Lent Series: Sin as Addiction

Following is the fourth of weekly devotionals that will be posted throughout the Lenten season. May these reflections encourage and help you as you repent, reflect, and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Thank you to Melissa Lowther for today’s post.


Read: Romans 7:14-25a

Addiction can sometimes take predictable forms like alcoholism, drug abuse, or a dependence on pornography. But it can also be subtle. Some become gluttons for food. Others can’t help but obsess over the latest fashion. Some will do anything to reach or maintain a certain social status. Others work extended hours multiple days per week and multiple weeks per year, sacrificing relationships for success, power, or money.

We are all often looking for something to give us purpose or to relieve our stress and worries. Our hearts long for fulfillment, but the things we pursue to fulfill us only leave us empty. Instead of seeking true joy, we pursue superficial happiness. Instead of seeking true love, we pursue insincere admiration. Instead of seeking true peace, we pursue temporary relief. And when one of our pursuits results in some kind of seeming benefit, it feeds our craving and we run after it again. We are caught up in sin. And sin is addictive.

Perhaps we notice our addictions and hate ourselves for them. The Apostle Paul can relate. Maybe we’ve even made resolutions and set goals for when we will stop chasing our particular addiction. But we become disillusioned once again. Our self-esteem drops or our self-management efforts fail, so we give in to our sin obsession and return to our ritual behaviors. We are lured in by the compelling lies of the Evil One telling us that if we don’t give in to our sin, we will starve or lose out or go crazy or we won’t be ourselves. We run after sin as addicts.

In order to overcome our addiction to sin, we must recognize our helpless state. We are hopeless without God. But righteousness may be accomplished in us through the Spirit, since Jesus Christ offered himself on the cross to set us free from sin and death. We can surrender in repentance to God, and he forgives us. But he not only forgives, he heals. God’s redemption is both immediate and ongoing. And, as Cornelius Plantinga Jr. says in his book about sin: “As all recovering sinners know, this process of healing…will prove to be as cunning, baffling, powerful, and patient as addiction itself.”

For further reflection, see Galatians 5:16-17 and John 8:34-36.