The above video is a funny skit starring the straight faced comedian Bob Newhart playing a counselor whose approach consists of two simple words - "Stop it!" If only dealing with sin and addiction was that simple.
While there are some who are in denial about their problem, those who recognise they are struggling don't need to be reminded of the destruction that is causes. Whereas there are a variety of addictions that people commonly struggle with, sins such as alcoholism, drugs, pornography, sexual immorality, gossip, outbursts of anger, control, pride, overeating, etc. they all have the same result - misery. Misery for those around the person, and most of all, misery for the person feeling trapped by the sin.
This means they, like the apostle Paul, are doing things they do not want to do, and not doing the very thing that they want to do. (See Romans 7:14-8:1) So just telling them to stop it, quoting scriptures verses and demanding they simply replace their wrong behaviour with different, more morally acceptable behaviour, is grossly insufficient and ineffective in the battle they face.
That's because the battle we all face each day is not one over our behaviour, but a battle for our hearts, a battle for who or what we are depending on for life - be it the flesh and the world or Jesus.
The famous list of bad behaviour in Galatians 5:19-21 is not a list of the problems we have, but rather a list of symptoms of the real problem, namely the flesh. Notice Paul begins the list with the words, "the works of the flesh are…" The flesh, put simply, is our best efforts to find contentment and satisfaction independent of God. For sin could be understood as getting a God given need met in a God forbidden way.
Since the behaviour people are struggling with is not the problem, but the result of a deeper problem, to help a person find freedom from their addiction and sin we must first help them determine why they sin. What hurt are they medicating? What need are they trying to satisfy? For example, alcoholism is often an escape through numbing the pain or despair that one is feeling.
Once a person begins to understand the hurts and hang-ups that are driving their poor choices, then they can receive from Jesus the healing and freedom that only He can give. And with Jesus, it does not matter what you did, how many times you did it, who you did it with or even the number of times you will still do it. For He cares much more about your heart than your behaviour.
So the approach of Crossways to Life in counseling those struggling with sin and addiction is to understand why we turn to sin to fill our emptiness and then how can we turn to Jesus instead first for healing, then to discover how to experience His abundant life. This approach has helped countless people experience freedom from their sin and addiction.
If you, or someone you know, is battling with a habitual sin or addiction then please contact our office to make an appointment. It may be the first step towards a brighter future.
For more information on dealing with sin and addiction please check out the following resources: