Addiction is real. The church must wake up. This article is derived from a message I shared with our congregation using the movie “Beautiful Boy” for illustrative purposes. I highly recommend this movie. As I begin this message, I want to begin by talking about hope. A sound biblical perspective on drug addiction will begin with hope.
I believe that whoever a person is, however, deep they have fallen, however hopeless their situation may seem, we have a God who is big enough, powerful enough to help them recover. The arm of the Lord is not too short that it cannot reach down to rescue, restore and help anyone recover. God is the answer to addictions of all sorts.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.”
I believe that we serve a healing and delivering God who can take anyone and put them on the road to recovery. Let me introduce you to our movie. This movie is based on a true story. Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all with good grades and being an actor, artist, athlete and editor of the school newspaper. When Nic’s addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his father does whatever he can to save his son and family. The movie ends in a dramatic way. Nic has been in and out of rehabs for several years. He has been sober for a few months, but unfortunately, has relapsed. He is really in deep. His girlfriend has overdosed. He has stolen from his parents. As Nic’s father David and his second wife attend a support group for parents of kids who are on drugs. Nic is sticking a needle in his vein and overdosing. Fortunately, he does not die, the movie ends with Nic and his dad walking through the hospital to sit out in the courtyard. The final embrace between father and son is touching.
Clip One: – Nic’s final Overdose -1:43:12 to 1:49:59
Sometimes it is our responsibility as believers to understand the world around us. Sometimes feeling other people’s pain is necessary. If you are thinking to yourself, well this doesn’t affect me because I don’t have that problem, or I don’t know anybody that has that problem. I would say very kindly, that is probably not true.
In the closing credits of the movie, that give us the good news that Nic is now sober for 8 years, there is also the statement, that drug overdose is now the leading cause of death in people under 50. I don’t think that this is something that the church should be silent on. In fact, the church should be the one shouting the answer because I believe we have the answer. And in no way should the church be throwing stones at people who suffer like this. People do a lot of things to eliminate the stress in their lives, and to try to cope with life. It may not be drugs.
It may be affairs.
It may be pornography.
It may be anger that causes problems in the family.
It may be distancing yourself and isolating yourself.
It may be overeating.
It may be the need to go to the club.
It may turning to alcohol to get drunk.
It may be workaholism.
It may be overspending and shopping.
It may be some other way of soothing oneself.
So the church cannot throw stones.
So, I want to give you three perspectives. Three really important perspectives that we need to rethink. And some of us may need to have our thinking adjusted just a little bit.
The first perspective comes from a scene when Nick is graduating from high school and he is with his dad. His dad David is blissfully unaware of all that has been happening in his young son’s life. I think his dad makes a huge mistake, trying to be Nic’s buddy. Nic decides to ask his father to smoke a celebratory joint with him, and his dad does this confessing to his own drug use. Little does he know, all that his son is already involved with and that soon he will be in an all out war to save his son.
Clip 2 Nick graduates from High School – 17:56-19:54
Biblical Perspective on Drug Addiction
- Perspective Number One – Wartime Mentality – We need to see ourselves in a war with evil, sin and even the Devil.
We need to see ourselves as in a war here. Let me be super clear here. Nic’s dad is in a war and he didn’t know it yet. Nic’s dad was not in a war with Nic. But none the less, there were sinister evil forces that were out to destroy Nic and dad was oblivious. We are not in a war with people who use drugs. We are in a war with sin and evil and even the Devil.
Let me read to you a scripture about reality. Because Nic wanted to escape reality. There is a funny thing about reality. It is there if you like it. It is there if you don’t like it. It is there if you find it pleasant, it is there if you find it unpleasant. It exists out there whether you agree with it, recognize it, or stick your head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. And here is the reality according to the word of God.
Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Whether you realize it or not, evil spirits, Satanic forces are involved in these things. A biblical perspective on drug addiction must take spiritual warfare into consideration. Satan’s goal is to kill, and to steal and to destroy. What is interesting is that Nic’s dad is an all-out war to try and save his son’s soul. I am sure it must have cost him thousands of dollars. It produces stress in his home. It distracts him from his other two beautiful children. He is fighting for his son’s very life.
It is like a lot of wars, you are in it awhile before you even realize you are in it. We go back to the World War 2 and remember that on December 7th, 1941 they had the surprise attack on Pearl harbor, and then, all of a sudden, the USA is in the war. But it is not hard to figure out the truth, that the USA was in a war before December 7th because someone was plotting our death, doom and demise. The USA was in a war but didn’t know it.
And you may be in a war today, and don’t even know it. Let me read you a verse: 2 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,”
This is a concept that in our culture used to be widely accepted as real wisdom, but now we barely even can grasp the meaning. The word fleshly lusts there is very descriptive. It describes the desires that are in your own body. In your own body, there are desires that if you feed them, they will end up destroying your life. When I say body, I am including your mind, your brain. Peter is saying that there are bodily desires that will actually will wage a war against your very life.
Here is what I am saying: If you try to exact the meaning of life from your body and experiences in your body. Those turn into fleshly lusts which fight against your soul. The meaning of soul is not simply that part that goes on living after your dead. It is that part of you which you call your life. So, your bodily desires can actually undermine your life. There are desires for things that can get out of control, and pretty soon you are not controlling your desires, if you feed them enough, if you let the flesh have what it wants long enough, the flesh will begin to control you.
Say you have bodily desires for sex, which everybody does, but if you feed them improperly enough and just follow them wherever those desires might lead you. It will lead you into destruction. And we have all seen people whose desires have undermined their life. If you have any desire and you just follow it wherever it wants to go, it will eventually rule your life.
If you get your feel good by going down to the mall and charging things you can’t afford, eventually the chickens will come home to roost. You will make decisions based on fleshly lust and it leads to a host of heartache in our world. Pretty soon you aren’t choosing stuff, stuff is choosing you.
There is a moment in the movie when Nic’s dad realizes he is in a war. There has been another family tension and fight. Nic has left and his dad goes in and finds his diary. His diary is full of dark and disturbing images.
Clip 3 – Nic’s Diary – 37:36 -39:18
Just like Paul said our struggle is with spiritual wickedness, this is true of every one of us, our struggle isn’t with flesh and blood, but with dark forces. Those forces want to distract you.
Those forces want to dilute you. Those forces want to cause you to miss the real meaning of life. They want to destroy your relationships and home. There is no neutrality in this war! You are in a war with spiritual forces whether you like it or not. Some people just say I am not really into all of this spiritual warfare stuff. It doesn’t matter how into this you are or not. There is no neutrality here. This is what it is.
Here is a question for you to consider. When did the demonic attack on Nic start? You are thinking, I don’t know, I haven’t seen the movie. Well, here is the answer for you and for me.
When did the demonic attack start? Before he was aware of it. And the same is true in your life. When did evil come after you? When did the forces that are trying to bring you down come against you? Whatever things are trying to keep you from where God wants you to be-When did all of that start? When did Satan’s plans start working? The answer is always, before you were aware of it.
That is why we must be on the alert! 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…”
Maybe God brought you to this article so you would kind of shake yourself and realize you are in a war. And maybe its chemical addiction or maybe it is drugs, or maybe it is alcohol, pornography or workaholism. But you are in a war for your well-being and a war for your soul.
Let me give you a second perspective:
- We need to point people toward Christ, hope, and wholeness, not focus in on their sin.
A biblical perspective on drug addiction must have Christ as the center and focus of recovery. Someone would say, people who are bound and addicted need to repent of sin. That is a true statement. But seeing someone free from bondage is not as simple as explaining what is right and wrong. Do people need to repent? Sure. But I want to give you another perspective for a moment.
I am going to suggest for those of us who are in church and know Christ, we understand what repentance means. Repenting starts with rethinking. How many of you know how to say “think” in Spanish. To say think you say Pensar. And when you repent, you re-pensar. It means thinking deeply about one’s life. It means literally changing the way you think. When you think different, that change of mind will lead you to change your actions. We read this verse every week in Celebrate Recovery.
Lamentations 3:40 NIV “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”
To examine one’s ways is to think deeply about them, testing them is asking if those things are really bringing life or death.
For those of us who are Christ followers and who know the Word. Often times, how we have been taught to talk to people and how we speak about these things is not really helpful to those fighting this battle. Usually when you hear someone say, repent of sin, the point of the person saying that is, “Stop doing bad things!”
We should stop doing bad stuff. You should stop. But sometimes that message doesn’t really help very much. Here is the truth, knowing the rules, knowing right and wrong, knowing what a person should do is powerless in the face of raw sin.
If righteousness could be obtained by having someone tell us, Stop sinning! Quit doing bad things, then the Old Testament would have been enough. Then there would have been no need for the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with rules about what not to do. Guess what, no one could keep the law!
Sin is not just disobedience to God. Sin is not just breaking the rules. It is not just making a bad choice. The New Testament says that, choosing sin is actually choosing death. The Bible makes that clear. When the bible says, the soul that sins will die, God isn’t teasing. Sin brings about emptiness, death, and ruination. Now this is not what God is saying. God isn’t saying, if you do that, I am going to kill you. Here is the full truth, you are embracing your own ruination.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sin is more of an embrace of death. When we choose sin we are embracing emptiness, and nothingness. There is a clip in the movie, it is a season in Nic’s life when he has been doing good for several months. He is sober. He is working in a rehab. He looks good. He has a sponsor, his mom and dad are proud of him. He is trying to help others get clean. And something that he says is very enlightening.
Clip 4 Nic’s Speech at Rehab – 1:03:14-1:05:30
Someone had asked Nic, “What is your problem?”
He responded, “I am an alcoholic and an addict.”
He said, “No, that is how you have been treating your problem.”
Nic goes on to say, “I know now that I have to find a way to fill this big dark hole in me.”
In all of Nic’s searching, he discovered that all the drugs, all the alcohol couldn’t fill the dark space inside of his life. Can I just tell you, the person who wants to fill that dark space is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ!
You see, most of us reading this article have tried to fill that emptiness one way or another. I love this verse in Isaiah 55:1-3
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Obviously, this is looking forward to gospel of Jesus Christ that is given freely to those who thirst. What is given?
All of that is found in the gospel. And you don’t have to pay for it. God says, come and drink, you don’t need money. All you need is provided in the person of Jesus. And the prophet goes on to say.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
How many do that? Some spend money on drugs or alcohol, and I am going to put this in here and I will be satisfied. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t satisfy. Others say well, if we buy that new car, go on that big vacation, find that perfect mate, get completely in shape, it could be a million different ways we try to fill that hole. But at the end of the day, they aren’t satisfied.
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
3 “Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,—
In our dealings and in our lives, let’s not focus on the addiction, lets focus on the solution. Let’s point people to Jesus.
- Perspective number Three: The Church Must be like a welcoming hospital for the broken.
Years ago, I heard a quote and wrote it in my bible. It said this:
Some want to live with the sound of chapel bells.
Me, I want to run a mission next door to the gate of hell.
But my heart aches sometimes for people who are broken and bruised. Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” A biblical perspective on drug addiction is that the church must love, welcome, engage, any one with an addiction.
At the church I pastor we have a ministry called Celebrate Recovery? If you are struggling with addiction, let me encourage you to find a bible believing church and become a part of it. Seek out a Celebrate Recovery and God will help you.
I am certain you can find a church that will love and welcome you!