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Jack Graham - Breaking Free from Addiction

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    Jack Graham - Breaking Free from Addiction
TOPICS: Unchained: Breaking Free from the Power of Sin, Freedom, Addiction

Jesus can break every chain, whether it is drugs or alcohol or sex or homosexuality or immorality of any kind, of gambling, pornography, anger, bitterness. Jesus can break every chain, and He will if you will experience His power in your life, if you will know the power of Christ in your life. Now statistically we are an addicted culture. We know this. No need for me to stand up here and give you number after number proving my point. We are living in an increasingly addictive culture. One of problems that we face is that so many deny their addictions. It's part of the lies that Satan tells us and the lies that we tell ourselves. Lies like, "Well, I don't really have a problem", or "It's not that bad, it's not that big a deal", or "I can't stop what I'm doing", or "I can quit any time", or "It's not hurting anybody else", or "I can't help it; it's just the way I am", or "God made me this way and therefore I need this", or another one - "I deserve this, I'm entitled to this".

By now in forty years of ministry I can assume that I've heard them all. And frankly they're not all that creative to me these days. They're not all that original. I keep hearing the same lies because Satan keeps repeating the same lies. His method of operation is the same as it was way back at the beginning. So people often stay addicted to their sin or their pain or their struggle or their stress or their depression or their anger or their anxiety or their physical-mental addition; emotional strangulation. They stay addicted because they're no longer in control. You see, addiction is anything you can't control. That's what an addiction is. Addiction is a chain that you cannot break. One of the keywords in understanding addiction, it's found in all the literature and all the discussions regarding: dealing with addiction is the word dependence. Dependence is a synonym for addiction. Did you know the Bible talks about this?

In II Peter chapter 2 and 19 it speaks of giving ourselves over to something. Here's the way it's put: "For whatever overcomes a person", that is, you give yourself over to this, it overcomes you, "to that he is enslaved". So addiction is enslavement. It is a life out of control or behavior that is out of control. Now my design in this message series is not just simply to provide pulpit therapy or pop-psychology from this pulpit. I certainly would encourage you, if you face addictions of various kinds, that you seek professional counseling, and there are very fine counselors and therapists who can assist us and help us, and certainly if that person is a Christian, he understands the spiritual framework of dealing with the psychology of the soul and the mind all much, much better.

If you need medicine, if you need treatment, and so on. That's not the purpose of this message series. The purpose of this message series is to show you from God's Word what the Scripture says regarding breaking the chains in your life which will enable you to overcome. You need to understand what God says about your problem. You need to know the biblical truth, because, again, we tell ourselves lies about our struggles or we believe the lies of Satan, but God made you to be free! Now all sin is addictive! All sin can ultimately become habitual. We all deal with issues in our lives because we all have a human heart that is according to the prophet Jeremiah "Despicable and desperately wicked".

Now in Christ as we're going to see we have a new heart and a new life, but here's a truth that you need to grasp. If you are a follower, a believer in the Lord Jesus, you are still in the flesh. You are still in a human body, you still have a human mind. The Spirit of God comes in to take residence in your life. The Spirit of the living Christ is now in you, but that doesn't mean that you cease to deal with the flesh and the desires and your own humanity. And in fact, this will be a constant struggle all the days of your life. Did you know that the greatest Christian that ever lived, in my estimation, the Apostle Paul, struggled with a spiritual battle and with sin itself? What to do when faced with temptations and struggles and difficulties. The Apostle Paul dealt with this.

In fact, in Romans chapter 7, verse 14 to 15 he says, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate". Verse 17: "So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me". That's addiction. Sin's trying to take over. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh". That's the word, we get our word carnal from that word flesh, carne. If you eat chili con carne that is chili with flesh. Doesn't sound very appetizing, does it? Chili with meat. Con carne. Carne is flesh. And it's the principle, it is the self principle, it is the sin principle that still lives in us. And none other than the great Apostle Paul said "I fight this battle between what I want to do and what I actually do. What I don't want to do, what I end up doing what I want to do but I end up not doing". He said, Romans 7:24, "Who will deliver me from this body of death"? It is a life and death struggle.

And one of the first things you need to do if you're dealing with addiction is to admit your addiction. It's one of the first things you learn, I'm told, at Alcoholics Anonymous. In the first of the twelve steps. Now, interestingly enough, the twelve steps of AA are taken originally from a Christian program to overcome alcohol and other kinds of addictions. It was a Christian program. It's been adapted in recent years. But the first of the steps say, "We admitted we are powerless over alcohol". You name your own addiction. "Powerless over pornography, powerless over sensuality, powerless over gambling, powerless to overcome my sin"! And then, that our lives had become unmanageable. And that's what sin does. Sin makes life unmanageable, life out of control.

We all have issues and temptations that we deal with, propensities in our lives, stuff that we deal with. And even though you're a Christian you will continue to fight spiritual battles. In my book Unseen I talk about the spiritual battles that we face and the enemy that we face. And overcoming in the power of Christ. But a spiritual battle, if lost, becomes a spiritual bondage. And there's a big difference in a spiritual battle in which you are struggling and fighting the good fight of faith and spiritual bondage in which you are defeated and now in the prison house, the cage, chained by the enemy, a slave to sin, chained by corrupt, carnal forces in your life. The first thing you have to do is to admit that and face that and accept that. Away with the lame excuses and the rationalizations. And that word rationalize there's the word lies in there.

Someone said an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie! And the way to victory, the way to purity, the way to freedom is to begin by saying "I can't defeat this on my own! I've got a problem! I'm struggling with this. I must now seek the help of God, the help of Jesus Christ and of His people". Because the good news is we are not, in Christ, powerless! We are not slaves if we are in Christ! We have been set free. We just need to learn to live in the victory that Christ has given us. You can resist in the name of Jesus the world, the flesh, the devil! You can in His name defeat every chain! And stop believing the lies that you tell yourself or the lies that the enemy tells you. To begin by saying I am helpless in my own strength. You may be helpless, but I'm here to tell you it's not hopeless! It's not hopeless! But you have to be willing to be unchained, to be set free, to be made whole, to be healed. Because sin is like a disease that takes hold of our hearts and our lives.

Jesus met a man one day at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. In fact when we go to Israel and Jerusalem we always go to the site. It's one of the truly legitimate sites, there are a number of them, but this is surely one of the places, you know, okay, it happened right here! Pool of Bethesda. And there was a saying, a custom among the people then that when the waters began to stir in this particular pool and maybe they said an angel is stirring it. The first one in gets healed. And so people would go to this pool and seek healing and help. Well, this particular man had been laying their for thirty-eight years! Nearly four decades. Lame, and every time the waters would stir he would try to get in and couldn't get there fast enough. So for four decades he is there.

And one day Jesus of Nazareth comes by and looks at him and singles him out and when he caught his eyes, Jesus said, "Do you want to be made well"? "What! I've been here for thirty-eight years! Why would you ask me do I want to get well"? Well, I've seen it, you've seen it, too. There are some people that really don't want to get well. They get used to their behavior. They get used to their lives the way they are. Oh, they may say they want to get well, but they start identifying themselves, "Well, I'm just an addict". Or "I'm just, you know, I'm just a loser". And can actually get comfortable in the sin, can get comfortable in the behavior. This man was laying there all these years and Jesus wanted him to say, "Yes, I want to get well! Yes, I want to be healed more than anything in my life"! And Jesus healed him. So the question remains: Do you want to get well?

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, will cost you more than you want to pay, sin and sinful behavior is a chain. In reality the real problem, listen to me now, my problem, your problem, pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, that I get to do what I want to do no matter what or who it hurts. And when I begin thinking about that the sin, the behavior begins to take over. It can take over your thought life and then it takes over your work life. You can't stop thinking about it. You can't go out anywhere without the chains. You're just walking around with these chains. And the sin or the behavior, the sinful behavior becomes more important than your wife or your husband; it becomes more important than your friends, your family, your kids. It becomes more important than your church and Christian believers. It becomes more important than your career, your job, your calling in life. It just takes over! That's chains!

Now I'm here as your pastor who loves you to warn you, to beg with you in the name of Jesus to admit your helplessness and in faith and trust in the name of Jesus to deny yourself and in the power of Christ stop believing the lies. Genesis 3 said, "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.'" Lie! It will kill you ultimately! "'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"

The first temptation was not to be ungodly; it was to be godly. "You know, God's holding out on you. He doesn't want you to have this pleasure, you know, eat this fruit. Why not"? When a believer begins to say, "I need this forbidden fruit. I want this pleasure. What I want, I have to have, and I'll do anything to get it". That's when Satan is in your head! And sin is in your heart! And chains are on your life! You see, Satan has programmed your mind to think his way rather than God's way. And the only way to learn the difference and to change the pattern of your thinking is, number one, this is how to get unchained, and we're going to be talking this entire series about how to get unchained.

The number one step, first and foremost, is to discover your identity in Christ; who you are in Jesus. Because you can't say if you are in Christ, "Oh, I'm just an addict" or "I'm just an adulterer" or "I'm just a porn freak"; not if you're in Christ. You may be a Christian struggling with some of these issues. That's not who you are! You're a new person in Jesus Christ! You were born to win, to defeat the enemy! You are alive in Christ and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. There's no enemy that can't go down in the name of Jesus! If you understand your true identity! So stop saying to yourself, "I can't win over this sin, I can't defeat this pattern of behavior". That's a lie! Lie!

See, most people act out their feelings. Their feelings are produced by what they think. So you start thinking the wrong way and you start feeling the wrong way, and ultimately your feelings are acted out. So people start feeling things like, "Well, I just don't feel like I love my wife anymore", or "I've lost that loving feeling for my husband", or "I'm unhappy and I need pleasure", or "I'm down; I need something to get me up", or "I'm up; I need something to calm me down". And the pattern of thinking and feeling and acting is repeated again and again. Why? Because Jesus said, "Satan is the father of lies". When he lies, he speaks of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus said in John 10: "Satan is a thief whose only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy". So it begins, you have an understanding you have an enemy, admitting your personal failure, your inability to help yourself apart from the power of Christ, and then in a relationship with Jesus, you know that you have the power in Christ, you have a new identity, you have a new name, you have a new nature, you are not helpless in the power of Christ! I'm going to wrap it up today with a scripture that I think will shed the light you need.

Galatians 5:16-24: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh", the carnate, "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit", there's the spiritual battle that Paul talked about, "and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law". That is the power of judgment under the Law. And then verse 19. How's this for an addictive list? "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery", Greek word is pharmakeia which can mean drugs, "enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law".

Why? because there is no Law. This is the power of Christ. This is the power of His love. "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires". Look, there's only one thing to do with our flesh, and that's to crucify it. You can't modify it, change it externally. The flesh, you can't, you know, you can decorate it, make it look better, but if you're an alcoholic and you can't control the alcohol, whether you're a bum on the street, a homeless person on the street or you're sitting in church wearing a three thousand dollar suit. You're under the power of something else and you need to be changed from the inside. Not by decorating it and just looking good.

You know, I've know people to get in accountability groups. Did you know that being in accountability groups, you can lie right through your teeth to your accountability partners, and sometimes accountability is nothing but managed sin. So you can do all the right things on the outside, the external things; that never changes anything. The way to overcome the desires of the flesh and the addictions of the soul and the body is by the Holy Spirit. You do it by starving the flesh and feeding the spirit. If you feed the flesh, guess what happens. You want more and more and more, and you starve the work of the Holy Spirit. But when you feed the Spirit in prayer, in the Word of God, in the praise and the worship of Jesus Christ and in the fellowship of God's people, genuine, authentic accountability. When you are walking in the Word and walking in the Spirit, then you start winning spiritual battles and peeling back the darkness and you live, not in defeat, but you live in victory in Jesus Christ!
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