View Full Version : Susbstance abuse covered in the Word?

Dec 10th 2007, 12:46 PM
Hiya folks.

Try and stay with me here, because this is a hard question to phrase - harder to understand. I'm sorry if my post is choppy and jumps around.

Does the bible address substance abuse at all? I know it discusses drunkenness and holding our physical bodies with the sanctity of a temple so the Holy Spirit may reside within us. But does it discuss actual, physical and mental, genetic, clinical addiction to alcohol, drugs, etc?

Drunkenness is a sin. There's just no refuting that - God was pretty clear on this point, He didn't leave any room for ambiguity at all: If you're running around getting sloshed, you're living in sin. Please, for the love of Mike, please don't use this as an opportunity to begin the "ok or not to drink at all" debate. That is not what I am asking, and I'll be extremely disappointed if this degenerates into that. We're talking physical and mental clinical addiction, not having a glass of wine with dinner.

Rather, I mean to ask what scripture addresses actual addiction. Say you were a Christian counselor that worked to help addicts get clean in a Christ-centered program. What scripture verses would you use, and why are they relevant (in your opinion)? There wasn't crack back then, but I know God knew that in 2007 we'd have a bunch of drunks and druggies running around, some of them Christian, so I'm sure He has something to say on it and I am just missing it.

I have been told that no real Christian can be an alcoholic or an addict, but I don't buy that one bit - we are as equally susceptible to the things of this world as any non-Christian. It is, of course, a personal decision to seek treatment, but not all come to be convinced that they have a problem, Christian or not. The church is full of alcoholics and drug abusers (both illegal and prescription) that hide their addictions well and, as such, refuse to believe they have a problem.

I have a very close friend EXACTLY like that. His argument is that his tolerance level is so high that he can drink all day and not get "drunk." I've tried to explain that drunkenness isn't necessarily about being so intoxicated that you lose control of your ability to function, but he accepts "drunkenness" to be just that. The scariest thing about all this is that he just loves God, he's constantly in the Word, and he's probably the nicest guy in the world I know. He's pulled me out of the fire many, many times before.

Anyway, I don't intend to lecture him or even minister to him. He knows it's a problem, and his disease has such blinders on his eyes that he just cannot accept he needs help.

I'm not asking what I should say to him, as I won't be saying anything more than I have. I'm way, way, way too spiritually immature and new in Christ to be playing pastor and counselor. I'm just using him to illustrate the depth of my question.

I want to launch into an in-depth bible study of addiction. Where do I start, where do I proceed, and where do I conclude? What are some scriptures that discuss this? Did Jesus ever heal an addict? Is it biblical to believe these guys like Benny Hinn are gifted to the point they can just touch someone and God heals an addiction?

Can you help me with how I should be praying as I delve into the scriptures concerning this? Any verses at all would be really helpful, and thank you in advance!

EDIT: One final thing. The crux of my study that is totally confusing to my untrained heart:

If you're an addict, you're living in sin. If you're living in sin, you're not truly saved. This would seem to suggest that addicts cannot be healed, as they are living in sin and do not have Christ. If they do not have Christ, how can Christ heal them? But if they never get healed, how can they ever accept Christ?

See my conundrum with this? Can't be healed without being saved, but can't get saved until you're healed.


Dec 10th 2007, 07:27 PM
I think if you are an addict, you can be saved. The verse that helps/helped me when I struggle with something is

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

None of us would say Paul wasn't saved.

Dec 10th 2007, 08:07 PM
EDIT: One final thing. The crux of my study that is totally confusing to my untrained heart:

If you're an addict, you're living in sin. If you're living in sin, you're not truly saved. This would seem to suggest that addicts cannot be healed, as they are living in sin and do not have Christ. If they do not have Christ, how can Christ heal them? But if they never get healed, how can they ever accept Christ?

See my conundrum with this? Can't be healed without being saved, but can't get saved until you're healed.


A response to your edit:

1 Cor 6:9-11 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

Paul said that there were believers in the Church in Corinth who WERE drunkards -- addicts. They didn't become healed in order to be saved -- they were washed and sanctified in order to be healed.

My :2cents: regarding the rest of your post, fwiw. :)

Eph 5 tells us what to do to combat addiction, I believe. It says don't be drunk with wine [or drugs or food or shopping or gambling or whatever] but be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Personally, I think if you want to do a study on how to combat addiction, start by studying what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

And, too, another place to start studying would be Romans 12:1-2 -- "be transformed by the renewing of your mind". How is our mind renewed?

Get a handle on those 2 questions and I think you'd go a long way towards understanding how the Father says He will overcome addiction in our lives.

Dec 10th 2007, 08:15 PM
Follow me infantry,

May i suggest another thread in which you may gain some more insight, and at least get some thoughts to ponder.



Dec 10th 2007, 11:18 PM
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
(1 Corinthians 6:12)

Dec 10th 2007, 11:49 PM
Yay, that's another good one to keep in mind, and a short enough one to memorize!! Thanks Kahtar !!!

Maybe you could post that one in the counseling thread as well.


Dec 11th 2007, 04:14 PM
Something that kinda dawned on me when thinking about my addiction (pornography) is to look past the sin of which you are committing and look at the nuts and bolts of what you are doing. God, who loves you and created you, wants you to not do the sin. Satan, who hates you and wants to destroy you, wants you to do the sin. When you break it down, to that simplistic view, why would you want to please your worst enemy and hurt your dearest friend?

Dec 11th 2007, 06:51 PM
I'm not so sure about smoking, but stuff like... marijuana and cocaine and junk like that, while it may not be directly discussed in the Bible (I'm gonna look), but we can do a little bit of logical-reading.

Why is getting drunk forbidden? Because you're letting an intoxicating drink guide your actions, instead of the Spirit. It's the intoxication that is sinful. It leads your mind astray.

So what do marijuana, cocaine, LSD, etc., do to you? They intoxicate you and cloud your thoughts and lead your mind astray.

Logically speaking, various types of drugs lead you astray mentally just the same as they would if you got drunk, so in that sense, we can know for a fact that stuff like marijuana or coke or LSD or whatever is all sinful to use. If we're called to be sober in order to pray (1 Peter), and drunkeness is the opposite of being sober for the fact it leads our mind astray, then in that same sense, many other drugs fall under the "You can do anything, but not everything is good for you" clause.

As for smoking, it's hard to be physically or mentally addicted to it unless you actually start doing it, and in that case, the smoking itself is harmful to your body, so using a "I'm addicted" cop-out doesn't really excuse the person because they made themselves addicted to begin with.

Another "why" for why we shouldn't do that stuff is found in the various passages of the Bible that tell us to respect the laws of our land (at least, in the common sense that we follow them so long as we don't sin). If our laws forbid smoking marijuana or using cocaine or whatever, then we cannot, Biblically, use them on account that it is illegal in that land. As for if they're legal in another land, then, well, revert back to the moral/physical health as shown above.

Dec 11th 2007, 06:52 PM
Something that I find I need to be careful of is listening to Satan over my issues. I have issues with spending. Not sure I would call it an addiction but more of a compulsion. I pray and do very well for a while and then I slip up. At that point, Satan whispers in my ear. "See you can't do it. You'll never be able to do it. Why don't you just give up?" I get very depressed until I realize that with God's help I can do it.

Just remember that Satan is a wily one and will use everything he can to get to you. Immerse yourself in the Word and pray daily.:pray:

Dec 12th 2007, 10:48 AM
This scripture may describe alcoholism...

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

- Proverbs 23:29-35.

Dec 12th 2007, 11:08 AM
Wow, NZYR, that certainly does seem to address the effects of alcohol abuse - or any addiction, for that matter. I don't like to add to scripture, but if we replaced "wine" with gambling, sex, shoplifting, or just about any compulsion, it would still seem to apply.

Thanks for that, bro, I will be definitely be studying this.

Any insight into what this might mean:

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

Lie down in the midst of the sea seems to suggest drowning, which makes sense. But lie down on the top of a mast? As in mast of a ship? I don't understand what this says, what it signifies. Maybe that lying down on a pole that's rocking back and forth means you're likely to be uncomfortable and get thrown off, into the sea, where you'll drown?

What's the accepted context of a "mast" when used in scripture?

Dec 12th 2007, 02:49 PM
Follow me infantry,

Here's the verse in another version:
Pro 23:34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.

When you're drunk, you feel like that, like you're unsteady like the sea, and moving violently to and fro as if laying on the mast of a ship. (which then starts the throwing up) I have felt like that on a number of occasions, and i think it just describes the state of someone drunk who's laying down to rest from drinking.


Dec 12th 2007, 03:29 PM
Hi Follow Me Infantry :)
Does the bible address substance abuse at all?

The verses that are perhaps most relevant to substance abuse (and particularly addiction) are those using the "slavery" metaphor:

Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

However it has to be said that the main drug which the NT warns about is sin:

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

1 Co 6:12 (context Sexual Immorality) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

And that goes for all of us, with and without substance issues.
God bless

PS Both opium (poppy) and marijuana (hemp) were known in the ancient world. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the use of hemp (cannabis is the Greek word for hemp) by the Scythians in a sort of teepee:

"On a framework of tree sticks, meeting at the top, they stretch pieces of woollen cloth. Inside this tent they put a dish with hot stones on it. Then they take some hemp seed, creep into the tent, and throw the seed on the hot stones. At once it begins to smoke, giving off a vapour unsurpassed by any vapour bath one could find in Greece. The Scythians enjoy it so much they howl with pleasure. "But the OT and NT contain no certain reference to either cannabis or opium.

Dec 13th 2007, 09:53 PM
For me the issue of substance abuse being a sin is based upon three things.

1. Gluttony

Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gluttony is basically a dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure, which in the case of substance abuse would be getting drunk or getting high.

2. Adultery against God.

When one gets drunk or high, they also tend to do things they wouldn’t. (Another poster discussed this but I would like to give my opinion as well.) We tend to toss out inhabitations and morality for what “seems” good at the time. Basically we throw out right and delve into what is wrong. In a sense, we become blind to our conscience and allow satan to speak louder to us, and in doing so, we separate ourselves from God and become even more susceptible to sin.

I think these verses cover addiction pretty well…

Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

If we are abusing substances such as alcohol and it separates us from God, then we are disobeying the greatest of all commandments and committing spiritual Adultery against God.

3. Idolatry

It can also be considered idolatry as well since addictions tend to consume a persons life and become the center of it rather than having God at the center.

Just mt thoughts!