Within almost any religious faith, there are people who have found resources for working on recovery from addiction within that tradition. Addiction is about living an out of control and powerless life, and so our healing can be greatly helped through an understanding of God, someone more powerful then us to whom we can surrender control and through whom we can be empowered.
That it why many addiction recovery programs strongly agree with Alcoholics Anonymous that the process of recovery should be thought of as “spiritual experience,” and always open to the influence of a “Power greater then themselves.” The teachings and values of the Christian tradition can certainly offer a lot of wisdom to someone seeking recovery from addiction.
Here are a few ways that a person of the Christian faith can think about his or her beliefs as vital resources in the struggle for sobriety.
Grace, Forgiveness, and Sanctification
A core belief of Christianity is that, through Christ’s death on the cross, “You have been freed from sin and enslaved to God…For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23). In other words, we do not and cannot earn salvation from our sins, but because God loves us, His Son paid the penalty for our sins, and set us free from them, giving us undeserved grace instead of punishment.
However, this does not mean that we can continue to a sinful life, because forgiveness also transforms us and redeems us to live a righteous life for God. This was perhaps best communicated in Luke 8, when Jesus encountered a woman that other people wanted to kill for her adultery.
Christ’s first words are of grace, confronting the people threatening and accusing her with their own sinfulness. In this way, he councils non-judgment with the words “let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone” (Luke 8:7). He then further encourages her, not only telling her she is loved the way she is, but also setting her free to live in a new, redeemed and sinless way, with “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and leave your life of sin.”
Honesty through Grace
Redemptive grace is an absolutely essential concept that can help you in the midst of recovery. Just as God has forgiven you, so you to must learn to forgive yourself. Drug and alcohol abuse is created and sustained through shame and denial, but the first step to accepting forgiveness is to “confess your sins.” That means being honest with yourself, having a good, hard, realistic look at your behavior.
Grace frees you up to be able to do this. No matter what you have done, you are not outside of the love of God. Therefore, you might as well look at yourself honestly. This will lead you to admitting you have a problem, a very important first step in beginning recovery.
Beyond this, through the Holy Spirit, the believer can have hope that he or she is being sanctified, more like he or she was created to be. This hope that recovery is possible is going to be a really important as you walk down the sometimes hard road of trying to get sober. Faith in God will enable you to not feel overpowered when things get tough.
Proper Application of Scripture in Daily Life
Addiction is rooted in faulty thinking and unwise decision-making. The good news is that Christ makes us into new creatures, and transforms our sinful minds into something better. The road to recovery may be hard, but you can have faith that God can transform and re-create anyone into a more whole person. Both prayer (talking to God) and Bible study (hearing God speak to us) can be essential ways to transform our thinking, and can be a part of a holistic recovery plan.