Tony Evans - Reversing Addiction Consequences
Many of God's children are spiritual POWs, prisoners of war, trapped in a sin that they have been unable to break, trapped in a situation that is contrary to the will and Word of God from which they have not been able to escape. Whether it is alcoholism, or drugs, or pornography, or gluttony, or profanity, whether it is lashing out in anger, in wrath, and inability to control one's temper, they find themselves caught and unable to get out. I want to talk about the consequence of addiction.
The biblical word for what the world calls addiction is stronghold, because the biblical word, "stronghold", is referring to the spiritual nature of the addiction. A stronghold is a spiritually-based addiction, which means if you try to fix an addiction, which is really a stronghold, without the right spiritual connection, you can't be released from it because you haven't dealt with the core issue that's behind it. So you just deal with the thing itself. We're living in a time when people find themselves stuck.
Today, I want to try to give a biblical mechanism for deliverance predicated on an understanding that Christians can find themselves in strongholds like non-Christians. You don't have to be saved for long to know that when you got saved your flesh didn't disappear. Some of our flesh was so well-trained when we weren't saved that when we got saved the flesh looked at that as a new opportunity to show how strong it really is. Even the most spiritual person in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, struggled with something he couldn't shake.
In Romans chapter 7, verses 14 to 24, Paul says he was doing things he did not want to do. He said he told himself, "You shouldn't do it". He said, "The willing was there. I was really serious, but the ability to pull it off wasn't. I kept promising God I'm not going to do it again. I struggled between my flesh and my salvation, and the two were not getting along". And so, this thing called stronghold, spiritual addictions, is spiritual slavery in some category of life, which is why he calls it in verse 14 a slave to sin. If you are a slave, that means you have a master. He calls the master sin. He doesn't call it a bad habit, he doesn't call it a mistake, he doesn't call it something that, you know, you need to just get over, he calls it something that is in antithesis to the will and Word of God.
So no, you didn't just make a mistake over and over and over again. You had a master called sin. Because if you don't know who your master is, then you won't address it for what it is. He calls it slavery, being under the whip of an entity that he calls sin. How does this stronghold or spiritual addiction, whatever category it is, occur? Because understanding the cause will lead us to the cure. When you're sick and you go to the doctor, he's going to try to find the cause so he can give you the right cure. Many of us are trying to cure the wrong cause. So we're medicating something that's not the problem and wonder why we're not getting healthier spiritually.
2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 2 says, "I ask that when I am present I need not to be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some who regard us as if we walk according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ".
The problem of addiction, a sin that has mastered you, or us, or me... the problem of addiction has to do with a lofty thing, okay? You see that phrase? He says this lofty thing, in verse 5, has been raised up against the knowledge of God. What Paul is saying is, the reason why we stay defeated is because of our partition in the mind. There is a blockage in the mind. He says speculations and thought raised up petitioned out against the knowledge of God.
So what the enemy does is, he sets up a partition in the mind so that the truth of God can't get through. And because he partials off your thinking, your speculation, and your thoughts, no matter how many sermons you hear, it can't cross over to the other room because the other room is filled with contradictory information, that the enemy doesn't want the knowledge of God to cross over into. He calls this other information in the other half of the room, your partial-off mind, he calls that information knowledge and speculation against the knowledge of God. So the lofty thing is contradicting what God says, what God thinks so that it doesn't go all the way through. So what happens is that the enemy is able to keep the truth of God from fully infiltrating your thought patterns so that you have victory one moment and defeat another moment.
This blocking through a lofty thing keeps what he calls in verse 4 the fortress, prison, or tomb operating. So, the moment you think you getting out, you find out you still in, because it didn't cross over. The partition made sure it didn't cross over. Now, the biblical word for this lofty thing is double-mindedness, double-mindedness. Double, two; mind, thought, thinking in two different directions at the same time. Partition. It is the job of Satan to keep you thinking in two ways at the same time. He doesn't mind you getting God's thoughts on Sunday as long as in the other room you have his thoughts on Monday. Because if he can get you to have God's thoughts on Sunday but get his thoughts on Monday, he can keep God's thoughts from penetrating the whole of you. Therefore, God's thoughts don't last long because they're in competition.
It's like on Sunday, after having incorporated the other worldview all week long, somehow that diet worship will override and give you victory. He says, "No, you're operating with a partition, and that partition cancels out the knowledge of God, making it incapable of your mind being able to take every thought captive to the obedience to Christ". So in order for the penetration of God's truth to bring victory in the area of the stronghold due to the vise grip of sin that has been amplified by Satan and demons, in order for that to be overcome, that wall must be taken down in order that the fortress, the prison might be destroyed, not remodeled. And the tricky part of this, the tricky part is that the other part of the room, the part that's not from God feels right a lot of the time.
See, the reason why Satan can keep us trapped is when we don't like what God wants and come to some logical conclusion about it; that we can toss a little Jesus's name on top of it, we think then then it must be okay when it's the devil controlling the other side of the room of our minds. And when we understand this and grasp this, it becomes a transforming truth that, "Wait a minute. I have a divided mind, and that's why it doesn't stick. It can stay there for a day or a week, but it doesn't stick. And even when it comes back, I don't have victory over it. It has victory over me". So if that's the problem, how do we do this? How do we do this? How do we begin now to remove the partition so there is no longer a division in the mind so that now God's knowledge flows through and the fortress is destroyed and all the speculation that's holding me hostage?
Back to our original passage, John 8. He says in John chapter 8, verse 31 and 32, "If you continue in my Word, then you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". You only are going to be freed by the truth, okay? Nobody will disagree with that, so let me say it another way. You will only be free by the truth, not what you believe to be true. Paul said in the Scripture we just read in 2 Corinthians 10, "We do not war according to the flesh". The flesh can't fix the flesh. You can try to manage it. You can try to force it down. You can try to make a new year's resolution. You can promise you're never going to do it again. You can talk to yourself. You can go to the counselor. You can take medication; but if it's a spiritual sin issue, what we do is go to the thing that's the problem to fix the problem.
He says, "No. What you must do, first and foremost, is continue in my truth". Look, verse 31 he says, "I want you to continue in my truth and you will know the truth". You must abide in the truth. We don't abide in the truth; we visit it. He says, "No, no, no, no, no. To have victory over the master of sin, you must abide in the truth". I want you to read Romans 6, 7, and 8, those three chapters. Romans 6, 7, and 8. Why? 'Cause Romans 6, 7, and 8 is going to tell you the truth about the master called sin, whatever that sin is.
In chapter 6, Paul is going to tell you about your new identity in Christ. He's going to tell you you've been baptized with Christ and you are not who you used to be. Paul's going to tell you to shift your identification in your newness in Christ and therefore, verse 11 of chapter 6, consider your old person dead. That's not who you are. Then he's going to come to chapter 7 and Paul is going to tell you, "I struggled like you struggle. I had some things in my life". He doesn't tell us what it is, which is good, 'cause then you can put your stuff in that chapter. He says, "And I struggled; and the thing I didn't want to do, the things I did; and I didn't want it and it kept coming back; and I resisted it, but it showed up again, until I got to chapter 8 and understood the power of the Holy Spirit and that the law of the Spirit is greater than the law of sin and death".
So that in verse 13 he says, "Therefore, I have no longer any obligation to the flesh when I understood that I got this supernatural peace when it's tied to the truth". So if you are struggling with something, if you are a believer, every day for this week read chapter 6, 7, and 8 of the Book of Romans over and over again and let the medicine seep down and abide in you. "Because when you continue in my Word, you will then know the truth and the truth will set you free". Because when you look at verse 36, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed". Okay. Wait a minute. Wait a minutes. We got a little issue here. 'Cause verse 32 says, "And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free," right? That's what it says. But in verse 36 it says, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed".
Wait a minute. In the first one, the truth will make me free; but in the second one, the Son sets me free. In the first one, I'm free, but in the second one, I'm free indeed. So, what's the difference between being made free and being set free, and what's the difference between being free and free indeed? What's the difference here? If somebody comes and you are in jail, and comes up to you and says, "Someone has just posted bail for you," you're going to shout, you're going to applaud. Somebody has paid what you need to get out. You're going to celebrate, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm free". But you're still in jail. You're free 'cause bail has been posted, but you're not out. But you are free. Because once you post bail that has been accepted, you're free. But then they got to do paperwork. They got to do the paperwork. So there is often a gap between legally being free and being out.
The Word of God, post bail, but the Son has the key to the lock. The bail makes you free; the Son sets you free. It's one thing to be in jail and to hear somebody has posted bail. It's a whole bunch of other stuff when folks see you walk out of the jailhouse and see that you are free. Jesus made his freedom visible on Sunday morning. You know, this is the month of February, and everybody's talking about this as naturally as African-American History Month.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but folks in Texas and Louisiana and Arkansas didn't find out about it till June 19th, 1865. So there was a gap between legal freedom, and there was a gap between the experience of freedom. Not because the proclamation hadn't been signed, it was 'cause folk didn't know about it. So, one reason you can stay a slave is 'cause nobody told you how to be free. Oh, but there's another way you can stay a slave. Somebody can tell you that you are free, but you've gotten so used to living on the plantation that you don't exercise the freedom that you have. So, a lot of folks stayed in slavery, who had been set free. 'Cause they had gotten so used to being there, they didn't want to take the risk of freedom.
On the cross Jesus signed your Emancipation Proclamation and everybody who trusts Christ is redeemed, but Satan doesn't want you to know that. He wants a partition up in your mind so that you don't believe you can walk in freedom. But I'm here to tell you today that he who the Son sets free is free indeed, but only if you continue in his Word. You continue in his Word, you call on the Son, and then you can declare, like a great man a few years ago in 1963 in Washington, D.C., "Free at last, free at last. I thank God Almighty with my stronghold I'm free at last".
Slavery is a terrible thing. It's where you're being held hostage by something or someone that seeks to own you against your will. Far too many people today are slaves to themselves, slaves to alcohol, slaves to drugs, slave to sex, slaves to wary. Slavery comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The one thing about it is, it owns you. It tells you how you're going to think, how you're going to feel, what you're going to do, where you're going to go; and you obey it, I obey it because we become chained to it, and then we bear the consequences of that reality. What we used to control, now controls us, and we often find it will not let us go easily.
Well, the good news is, God is the breaker of the chains that are holding us hostage. He's got the keys. He knows how to unlock the handcuffs. When we connect with a relationship with him, based on our dependence on his Spirit tied to the Word of God, you will find that the chains that are holding you hostage no longer are made of unbreakable steel because God has the key to release you. It's time to be released. No more being owned by the illegitimate. No more being a slave to the slave master Satan, to the incarceration cell of the world, or to the uncontrollable passions of the flesh. Why? Because God offers freedom. And to be free, free at last, free at last? When you experience this, you will thank God that you are free at last. God is offering you and me freedom from anything illegitimately holding us hostage so we can be released from its consequences.