How to Finally Overcome Addictions
“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
I’m in recovery for alcoholism. I finally got sober on May 8th, 2014. Now, unless you knew me closely before I quit, you would have had no clue that I was tempted greatly by the quick release of a buzz. That’s all an addiction really is: giving in to a temptation on a regular basis.
With the stress of running a thriving business, codependent relationships in which I was accepting completely unacceptable behavior, all the while trying to make sure I live up to an impossible public perception, getting drunk was one of the temptations I gave in to almost daily.
“It’s no big deal. It’s legal. Plus, if I quit drinking completely, people would think I have a problem.”
These were a few of the excuses I used in order to keep giving in to what Satan wanted me to give in to, which was, “Poppin’ a top at beer-thirty, baby! Yeah!” This always turned out badly (at least 90% of the time). So in order to try to overcome my binge-drinking, I began to study everything I could get my hands on to get rid of this thing. I didn’t want it, but I could not seem to shake it!
I wasn’t your typical drunk. I say this humbly, but I was extremely successful. So, with me being a “Type A personality” I would attempt to apply my strong work ethic toward my goal of sobriety. Over the years, during short-lived bursts of sobriety, I’ve watched every episode of Intervention (while jealous each time I saw the person’s sobriety date, or sad because they relapsed). I’ve studied secular books of successful former-alcoholics, trying to skim off their secrets. I’ve watched every movie I could find on alcoholics or alcoholism, or anything that had to do with how to get sober and stay sober. I’ve tried “programs” and I’ve gone to groups–still, nothing worked!
Every time I thought I had it beat–BAM–I was tippin’ them back again! “WHY, CAN’T, I, QUIT?!” I was a complete slave to this particular temptation! Eventually, my flesh and unrenewed mind had succumb to my alcoholism–the coaxing of the devil made it even worse, “Matt, it’s just who you are, you stupid drunk. You are weak.” Shame then gripped my life, then depression, then fear and anxiety. Heck, I remember even recording videos of myself while drunk, just to show my sober-self how ridiculous I looked–NOTHING WORKED!
Friend, what I had to do was realize that God loved me even while stuck in an area of darkness that He didn’t want me at. I had to understand that if I never quit drinking, I was still perfect in my spirit (see Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:22). A severe conflict was going on inside me because drunkenness would never match up with Christ in me. My drinking never ran Him off, instead, it grieved Him. That’s why I was grieving too, each time I did it (see Ephesians 4:30).
But the graceless Christians taught me the opposite of this fact. They said, “If you were really a man of God, you would never give in to that bad habit!” SUCH CRAP! If you only knew how many Christians are in the bondage of alcohol, drugs, porn, legalism, sex-addiction, and many more vices which do not match up with the Holy Spirit in them, it would blow your mind.
However, because I was taught these lies, I felt hopeless. “What’s the big deal? I already blew it.” Their method took no pressure off of me, it only made things worse. The harping of a self-righteous, overbearing preacher who says, “STOP DRINKING! BE HOLY! YOU AIN’T LIVING RIGHT!” only compounded my problems and made me start to resent church people as a whole–the very people whom I thought would help me.
So what did I do? I kept seeking answers from Jesus as a drinker, day by day, month by month, and year by year, and then finally the Holy Spirit gave me an epiphany: “You are going to have to get uncomfortable if you want to stop drinking.” “What?…Okay…I get it! EUREKA! To beat this temptation, I gotta get uncomfortable!”
I devote a full chapter to my drinking testimony in my first book, True Purpose In Jesus Christ, but the secret to beating an addiction—to overcome any temptation—is this: get uncomfortable! And you get uncomfortable when you start to feel what you are currently feeling, and then ask God to help you deal with those feelings.
I understand this is not the answer that everyone wants, we want a magic pill or a magic trick to be performed on us, “I want to be delivered! I want the taste of alcohol gone!” Some people in sobriety claim that’s what happened to them, they got “delivered.” I thought that too, until I drank again. “I guess I need to get delivered again! It just didn’t take the first time!”
It’s not about being delivered or having the “taste” for it removed, it’s about having your mind renewed by the Spirit of God in you. God is not a drunk, and He lives in your spirit. Therefore, when your flesh is tempted to taste that ice-cold beer, or your mind says, “I’m stressed. I need a drink,” your spirit–the real you–says, “Why do you think that?” Then He explains why you really don’t want to taste it, and why you really don’t need it.
So today, my friends, know this: The Holy Spirit will guide you into sobriety by teaching you your identity in Him. First, He will teach you how to get uncomfortable as well as realize it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. And second, you will learn how to handle your uncomfortable feelings by Him teaching you the difference between your “who” and your “do.” The divorce between your “who” and your “do” must happen, if you want to get sober in a restful state. As a Christian, spiritually, you are a perfect Child of God, that’s your who, “a perfect spirit.” Your do is the attitudes and actions of your flesh and soul that are not coming from your perfect spirit. Realizing this great separation will change everything about your life, including the status of your sobriety. Why? Because you’ll know that getting drunk all the time is just not who you really are.
A prayer for you: God, I know you remember the battles I went through with my drinking, but you were there IN me, the whole time. Thank you. You’ve always been so good to me, even when I made bad choices. Thank you for your mercy, grace, and unconditional love. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who WANT to quit drinking, help them. Help them to realize they can’t quit, but they CAN begin a new life of allowing you to live through them! They can do ALL THINGS through Christ, He will strengthen them! Amen!
This devotional is from 60 Days For Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!