What Does The Bible Say About Addiction?

Addicts feel helpless against the “urge” even though they hate it. What does the Bible say about different kinds of addiction? Is there hope for the addict? Read on to find out more.

what does the bible say about addiction

The term addiction means both dependence on, and the inability of an individual to stop, partaking in unhealthy practices habitually.

These may include anything such as gambling, alcohol, pornography, food, work, etc.

This “dependence” affects people across all demographics, Christian or no Christian.

Although since officially declared a disease in the 1940s, there have been various views by religious organizations. Some call it a moral defect or sin. Some call it a choice. The Christian faith however views addiction as the outcome of bad choices and poor spiritual circumstance.

Through a relationship with God, one can begin journey to healing.

What Does The Bible Say About Addiction?

Although the term is not used in particular in the Bible, we can cite different part of the scriptures that talk about the subjects.

For example, we see addiction whenever the Bible talks about being “mastered by” or “slaves of” anything, or sin.

We see addiction when the Bible points out that it has the potential to take God’s place in our lives so much that we begin to give the time meant for God to it.

(PS: all scripture quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise indicated)

What Does The Bible Say About Addiction KJV?

Let us see some verses from the KJV that we can associate with the concept of addiction to things, ideas, or people.

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (KJV)”Romans 13:14
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (KJV)”1Corinthians 6:19-20
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (KJV)”Titus 2:11-12
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (KJV)”Galatians 5:1

Biblical Definition Of Addiction

According to the Bible, addiction can be defined in three ways:

  • The state of being enslaved by an object, ideology or habitual activity
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”1Corinthians 6:12-13
  • Anything that we become so attached to that it takes the place of God in our lives
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”Matthew 22:37-38

Is Addiction A Sin According To The Bible?

Yes, according to the Bible, to become addicted to anything is breaking away from the natural order of God for us, and this is a sin.

According to the Bible, addiction (depending on whatever) is a sin against:

  • God, the creator of our bodies
  • Our bodies meant to be God’s holy temple
  • Our fellowship (church, for those in leadership, and ordinary members), and relationships

What Does The Bible Say About Addiction In Marriage?

Addiction in marriage is something that many partners today get to battle through regularly, whether addiction to drugs, food, pornography, and so much more. Some of these stem from premarital habits carried over into the matrimonial home, threatening some, and tearing some apart.

Does the Bible say anything about dealing with marital partners who may be addicted to something while married?

It does not specifically connect addictions to marriage. However, it does talk about older and younger married people being instructed not to be addicted to things, or being addicted themselves. One example is found in

“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”Titus 2:2-5

Another example is Solomon, who being a married already was obsessed with foreign women, especially those whom God instructed the Israelites not to marry, and he just keep adding them up.

“They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.”1Kings 11:2

Solomon’s obsession had a negative impact not just on his life, family, or home, but also on his entire nation spiritually, physically, and economically.

What Does The Bible Say About Addiction To Drugs And Alcohol?

Although, not directly mentioning drugs, the Bible has citations where addiction to alcohol (and I believe to any related substance abuse) is condemned, especially for those in leadership positions either in the church or in the secular world.

Let’s see some of those citations below:

“Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.”Titus 1:7
“In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.”1Timothy 3:8
“It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”Proverbs 31:4-5
“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”Proverbs 20:1

What Does The Bible Say About Food Addiction?

The Bible points also at some other types of addiction other than alcohol and drugs, food addiction included. Although many people do not know there is something like food addiction (gluttony), it does exists and the Bible talks about it.

Let’s see three portions of scripture that talk about addiction to food:

“and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.”Proverbs 23:2-3
“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.”Hebrews 13:9
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”Romans 14:20

Examples Of Addiction In The Bible

We can find some obsession with one thing or another in the Bible which qualify as addictions. They range from references to people or instructions not to get entangled.

Let’s look at a few below

  • People who were addicted to their belly (food) and carnal cravings
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”Philippians 3:19
  • Addiction to sexual immorality
“But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”1Corinthians 5:11
  • Addiction to alcohol
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things.”Proverbs 23:29-33

What Does The Bible Say About Helping Others With Addiction?

No one prepares to deal with a loved one struggling with addiction. However, when they get entangled, how can we help them.

Find below some Biblical ways we can help people suffering from addictions:

  • Lead them to Jesus by showing them only a true relationship with Jesus can save
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”John 8:36
  • Pray for them
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:32
  • Recommend groups for them that specialize in helping addicts
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”James 5:19-20
  • Help them avoid triggers by recommending replacements for their triggers
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:12

What Does The Bible Say About Addictions Recovery And Relapse?

Addiction recovery process can be challenging at first. However, it does not mean it is impossible. We must first understand that addiction may not disappear overnight, and the addict must learn to be patient with his or herself, and not lose faith in God while on the process to changing old habits.

The deliverance is not in you but in God, so you have to build your faith in God by constant exposure to the word of God, exercise both your mind and your body, and be intentional about forsaking the old for the new.

If you experience relapse, repent and return to God. Deliverance and recovery is much possible.

Here are some scriptures on recovery and relapse:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”1Corinthians 10:13
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”Proverbs 25:28
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”1Peter 5:8-10

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