For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 NIV


I just this week learned about a new addiction that took an acquaintance’s life. I won’t even describe it to you; it’s bizarre and doesn’t need publicity. And lest you proudly thank God (as did the Pharisee in the temple) that you are not like other weaker people, take a few moments to reflect on those things that do keep us in bondage.

I knew someone who never stopped making fun of people who were overweight and unable to control their eating while he would have been desperate if you’d emptied his candy jars. And then there’s the guy who won’t come close to an illegal substance, but he can’t seem to break away from work. And one of my friends was witness to a tragic accident when a man was trying to get home in time to watch his team’s kickoff. There are all sorts of activities that, were we wrenched from them, we would be either miserable or feel condemned.

Let’s look at this from another perspective. Do you ever allow yourself the freedom to take a day to rest or reflect, to do nothing productive but to refresh your soul? Would the sky fall if you missed church to help a friend? Could you make it through the week if circumstances kept you from your usual Quiet Time? I love Oswald Chambers’ insight that we are sometimes committed to our devotional habits more than to God. Yes, we all tend to have routines and lifestyles that may hold us in bondage. Jesus baffled everyone because of his total freedom in his Father.

I love Webster’s definition of freedom: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. In other words, free people can act or be still, come or go, speak or be silent. There is no coercion. I think it’s what Paul spoke about when he said he could eat or not, was content in all circumstances, could be rich or poor. St. Paul was free in all things; there was no compulsion. In his freedom, he chose to move about when Christ beckoned, but he was also at peace when he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. All things were his in Christ Jesus; he rejoiced always; he was happy to live or die; he companied with emperors, and he was friends with the destitute. That’s freedom.

Freedom is living in Christ without necessity, coercion, compulsion, or constraint. We live, move, have our being, and are complete in him because of his great love for us and ours for him.

Father, set us free. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. I Corinthians 8:6


Addiction: the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.


In the United States 115 people die every day after overdosing on opioids. The majority of people who transitioned to heroin misuse first abused prescription opioids (National Institute of Drug Abuse, March 2018). Opioid addiction is a well-known epidemic that is a public health crisis with devastating consequences—physical, emotional, and financial. We probably all know someone whose life has been touched by the effects of substance abuse.


But have we ever contemplated the effect in our lives of the polite addictions we all tolerate: overeating, workaholism, attachments to technology (think of hours engaged with social media or games), sleep deprivation, laziness, or any compulsion or obsession to which we are attached. Take, for example, a man I knew who was harsh on people who indulged in “social drinking.” However, on his back porch he had cases of Dr. Pepper stacked as high as they could go. He was “hooked.” And then there was the “night owl” who had as hard a time going to bed as some folks do getting up because of the fetish for the late hours.

I knew someone who was so attached to reading that she had no interest in cleaning the house or taking care of the children. And then, I suspect, we all know the hazards of getting involved with the Internet or certain television programs. They’re almost impossible to shut down, and yet they’re all socially acceptable.

The things I’ve mentioned are perfectly all right in our society. But what happens when they interfere with our particular calling? Henry Blackaby (Knowing God) has said that, “No, Lord” is a contradiction of terms. Jesus can’t be Lord when we say, “Wait,” or “Not now.” The only obedience we can offer is instant doing of our Father’s will. It’s the little things that keep us from pleasing our Father.

Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) says, “We fail because we are ignorant of the way we are made, we put things down to the devil instead of our own undisciplined natures.” Just try a simple little test. Think about the things you look forward to doing. What happens if something (or someone) interferes with your “thing?” Is it almost impossible to delay or stop that particular activity or substance? Can you go a week without your favorite TV show or your favorite food or drink? You get the picture. Do you live with freedom or bondage?

To what do you say, “Yes, Lord?” Once we say, “Yes,” to God and set our wills to do his will, he gives us the strength to put away the distractions that keep us addicted. He can set us free. Do it now.


Father, we let little things rob us. Open our understanding of the vast, wide world of freedom to which you have called us as your children. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2



National Geographic (September, 2017) has an excellent article about addiction that includes many behavioral addictions which are just recently being seen as destructive, life-altering dependencies.  Research indicates the changes that occur in the brain, chemistry, and synapses that actually “remold neural circuits to assign supreme value to [the substance or behavior], at the expense of other interests such as health, work, family, or life itself.”  Eventually, the addict has no control of his/her behavior because his brain material and functions have essentially been reshaped.

This makes me think of Paul, in chapter 7 of Romans, who talks about not doing what he wants to do but behaving in a contrary fashion.  Paul isn’t talking about addiction here but rather the sin principle that’s part of each of us.  Later, in Romans 12 he zeroes in on the problem that we all struggle with—being conformed to the world (complying with the secular world’s standards).  We become so entangled with cultural mores and contemporary lifestyles that we excuse the sin that’s taken root in us.

Paul’s remedy sounds just like the treatments that are being offered to addicts in new medical trials.  Researchers are talking about and experimenting with “repairing the brain’s wiring”—what Paul states as “transformation of the mind.”  In both instances, there must be voluntary participation.  With the medical trials, the patient must want a change.  God’s remedy infers that each of us must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit by “renewing” our minds, exchanging those deadly, sinful thoughts and behaviors for godly, wholesome patterns.  This sounds to me like the “rewiring” with which today’s medical community is experimenting.

Science knows that continued behaviors set the synapses in pathways that are difficult to disrupt, but the Creator who initially put our bodies in motion also provided healing for us to be transformed.  In fact, he’s given us everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3)—the provision is already there.  He’s given us the Holy Spirit, his Word, the community of believers that we call the Church, and he’s given us science and the medical profession.

We have to make the choice for transformation, and it’s one that should be made every single day so that we’re free from any bondage that diminishes us as Children of God.  Whether the addiction is something frowned on by society or is seemingly as innocent as negativity or disruptive thought patterns, if it controls us, we need to be set free.  God has the answer; we can be changed.


Father, it’s easy for us to see the sins in the lives of others without seeing the things that trip us up in our own lives and relationships.  Give us the courage to identify anything in ourselves that entangles us and keeps us from freedom in you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.