For people managing an addiction, the physical cravings are only part of the struggle. The other side of the battle is addressing the mental and emotional challenging that coincide with physical symptoms. A common mental struggle for Christians is reconciling their faith with their substance use disorder. While the Bible offers warnings about falling into substance misuse, it also provides hope for people who are coping with these disorders. In fact, what the Bible says about addiction is primarily encouraging.
Examples of Addiction in the Bible
When people think about references to addiction in the Bible, most will recall verses about drunkenness and its adverse effects. These are valid examples to consider. However, those don’t provide guidance on what to do after a person develops a substance use disorder They can also be discouraging, making people feel like they are beyond help. Rather than focusing on the consequences of falling into addiction, perhaps what’s more effective is looking at the grace for people who are managing a substance use disorder.
The Story of the Prodigal Son
One of the more memorable parables that Jesus tells in the Bible is the story of the prodigal son. This teaching is often used to encourage people who have turned away from God to tell them they can always come back. However, the lesson of this story can also be applied to any decision to turn away from things of the world, including an addiction.
After the younger son takes his share of his inheritance, he leaves his father’s home:
“Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.” (Luke 15:13, ESV)
Anyone who has struggled with substances has experienced the physical, financial, and emotional toll that a substance use disorder can take. It often leads to reckless living and decision-making, much like the prodigal son. After he spends all of his inheritance, the son hits rock bottom. He ends up sleeping with pigs and without food. However, it’s what he chooses to do at this moment that makes the difference. Rather than continuing to make poor decisions, he chooses to return home.
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” (Luke 15:20-21, ESV)
When his father hears this, he doesn’t agree with or condone the son’s behavior. Instead, he celebrates his child’s return home. In the same way, when people turn from their addictions and choose to live a life outside of that, they are welcomed home in their faith. Notice that the father never asked the son to live a perfect life at home and never mess up again. He simply celebrated the choice his child made to turn from his old way of life.
Bible Verses About Addiction
When someone decides to pursue recovery, God is never waiting to reprimand them for their previous choices. The story of the prodigal son speaks to this, but there are other examples of this grace in the Bible.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1, ESV)
Anyone who chooses a life in Christ doesn’t have to worry about past mistakes being held against them. Not only did His death on the cross forgive sins, Jesus’s life also provides hope for people struggling.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)
Addiction Recovery Based on Biblical Principles
At Celebrate Hope, we offer addiction treatment founded on what the Bible says about those who follow Christ. We believe that recovery built on faith in Christ leads to long-lasting sobriety. Our treatment center emphasizes who our clients are outside of their disorder, building on their individual strengths. We provide multiple opportunities for healing and growth through individual counseling, life skills workshops, and group therapy. If you’re looking for healing from a substance use disorder in a Christian community, contact our treatment center today.