Studies have shown that resolutions do not work. You may realize this by now since most of your New Year’s resolutions have not panned out. No matter how much optimism or hard work you put forth, you cannot change the outside without working on the inside first. External change comes only from internal change.
Paul reveals his frustration in overcoming his own obstacles in Romans 7:21-24: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!” Like us, Paul wants to do what is right but there is a war within him that is making him a prisoner.
No one wants to call themselves an addict. That term is usually reserved for alcoholics and drug abusers. I want to suggest to you that anything you do that is abusive and disproportionate to your life is an addiction. It could be food, work, money, drugs, Facebook, television, a relationship, shopping, sports, or a host of other things. Anything you are doing that you do not want to do but can’t figure out how to stop is probably an addiction.
What are some signs you are addicted? First, it becomes a part of your identity. Second, when you try to quit you fail and feel increasingly hopeless. Third, when your addiction is threatened you are personally threatened. Fourth, you begin to lose quality of life. Fifth, you ease pain by getting the next fix. I would also challenge you to read Isaiah 44:9-20 and see if this sounds like you.
So how do you overcome addiction? You must change the heart, not the action itself. Changed hearts produce changed behavior. Most of us don’t want changed lives, just changed situations. We don’t want to change our eating habits. We just want to be skinny. Addiction is just a symptom to a bigger disease – idolatry. Anything we have allowed to have a place of importance above God in our life is an idol. Whatever you worship, you serve. Anything you serve you eventually become enslaved to.
How do you dethrone idols? Read Matthew 17:14-21. Jesus told His disciples they were not connected to God enough (unbelieving) and too connected to the world (perversed). He went on to say they should have had growing faith: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” We need prayer and fasting in our lives. Prayer connects us to God and fasting disconnects us from the world.
There is no magic formula to overcoming addictions. Overcoming requires life change. Connect to God by faith and prayer and disconnect from the world by fasting and watch how your life changes. You won’t just lose an addiction but will gain the life you’ve always wanted.