In our previous ten lessons, we have considered the possibility that sin can be characterized as an addiction. Some may at first reject this idea, thinking that somehow if we use this language it could soften our view of sin and make it more acceptable. In the final analysis, however, what matters is how sin is described in Scripture. If there is a biblical warrant for thinking of sin in a certain way, regardless of the vocabulary we use, that inspired insight should help us deal with habitual sin.
I recall seeing a billboard in Modesto, California that read as follows: “O Lord, please give me hatred for the sin I love.” I don’t know who was responsible for that message, nor do I know the specific sin that person loved. But I do know all sin is destructive and serves to separate us from fellowship with God. Whatever we can do to find freedom from sin, we must. As John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin” (I John 2:1a, NKJV). But that is not the end of the verse. He continued to write, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1b, NKJV).
Later in the same chapter, John tells us not to love the world or the things in the world. The reason for this is that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (I John 2:15). But what does it mean to love the world or the things in it? This is summed up in the next verse in three brief terms:
For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world (I John 2:16, NKJV).
The word translated “lust” refers to strong desires. Although we can’t work out all the details of this in a brief blog, it would be accurate to say the three statements of concern to John describe pride, greed, and moral impurity. These sins may be manifested in many ways, but when reduced to their essence, they are “all that is in the world.” The world has nothing lasting to offer, but there is something that does:
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:17, NKJV).
In future lessons, we will look at Keith Miller’s proposed adaptation of the Twelve Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. This will not be a substitute for biblical insight. As we consider each step, we will compare it to what Scripture says in relation to that idea to see if rings true. If so, it may open our eyes to practical ways we can apply powerful truths to struggles that have long frustrated us spiritually.