Roots of Addictive Behavior
A Faulty Belief system continued
Free Hearts Uganda is an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. We specialize in substance abuse disorder, especially alcoholism, marijuana, nicotine, and other habitual manners. We are a team of professionals that are dedicated to render a whole human restoration program: spiritually, emotionally, physically...
This is a second part of the previous article. The team, in the following writings will be giving practical rendering on a variety of approaches that substance abuse growth thrive. We are still going to look at the root cause of addictive behaviour based on a faulty belief system.
The intention of this writing is to discuss how faulty belief systems can cause addictive behaviors.
Kato had been arrested several years ago because he had had sex with a close under aged relative of his wife. When the girl told his wife, she immediately called the police and Kato was arrested. He was fined and imprisoned. Several years later Kato and I sat in a counseling session in a small restaurant. He was nervously wringing his hands and would only occasionally glance up. I felt some of the pain he must have been going through, as well as that of his family and the victim. We discussed some issues he was facing and a possible plan of his sex addictive recovery. During the conversation, I looked straight into Kato’s eyes and said, “I would like to ask you a question. This is not to judge you or shame you. I am here to help you. When you had sex with the girl did you consider that you might be reported by the under aged and arrested? Kato slowly responded, “No, I was staying with her at a relative’s home and I really thought the other person involved was playing my game with me. I guess I went too far.”
Addictive behavior can make our perception become distorted, and begin to believe that others think and feel like we do. However, he finally admitted that he did not really think that his wife would turn him in. Once again we see the old lie from the garden; that our sins (addiction) have no consequences. The RIAAB counseling stresses that all addiction has upshots and most of these consequences are relational. The greatest lie behind this lie is that; as long as no one knows, or we aren’t caught, there is no problem. The truth is that any sinful act and wrong behavior involves spiritual and emotional consequences and risk.
“You shall be as gods.” This lie says that if my basic needs are going to be met, I will have to meet them myself, especially since I have not been able to trust God or even others. Addiction falls prey to this lie. This blatant lie is like a slap in the face of the Holy Spirit, who desires to work mightily in us to accomplish God’s will and purpose. The apostle Paul says, “ Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that work within us” (Eph. 3:20). It is bad enough to fall prey to idolatry, but to become the idol is even more serious. The epitome of Satan is ‘the man of sin who will sit in the temple of God displaying himself as being God’ (2 Thess.2.4).
2, The strategy of diversion.
Once we have speculated, then believed Satan’s lies and do not believe that God can meet our deepest longings and needs, we attach our unmet needs to something or someone. Most likely that something or someone becomes an addiction. This diversion is a scheme to distract us from God’s purpose and divert us to temporary causes and pleasures. This scheme of diversion is so subtle that one can often mistake it for legitimately meeting needs. The strategy of diversion actually is an appeal to natural senses, but always outside of God’s timing or his way.
In the garden experience in Genesis 3.6 a clear description is given of the natural sense appeal: “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate”. All addictive behaviors have a root either from a lust of the eye, a boast of life or a pride of life, all which affect relationships with God and man.
“The tree was good for food”. At first glance, the taking of food seems to be
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying “from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die (Gen 2:9, 16-17)
A careful reading of this Scripture reveals that God has provided for basic human needs with aesthetically pleasing tasteful food. The problem was not in the provision, but in going beyond God’s boundaries. The tree that was forbidden was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Lord never intended man to know the distinction between good and evil by experience, but rather by the spirit within man.
The word lust means a strong desire or drive. When one attempts to fulfill a legitimate way- that is, outside of God’s will- then sin and death will occur. The legitimate need become illegitimate, not just by an act, but by exaggerating the need and its fulfillment as more essential and necessary than is true.
3, Physical/Spiritual tools of addiction
The diversionary schemes of Satan are accomplished through the physical realm but affecting the spiritual life. When Satan tempted Jesus, Satan used the physical natural realm to try and divert the spiritual (food, glory and power). The legitimate need for food was right, but the source of it and timing were wrong. Thus Jesus said, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). More important than immediate satisfaction of food was obedience to his Father.
a. The lust of the flesh.
The needs of the flesh are an open door to addictions and Satan uses them to divert us from God (perverse sex, gluttony, alcoholism, excessive clothing…) It is the apostle John who refers to the “lust of the flesh”. Certainly there are basic human needs that have been designed by God that can be righteously and gloriously satisfied. The basic drives for food, relationships, intimacy, fun, creativity, family, provisions, etc, are all God given.
However, when we begin to believe the lies of Satan and divert our deepest need for relationship with God our father to the tangible needs for things that perish, then our focus has been diverted; it has become lust to fulfill selfish desires (addictive) and not God’s full intent. Addiction puts priority at things that perish and divert us from a relationship with God. Addictive behavior, creates an urgency that if one could meet the right person, have the right experience, enjoy the right relationship; the hole inside would be filled. This is a lie. The search for fulfillment becomes a raging lust and consuming fire. God never intended that our deepest need be filled by something or someone else. Jesus said that when we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be added to us. When we begin to discover God as our father the deep hole of in us begin to be filled, even overflow. Instead of simply receiving, we became free to receive and give. This new relationship with the father and his unexplainable love toward us is released in us a new relationship with others.
b. The lust of the eyes.
The use of our eyes is another open door to addictive behavior (TV, pornography, leisure, gossip, and loitering, obsessive reading, soccer,…) “It was a delight to the eyes.” the Lord’s creation was meant to be enjoyed. All of us have probably marveled at the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the calmness of Lake Bunyonyi, the grandeur of Mount Kenya, the reflections of Indian Ocean on a still day, or a new born baby. It was never a sin for the basic provisions to be a delight or to be enjoyed. The sin was the result of looking to the wrong provision, and at the wrong time. Addiction is a wrong provision at the wrong time.
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was an appeal to the eyes; that is, the sensational and unusual. When the devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple to illustrate in a visual way that God was with him and that the angels would bear him up (Matt. 4:6-7), Jesus responded from scripture, “ you shall not put the Lord your God to the test”. Jesus cut to the very heart of this attempt to appeal to the “lust of the eyes” and later amplified his warning: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (Matt. 16:4). The preaching of the gospel in the early church was accompanied by signs and wonders- not as ends in themselves, but to confirm and demonstrate the power of God in bringing men to Christ.
The lust of the eyes is not, an enjoyment of the beauty of creation and the wonder of human creativity. It happens when we interpret life and its meaning and our meaning through our temporality and not the spiritual. Our interpretation and perception of events flow from a spiritual discernment that comes from having the same view of life that God has.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, we read that ‘Jesus lifted up his eyes on the vast multitude and saw their needs, both physical and spiritual. His view of people was not toward how he could use them or get something out of them, but how he could give them and met their deepest need- a need for the food that will satisfy the soul. On a number of occasions, the scriptures record that Jesus looked upon a person or persons and was moved by compassion. His perspective of truth was from His heavenly Father.
The “lust of the eyes,” is not an enjoyment of the aesthetic beauty of the created. It occurs when we look to the created as our fulfillment or life source. The Apostle Paul describes this as “serving the creature rather than the creator.” When one focuses on meeting a basic need as the end result for most important aspect of life, then the “need” becomes lust and its object of fulfillment becomes an idol and then it becomes addictive. Real freedom and joy come from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; fulfilling basic needs becomes a secondary resource. In doing so, we become fulfilled, and all these things will be added to you.”
c. The pride of life.
The use of our abilities in life is an instrument of addiction. (Workaholic. materialism corruption, stealing, lies, showing off, jealousy, hate, tribalism, murder… The pride of life is based on “what we do, who we know, and what we have.” The appeal of Satan to Jesus in the wilderness temptation was to offer him all the kingdoms of this world if Jesus would fall down and worship him. Jesus responded, “Be gone Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’ (Matt. 4:10). This diabolical appeal attempted to place the significance and purpose of existence on position and power rather than on a relationship with, and obedience to, God the Father.
In life, some days bring emptiness, and one seems to say ” I just don’t know who I am anymore.” Even though we are Christians, addictive patterns may come back in our life, including gluttony, promiscuity, gossip, hidden agendas for selfishness, controlling others… But if we could examine ourselves we might begin to realize that for most of our life, our self-worth could be based on what we can squeeze out of others or what others think of us. Our concept of self had become based on who we knew and who knows us rather than on knowing God the Father and his acceptance by Christ.
Who we are, includes our inward character and integrity since Christ has become to us “wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). To violate this truth is to deny who we really are; therefore, we cannot reckon ourselves ‘dead to sin but alive unto God” (Rom. 6:11). However this cannot produce a “quick fix” in an addictive behavior life, but it begins a process of restoration that allows us to rediscover our true identity in Christ. Our identity and purpose cannot be based on things and others, but in Christ. Others might enhance and affirm us, but ultimately our life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)
The pride of life is actually man’s attempt at existence and self-preservation apart from the grace of God. The pride is putting ourselves at the center of our universe and using others, even our false concept of God, to make sense out of and add meaning to life. Thus Jesus’ warning: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25).
As we consider these three strategies- speculation, lies, and diversion- we can more clearly understand why the apostle Paul instructed the believers: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.’’ We are destroying speculations (the strategy of speculations), and every lofty thing does rise up against the knowledge of God (the strategy of lies), and we are taking every thought (the strategy of diversion) captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). The word “destroy” in this verse means “to take by force” and denotes a definite plan to dismantle and replace. I believe that one can do this in the following way:
Exposing to the light-Eph. 5:13
Laying aside falsehood-Eph. 4:25
Replacing perceptions with the truth- Eph. 4: 23-24
A counselor can help a recovering addict by undoing the enemies work in resetting the above and reversing it. A counselee can fight addictive behavior led by a faulty belief system by employing the above strategy.
Let’s examine this process. When a system of lies about God and his word has been implanted and received as truth, then our entire life outlook is affected, by lies. In other words our mindset is distorted.
The writer of the above article is a team leader at Free Hearts Uganda, an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center in Kampala.
Dr. Chris Kigezo holds a doctorate in addiction treatment and rehabilitation with a special bias in Christian counseling and cognitive behavior therapy.
Tel. +256 772 373745, +256 756 525842, +254 782 280287.