Are all addictions sinful?

Question:

Hi,

I'm still confused about I Corinthians 6:12, where it says, "I will not be enslaved by anything." To me it sounds like all addictions are sinful. I know we talked about this, but I'm still confused.


Answer:

In I Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul gave a list of some sin that can keep a person out of heaven: fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, greed, drunkenness, slander, and swindlers. He then points out that among the members of Corinth were people who used to be involved in these types of sins, but they gave them up. Starting with I Corinthians 6:12 Paul addresses the various arguments people give to justify their sins. "It's lawful!" But even when something is technically lawful, sometimes it must be given up for the greater good . Also, even when something is lawful, if it controls my decisions, then I am nothing more than a slave to it.

In another book Paul wrote, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:12-18). All sin can be enslaving (addicting), but Paul argues that we cannot let our desires control us.

Let's consider something more neutral. I love sweets, but I also know that too many sweets is bad for my health. "It is not good to eat much honey" (Proverbs 25:27). Do I let my desires for sweets control my decisions regarding what to eat, or do I use my reason to control my desires?

In the same way, many sins are legal in the world's view, but do I let my desires rule my decisions whether I am involved in those sins, or do I use my reason to control my desires? Consider how many people justify their choice to sin by saying, "I couldn't help myself." They are saying they are slaves to the sin and not men free to choose right and wrong. Later Paul wrote, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (I Corinthians 10:13). No one has to give into sin.

A related argument is then made in I Corinthians 6:13, "This is the way God made me." Yes, I must eat, but eating is not the most important thing in the world. In fact, the body that God gave me is only for this world and, therefore, is temporary. "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Corinthians 5:1). To argue that something temporary should control our eternal destiny is foolish. Besides, God did not give you these desires for the purpose of sinning. "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone" (James 1:13). The body you have was given to you so that you may serve God. There are good and righteous use for each of our desires, but it is the righteousness that comes first and then then desire is satisfied.

Though our bodies are temporary, God raised Jesus from the dead, which means we can be raised as well. That means our bodies are connected to Christ. You could say that they belong to Christ, since he has control over our resurrection. "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:5-11). Given that case, it makes no sense to use this body of mine for the sins that I was freed from. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

So if by "addiction," you mean that a person lets his desires control the decisions he makes, then the addiction leads to sin. If you mean by "addiction" that someone has a strong desire to do something, but he doesn't let those desires control his decisions, then it does not lead to sin.