Addicted to Death

I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34, NIV)

Here and Now

Addicted to Death
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as: a devotion or surrender of oneself to something habitual or obsessive. The addict ignores all common sense and rational thinking and becomes a slave to their addiction. Many people today, both young and old, have a variety of addictions. For instance, drugs, alcohol, pornography, smoking, food, television, video games, etc., are all in effect, illustrations of how people become slaves to their ‘appetites.’

Statistics from the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) do not paint a rosy picture, in particular of substance abuse in the province of Ontario. According to a 2005 CAMH survey, 62% of all students in grades 7-12 (aged 12-17), report drinking at least once in the past year. Additionally, 1 in 4 male students and 1 in 5 female students reported they binge drank (defined as 5+ drinks at once) in the past month.

In 2001, a CAMH study found that 24 percent of students in grades 7-13 smoked. These students, range in age from 12-18; yet, under Canadian Law, it is illegal for them to purchase cigarettes until they are 19 years old.

After alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is the next most commonly abused substance. Another 2001 CAMH survey revealed that 30% of students in grades 7-13 had smoked marijuana at least once in the past year, while 3% had used it daily in the past 4 weeks. Marijuana users claim they smoke it to feel good about themselves; the drug relaxes and calms them. However, they fail to mention the health costs. A CAMH study said marijuana use frequently causes increased rates of brain, lung and liver damage, memory loss, cancer, and many other problems.

Besides the health costs, there are other effects that compound from the use of marijuana like the misuse of finances. In essence, money used to support any addiction is money taken away from sustaining responsible financial obligations. If the addict is married, the quality of his or her family life is often the first casualty in a long war of attrition—a war the addict never wins.

More Than Just Physical

The often-ignored reality of substance abuse is the spiritual cost. The book of Ephesians says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” (Ephesians 5:18, NIV). The Bible warns us not to be deceived for drunkards won’t inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Although the Bible is directly silent on drug abuse, some theologians believe Revelation 9:21, translated from the original Greek condemns the use of drugs, not sorceries, as the English translation commonly reads. Nevertheless, we should respect our bodies because

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV)

Instead of becoming intoxicated with wine, the Bible says,

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

The second part of Ephesians 5:18 also tells us,

Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are reminded that our bodies are here to worship God. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, [which] is in you, [which] you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV).

To put this article in perspective, let me share a story about someone I met while at university. I’ll call him ‘Eric.’ Soon after school started, it became apparent that Eric was a party machine, as he constantly attended one party after another. His partying included alcohol and occasionally, marijuana use. Sometimes he walked around with alcohol even before the weekend. Eventually, Eric gained a new name: ‘The Party Man.’

Finally, Eric’s habits caught up with him. He couldn’t focus on school and began to skip classes; ultimately Eric dropped his classes altogether. As Eric squandered his money—mainly on alcohol, and smokes, he became a client to the local pawnshop. Eric had to sell many of his possessions to support the habits he had developed in order to pay his bills.

When Eric returned to school in September, he avoided suspension and/or expulsion only because he had previously dropped his first year classes. On paper, Eric had technically postponed his date of university entry by one year. In reality, Eric had spent a year partying and had nothing to show for it except a mountain of bills.

I recently bumped into Eric and we talked about how things were going. He told me the university administration was pressuring him to either get his grades up or he’d be removed from his program. The tragedy of Eric’s story is, while he enjoyed himself for those fleeting moments, he must now make up for lost time. Hopefully, his recovery won’t be ‘too little, too late,’ and he will realize that his success depends on turning away from his addictions.

A Friend Who Stays Closer than a Brother

The medical and social effects of addictions are pretty clear: addictions lead to physical and spiritual death. However, the way out is a repentant attitude, born of faith, so Jesus Christ can free those who have become slaves to their addictions. The Bible says, He “…has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelations 1:5, NIV). When we are freed from the bonds of sin we can serve Him, being ready for His return. Paul said it this way,

…those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thessalonians 5:7-8, NIV).

Let us, here and now, obtain our freedom in Christ, by allowing Him to come into our lives and liberate us from our slavery to the addictions of sin.

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