But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God-who chose you to be his children-is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)

When we counsel addicts and alcoholics we use biblical terminology. We call them idolaters and drunks. Does that sound harsh? It shouldn’t if you are a Bible reader. We use those terms because that is what God uses!

Often, those we counsel with these issues are surprised to learn that our focus is not specifically on the drinking or drug use. Drinking and drug use are symptoms of the greater problem of the heart. Many of our counselee’s have been through secular counseling already and they have learned the acceptable mantra to recite. They know what to say to the counselor to get them off their back, and they know what the expectations are.

In our counseling center we focus less on pulling the bad fruit (drinking, drug use, gambling, etc.) off the tree because we know that very soon new bad fruit will grow in its place. Our goal and desire is to get to the root of the problem that leads your heart to desire escape, thrills, solace or whatever payoff you receive through the use of your substance (worship of your idol).

Of course we take the presenting problem seriously; we expect radical amputation to be applied to the person’s life and we expect them to abstain from worshiping whatever idol they have erected. The consequences of continuing in idolatry can be life threatening at the most and relationship destroying at the least.

The Lord Jesus Christ takes discontinuing of sin very seriously. In Matthew 5:29-30 He tells us to go as far as we possibly can to rid ourselves of our temptations to sin. He uses the example of plucking out your eye or chopping off your hand if those are what lead you to sin. It is better to be missing a few body parts and gain heaven than it is to be physically whole and condemned.

Now I guess I ought to say that I am not recommending self-mutilation by any means! It is an example so don’t hurt yourself. What this does mean is that if you have a worship problem/idolatry/addiction you must be willing to deal with it in a radical manner!

If you are a drunk it means that you get rid of all the alcohol in the house, you stay away from bars, parties, old drinking buddies and every thing else in your life that tempts you to drink. If you are a over eater it means you don’t go to all-you-can-eat buffets or drive through the fast food line. If you are abusing drugs of any kind it means you get rid of them and don’t buy any more! Even certain prescription drugs may now be off limits for you.

In short, it means that you are willing to go to any length needed to stop your destructive behavior. Radical amputation means radical life change in the material realm of your life. It also means radical amputation of the heart. Your “addiction” is really a heart issue, and to get through it you need some radical heart surgery. The roots of your heart are steeped in self and the worship of your own desires.

Changing what guides and motivates your heart is the only thing that will permanently change your actions. When your thoughts, beliefs, and desires are changed from “ME” to “GOD,” and changed from how I can please myself, serve myself, and worship myself to how can I live my life to glorify God then and only then will your life begin to change.

This is why I go on and on about heart change! What guides and motivates your heart is what will change the results (fruit) of your life. As you practice holiness, you are bringing God glory. That is to be the goal of each of our lives, to bring our gracious and wonderful God glory each day. It is the reason we are here. Glorifying God happens when the focus of life changes from living for my pleasure and glory to living for His pleasure and glory.