September 8, 2011
The biblical terms for addiction is bondage, or enslavement. Titus 2:3 speaks of the problem of being addicted to much wine. The word translated “addicted” (dedoulomenos) comes from the word “slave” (doulos). A person is enslaved to a behavior when that behavior is seemingly impossible to quit. Normally when people experience severe negative consequences for some behavior, those consequences are enough to make them stop. Enslavement is when a person will continue to do in spite of such consequences. He is resolved to stop, wishes he could stop, but cannot seem to do it.
Enslavement to anything other than righteousness is sin. We are not to be mastered or controlled by anything (1 Cor. 6:12, 2 Pe. 2:19). Paul went to great lengths to make his body his slave for fear that even after having preached to others, he himself might be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, so all failure to exercise self-control is sin, whether it is a forbidden behavior, such as sexual immorality, or a neutral behavior, such as shopping or drinking coffee.
Instead of using the unhelpful and inaccurate psychological terms (neuroadaptation, tolerance, and dependence), perhaps a better definition of addiction is this:
Addiction is when a person keeps deciding to do something that he wishes he wouldn’t do (in other words, a bad habit).
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