We all know how powerful addictions can be. Despite the best will in the world, the decisions that we make to stop engaging in harmful activities all too often come to nothing. This is because the decisions that we make do not reflect our true desires.
In my previous article I explained how our decisions and our desires are located in two different parts of the brain. This means that, while we may decide to stop a particular activity, we often don’t really want to stop it and so will continue doing it. Our desires are rooted in that part of the brain that we call the heart, and these two parts have become alienated from one another, making us double-minded. If we are to genuinely change our actions, we need to deal with our desires. Our problems with addiction will not be resolved by making rational decisions, but can only be resolved by a genuine change of heart.
Purify Your HeartOvercoming our addictions by changing our desires is hard work and This takes some sweat. While running a marathon is really tough, at least it’s straightforward. However, reconnecting with those rewarding feelings that you may have said “yes” to , many times, and then rejecting them as you turn your back on them, is much more difficult. Yet this is what the Bible means when it calls us to a change of heart. James 4:9 calls us to “purify our hearts” and describes how painful this process may be. The laughter and joy you experienced as a result of the illicit feelings you once embraced now turns to mourning and weeping over them.
This is not simply about disdaining particular acts as disgusting, terrible or unprofitable in themselves, whether we are talking about acting out sexually , engaging with pornography, smoking, alcohol, food, social media, gaming, gambling – or any other substance abuse or compulsion. Rather, it is about rejecting the perk that you got in your mind that drove you to entrench that “yes” decision. This is what repentance, or changing one’s heart, is all about. And it is only that will brings you to a place of genuinely not wanting something in your heart. If you genuinely don’t want it, then you won’t do it.
Cultivate Good Desires
It’s not enough to just create a vacancy in your heart; you also have to fill it with something good. There are good things to be desired , and longed for and God wants to give you many gifts. However, God doesn’t generally give you things that you don’t want. Indeed, prayer itself is an expression of desire, or else it’s not really prayer. The problem is not that you want too much, but rather that — you don’t want enough. There are so many good things that both the Bible and our own experience can teach us to desire.
These are things that our hearts identify as desirable.By this I mean that they carry kudos with them to that part of your brain where wanting is set in place by perks. Have you ever experienced glory in worship or genuine agape love in fellowship? Have you felt real warmth or elation in prayer, or been elated by God’s grace? Have you experienced His Holy Spirit? God wants you to want a lot! He wants to give you a lot, but He doesn’t give you things that you don’t desire. (Mt 5:6).
God Capitalizes on Your Desires
If you begin to long for such things and God begins to fulfill your desires, then this becomes a way in which He turns evil into good. It is not enough for God to simply want to fix your problem, for that is not good enough for Him. Rather, He wants to capitalize on it. (Ro. 5:20). He doesn’t just turn your mourning into non-mourning, but He turns it in to gladness and dancing. He doesn’t just take away your ashes, but He gives you a garland of celebration and of adornment. (Is. 61:3; Ps 30:11). God is never content with simply breaking- even, but wants to show you ever more of His love.
Overcoming Your Addictions with the Help of Christian Counseling
Working through an addiction is hard work but it has glorious results. If you would like help with this, Christian counseling can be a real source of insight and strength. Learning more about your own motivations in order to purify your heart can be a painful process, and it can help to be accompanied by a Christian counselor who can support you in this. Please feel free to contact my office if I can help you in this effort.
From Freedigitalphotos.net: Kid Eating Delicious Ice Cream Stock Photo By Stuart Miles, published on 24 September 2011; Woman And Drugs Stock Photo By marin, published on 16 November 2012