Believing the Lie
By Don Umphrey
The fact that Satan is a liar has a whole lot to do with addiction and addiction recovery.
Here’s what the Lord said about Satan: “… There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b).
The first time Satan appears in the Bible, he tells Eve she would not die from eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:4). Of course, we all know how that story came out.
As a part of the lie, Satan tempts us by making bad things look good. This is reflected in the fact that “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (1 Corinthians 11:14 ).
The Initial Lie
All addictions start out seeming to have an upside to them.
As a senior in high school alcohol seemed to propel me from nerd to “make-out artist.” All of a sudden I pictured myself as the life-of-the-party kind of guy. In reality, however, I had taken Satan’s bait that would take me down a path of self-destruction.
I’ve heard the same kind of thing from people who used cocaine or heroin for the first time.
The lie continues as Satan leads people in denial when they fail to recognize negative effects brought on by their addictions. As an example of this, during my decade of drinking, I reached a point where I became afraid to leave home without prior fortification with alcohol. In my denial it never occurred to me that alcohol was the cause of this problem.
The Three-Pronged Illness
It is said in recovery groups that addiction is a three-pronged disease: mental, physical, spiritual.
As a result of near-daily drunkenness during my mid-twenties, I was mentally ill (via depression, anxiety attacks, and neurotic fears of impending doom); physically ill (I was in the early stages of cirrhosis at age 26), and spiritually sick (by turning my back on God).
I am not unique in this regard.
To come out of denial, an individual needs to have a moment of clarity like the prodigal son who was starving in a pig pen while wishing he could eat pig food. That’s when he “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). He then started thinking of his father as the solution to his problems in contrast to his earlier thoughts—the old fogey standing in his way of him having a good time.
As evidence of the depth of my denial, a year before hitting rock bottom, I went to an internal specialist who did blood work on me. It was from him that I learned I was in the early stages of cirrhosis. He told me to cut back on my alcohol consumption. I promised that I would but put that advice out of my mind and was continually under the influence of alcohol during the year that followed.
I finally came out of denial in a mental hospital after a fellow patient pointed out to me that my mental problems were the result of alcoholism and guided me to a 12-step recovery program.
Self-Centered to God-Centered
Based on biblical principles championed by the Oxford Group in the early 1920s, early members of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote the 12 steps to recovery.
When a person takes Step One, it is a sign that he or she has come out of denial. Here is the first step: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.
Over the years more than 200 different groups have adopted the same 12 steps. Some groups using the 12 steps include overeaters, gamblers, users of pornography, marijuana, heroin, nicotine, debtors, workaholics and even racists. All these recovery groups plug into the first step the addiction that has taken them to their knees.
Based on this, I have concluded that the steps take people from self-centered (no matter how it might manifest itself) to God-centered.
More About the Devil
It is said that Satan is guilty of pride.
Elaborating on this, “pride carries, not only a lofty self-centeredness, but also a lively competitiveness against others that easily becomes a lustful, destroying enmity. It is highly critical, envious, and impatient, and it can be effortlessly stirred to anger, possessiveness, and suspicion of being taken advantage of. These characteristics are a part of Satan's spirit.”1
“Pride and self-centeredness motivate us to exaggerate the value of our thoughts. It causes us to elevate our opinions and raises the importance of the fulfillment of what we perceive as our needs even above God's and, of course, decidedly higher than our fellowman’s.”2
Therefore, we may conclude that the 12 steps take people from being led by Satan on a course of selfishness and self-destruction to a God-centered life of contentment and service to others.
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© 2023 by Don Umphrey
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1 and 2. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/10902/Self-Centeredness.htm.