One of the questions we often hear from Christians with addiction is, “How do I find my way back to God after all these years of drug and alcohol abuse?
For the addict who hits bottom there are also two inevitable questions—‘Where was God in all this?’ and ‘Can he ever forgive me?’ Many have prayed throughout the course of their worsening addiction that God would deliver them from their cravings. They have sought spiritual healing, they have immersed themselves in God’s Word, they have prayed without ceasing. And yet the prayers seemed to fall on a deaf ear. As they prayed for Christ’s power to overcome, Satan only seemed to gain a stronger foothold. Naturally this leaves the addict and his or her loved ones with unanswered questions, doubts, even anger towards God.
When an addict looks upon the destruction they have caused in their own life and in the lives of those they love, it is hard to imagine that there could be any forgiveness for such seemingly deliberate evil. Friends and even family members have turned away. It is natural to assume that God would have the same rejecting response. However, despite years of repeated and deliberate sin, there is hope for you.
The Effects of Sin. Sin is the great wedge of separation between you and God. We know our actions were wrong. We knew they were wrong when we were committing them. Yet we could not stop. But God is never so far away that He cannot be reached by the sinner who truly desires Him. As an addict, your sin is no graver than any other. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
No one understood better than the Apostle Paul the inner tug-of-war between what we know we should do and what our flesh compels us to do. But in our sin, God shows his greatest gift of grace in Jesus Christ. This is the greatest message of hope for the addict and the greatest invitation back into the arms of God. You do not need to make yourself clean for God—when we were still sinners Christ dies for us. It may be helpful to review the book of Romans for more on the struggle between the flesh and the spirit, and the intersection of grace and power.
The beauty is that through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, you have been given the power, through grace, to be free of your sin and again draw near to God.
It Is A Simple Process. Most people are more paralyzed by their own guilt and doubts than the judgment of God. Christ has borne your sin. That is why the Father sent him. Honor his suffering and death on the cross by believing and living in this truth. Forgiveness in God and the restoration of fellowship with Him is not a matter of brushing sin under the rug. As 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Repentance. This is the first step. Repenting means turning away from the sin that has taken over your life. Easier said than done? Remember, the power is not in you, but in Christ. Despite former failed attempts you can claim the promise of 2 Corinthian 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” If you desire to turn away from your sin, your addictions, and the former ways, you can be free.
Confession. While God sees everything, it is important to go to him honestly, and verbally confess your sin. Don’t be ashamed—God knows the very worst of you and He loves you even so. Remember, He made you. Romans 10:9-10 states: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’”
Prayer. In prayer, admit your desire to be reconciled to God. This doesn’t have to be a fancy, eloquent prayer. Talk to God authentically, as if you were talking to a closest friend—someone you know cares for you deeply. Confess your wrongs to God. Express your desire to repent and turn from your former ways and ask that Jesus Christ would rule in your heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you in righteousness, believing that in him, we are more than conquerors.
Peace With God. John 1:12 states, “to all who did receive him, who did believe in his name he gave the right to become children of God.” And that is what you are. The doubting, guilty thoughts will plague you as you seek recovery. Memorizing the promises of Scripture is your best defense against these attacks.
The Road Ahead. Though the road ahead may look daunting, there is victory for you in Christ. He makes all things new. Relationships will be restored; old wrongs and hurts will be healed.
You cannot know why you went through what you did, but you can be assured that you suffering in addiction can be a tool to bring bout God’s glory if you submit it to him and turn to walk in the light. Take hold of the promise of Philippians 3:13-14 “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”