The August issue of Tabletalk focuses on the them of “Addictions,” and its articles are once again direct and profitable. Whether you are a pastor or an elder or a counselor, or a believer who knows someone in bondage to some addictive behavior – or perhaps are someone yourself addicted to a substance, this issue will give you a correct diagnosis and prescription. The articles will hit you hard but also give you hope in Christ..
Editor Burk Parsons introduces the theme with his article “Ministering to Addicts.” Familiar Christian counselor Ed Welch, author of Addictions: a Banquet in the Grave, penned the first main article, and it is from this one that we quote today.
Welch ties together addictions and idolatry, and when you read his explanations, you will understand why. This is how he opens that section:
Scripture’s most essential insight into addictions is that addictions are about God. Addictive substances become “a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Though it is common for addiction discussions to turn toward spirituality, such discussions do not usually talk about trust in the one, true God, and they do not often reflect the fact that addictive decisions are about God. Though the popular literature on addictions identifies making amends, it never identifies repentance before the Lord.
The Godward nature of addiction is neatly packaged into the biblical account of idolatry. Here you find wayward human desire and much more.
Among the four things about addictions that Welch ties to idolatry is this one:
Second, idolatry (addiction) is about desire. The Old Testament focuses on actual idol worship, while the New Testament takes aim at the desires that underlie idolatry. We are, it turns out, people of desires, loves, and antipathies. Our desires can be good or idolatrous, and even natural. For example, we are to desire or love God above all else (Deut. 6:5)—that is the best of desires. We are prone to desiring what others have, which is a covetous or idolatrous desire. And God’s people were told that in the land of promise they could eat whatever they desired (Deut. 12:20)—a natural desire.
Idolatrous desires typically start from a seed of desire that is natural and appropriate when kept in check. These desires could be for adequate finances, health, obedient children, inclusion, pleasure, rest, and justice. The key insight from Scripture is that these normal and even good desires have a tendency to grow (James 1:15). As they gather strength, they battle against us like an unbound giant that finds little satisfaction (Eph. 4:19; James 4:1). Anytime our desires are aimed away from God, our hearts will be left wanting more.
This change in focus from actual idols to underlying desires immediately brings us into idolatry’s net. Before we consider the more attention-grabbing idolatries of drugs, sex, and alcohol, Scripture reminds us of the everyday idols of people and money. We live for the respect and approval of others (Prov. 29:25), and we are obsessed with personal income (Matt. 6:24). Many of the more blatant idolatries are built on those two objects of worship.
Wise helpers know that they themselves are prone to idolatrous desires and that, like addicts, they come under this rich teaching on desire and its remedy.
For the rest of these points, including the last one – liberation from this idolatry through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, visit the link below.