The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 8

In this lesson, 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.

We will do this in view of the parallels between Larry Crabb’s insights and those of Gerald G. May and Patrick McCormick. (See Larry Crabb, Inside Out [Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988]; Gerald G. May, M.D., Addiction and Grace [New York: HarperCollins, 1988]; and Patrick T. McCormick, Sin as Addiction [New York: Paulist Press, 1989].) Although Crabb does not advance the addiction model of sin, his perspectives are similar to those who do embrace the addiction model.

The idolatrous nature of sin is seen by Crabb. “We can recognize our demanding dependence on people, our sinful insistence that others do for us what they cannot do (a form of idolatry). Idolatry is at the heart of addiction.

Crabb points out that the “deceitful character of our heart helps us believe that things are quite a bit better than they really are.” Deceit is one of the problems associated with addiction that is recognized by May and McCormick.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:5-10, NKJV).

Though the addiction model is missing, the perspective brought by Crabb is quite similar to that of May and McCormick, and Crabb’s insights on “real change from the inside out” may be helpful in breaking the sin cycle.

The Significance of the Addiction Model for Recovery from Sinful Behaviors

In a word, the remedy for addiction is the grace of God. There must be more than “an intellectual attempt to align the will with grace.” This is not renewed willpower, but the “alignment of our will with God’s … at a heart level, through authentic choices of faith that are empowered by God.”

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13, NKJV).

In Lesson 9, we will look at the additional significance of the addiction model for recovery from sinful behaviors, the only effective way of ending an addictive behavior, and the specific kind of repentance required for change.