Introduction: If I asked you to name some addictions, what would you
say? No doubt you would mention drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling,
pornography, sex and food. What about these things make them an
“addiction?” The habitual and progressive nature of the problem –
you cannot stop even when you know it is harming you – qualify these
problems to be called “addictions.” When you are addicted, you are
obsessed. In our lesson this week, we will not spend much time on
the type of addictions, as much as identifying the source of the
problem and what the Bible teaches us about leaving our addictions
behind. Let’s dive right into God’s word!
- The Problem
- Read Philippians 3:17-19. What is the pattern of living
for these sinners? (Their desires in life are focused on
their body and earthly things.)
- When the Bible says “their god is their stomach,” do
you think it literally means that? (In part. More
likely it means they are living to indulge
themselves, not to honor God.)
- What does “their glory is in their shame” mean?
(They prize those things about which they should be
- Are we describing addictions in these verses?
- Read Philippians 3:20-21. How is the attitude of the
Christian different? (We are focused on our citizenship
in God’s kingdom.)
- What is Jesus’ goal for our lives? (To bring our
lives under His control.)
- This text seems to primarily refer to the Second
Coming. Is that our only hope for bringing our
addictions under control?
- We can point to the drugged, the drunk, the smoker who
cannot quit, or the morbidly obese and say, “That
person’s life is out of control.” Are there any
addictions that we think are acceptable?
- Can you be addicted to work, money, pride, beauty,
power, gossip, laziness or exercise?
- Read Mark 7:14-15. Think again about what we usually
consider to be addictions. How many of those are things
“outside a man?” (Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, food and
pornography – to name some.)
- How can Jesus say that none of those things make a
- Read Mark 7:17. Well, well! The disciples had the same
reaction as you did – how did that happen?
- Read Mark 7:18-19. Is Jesus calling you stupid because
you thought what He was saying was wrong? (He says we are
a little slow to grasp the truth. That must mean the
truth is obvious once we think about it.)
- What is Jesus’ logic for saying that things
“outside” our body do not make us unclean? (Jesus
says the things we drink, eat, ingest, smoke, etc.,
are processed and expelled from the body.)
- Read Mark 7:20-23. What is the true nature of addiction?
What is the true source of addiction? (Our mind, our
thoughts, and our desires are at the heart of our
addictions. Science has found, for example, that nicotine
helps us to be addicted to smoking. No doubt there are
physical components to addiction. But Jesus says that
the real source of addiction is how we think. Our
attitude towards these things.)
- If this is so, can a Christian smugly point to the
drunk, the smoker or the morbidly obese as those who
are addicted? (No. Some people wear their
addictions, others do not. The mind and the
attitude are the true indicator of addiction.)
- An Example
- “Metabolic syndrome” is a cluster of health risk factors.
These include having a fat stomach, high cholesterol,
high blood pressure and high blood sugar. These problems
affect over 14 million Americans and the cost for
treatment is about $1,700.00 a year. That makes this a 27
trillion dollar problem – just in the United States. How
many of these factors do you have? (I have two of the
four, and I’m pushing the envelope on a third.)
- We just discussed what Jesus said about what makes a
person “unclean.” Are these metabolic syndrome
factors a result of what comes out of the body or
what comes in? Careful now!
- My son is a medical doctor. He reports that in his
hospital rotations, people with cancer are much
“better” patients than those who have metabolic
syndrome. Can you guess why? (The cancer patients
take the doctor’s advice seriously, are grateful for
the advice, and follow the advice. The metabolic
syndrome patients ignore the doctor’s advice, and
are generally annoyed to get the advice year after
- Why is that? (The cancer patients are afraid
that they will die. They view the doctor’s
advice as a life-line. Those with metabolic
syndrome slowly progress to diabetes and heart
disease. Those patients think there is no rush
- What can we learn about addictions from this
example? (First, Jesus was right about the “inside”
versus “outside” nature of the problem. Metabolic
syndrome is a matter of the mind, not the mouth.
Second, the more obvious the nature of our
addiction, the more likely we will do something
about it. The unseen addictions are the worst,
because we are not motivated to change.)
- The Cure
- Read James 1:13-15. How does the Bible say that we slip
into addiction? (It starts with our own evil desires.
After we let that desire mature in our mind, “it gives
birth to sin.” Sin grows (“full-grown”) and we find
ourselves in a life-threatening situation.)
- What does this suggest to you about the cure?
- Read Galatians 5:19-21. Are any addictions mentioned
- Read Galatians 5:22-25. We have decided that the root of
addiction is our mind, our thoughts, our heart. What
steps should we take to attack the root of our addiction?
(The Holy Spirit gives us different fruit. We must ask
the Holy Spirit to rule our mind, our thoughts and our
- When the text refers to having “crucified the sinful
nature with its passions and desires,” is that
referring to any action on our part? (“Crucified”
reminds us that Jesus defeated sin. We must choose
to accept Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus, at a minimum, we
must yield to the working of the Holy Spirit.)
- What is the Bible telling us to do when it says to
“keep in step with the Spirit?” (This clearly tells
us that we must assert some effort to have the
Spirit reign in our minds. We need to look for the
standard set by God and walk towards it.)
- Can you see how this agrees with James’ warning
against letting sinful desires grow in our
- Read Romans 6:8-13. What practical steps can we take to
“offer” ourselves to God instead of sin?
- If you make an “offer” to buy something, what steps
have you taken? (You have gathered the money and
taken the steps necessary to make the purchase.)
- How would this translate into making an offer
to the Holy Spirit or making an offer to your
addictions? (We make logical preparations to
obey rather than disobey.)
- Think about your addictions. What practical
steps can you take to prepare to have the Holy
Spirit take control?
- What practical steps can you take to have
your sinful nature take control?
- Once you have these in mind, you must
decide what you will do.
- Read Romans 13:14. What practical advice are we given
about how to live a Spirit-led life?
- Think again about your addictions. How much time do
you spend planning what you can do to promote your
addiction? (The Bible tells us don’t think about how
you can be involved in your addiction. Turn your
thoughts away from the addiction and towards what
Jesus has done for you.)
- Will taking these practical steps to live in the Spirit
and not the flesh be easy? (Read Galatians 5:16-18. No.
The Bible tells us that a war is going on in our minds.
Sometimes (many times) we do what we do not want to do.
That does not change our battle plan.)
- Friend, will you, right now, ask the Holy Spirit to come
into your mind, your thoughts and your heart to help you
live a life pleasing to God? Will you determine to take
those practical steps to walk away from your addictions
and be led by the Holy Spirit?
- Next week: Nature as a Source of Health.