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Leslie Basham: When we see the long term effects of sin, we recognize it as ugly and dangerous. But at first glance, sin can seem very attractive. Here is Ed Welch.

Ed Welch: The nature of sin is not that we hate it. The problem is that we like it. And there is some temporary satisfaction to it.

Leslie Basham: It 's Tuesday, September 2; and you are listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Yesterday Nancy began a conversation with Ed Welch about addictions. What steps do we take when it seems like we can't say no to our desires? How can we help people whom we love who are in addictive behaviors? They'll continue that discussion today. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you have any idols in your home? You may think that is not a serious question. But it really is. You know one of the verses that God has been speaking to me about recently is chapter 5, verse 21 which is the last verse of the epistle of 1 John which says, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."

Now I don't have anything in my home that looks like what I think an idol ought to look like. But I have been meditating on that verse and asking the Lord if this is a Scripture given to believers as it was. "Keep yourselves from idols."

And I've been praying, Lord, would You show me what are the idols from which I need to keep myself? How does my heart need to be guarded and what are the idols of my heart that need to be repented of so that I can worship you with all my heart?

We're talking this week about the subject of addictions and we have here to help us Dr. Ed Welch who is a biblical counselor with the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in the Philadelphia area.

Ed, thank you for joining us here on Revive Our Hearts.

Dr. Ed Welch: It's a pleasure for me. Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And I so appreciate the wisdom and the understanding that God has given you. We try to bring in people who have wisdom in some of these practical areas of life with which we struggle to help our listeners and to help me know how to deal with some of these things from a biblical point of view.

You have written a book called Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. And someone may be wondering, Well, what do addictions have to do with idols? You say that they have a lot to do with each other.

Dr. Ed Welch: Yes, last time we spoke, the question was what does the Scripture say about addictions when you do not find the word appearing through the Scripture very often? And what we came to was the problem that all people throughout history have struggled with which is who will you worship?

Will you worship the true God or will you worship your idols? Now what does that have to do with the addictions either we struggle with or our spouses and children struggle with? And it goes something like this.

The Scripture first of all warns us to stay away from idols because we might like them. And so here we are. We're on the edges of Israel and we see some idolaters over there.

They seem like fairly normal people. But we might find that their crops are doing a little bit better than our own crops. So we talk to them and say, "What are you using? A certain kind of insecticide."

And they say, "Well, it's this little god that we have and it is the god of crops."

And the Israelites say, "Well, it doesn't sound familiar to me. We only have one God. Maybe what we should do is begin to line up another god. And so, we'll worship the true God but maybe we should add one more. And so, do you have an extra crop god in your home somewhere that we can borrow so we can worship it as well?"

The myth is that people move into addictions by the same way they have taken a line of cocaine and they were never an addict before that. Now they are a complete 100% addict. But there is a gradual decent into it in the same way as there is a gradual decent into all idolatry.

We begin by being a little bit unprepared where we don't think it's that bad a thing. We find other people using the drug, find other people interested in pornography and they seem like normal folks. So we consider it.

And when we consider, we say, "Well that wasn't too bad. I mean, I at least am a bit more satisfied because I have a kindred spirit here. I'm doing this with a friend; I'm part of a group."

The nature of sin is that we can't make this huge plunge into sin without our conscience screaming. So we have to take these little steps. So we go to a party. We'll use drug and alcohol as the illustration.

And other people are getting drunk and they seem like they are having a good time. So we consider it ourselves and we didn't die from it. And actually it was sort of fun.

So there are your first few steps. After that, you go back to a party again and this time, when you go to the party, you are feeling sort of down. And you just want to forget about what happened at work that day.

So you drink a little bit and when you drink you find, "Voila!" This little budding idol, this growing idol works for more things than just agriculture. It has given you a group of friends which is rather nice. It also makes you forget about things that happened at work that day. Now that is absolutely wonderful.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So there is some satisfaction here.

Dr. Ed Welch: Yeah. And then you have some problems with the children and you remember. Ahh. When I worshiped this little idol before, it really helped. Maybe I'll try it again.

So this time you don't do it with your friends. You go out to the store and you drink in your car. And you find that indeed you have forgotten about some of the hassles with your children.

And then, you have something really good that goes on. Let's say the Philadelphia 76'ers have just won a basketball game in which case you want to celebrate. You say, "Well what is a good way to celebrate? Well, that has been very functional. Maybe if I worship it, it can even help me to celebrate."

So you can see the nature of idolatry. It begins with something fairly innocent and then the idol begins to serve more and more and more purposes in our lives. And you can begin to see it takes center stage more and more in our lives. We move from finding it to be interesting to finding it to be absolutely critical in our lives.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Something I can't live without.

Dr. Ed Welch: And by that point, we are enslaved by it. The curious thing biblically is that we are voluntarily enslaved by it. We want to be enslaved by it. The picture is a banquet in a grave.

Where there is this celebration, this idol is giving me the things that I want. But when we open our eyes temporarily, (because we don't want to open our eyes) when we open our eyes, we look at the banquet and it is death. It is a place that is leading to spiritual and to physical death.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now you talk about voluntary slavery. And yet, as I have talked with those who have these addictive behavioral patterns, the sense is, "I can't help this. I'm not choosing to do this. It's got control over me and that's the slavery part."

But you are saying there is a voluntary aspect to it too.

Dr. Ed Welch: Now here's where the Scriptures seem to be very rich. They can add a good bit more to what the culture has suggested about addictions. The culture tends to emphasize the enslavement of addictions.

But Scripture brings in the critical part--which is that I do this because I want to do it. Yeah, maybe the person I'm dating is giving me a hard time all the time now. (I'm changing the metaphor from idolatry to more a lover relationship.)

Maybe everybody says, you know, "She's bad for me and I'm miserable as a result."

But, ultimately, I continue that relationship with the idolatress substance because I want it. I like it. That is fundamentally the nature of sin. The nature of sin is not that we hate it. The problem is that we like it. And there is some temporary satisfaction to it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And James 1 talks about some of those selfish desires that are within our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 15[:19], "out of the heart" these things come. So an addiction is really revealing something about the desires and the bent of my heart.

Dr. Ed Welch: Critical point. The world tends to emphasize the substance itself. It's the bottle that's out there that is so serious.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The external thing that is controlling me.

Dr. Ed Welch: Exactly. But the Scripture as we would imagine emphasizes this comes out of you. What is it that you will worship today?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now first hearing that might sound a little depressing as if to say, "If this is coming from within me, then you're putting all the responsibility back on me." And yet, to take that responsibility is really our first step into hope.

Dr. Ed Welch: And it sets a wonderful trajectory for us because it means that we are going to have to know a God who is much more attractive than we thought because He is going to have to be more beautiful than any substance that we worship.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The thing that you said in your book that was so helpful to me is that desire for God; coming to find Him more beautiful, more attractive, more desirable than all those things (we thought would satisfy our needs) becomes the cure.

Dr. Ed Welch: We know that we're thinking biblically if we are moving toward a place that is very attractive because the Gospel is surprising in its beauty. So that's where we want to go.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As you've talked about addictions, you've referenced alcohol and, in particular, drugs and these kinds of chemical substances. But I think of some other issues for those who may not think of themselves as "addicts" that may be more common to some of our listeners and I know to myself.

The thing of alcohol is not a temptation to me. It was never in our home. It is just not something that I have a desire for.

But there are areas where I do have desires that can lead me into addictive behavior. The one I hear most commonly among women probably is food--not inherently sinful.

I was thinking of shopping, as you were talking a few moments ago, and how these things can initially provide a sense of pleasure, relief, escape, warmth and comfort. We talk about comfort foods.

Dr. Ed Welch: Idolatry consists of things that are good but have become our gods. They are things that have grown to idolatrous proportions which can be absolutely anything.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We want to talk tomorrow about how we can walk into freedom. I know that many of our listeners are struggling right now.

Let me say to you that through Christ there is hope for you to be free from those bondages and to be free from those addictions. I'll tell you right away that we are not talking about a crisis experience that just makes all those issues go away. And I know that's what a lot of us would like to have.

Dr. Ed Welch: It's going to be a battle.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We're talking about a battle and a process of sanctification. But it is a process that has hope because at its end is finding a lover (to use the metaphor you used a few moments ago), that is more attractive, more desirable, more fulfilling than any of the things we've looked to in this world to find relief and release.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Ed Welch about the danger of addictions. If you would like some help in the process that Nancy just described, we recommend a booklet that Ed has written called Just One More: When Desires Don't Take No For An Answer.

Addictions are ultimately a spiritual issue and this booklet will help you focus first on your heart. Then it will offer some practical ways to avoid addictive behavior. You can get more information on our Web site at www.ReviveOurHearts.com or give us a call at 1-800-569-5959.

We do hope you will contact us especially this week because we are celebrating something special. Here's Nancy to explain.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well this week, Revive Our Hearts is celebrating a special birthday. It was two years ago this week that we first went on the air and what a blessed two years this has been.

It's been such a joy to hear from many of our listeners who have written to share with us how God has used this ministry to challenge their thinking, to help them think more biblically and to revive their hearts and their homes.

I am also so grateful for those who have supported this ministry financially over these two years and have made it possible for us to continue airing this program on some 500 radio outlets throughout the United States.

As we move into our third year on the air, I want to let you know that we really do need your prayers and your financial support. If this ministry has touched your life or your home in some way over these past two years, would you consider sending a financial gift to help this ministry continue?

We want to continue airing this program in your community and to trust God to revive more hearts and homes in the days ahead. When you send your gift make sure to let us know the call letters of the station where you listen to this program.

Thank you so much for your support. And my prayer is that in the days ahead, God will continue to revive our hearts.

Leslie Basham: You can send your letter to Revive Our Hearts. When you tell your child not to spoil his dinner, what do you mean?

Don't eat a snack when something much better is coming soon. Find out how that principle relates to addictions tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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