“I can’t stop,” is the complaint heard of
many drug-addicts, drunkards, gamblers and a variety of other self-indulgers. The
idea that one is powerless over behavior fits nicely into the medical
community’s view of disease; that is, we do not choose to get sick, we are not
bad because we are sick, and when we are sick, we need treatment. In addition,
whatever the medical community labels as a disease, insurance companies must
pay for. So, do not accuse me of acting irresponsible, just accommodate me in
my sickness. If I show up at work drunk, you cannot fire me. Instead, give me
some time off and pay for my treatment.The
problem is that the disease model did not confine itself to alcohol abuse, but expanded to other drugs, and
eventually to all kinds of behaviors. Today, if a person has a problem with
gambling, sex, eating, or shopping, then he can also say he has a disease.
However, one must always recognize the difference between a problematic
behavior and a physical disease. For example, drinking alcohol and smoking
cigarettes are behaviors, whereas cirrhosis of the liver and lung cancer are
diseases. One characteristic of outrageous behavior is the loss of inhibition
and lack of conscience. To be conscious of something is to be aware of it.The conscience is an inward awareness or
consciousness of right and wrong behavior. Some people suppress their
conscience to the point that they are no longer sensitive to what is right or
wrong. Paul expresses it this way: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have
given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity,
with a continual lust for more” (Eph. 4:19).A strong faith in God, and an intense desire to repent, resolves many
In a context that deals with the eating
of meats (but proceeds to the general use of one’s body), i.e., whether one is
permitted to eat certain meats, or to restrain—in a cultural environment where
the eating of meats (e.g., pork) was considered “unclean”—Paul declares his fundamental
liberty. Yet under certain circumstances, he will refrain from forbidden meat
on the ground of expediency, i.e., when others could be offended, having their
consciences violated, and thus be lost (1 Corinthians 6:12; 8:11; Romans
The apostle declares: “I will not be
brought under the power of any [thing]” (1 Corinthians 6:12). The Greek verb is
exousiasthesomai, a passive form, with this meaning: “I will not be enslaved,
mastered, or overpowered by anything” (Fee 1987, 253). The principle here has a
There are several things that honest
souls need to know, and work seriously on, if they would overcome this problem,
or any similar one, and live pure in the sight of Almighty God.
(1) They must cultivate a love for God
with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Love is the
motivating power behind faith and obedience (Galatians 5:6). You can only do
this by immersing yourself in the Scriptures and coming to appreciate their
authority and value in your personal life. When Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1),
he appealed to “it is written” as his shield.
(2) Study a wealth of Bible texts on
self-control, temperance, etc. A good concordance, e.g., Strong’s Exhaustive
Concordance, can provide a list of passages relating to these topics. A
comprehensive Bible dictionary, or a dictionary of Bible theology, can be very
helpful on these themes as well.
(3) Become convinced that you really
can do all things in him who is able and willing to “strengthen” (the idea of
putting power into something) you (Philippians 4:13). Develop confidence in the
Lord by coming close to him through the study of his Word every day.
(4) Talk to God in prayer. Plead with
him to help you overcome this weakness. He loves you and wants to assist you
and lift you out of spiritual slavery.
(5) Find a Christian friend (perhaps an
elder, deacon, or minister), or a parent with whom you may confidentially talk.
Confess your weakness and ask for encouragement as you fight the battle.
Friendly, Christian confidants can be a powerful and wonderful source of
Finally, remember that, “I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)