From ancient to modern times, people have been abusing the use of drugs and alcohol in an effort to find happiness or to escape reality. Sadly, drugs and alcohol provide neither in any long-term way. More tragic, still, is the damage that such substances do to those who use them and the addictions that they cause. It is just as tragic as the damage that substance abuse does to families.
There is much confusion and misunderstanding about drugs and alcohol. What are some of these misunderstandings? Some untruths that are commonly believed today are: smoking calms your nerves; small amounts of alcohol make a person more alert; small amounts of alcohol will stimulate blood circulation and warm the body; drinking wine after childbirth helps replenish the blood supply; tea and coffee can sober a person up after alcohol consumption. These, and other, misconceptions are sometimes used as excuses for substance abuse.
A drug is simply any substance that creates mental, physical or psychological changes in the consumer. Many drugs are legitimately used to control physical or psychological conditions. Doctors prescribe a host of different medications which improve the quality of life for millions of people today. However, much substance use is not regulated by doctors and is simply taken at the wish of consumers. It does not take much for that substance use to become an addiction and be classified as substance abuse.
Is substance abuse a sin or a disease? It can be argued that it is both. Some people’s chemical make-up genetically predisposes them to susceptibility to addiction. However, drug and alcohol use is something that the addict must take responsibility for. It is a choice. We are taught in Scripture;
“ but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.” (James 1.14, 15 ASV). Substance abuse is a result of being drawn away by your own lusts. It may have arisen out of pressure to be accepted, pressure for approval from others or even from pressure to preform at school, work or sports. Some use is just an attempt to avoid pain but, in any of these cases, substance abuse will quickly lead to addiction if the use is not stopped.
How does substance addiction occur? It begins with experimentation. This may be done out of curiosity. This may involve what are called “gateway drugs,” like marijuana, which can later lead to using harder drugs like cocaine. Next, experimentation moves to occasional use of a substance. This usually is done in some social context, among friends. The user has a need to feel good and chooses to do so with the use of some substance, in the company of friends. Next, occasional use moves to regular use. This is when the use is weekly and the user has a preoccupation with his substance. His use is above and beyond his own limits which he has set. Also, the user is more ashamed of his substance use and does most of it in private. He is likely experiencing many physical symptoms at this point such as blackouts, fainting and other health breakdowns. Next, the user moves to a dependency on the substance. He or she is addicted and needs professional counseling and help.
Drug and alcohol abuse affects people from every class of society and background. Substance abuse is a many-sided problem. It is spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological. There is help for those wanting to be free from addictions to substances. However, they must want help. If you are one of those who suffers from substance addiction, you can be made free. It will mean coming to Jesus and surrendering your life to Him. Jesus said; “If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8.36ASV).
There is great hope for you but know that this is a journey to recovery and it will take some time. It begins with coming to Jesus Christ and committing your life to Him. It continues with taking responsibility for your addiction. It continues with repenting from your abuse of drugs or alcohol and committing to not using them again and coming to a Church or Christian recovery program. You will need others around you whom you will be open and honest with and who will hold you accountable. You will probably need to leave your present surroundings and even drop friendships with other users. You may even require 24-hour supervision for a while. However, if you will come to Christ, surrender everything to Him and begin rehabilitation, there is great hope for you. Many others have come free from the very thing that you are struggling with now. Let your name and life be counted with them to the glory of God.
Friend, Jesus Christ died to set you free. Coming into this freedom means dealing with more than just substance abuse. It begins with understanding and believing what Jesus Christ has done for you and me.
Dear reader, I wonder if you understand the cup from which Jesus Christ had to drink. For, remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane when His disciples, or at least Peter, would have fought for His freedom, He stopped them from doing any more than they did with these words; “… Put up the sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18.11ASV). The cup, which symbolizes the wrath of God, was made for us as a consequence of our many sins. Jesus drank it instead, to spare us from this fate. Remember, He could have prayed for twelve legions of angels to deliver Him. However, that would have left you and me holding the cup, leaving us without hope before the judgment throne of God.
He was despised and rejected by men. He was oppressed and afflicted. He was silent before His accusers, like a lamb before his shearers. He was cut off from the land of the living.
We read in Isaiah:
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53.4-6 (KJV)
Jesus’ death was on behalf of each of us for our sins. Through His crucifixion, God has made a way for us to be saved. Oh, I pray that if you don’t know this forgiveness that you will open your heart and come to faith in Jesus today. God bless you.
Please pray something like this:
God, I know that You exist and that You are holy. I am a sinner and Your word, the Bible, says that Jesus Christ died on account of my sins, that I might be forgiven and
saved. Then He rose from the dead. God, take what I have learned and move it from
my head to my heart. Please show me what I must do for this to be applied to me personally.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Bible tells of God’s holiness, of God’s laws and of the final day of judgment. It also tells us of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and of what He has done to deliver us from our sins and the terrible judgment of hell. But, dear reader, nothing of what Christ has done will be of any benefit to you unless it is applied to you personally. So that brings us now to discuss how we should respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We read Jesus’ own words:
14 Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.
Mark 1.14-15 ASV
In this passage, Jesus calls for two responses. Firstly, He calls for repentance and secondly, He calls for believing, which could also be called faith. The Apostle Paul taught this also, as he says; “how I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20.20-21ASV).
God commands all men everywhere to repent, as the Bible tells us; “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:” (Acts 17.30ASV). Jesus came to call sinners to repentance; “ … I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2.17ASV).
We must first define “repentance” and how it should begin. The Scriptures speak of a type of sorrow that produces repentance; “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation …” (2 Corinthians 7.10 KJV). This godly sorrow is a result of understanding that we have sinned individually and personally against God. Dear reader, you probably realize that your sins have hurt others but do you realize that your sins are directed primarily against God, causing Him much pain also? Joseph, of the Old Testament, when Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt him into committing adultery with her, responded with these words; “… how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39.9ASV). All sin is primarily against God. When we read through the Ten Commandments with an honest and humble heart, asking God to reveal to us where we have been disobedient to Him, He begins to show us and we experience godly sorrow. So repentance itself is a choice of the will to turn to God, to turn away from evil and to follow God no matter what the cost or consequence. The Bible instructs us:
6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55.6-7 (KJV)
Turning to God is an acceptance of His supremacy and lordship over our lives. Again, this turning is two-fold, a turning away from sin and a turning toward God.
So, repentance is a repudiation of our old life and a surrendering of our whole self to Jesus Christ. It is a settled refusal to set any limits on His will for our lives.
Friend, God loves you and can set you free from any substance abuse and set your life in order. Being converted happens in a moment but recovery from substance abuse is a journey which may take time. If you do not know the Lord, commit yourself to Him. Next, inquire into a good Christian based recovery program. God bless you.
Jake Balzer’s Unpublished Study Notes
Graham, Billy and Charles G Ward. The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook.
Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1984.
Scalise, Dr. Eric. Understanding Addictions. Courageous Living Series. DVD.
American Association of Christian Counselors, Inc., 2009.
Scripture references taken from the American Standard Version and the King James Version.