Addiction is the Devil
We were made for more.
We were made for fulfillment that can only come from our Father God. We can't get that fulfillment from anywhere else. Addiction is a disease caught from consuming the counterfeit.
Addiction is the Devil
Addiction is a major health crisis in our world today. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry” (asam.org). It leads to dysfunction in all areas of life throughout the biological, psychological, social and spiritual realms. It physically changes the chemistry and functioning of the brain and manifests in a total overhaul of an individual’s personality and character. An individual under the control of an addiction becomes obsessed with the object of the addiction and becomes unable to abstain from seeking and craving more. Everything that was once important to the individual suddenly takes a back seat to the object(s) of the addiction. It is “progressive and can result in disability or premature death” (asam.org).
When an individual is not under the influence and control of an addiction or another mind- and spirit-altering circumstance, the individual can choose freely what to think, feel, believe and do. The individual may choose to take offense, for example, to criticism. An individual may be tempted to lash out and may either choose to act on the temptation to fight with the offender or may choose to walk away from that which incited anger. Under the influence and control of an addiction, however, the individual is less able to exercise control over his/her responses to external stimuli. It is as though the individual’s free will is tied up and gagged in the corner of the addicted mind, a hostage to the hijacked body, unable to speak, entreat or escape.
In my experience learning about addiction, specifically the addiction that involves chemical dependency and substance use and abuse, the experience of being an addict is likened to being trapped in a personal hell. Hell as we know it is related to Satan and his realm and is the eternal destiny of all those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We live in a lost world full of temptation and sin that causes us to experience varying degrees of hurt, betrayal, disappointment, confusion, fear, sadness, despair, hunger and more. The world is an unfulfilling place, but as human beings, we were made for fulfillment: the true and perfect fullness and wholeness that only comes from a relationship with our Creator God. When human beings, who were made to be whole in communion with God, do not understand or accept a relationship with God and the fullness that comes with Him, we are left wanting and wandering with an insatiable and aching emptiness.
Satan, who seeks to devour us and keep us from glorifying God (1 Peter 5:8), uses our unsatisfying world and the temptations and tools within it to deter us from the Kingdom and the unity therein. The devil seeks to oppose God, and he uses anything and everything available to undermine God’s glory. We see this battle in the opposing forces of good vs. evil, health vs. illness, kindness vs. cruelty, light vs. darkness and selflessness vs. selfishness. The devil promotes and supports all that is evil, divisive, unkind and unwell. Addiction is one of Satan’s most useful tools to date. Addiction is a culmination of powerfully painful human experiences such as selfishness, fear, deception, darkness, betrayal, confusion and more. It is a whirlwind of intense feelings and urges, the combined force of which overpowers an individual to the point of losing total control to the throes of the disease, forming an insidious monster that devours all that was or had hoped to be. By manifesting addiction, Satan has managed to hijack the will of many human beings who otherwise may have chosen a life of servanthood for Christ, and has tested the goodness, patience and loyalty of many humans besides who have struggled to love an addict.
The Bible tells of the devil’s nature, citing him as a liar and a tempter. In Matthew and Luke, there is reference to the devil taking Jesus to the highest point of a mountain to display the splendor of the kingdoms below. He insisted, “All this I will give to you if you will bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). A human being seeking fulfillment and rejecting that which comes from the Lord is susceptible to accept Satan’s offer for “all this,” and the devil knows that. He uses the desperation and craving of a starving world to promote and encourage the destruction of addiction. He has been preying on human weakness since the beginning of creation when he offered the apple to Adam and Eve in exchange for knowledge. In the same way that the apple was received and bitten and the path of humanity changed, so too is a substance or behavior accepted as knowledge and so too does the life of that human (and all around him or her) changed.
The cause of addiction, then, is an experience of emptiness and a compulsive effort to fill the void with something other than the fulfillment that can only be experienced through a relationship with God. It is the seeking of a surrogate mother. It is a deception, a false god and an empty idol. If a person’s experience of emptiness is most acutely felt in aloneness that is strengthened through a personality trait of timidity, she may become tempted and overpowered by the influence of alcohol, which temporarily fills her emptiness through the false security of lowered inhibitions that results in finite feelings of faux bravery. If a person’s experience of emptiness is most acutely felt in overwhelming rage that is fueled by untended trauma, he may be tempted by and eventually enslaved by a depressant that succeeds in quelling his internal storm in ways he never could. It is the individual’s propensities for emptiness and lack of fulfillment that most accurately reflects his or her susceptibility for a specific addiction. Once an addiction is developed, the devil has his grip on the individual effected and is more likely to succeed in him or her doing Satan’s sinister bidding (i.e. stealing, lying, cheating, etc). All the destructive behaviors of an addict are indicative not of that individual’s true nature so much as they are indicative of the battle we fight “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” especially when the spiritual force of evil is within us in the form of a powerful and poisonous substance (Ephesians 6:12).
The Bible also tells us that Satan has already been defeated through God’s judgment and through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Just as redemption is available for the sinner, so too is rehabilitation possible for the addict, but true and lasting rehabilitation requires a complete shift of alliance from one master to another. The addict must denounce allegiance to that which has thus far ruled over his or her life – the addictive substance or behavior, Satan incarnate – and must turn his or her power and will over to the care of God (Step 3, The 12 Steps of Recovery). The addict, just as any other human being on earth, cannot rely on his or her strength alone as did King David (1 Chronicle 21:1-5), but must take a giant leap of faith and dependence on God, every single day, one day at a time, just as did David when a shepherd boy (1 Samuel 17:47).
All people under God’s creation are called to follow Him. This includes those who seek to treat and assist an individual overtaken by the evil spirit of addiction. Loved ones as well as providers should approach the treatment of addicts with the same childlike leaps of faith and dependence. All must be willing to do away with anything that does not serve God and His good and perfect will (as in cutting off the hand that causes one to stumble in Mark 9:43), and those attempting to reason with an addict must be willing to set strong boundaries and stick to them (as in punishing with the rod to save from death in Proverbs 23:14) but should remember the origin point of the addiction: a sense of emptiness that can only be filled with love and belonging and all good things that come from God above (James 1:17).
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Carrie Hauck