.
So one has to work in seeing more clearly what God has done in Christ in suffering for our sins, the union we have been given with Christ, and accept a new interpretation of who we are as beloved children of God purchased at great price to be part of a forever family. Part of this is that our lives have been ordained to produce unique and wonderful works, which only we can do as an expression of our thankfulness for the gift of our salvation in our Lord Jesus.
A practical spirituality in which prayer, meditation, journaling, expressing care for others, developing private worship, and engaging whole heartily in public worship not as a means to earn God’s approval but as a way to enjoy God’s approval in Christ Jesus begins to provide our soul with new vision and direction. This can then fill our mental, emotional, and spiritual bank accounts do a point where we can deal with the addictive behavior successfully.
Now beginning to eat right and exercise may also be part of this program. Learning to fast as part of our spirituality could help us gain self-control.
So the keys are strengthen the soul and strive to become a sane, stable, and spiritual person in Christ Jesus. Then from this position of strength, we should work on overcoming the destructive behavior. All along the way you will be where Paul is striving to end the behavior and hating it, but not waiting to beat the addiction before you move on in your spiritual growth, instead push forward with your spiritual growth that you may find the strength from God to overcome the addiction.
May the Lord, help each of us grow in grace and become free to reach our full potential.