The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 7

To follow up our examination in Lesson 6 of Patrick T. McCormick’s view of sin as an addiction, we will now look at the ways Larry Crabb’s approach to the sin problem parallel the addiction model (Larry Crabb, Inside Out [Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988]).

Although Crabb did not argue for the addiction model of sin, elements of his approach are similar to it. Crabb, a Christian counselor with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Illinois, recognized denial as a way of life for those who “refuse to think about troubling things going on within [them],” who wanted to think that they can manage life, and who “deny the evidence in [their] soul that more is wrong than [they] know how to handle.” He pointed out that even a commitment to obedience may not reflect “a passionate desire to pursue God, but a stubbornly fearful determination to not feel deep frustration and personal pain.”

Crabb saw the “disease of self-management” as infecting all of Adam’s descendants. This may be compared to McCormick’s “self-centeredness.” According to Crabb, an inside look will uncover two elements imbedded deeply within the human heart: “(1) thirst or deep longings for what we do not have; and (2) stubborn independence reflected in wrong strategies for finding the life we desire.”

The compulsive nature of sin — an idea inherent in the addiction model — was recognized by Crabb. The compulsive nature of sin causes many of us to “struggle with habits we can’t seem to break, habits of thought as well as habits of deed.” The ache in the souls of those “who don’t know what it means to depend on Christ to satisfy their inmost being … relentlessly drives them toward immediate relief.”

The common response to pain is “limited to either denying how badly we hurt or to medicating ourselves through some form of temporary gratification.” These are evidences of addiction.

Compulsive habits “grow out of our attempts to relieve the unbearable tension that results from our failure to deal with the disappointment of our deepest longings for relationship.” Addiction may occur anywhere genuine love is absent: “Unless we are moving toward other folks with the love with which God moved toward us, the appeal of a broad range of intense pleasures may become compulsively attractive.”

The biblical solution to addiction’s creeping influence is found in these words of Jesus:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35, NKJV).

In Lesson 8, we will examine the idolatrous nature of sin, the connection between addiction and deceit, and the significance of the addiction model for recovery from sinful behaviors.