GETTING TO THE HEART ISSUES
Whenever you deal with any behavior you want to change you must first address the heart issues that causes and motivated that behavior. With addictive behaviors it is the same. Solomon said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Therefore, what are the heart issues that have motivated and fueled your addictive behaviors? Understanding these issues will enable you to deal with the causes rather than just the symptoms.
I. First, understand the relationship between your heart and your behavior.
1. Jesus taught the disciples that dealing with the heart is what the Pharisees did not do (Matt. 15:8) (Matt. 15:18-19)
2. Your mouth speaks what is in your heart (Matt. 12:34) (Prov. 15:28).
3. God connects the deceitful heart of men with their doings (Jer. 17:9-10).
4. If a person has perversity in their heart then strife with others will result (Prov. 6:14).
5. A life lived in righteousness comes from a heart of integrity (Gen. 20:5-6).
6. Rebellion in your behavior comes from a hardened heart (Ex. 7:13).
7. Flattery and lies come from a double heart (Ps. 12:2).
8. Humility comes from a broken heart (Ps. 34:18).
9. When someone won’t listen to counsel it is because of their stubborn heart (Ps. 81:12). However, the wise in heart receive God’s commands (Prov. 10:8).
10. When someone departs from the Lord it’s because of a perverse (false) heart (Ps. 101:4).
II. What are some of the heart issues you should consider that relate to addictive behaviors?
1. Pleasure seeking in your heart: Many seek the pleasure of a good feeling or a high to rest from the turmoil in their minds from this evil world (Prov. 21:17) (Ecc. 2:10). There is only one place you can find the true pleasure, rest, and satisfaction God has promised (Ps. 36:8) (Ps. 91:16).
2. An anxiousness and troubled heart: When you allow the anxiety of living life in this world to rule in your heart then you become depressed (Prov. 12:25). A depressed person is very susceptible to looking for peace in drugs, alcohol, food, or some other substance or behavior. Prayer and the surrender of your life to God is your only solution (Phil. 4:6).
3. Rebellion in your heart: When you are rebellious you will be disobedient to the Lord and His commands which creates more dissatisfaction (Jer. 5:23) (Ps. 78:8) (1 Sam. 15:23). That rebellion will again lead you to find satisfaction in something or someone else. Humility, surrender to the Lordship of Christ, and obedience to His commands are your only solution.
4. Greed in your heart: Many allow greed for financial gain and easy money to ensnare them into dealing drugs (Deut. 7:25) (Matt. 6:21). Repenting of this desire of your heart and regular work is your only solution (Eph. 4:28).
5. The fear of man in your heart: The fear of man will bring you into a snare and cause you to take certain actions that will be harmful for your life or cause you not to take actions that could deliver you from your addiction (Prov. 29:25). What will my friends say or do? I fear being alone if I say no. Trusting God is your only solution. He will take care of you.
6. Envy in your heart: Envy toward others will cause you to stumble. Wanting to be liked and accepted because you envy a person’s relationship with another can cause you to compromise your own beliefs. You can also envy a person that has wealth and possessions and begin dealing so you can possess these same things. But, your only solution is to fear God (Prov. 23:17) (Prov. 14:27).
7. Hardness in your heart: People give up on their marriages, family relationships, and friends because they get a hard heart (Mark 10:5). Hardness results from being hurt and offended by others and not resolving the issues in a Biblical way. This hardness leaves a person empty and very vulnerable to the temptation to find an escape through drugs or alcohol. Forgiveness and pursuing reconciliation with God and others will give you a tender heart again (Eph. 4:32).
8. Wrath and revenge in your heart: A life lived with drugs and alcohol will always result in contentions and many broken relationships (Prov. 23:29-30). The desire for revenge toward someone will separate you from God and cause you to give up on doing what you know is right and good (Rom. 12:19). Forgiveness and attempting reconciliation is again your only solution.
9. Pride in your heart: Pride will cause you to deceive yourself (Is. 14:13) (Gal. 6:3). Being prideful and thinking that you could never stumble again allows you to trust in your own strength which will cause you to fall (Prov. 16:18). Humility in your heart is your only solution.
10. Being loyal in your heart: If you aren't experiencing the strength of God in your life to resist your drives toward your addictive behaviors it is because you don’t have a loyal heart (to reciprocate by complete surrender and trust) (2 Chron. 16:9). To get a right heart all you must do is ask for it (James 4:2).
III. How do you apply these truths to your life?
1. Believe on the Lord with all your heart. Paul explained: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). To have your heart changed you must believe and receive Christ into your heart. But, you must continue to believe on the Lord with all your heart so all the changes God intends for you can be accomplished.
2. Get your heart purified. James said: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). If you allow any double-mindedness concerning obeying and following Christ to come in and control your heart you will stumble and fall. Therefore, keep a close eye on your heart attitudes.
3. Fulfill the purpose of your heart by loving the Lord. Jesus commanded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). By loving the Lord with all you heart there will be no room left to love any of your addictive behaviors.
4. Examine your ways. Since it is very difficult to know even your own heart, Jeremiah asked the people to examine their ways. “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord” (Lament. 3:40). By examining your behavior and the way you treat other people this helps you to determine where your heart is and what needs to be repented of within.