We have been working with addicts for many years and over time we have come to understand that in order to be effective in what we do and help addicts find freedom, we need to learn the methods of spiritual warfare and understand the principles by which God operates.
We can learn how God works and how He helps to win victories when, for example, we read how God gave the ancient Israelites victories over their enemies, since the wars described in the Bible are an image of our struggle with sin.
In my opinion, it is very important to notice the fact that the instructions that God would give the Israelites regarding the methods of warfare were very different and often quite unexpected. For example, in one case, the Israelites had to circle around Jericho seven times, and during another battle, Moses had to stand on a mountain and pray with his hands lifted up. The meaning of all this diversity, as I understand it, was to make it clear to everyone Who actually gave those victories.
The same is true for healings. If you read the New Testament carefully, you will see that Jesus healed people in many different ways. He could simply say to someone: “Be clean”, or could lay his hands on a person, or someone could touch Him and receive healing, etc. The apostles, by the way, acted in a similar way, so that the people would understand it was neither the touch itself that healed them, nor the particular prayer, nor even the particular person, but God Himself.
And it is interesting that some people did not quite understand Who really helped them. In the Bible there is a well-known story about the serpent of brass, through which God helped the Jews in the wilderness to be healed from the deadly bites of poisonous snakes. In the beginning, this serpent, which was attached to a high wooden pole, worked very well against those bites. But then, when the poisonous snakes had been removed from the people and the serpent of brass was no longer needed, God, so to speak, deprived the latter of its healing power. Some Israelites, however, misunderstood what happened and for many years continued to believe that the serpent had some special healing properties, and even made a kind of idol out of it. That means they did not fully understand Who had actually healed them.
It is also interesting to see that something similar happens very often to the addicted people who come to our rehab centers. Many of them receive miraculous healing from their addictions, but because of their unbelief they cannot see the hand of God in this process and believe that the rehab center itself helped them, and not God. That is, the center becomes a kind of serpent of brass for them, and this is a big problem, because later, if these guys fall and return to drugs, they run to the rehab centers instead of running to God. But this time, being in a rehab does not really help them, because God wants them to understand that only He can save them. And only when they understand that, will they get their true healing.
And not only drug addicts should know this important truth, but all of us, because, whether we realize it or not, we are all waging an unceasing war against sin that wants to control us and wants to enslave us, war against our sinful desires and bad habits. And only God can give us victory, because we can never prevail against our sinful inclinations, thoughts and cravings on our own.
Yes, God helps us win this war, but He does it in different ways – just like He did in the history of Israel. Sometimes God sets us free after a simple prayer: “Lord, help me!” For example, you tried many times to quit smoking and nothing worked out for you, and then you suddenly prayed such a simple, childish prayer – and you completely lost the desire to smoke. In other cases, repentance, or a deep awareness of one’s sinfulness, helps us fight against sin. Sometimes what we need is a deep knowledge of Biblical truths, for Jesus himself told his disciples that the truth would set them free. And at times we also need to learn more about spiritual warfare and ask God to deliver us from the satanic power that keeps us in the grip of sin.
There are also cases when fasting helps to fight effectively against sin. Profound dedication to God also plays a very important role in our deliverance from sins. For my part, I can say that great changes happened in my struggle with sin after I had dedicated myself to the ministry of serving other people. That was when God helped me truly liberate certain areas of my life that had previously been occupied by the enemy.
You know, over the years I have come to the conclusion that the methods by which God delivers us are not only different, but also very simple. Still, it is easier for us to rely on a certain experience or method than on God. Sometimes it is because of our lack of faith, and sometimes it is because someone has confused us. I’ll tell you how it usually happens. Let’s say a believer who has experienced a supernatural healing or deliverance starts telling others how it had come to pass and invites everyone to try and do what he did. If this person is especially influential, he may even write a book about his experience or organize seminars and teach his method, giving it a new, attractive or unusual-sounding name. In reality, however, this person does not invent anything new, for Christianity is already 2000 years old and everything that God needed to reveal to us, He has long since revealed. People, however, are still trying to come up with something original (maybe even to make a name for themselves), and this leads to the situation when amidst all these methods, amidst all these “serpents of brass”, believers forget the One Who actually helps them.
So, what is the most effective method of fighting with addictions? Does it exist at all? I’m sure it does, but it is different for everyone, and each of us can find it, turning first and foremost to the Lord, the only One who can truly heal us, for “there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Cor. 12:6).