Addiction is devastating! It affects an individual in body, mind and spirit. After receiving Christian inpatient rehab for an addiction, the work of staying clean and sober in many cases is only beginning. A huge part of staying clean is finding a way to heal from all the pain and anguish that the addiction caused. Part of that challenge is learning to get off the dangerous and ultimate deadly path of relapse and continue on their path to total freedom.
You may have already experienced how a tempting thought to “use” can progress into full-blown relapse. In our earlier post about relapse (to read click here), we discussed the road to relapse. One of the most critical steps is to stop the thought of using drugs or alcohol. To briefly recap, you are not responsible for the initial thought of drinking or using drugs, but you are responsible for what you do with those thoughts.
God can help you to change your thoughts!
There is a scripture that says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
What? I can immediately change what I’m thinking about? Yes! The beauty of the Word of God is that it is living. It has the power to speak to our present situation and circumstance and helps us in times of temptation and crisis. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about dealing with tempting thoughts.
How do I stop the thoughts to use after they have entered my mind?
The Bible tells us to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6). What does that mean? You are fighting a daily battle. Thoughts to use can enter our minds on a consistent basis, and many times these harmful thoughts are actually not from us, but from a spiritual enemy (the Bible calls him Satan or the Devil) who loves causing destruction in the lives of those who are in recovery. What can you do to arm yourself against these attacks? How can you fight off these attacks? God has provided a way. It is found in the Word of God – the Bible – and it is there that we can “armor up,” so to speak. You can read about what each piece or armor means by studying the Bible passage in Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10-18, but right now we are going to specifically focus on the helmet of salvation. The helmet of salvation is the fifth part of the armor of God.
The Helmet of Salvation
What does it mean for us today?
- How do we put it on?
- How does it protect us?
Salvation means being saved from our old lifestyle of addiction—receiving forgiveness from our past mistakes (the Bible calls them sin), and as a result, freedom from our past. Forgiveness and eternal life are gifts God greatly desires to give to everyone: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
How Do We Receive Forgiveness?
Being forgiven, “saved” as many Christians call it, starts with a very simple but genuine prayer. Many people call it the Sinner’s Prayer. There’s no exact formula, because it’s meant to be spoken out loud, from the heart directly to God, but here are some of the basics:
- Admitting you are a sinner. Example: “God, I know I’m a sinner. I know I’ve done things that are wrong.”
- Believing that Jesus died on the cross to take away all your sins. Example: “I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin.”
- Asking forgiveness for your sins and turning away from them (called repentance in the Bible). Example: “Forgive me from my sins. I turn away from them.”
- Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ and making him Lord of your life. Example: “I make a decision to surrender to you and live according to your plan for my life.”
- Thanking God for being willing to listen to your prayer. Example: “Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen.”
That’s how the Christian life starts, and allows God’s power to become activated in our lives, so we don’t have to try to do it all on our own! Getting right with God by praying this prayer allows Him to change the core of our personality, and brings us onto the path for the future He has planned.
More About the Helmet of Salvation
What does a helmet have to do with salvation? A helmet protects a soldier against damaging and deadly blows to the head. Spiritually speaking, the helmet of salvation provides hope and protects the mind against anything that would disorient or destroy the Christian, such as discouragement or deceit.
“A helmet protects a soldier against damaging and deadly blows to the head.”
The armor of God is indispensable and leaving off any piece of the armor would have been dangerous, but to go without the helmet would have been unthinkable. We can no more afford to be without the helmet of salvation today.
How does this apply to someone struggling with substance abuse? God does not promise that we will never be tempted, but that when we are, He will provide a way of escape. However, there are things that we can do to avoid unnecessary temptation. Many times temptation can be completely avoided by following these simple tips.
In Matthew 6, Jesus taught his disciples to ask God to lead them away from temptation (Matthew 6:13). A daily relationship with God in prayer is a first step to avoiding temptation.
Use the Word of God
There are many good verses that will help you overcome certain temptations. Memorizing Bible verses targeted to combat your areas of temptation will be a protection and defense. You need to work on memorizing a list of Bible verses that will help you avoid temptation. You cannot rely on finding a Bible at the moment of temptation. These verses have to become second nature to you.Spend time in God’s word daily. Make it a habit.
“Spend time in God’s word daily. Make it a habit.”
Understand Your Personal Temptation and Weaknesses
Not everyone is tempted in the same way. What is a struggle for one person may not be the least bit tempting to another person. For example, one person may be tempted with smoking. For the next guy, smoking has never had a foothold on the person and therefore is not at all tempting. James 1:14 says that we are drawn away with our own lusts. This indicates that each person has their own weak areas to deal with. You need to understand your own weakness so that you will know how to combat and avoid it.
“…each person has their own weak areas to deal with.”
God has promised to make a way to escape temptation. If you will look for the escape route then you can flee the temptation. Many times this way of escape is to literally walk (or run) away. Temptation often comes when you find yourself in certain situations or places. When you recognize one of those situations it is time to pack up your stuff and get out of there. (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22)
Create an Accountability Network
As Christians we have direct access to God. There is no place in the Bible where we are taught that we must confess our sins to others to have forgiveness from God. However, the Bible does teach that creating accountability with someone else can help you in your struggle against temptation (James 5:16).
You do not need to go into detail with with everyone about about your struggles, but the people you can trust really do need to know how to pray for you.
A good friend can be a tremendous help to keeping you on track. There’s a difference between an acquaintance, a casual friend, a close friend, and an intimate friend. People who feel they can speak into your life are a great asset. It really says a lot about how much someone cares when they are willing to confront red flag behaviors they see in you. A challenge from someone who cared enough to speak up at the right time has saved many lives from self-destruction.
A pastor can make a great accountability partner. Do you have a local Christian pastor you can talk to? Pastors are very understanding, and nothing you say will surprise them. They have had every age group from elderly to teen challenge them about faith, life problems, questions, health issue and even more.
Find someone who is a positive influence.
A wise man once said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If that’s true, we need to be extremely careful who we’re around. The people we spend time with influence us subconsciously. If those relationships are unhealthy, they affect us many times in ways we can’t even identify. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow and make right choices. If you’re not sure whether someone’s a good or bad influence, ask yourself how you feel after being with the person, and what type of behavior they draw out of you. If you feel confused, angry, lazy, reckless, or rebellious every time you spend time with someone, they’re probably not a good fit for the new sober lifestyle you want to live.
Find people who you have no doubt are a positive influence. This type of person has the following effect on you: you feel encouraged, focused, clear-minded, strong or inspired to make healthy decisions. This may be someone from church, a family member, someone from work, a pastor, mentor or someone else.
Tell them that you are struggling in a certain area. Look through the Bible together finding verses that will be a help to you.
Have your friend ask you occasionally how you are doing in this area. Ask them check in with you as often as you feel would be helpful to you to stay on track
Make a promise to your friend that you will not lie to them when asked about how you are doing. You only hurt yourself when you lie to the other person.
Ask your friend to pray for you—not stand in judgment.
Don’t be Discouraged
In the case of a slip or relapse, you should not become complacent about your relapse. But you should also not allow it to defeat you. Don’t accept your relapse as if it doesn’t matter. Realize you do have a choice in your future actions. Consider attending Christian inpatient rehab in AZ if you have been using large amounts of drugs or alcohol, or using often, or have developed mental or physical side effects from that substance abuse.
“You have a choice in your future actions!”
Admit It When You Make a Mistake and Ask God for Forgiveness
When you fall to temptation and make a wrong decision, talk to God and admit it! He already knows everything we have ever done. You are not telling Him anything that is a surprise. But for your own sake you should humble yourself before God and ask him to forgive you.
Hopefully this provides you with helpful information on how to prevent a tempting thought from progressing into full-blown relapse and how to get back on track if you do go down that road. At Life Transformation Recovery, we offer faith-based, clinically-proven rehab in AZ to help you step away from drugs and find the path to sobriety. We believe that coupling experienced counselors with your own spiritual growth strengthens you and helps ensure a longer, more stable recovery from substance abuse. Call or contact us today at (844) 582-FREEDOM for more information.