I didn't have a clue...
...that my first viewing of pornography would result in a 25 year addiction that would cost me everything I held dear in my life. But rest assured, it didn't happen overnight.
Because any addiction is a slow, insidious series of choices that will leave the most sincere and brilliant person wondering at the end...
How did I get here?"
In fact, there is a fairly good chance that you are on some form of addiction path right now.
Don't think so? Then please do yourself a huge favor and read on.
Though pornography was my most destructive addiction, trust me, it wasn't my only one. When we talk about addiction, we usually cover the big three -- alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
Let's expand the list. Here are a few more that too many people are hopelessly overcome by:
I could go on.
Over the past 10 years, I have had to recognize several other potentially addictive behaviors in my life and combat them before they seized control of my life...
...because any addictive behavior will eventually destroy some part of your life. Or all of it.
The Romance Addict is obsessed with the feeling of "falling in love," but as soon as that feeling wears off, they will move on to another partner. This addiction will keep it's victim from ever having a stable, longterm relationship.
The Food Addict is obsessed with food. They have no control over their eating habits and will eventually eat themselves into monumental health problems or early death.
The Workaholic is obsessed with achievement. They have a will to win in the business of making money -- at any cost. They will sacrifice health, marriage and family for success. In the end, they may gain some small piece of this world, but will lose their soul in the process.
So let's examine the addictive process. Here is how is my addiction to pornography happened:
EXPERIMENTAL - I was tempted and made the choice to watch porn. I gave into SIN. I prayed and repented and didn't do it again. For about 3 months.
CASUAL - When I gave into porn again 3 months later, it moved me from experimental to casual in the addiction process. It started me on a road that would become HABITUAL. It wasn't long before I was giving in every couple weeks. I would still pray and repent, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to resist.
INTENSIVE - This is the stage when my behavior became a BESETTING sin. The word besetting means simply to "be under constant attack." So now I am waking up each day under constant temptation that is becoming more and more difficult to resist. At this point, I am often giving in to these overwhelming desires to sin.
COMPULSIVE - This is the stage that the scripture calls a STRONGHOLD. At this point, I moved from being "under constant attack" to "living in constant sin." I was now starting feel like my life was becoming unmanageable and I could see areas in my relationships, finances and career where this sin was beginning to wage a pretty heavy toll.
ADDICTION - The final stage. At this point I was completely CAPTIVE to my sin. I didn't get up each day and choose to sin anymore. I had made so many choices over the course of time -- that now my sin had chosen me. I was unable to control my thoughts or my behavior and felt utterly hopeless in finding any way out. Now it was just an attempt to manage the monster inside.
Friends... here is why it is so important to understand this process of addiction. If we learn to recognize the early signs of our behavioral descent towards addiction, we can still put a stop to it without completely upending our life.
And trust me, that is huge!
Here's my experience with most people that are encountering addictive behavior in their life. They simply won't acknowledge it or confront in until they completely hit rock bottom.
The writer of this proverb said it best:
"The prudent person sees trouble ahead and hides, but the naive continue on and suffer the consequences."
Proverbs 22:3 (ISV)
The Lord wants to give us the wisdom to see trouble ahead in and learn what it means "to hide" from the consequences of unhealthy behavior and choices.
Do any of these signs of addictive behavior describe you right now?
You spend a lot of your time thinking about your behavior: doing it more, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.
You've lost interest in things you once liked to do.
You are hiding part of your behavior and the effect it is having on you from others.
You are having difficulty stopping yourself from your destructive behavior, even if you want to.
You can see continuing in your behavior is going to result in bad things happening in your life, but you continue to take the risks.
If any of these signs describe how you are feeling right now, I just want you to know that I've been right where you are. I've felt the hopelessness, pain and loss of an out-of-control life.
But I've also encountered the King of the Comeback. Without Jesus, there would have been no resurrection of my life. He walked me through a journey that brought complete restoration and freedom in my life. When he said that he came to "bring liberty to the captives," he meant it!
Look for part two of this 3 part teaching series soon!
Until then, I am praying for God's good grace to overtake you.
For your freedom,
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