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!

  1. The Problem

    1. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. What does “their glory is in their shame” mean?
        (They prize those things about which they should be

      3. Are we describing addictions in these verses?

    2. Read Philippians 3:20-21. How is the attitude of the
      Christian different? (We are focused on our citizenship
      in God’s kingdom.)

      1. What is Jesus’ goal for our lives? (To bring our
        lives under His control.)

      2. This text seems to primarily refer to the Second
        Coming. Is that our only hope for bringing our
        addictions under control?

    3. 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?

      1. Can you be addicted to work, money, pride, beauty,
        power, gossip, laziness or exercise?

    4. 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.)

      1. How can Jesus say that none of those things make a
        person “unclean?”

    5. Read Mark 7:17. Well, well! The disciples had the same
      reaction as you did – how did that happen?

    6. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    7. 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.)

      1. 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.)

  2. An Example

    1. “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.)

      1. 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!

      2. 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

        1. 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
          to reform.)

      3. 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.)

  3. The Cure

    1. 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.)

      1. What does this suggest to you about the cure?

    2. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Are any addictions mentioned
      here? (Yes!)

    3. 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

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

        1. Can you see how this agrees with James’ warning
          against letting sinful desires grow in our

    4. Read Romans 6:8-13. What practical steps can we take to
      “offer” ourselves to God instead of sin?

      1. 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.)

        1. 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.)

        2. Think about your addictions. What practical
          steps can you take to prepare to have the Holy
          Spirit take control?

          1. What practical steps can you take to have
            your sinful nature take control?

          2. Once you have these in mind, you must
            decide what you will do.

    5. Read Romans 13:14. What practical advice are we given
      about how to live a Spirit-led life?

      1. 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.)

    6. 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.)

    7. 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?

  4. Next week: Nature as a Source of Health.