The key to understanding addictions, from a biblical perspective, is in seeing the meaning of the word lust. James writes, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14 KJV). In a biblical context, lust is not just a word describing sexual temptation, although that can certainly fit. Lust speaks of many forms of desires and cravings that God did not create us with, but can come at us in various ways. A good definition of biblical lust is forbidden desire and affection. It really speaks to the modern plague known as addictions. We could almost read James 1:14 as saying, “everyone is drawn away by his own addictions.“
Lust really speaks to the modern plague known as addictions.
It is important to note that lust is the counterfeit to love. Love seeks to give, while lust is always looking to take, in order to satisfy a craving within. Love walks in contentment. Lust is never satisfied. Love is selfless. Lust is selfish. Wherever love is not present, we can be certain lust will show up to draw us into forbidden desires. To the one struggling with addictions, they must realize that lust affects their desires, keeping their heart chained to wanting something that will never fulfill. Wherever God’s nature of love has not had its stabilizing work, lust comes to place addictive chains on us.
It is important to note that lust is the counterfeit to love.
Many people reading James 1:14 see the phrase his own lusts and mistakenly think, these forbidden desires originated in their own thinking. They walk with shame, guilt and defeated hearts, wondering how such awfully binding temptations could have originated inside of them. Because thoughts carry such intense emotions with them, they often lose sight of the one who is tempting them with the lust in the first place.
Jesus helps us to see who the source of all addictive behaviors is—Satan himself. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44 KJV). His kingdom seeks to keep people bound in the realm of lust, knowing if they take the bait, one will struggle in torment. Satan is the father of lusts, meaning that he is the origin of those temptations and thoughts. So many get caught up into self-condemnation, simply over the addictive pulls that course through their being. Yet when you realize who is at the source, you can begin to separate who you are as God’s child and who the enemy is within your thinking. Those addictive thoughts and pulls are not you! You have them coursing through your being, but they did not originate from you. You have an enemy speaking to you through thoughts and feelings so that you remain bound to that way of living.
Jesus helps us to see who the source of all addictive behaviors is—Satan himself.
This should never be used as an excuse or a cop out for taking responsibility. It is important to have a healthy spiritual vision and see the battleground as it is. You are daily being fed with thoughts from an invisible kingdom that wants to train you to be an addict. And he will use where you are not settled in the love of God to make those assaults.
Addictions spawn from three dimensions in a person’s life: addictive thinking patterns, addictive habits and what I call an “addict lifestyle.” The addictive thinking patterns are those thoughts and fantasies that don’t seem to go away; they become obsessions that often lead us to do certain things. These actions become the habits that embed the addict’s thoughts into their being and produce a way of living. This way of living becomes an addict lifestyle, where their way of living accommodates the bondage of addiction.
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