Have you ever said to yourself, I'm not going to eat that chocolate . . . and then all you can think about is . . . chocolate? In the battle with temptation – and who doesn't fight it – we'll shoot the arrow through our own foot every time if our thoughts are aimed downward.
My friend Frank suffered many such wounds during his 25-year battle with alcoholism. "For a time, I became a dry drunk," he told me in a letter. "I wasn't drinking, but I had done nothing to quiet the desperation inside my head. I always ended up going back to the bottle."
What Frank needed was a change of focus. Rather than dwelling on what he shouldn't do, Frank-like everyone struggling with a harmful habit or addiction-needed to focus on three key targets from God's Word:
Target #1: God's purpose for me is to be conformed to the character of Christ.
The Bible says you are ". . . predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29).
- "Christ lives in me to conform my character to His character."
- "I will yield to His control and do what's best for my body."
Target #2: God's priority for me is to change my thinking.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
- "I'll release my guilt to God and line up my thinking with His thinking."
- "I'll replace my defeated thinking with the positive promises from God's Word."
Target #3: God's plan for me is to rely on Christ's power to change me.
Philippians 4:13 gives this assurance: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
- "I'll give Christ control of my life in order to ( list specific actions )."
- "With the strength of Christ I will ( list specific attitudes )."
Every week on Hope in the Night, dejected strugglers like Frank call to express their defeat: "As much as I want to change, I simply can't. Nothing works." But God's Word says otherwise: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness . . . ."i So why is there such a battle? It occurs because the fear of pain keeps strugglers stuck.
As Frank went on to explain in his letter, "My addiction was both the root of my problem and my answer. It was my hell and my salvation . . . my curse and my blessing. It made life intolerable . . . and was the only thing that made life tolerable."
The reality is this: Either way you go, you will have pain. If you stay as you are, you're going to have pain. If you leave your addiction, you're going to have pain. It's guaranteed to hurt either way. Pain, however, can be your ally (propelling you to positive change) or your enemy (paralyzing you to stay stuck). You have a choice. Making the courageous decision to break free is the only way you'll eventually be free – free from the pain of the past.
Fortunately, Frank finally chose to escape his debilitating addiction. "I never could have achieved it without the help of God, family, and the recovery community," he wrote. "Through God, I received the grace, clarity of mind, and strength to ask for help."
And that same help is available to you and your loved ones . . . right now! I can say with complete certainty that God can empower any person to defeat any addiction at any time – no matter the number of failed attempts. With Him, all things really are possible . . . including lasting freedom from any addiction.
Learn more about June and Hope for the Heart by visiting hopefortheheart.org/CP. Here you can connect with June on Facebook and Twitter, listen to her radio broadcasts, or find much-needed resources.
i. 2 Peter 1:3