Forgive and Be Set Free from Addiction by Renewing Your Mind
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7a
Past hurts and emotional wounds often are at the root of addictive behavior as the abuser uses drugs and alcohol to temporarily medicate away the pain of rejection. An important key to freedom and healing is found in forgiveness. To be set free from addiction, there needs to be a release from addictive thoughts. That release is found through forgiveness and renewed thinking.
In Romans 12:2 we are urged not to be conformed to this world. Instead we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word translated as “renewing” is, ajnakaivnwsiß (anakainosis). Anakainosis means a renewal, renovation or complete change for the better. What needs to undergo a renovation, so that it can be changed for the better, is our “mind.” Our mind is the faculty that enables us to think, understand and perceive. When a person is born-again, he/she is delivered out of the dominion of darkness and has been brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). We no longer are to follow the behavior and customs of this sin-stained world. Our behavior is the reflection of our thinking. As a new creature in Christ our spirits have been regenerated and are perfect, but our souls (our minds, wills and emotions) need to be sanctified (set apart for the holy purposes of God).
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
Purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, we need to put off the old worldly ways of thinking and no longer submit to carnal desires. We need to be made new in the attitude of our minds.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31
We are exhorted to renew our minds and be free of hatred and strife but how is this accomplished?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,Ephesians 5:25-26
The church or universal body of believers is cleansed (sanctified/made holy) by replacing worldly and fleshly thoughts with the Word of God. If we are to be true followers of Christ, then we must think and act like our Master. To think and act like our Lord, we must learn about His life and character. By studying the four Gospels, we will learn about the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16
By regular and faithful reading of the divinely inspired Scriptures and applying the Word of God to our lives, we will transform our minds. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we will progressively be freed from worldly thinking and carnal desires.
A second essential key to renewing our minds and enabling us to put away our bitter, malicious and wicked thoughts is our willingness to forgive those who have caused us bitter suffering.
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
Jesus, who was innocent of any wrongdoings, was falsely accused, illegally arrested and unfairly tried, mocked, beaten, scourged and crucified. Yet He cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them …” According to the Lord’s Prayer we will be forgiven to the extent that we are willing to forgive others. The world teaches us to harbor unforgiveness and hatred, but a Christian who has the mind of Christ will be known by his love.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Biblical Insights into Combating Addiction, Teachings on Prayer and Fasting, links to Christian resources for the addicted: Find Help, Healing Scriptures and information on our Annual Weekend of Prayer event.
To Battle Sexual Addiction: Gird up the Loins of Your Mind
The battles of sexual addiction and pornography are not won by girding up our genitals, but by transforming our thought life.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
The word “loins” can be defined as the pubic region or genitals – the location of the reproductive organs. To gird up means to bind about, especially with a belt or sash. In biblical times, a Roman soldier when putting on the part of his armor that covered his loins; would take the excess material from his knee length tunic pull and it forward. Then he would tuck the extra material between his legs in front and gather it behind him. Collecting half of the material on either side in the rear, he would pull it around and tie it in the front as a sash or belt. This would enable him to run with more mobility and agility. Girding up his loins, the soldier would be prepared for the action of battle.
Peter exhorts us to gird up the loins of our mind – the reproductive center of our thought life – so that we will be prepared for the spiritual battle and be able to live a holy and obedient life. We are no longer to be controlled by worldly lusts.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
The battle of sexual addiction is not won by girding up our genitals, but by transforming our thought life. It is our own evil desire – lustful thinking – that entices us to sin sexually.
The Lord Jesus Christ said, as quoted in Matthew 5:27-28: You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Men are stimulated visually. Especially for men, indulging in sexual fantasy, reading or watching pornography opens the door to sexual addiction and leads to a path of immorality, degradation and shame.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1-5
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 2 Samuel 11:1-4
At the time when kings go off to war, David sent his nephew Joab, as commander-in-chief, out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. King David himself remained in Jerusalem. David was anointed by God to be king over Israel and to lead the army of Israel in battle. Instead of David fulfilling his anointed calling and leading the physical battle against the Ammonites, he placed himself in a vulnerable position so that he would lose a most important spiritual battle.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her…
Men are stimulated visually. King David was no different than any other man. As James made so clear in his epistle: …but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. David gave in to his own evil desire to have someone else’s wife – Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. David’s evil desire not only resulted in his sin of adultery but also the arranged killing of Uriah in battle.
Praise God for his awesome grace and tender mercies. When David was confronted with his sins by the prophet Nathan he repented and was forgiven. But there were terrible natural consequences to his sins.
Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” 2 Samuel 12:9-12
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
David was a man after the LORD’s own heart because David was truly repentant. The LORD took away the eternal consequences of his sin. But David would reap in the natural realm what he had sown including the death of the child he fathered with Bathsheba as well as his beloved son Absalom having his way with David’s concubines.
David’s punishment included engaging in warfare all of his days because he struck down Uriah with the sword of the Ammonites. Because David didn’t go out to battle the Ammonites, he was idle. In his idle time, he lusted with his eyes and his evil desire enticed him to sin. The sin of David resulted in the sword never departing from his house. David avoided a physical battle but ended up with a lifetime of battles to fight because he lost sight of the spiritual battle.
Men are stimulated visually. Especially for men, indulging in sexual fantasy, reading or watching pornography opens the door to sexual addiction and leads to a path of immorality, degradation and shame. Because he did not gird up the loins of his mind, even Israel’s greatest king, brought down calamity upon his house.
Porn is reported to be a 12 billion dollar industry in the U.S… 50 percent of men viewed pornography within one week of attending a Promise Keepers stadium event… 54 percent of pastors said they viewed porn within the past year in a Pastors.com survey… in a 2003 Focus on the Family poll 47 percent of respondents said porn is a problem in their home. According to a Christianity Today magazine survey, Internet pornography is a personal problem for 37 percent of pastors. Pornography viewing is not just limited to men who are unsaved but is a besetting sin for many Christian men and Christian leaders as well.
We know that pornography and sexual sin are mighty strongholds in the church that must be demolished. We can also learn from King David’s errors, two important strategies in how to win this battle. First, we have to be aware of how we occupy ourselves in our down or idle time. Secondly and more importantly, we must be aware that the battle of the spirit takes place in our minds. It is our own evil desire – lustful thinking – that entices us to sin sexually.
In order to break away from worldly thinking – carnal mindedness, we must renew our minds. How is this accomplished? Paul explains how in his letter to the church at Ephesus.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27
The Lord Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and as born-again believers we immediately receive spiritual life. But Christ desires that his bride, the church to be without the stain of sin. Sanctification is a process by which we become more and more Christ-like. This is accomplished by our minds being renewed and cleansed from carnal thoughts by replacing them with the Word of God.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11
For many years, people who had great treasures would bury them and in time of need, would dig them up. When we treasure the Word of God and bury it in our hearts, in our time of need it will come forth so that we will know the will of God and not sin against him.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. James 5:13-15
To be victorious over pornography and sexual addiction, we must not only renew our mind but also we need accountability, the confession of our sin and the support and prayers of our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8