ADDICTIONS AND IDOLATRY
Many do not understand one of the fundamental reasons why they have stumbled with the use drugs, alcohol, or any addictive behavior is that they have allowed something or someone to come before God. Allowing anything or anyone to have this first position in your life is called idolatry. However, God will never take second place in your life. God was very clear when He said to the Jews: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). Therefore, let us first define what idolatry is so you can see how it applies to addictions.
I. What is Idolatry?
A. Idolatry is anything that becomes your first love.
- When you love anything or anyone one more than God = you have betrayed Him and He takes it personally (Jer. 2:13). You are looking for another way to find happiness and satisfaction without God.
- Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:37-39). Jesus reproved the Ephesian church because they had not given Him the first place in their lives: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4).
- An idol is not just a statue made of wood or some precious metal; an idol is first an issue in your heart that has become your supreme attraction. God declared this through the prophet: “Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them’ ” (Eze. 14:1-3)? God told His people, “I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images” (Is. 42:8). Therefore, an idol is anything that claims the loyalty, love, or praise which belongs to God alone.
B. Idolatry begins with covetousness in the heart.
- Whatever you covet more than God is an idol you have placed before Him.
- To covet is to desire and want something that you think will satisfy you or make you happy. Paul taught, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Your god is the master passion of your life.
- Some covet wealth and material things so they become a workaholic. Some covet beauty and so they get caught by binging and purging to fit the image they idolize. Some covet pleasure and so they get caught by drugs or alcohol. Some covet acceptance from people and so they violate their own conscience and do things they know are wrong to please a person. If you want to please a person more than God then that person is your idol. If you want to please yourself more than obey the Lord then you have set yourself up as the idol.
- Paul taught that a person’s god could be his own sensual pleasure (their belly): “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil. 3:17-19).
- Paul also explained that idolatry was a very serious issue that could destroy you: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5).
C. Idolatry is serving another god instead of serving the True God.
- Once your heart is captive to another passion or love you will also serve that passion. Notice when Jesus was requested by Satan to fall down and worship him Jesus understood that this also entailed service. Jesus said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matt. 4:10).
- You can’t serve both God and your idol. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).
- The question is; how have you previously served your passion?
D. Idolatry is anything you fear more than God. 2 Kings 17:35
- Fear holds many captive to their idol because they are afraid of what will happen if they reject the false god which they have set up. “I fear that I will not have enough money and things if I’m not a workaholic.” “I fear that no one will love me if I’m not this beautiful person I imagine.” “I fear that I won’t be happy or can’t maintain if I’m not high.”
- Fear always brings a snare.
II. What should a believer do with any idol?
* Idolatry is placed in the list of the works of the flesh which includes sorcery (the word means the use of drugs), drunkenness, and all sexual sins. Therefore idolatry can be associated with any of these behaviors. Paul warned believers, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
1. Identify your idols.
- Whatever has stumbled you or hindered you from following Christ in the past is your idol.
2. Cast down your idols.
- This is done by rejecting whatever behavior or attitude that has stumbled you.
- Acknowledge, confess, repent, and turn away from your idols. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (Eze. 14:6). Prov. 28:13
3. Flee your idols. 1 Cor. 10:14
- That means getting as far as you can away from these idols so you can’t be stumbled.
- Look to the counsel of God’s Word & spiritually mature believers as to how to flee from your idols.
- Receiving God’s counsel is always a fundamental step to freedom. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
4. Keep yourselves from any further surrender to idolatry. 1 John 5:21
- Keeping yourself is done by guarding your heart and staying in a first love relationship with the Lord that enables close fellowship with Him (Jude 1:20-21).
5. Commit yourself to the one true and living God.
- David prayed: “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth” (Ps. 31:5).
- Paul declared: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:3-6).