How can I be free?

No one plans to get addicted to drugs, sex, shopping, food, or anything else. But what starts off as an escape or a way to cope with stress quickly escalates until we feel powerless and in over our heads. Relationships become strained. Normal life activities such as work, family time, and sleep may be disrupted. We hate what we’re doing, but we keep going. We may become depressed or even suicidal because we feel trapped, with no hope. Yet Jesus gives hope in John 8:32 (NASB) when He says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The truth is that Jesus came to free us from sin. He frees us at the moment of salvation, when our relationship with Jesus begins. The penalty of sin is paid and the power of sin over us is broken immediately. We see this in the Bible. The condemned, adulterous woman encounters Jesus once and is instantly freed from her lifestyle of shame and sin. Jesus tells her, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NLT). This is no naïve suggestion. Jesus is giving life and healing. Jesus is telling her, “Your sins are forgiven, and now God literally strengthens and upholds you, not those men.”

In Luke 19, Jesus overlooks everyone else and picks a greedy tax collector out of the crowd. In response, Zacchaeus turns from a life of exploiting the poor to a life of lavish generosity. In an instant, Jesus transforms Zacchaeus’ deepest cravings. The idols of money and power lose their hold on him. Having known the love of God, Zacchaeus is freed to walk in the ways of God. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Satan lies and tries to convince us that we can never be free from our addictions. He wants us to believe that our genetics, biology, or environment determine whether we will be addicted. But for the Christian, Jesus is Lord and Master. In the Bible, Paul puts it, “I will not be controlled by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NET). Knowing he belongs to God, Paul also knows sin can’t control him in any way. He resists sin as one who knows the victory has already been given.

When it feels as though addictions control us, it’s really love of self that motivates us. Selfish living clouds our ability to rightly see life. No matter the cost, we want to please self, live for self, justify self, and indulge self. If you’re a Christian, you already know that loving yourself and your addictions more than God is anathema to who you are in Christ. You weren’t made to worship Self but to give Self—first to God and then to others.

If you’re a Christian struggling with addiction, your addiction has no real power over you. Stop living as though it does.

Instead, confess your sins to God and thank Him for His forgiveness. Then walk as one who’s free, regardless of your feelings or of how hard it seems sometimes. Fill yourself with God’s Word and praise Him for how He’s delivered you. Get around other believers who will encourage you with God’s truth and pray with you. When you’re tempted, stand firm in God’s Word. Believe, and even say out loud if necessary, “The love of Christ controls [me]” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

If you’re not a Christian but you can feel something being stirred up in your heart, don’t ignore it. God loves you and wants to free you for relationship with Him. You can find out more about what it means to have a relationship with God by visiting

Paul said in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Jesus didn’t come to bind us up under the letter of the law; He came to set us free to walk in new life. He frees us from the control and penalty of sin. He frees us from the control and bondage of addiction. He frees us from the shame and guilt of the past. Jesus is the great liberator.

Additional Resources

Galatians 5:13
2 Corinthians 3:17
Romans 8:1–4
Isaiah 61:1
The Gospel (one-page PDF)

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