I was shocked to get this answer from a guy on a mission team when I asked him how he had slept: “Not too well. I normally smoke some weed at night to help me calm down.” His pastor assured me that he is receiving prayer and help to deal with this addiction, so, like all of us, he is a work in progress.
Apart from the fact that marijuana is illegal here, this raises all sorts of questions for me about our attitude to drugs. By drugs I mean any chemical other than food or prescription drugs used to change our state of mind. There are a whole lot of grey areas here, such as anti-depressants which are a boon to people struggling with chemical imbalances but can become over-prescribed to medicate sadness.
Let’s look at some common examples:
the use of weed to help with sleep
needing a glass of wine or beer (or two or three glasses) after work to relax
taking “uppers” to help with long work hours
needing the cup of coffee to get started in the morning
Caffeine, for most of us, is harmless. It stimulates the body a little bit and doesn’t have any long term effects on the body. However it is being used in larger quantities in so-called energy drinks and in many soft drinks. If you regularly “need” caffeine to keep going then there is a problem. If you need coffee before you can face humanity in the morning there is an addiction issue.
Christ came to set us free from every bondage. I like tea and coffee, and I used to drink wine some times. I have never been addicted to any of these things. If I were to start to depend on them to make me feel good, then I would no longer be free. When we depend on anything other than Christ, we are in captivity.
Paul writes in Galatians 5:1:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
To say that I need anything other than Christ is idolatry. We are saying that God doesn’t really meet our needs, and we will only be happy if we have something in addition to what He gives us in Christ. This of course is the original temptation in the Garden of Eden. Eve didn’t really believe that God had given her all that she needed and much more. We often don’t really believe God’s word either.
Modern idolatry takes all kinds of forms- sex, possessions, sports, entertainment, drugs. In each from there is an element of placing something at the centre of our desires (that’s what worship really means) that is not God. To be dependent on drugs is to bow down to an idol.
Addiction, particularly to drugs which alter our state of mind, is a gateway for spiritual bondage. There is a spirit of addiction which keeps us dependent. If you open your spirit to an evil spirit, there is no room for the Holy Spirit. We are each meant to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, so no unclean thing should be allowed access.
Relying on chemicals, whether legal or not, inhaled, injected, eaten or drunk, holds us back from maturity. We are looking to them and not to Christ for our fulfilment.
If you are struggling with any addiction and you are a follower of Jesus, then you need to repent, ask for grace to overcome and seek help from trusted people. The Lord has the strength to overcome this in you.