Coming to Christ to Overcome Addictions
David W. Allan
We often think of the atonement as only being given to cover our sins as we repent, but it is so much more than that. You remember the woman with the issue of blood, who in faith reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’s garment and was healed. He sensed that virtue had gone out of Him and knew He had been touched and she healed, in which all rejoiced. Did He have any less virtue after; No, He has an infinite supply, which we can access as well for all of our ills. We all have issues, and like her, we can reach out in faith, and guaranteed, He will be there for us. It is my hope and prayer, by what I share, that you can go forth from this meeting feeling and knowing that He is there for you for all of your ills, whether they be mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical.
Thirty-nine years ago this April 11, in 1970 at 19:13:00 UTC Apollo 13 was launched from Cape Canaveral. The year before the world was astounded by the first lunar landing. This was to be a follow up mission. However, 55 hours into the flight a major accident happened with the oxygen supply system for the three astronauts. This aborted their opportunity to land on the moon, and looked as if they would be lost in space.
How many have seen the movie: Apollo 13? There is a main message that is missed in that movie; it is that the world united in prayer. The movie portrays the incredibly creative things that were done for them to survive – using very cleverly the limited resources they had available. I am confident, as were many at the time, that those repairs and how they used manual astronomical means to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere were guided by the inspiration of heaven.
I still remember the emotional relief and thrill we all had when they safely splashed down within sight of the recovery ship after more than 142 grueling hours – just off of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The world shed tears of joy. This will be nothing like the thrill we will have with the coming or our Lord and the tears of joy shed then. Like with the Apollo 13 crew, the united prayers of the righteous will the righteous to make it through the last days. Like them, we will be stretched to our limits and need to use every creative skill, but most importantly, we will learn to rely on the powers of heaven. All of these experiences will be for our good, and will bring us ever closer to the Lord as we reach out to Him.
Visualize that you are on a space ship called Earth traveling through the heavens. The Earth has traveled from somewhere nigh unto Kolob in our Galaxy, and because of the Fall, it is here in its current orbit. Through the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, it will be redeemed from the Fall and will return to the presence of the Father, celestialized. We know its destiny, and to be in harmony with our Creator is the greatest opportunity of our existence.
Now Satan knows it is his last hour and as the world has submitted, he has seditiously induced the moral decay the world is spiraling into. As we reach out in faith and touch the hem of the Lord’s garment, as it were, Satan has no power over us as we anchor our souls in Him and in His eternal truths. We can put on the breast plate of righteousness and the whole armor of God as outlined in D&C 27:18-21, and withstand every fiery dart of the adversary. (See Eph. 6:11-18)
As we come to Christ, He will bring us back to the Father on this celestialized earth. We will be there in glory with our loved ones who also chose Christ as the center of their lives – there to receive a fulness of JOY. Father’s plan of happiness is perfect – being brought to full fruition because of the infinite and perfect atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
There are some who say, “Earth is not our home.” But it will be our home in celestial realms of glory. We will look back then, like as we looked forward in pre-mortal time, at the trials, tribulations and sufferings of our mortal sojourn on the Earth, and know not only that it was not only all worth it but that we rejoiced in the opportunity to have these experiences, which were necessary for us to enjoy a fullness.
The Earth in its journey to perfection has been baptized of water. It is now preparing to be cleansed by fire in preparation for the reign of our Savior as King of kings and Lord of lords for a thousand years – as the Lord prepares a people to be delivered to the Father pure and without spot to receive the fulness that He has planned for each of us. We will rejoice greatly as we come to fully understand His marvelous and perfect plan of happiness.
Those who believe that Christ is just a great moral teacher, C. S. Lewis points out that this is absurd. Either Christ is what he said he was, the Son of God, or he is a liar. If a liar, then He cannot be a great moral teacher. If He is the Son of God, then we best get on with true Christianity – loving God and our fellow man and looking forward to being like Him. This was Christ’s great promise, as Lewis profoundly taught.
In overcoming the lusts of the flesh through Christ, Satan would have us believe that once we slip into sin that we might as well give up; if we repent, we’ll just do it again. So, what’s the use. The Lord’s way is the opposite. There is always hope, and His arms are stretched out still – willing to help us out of any sin, if we will but turn to Him. His atonement is infinite, and in Him we can be made free – body, mind, and spirit. In Him we will find love, joy, and peace as we exercise faith in Him and fully repent of every sin. How thankful we should be for Him. He will help us overcome all things because He has already.
Mark B. Kastleman in his book Healing Hearts & Mending Minds tells his story as a latter-day saint hooked on pornography and how it nearly destroyed him. In finding the Savior he found freedom from this horrible chemical addiction. He outlines a very powerful and successful recovery program.
From his book we read the following account:
Pornography addiction is a chemical addiction, producing a response in the brain like that of externally administered drugs.
There are many well-intentioned, yet ignorant people, who advise those buried in pornography addiction to “just stop looking at it.” This is akin to counseling an alcoholic to, “just stop drinking.” This is irresponsible and often increases the addict’s failure rate, shame, hopelessness and isolation, driving him deeper into his porn habit. Just as one would put their arm around the alcoholic and gently counsel, “Brother, there are wonderful recovery programs, you’re going to be fine, “ the attitude and response toward the pornography user should be no different.
Chris, an individual who successfully broke free from pornography, explained it this way: When I sought counsel from my religious leaders, they told me to pray and read my scriptures more, and to “just stop looking at it.” When I tried and failed over and over again, I was sure that there was something wrong with me, that I was basically evil and no-good. This caused me feelings of deep shame and despair. Then when I learned that just like other drugs, this is a chemical addiction, I remember shouting, “I’m not a freak and a loser – there’s a reason why I keep failing at this!” After that I started my recovery program and today I have a great life free from pornography!
The central feature of this recovery is for the person to feel the Lord’s love and to be loved by those around them. In his acknowledgments he says, “To my beloved Savior, for rescuing a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. His grace and spirit have made all things possible and I am eternally in His debt.” He then goes on to thank his wife and children for their great love and support. Being surrounded with this love is incredibly helpful in the recovery process – and for people to stay out of
judgment. Only the Lord knows our hearts.
This love along with meaningful, procedural activities in thought and action are outlined in his book. These put the person on the path to full recovery – receiving the healing powers of the atonement, and it is Christ alone who can truly heal our bodies, minds, and spirits. Giving Christ our hearts to mold and asking Him to help train our minds so that our thoughts are continually turned to Him is fundamental.
Since Mark’s book is out of print, for those interested I outline below the key steps.* What we do with our thoughts is so critical.
A power which binds or makes men free.
The precedent of actions yet to be.
A guide, a builder of self-control,
Shaping the destiny of the soul.
– Amy Baker
President David O. McKay: The greatest power in the world today, and the power that is needed to thwart the schemes of the adversary, is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. That man is greatest who is Christlike, and what you think of Christ is largely what you will be. ¶What you think about when you are not compelled to think, determines what you really are.
Vice is a monster,
of so frightful a mien,
As to be hated,
needs but to be seen.
Yet seen too oft’,
familiar with her face,
First we endure,
then pity, then embrace.
– Alexander Pope
It does not have to be this way. In contrast, when a Christ centered person sees vice, he or she is repulsed by it, while the world endures, pities, and embraces sin.
Before the Second Coming, there will be a great division centered around two kinds of people:
1. Those that are Christ centered – serving Father’s children, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and are motivated by their love of God and their fellow men, helping to bring about Zion, which will be glorious.
2. Those that are self-centered – serving their appetites and passions, seeking the things of this world rather than laying up treasures in heaven, and are motivated by the lusts of the flesh, partaking of Babylonian (worldly) activities which shall fall before He comes.
Let your food be plain and wholesome,
From all stimulants abstain.
Keep the body you live in,
Clean and pure from every stain.
Let each day be one of doing,
Idle moments are seeds of death.
Strong minds and strong bodies,
Require work as well as rest.
Let your mind be chaste and pure,
An evil mind makes vice and crime.
Honest thinking and noble deeds,
Build a character grand, sublime.
Let each hour be full of sunshine,
Pleasure comes from doing good.
Life is full of happy moments,
When life’s aim is understood.
– The Human Culture Digest
The importance of being “pure in heart” is paramount as we approach the end time. “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8) “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.” (D&C 97:21)
Aristotle: Tolerance [is] the last virtue of a dying society.
Marcus Aurelius: If it is not clean, do not think it. If it is not true, do not speak it. If it is not good, do not do it.
Bishop Christian A. Madsen:... purity and harmony are qualities of good music,... awakening memories from ...seraphic strains of heavenly music (as was heard by hundreds of people in the Manti Temple) its influence on souls ready for initiation, refines and purifies the candidates longing for victory over sin, and striving for perfection. Improvement Era, 1899, Vol. Ii. June, No. 8.
President Ezra Taft Benson in his hallmark October 1985 General Conference talk: “When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. "No man," said President David O. McKay, "can sincerely resolve to apply to his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature. The phrase 'born again' has a deeper significance than many people attach to it. This changed feeling may be indescribable, but it is real." (CR April 1962, p. 7.)
Our Lord told Nicodemus that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Of these words President Spencer W. Kimball said, "This is the simple total answer to the weightiest of all questions…. To gain eternal life there must be a rebirth, a transformation." (CR April 1958, p. 14.)
In addition to the physical ordinance of baptism and the laying on of hands, one must be spiritually born again to gain exaltation and eternal life.
Alma states: "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; "And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God." (Mosiah 27:25 26.)
Those who had been born of God after hearing King Benjamin's address had a mighty change in their hearts. They had "no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (See Mosiah 5:2, 7.)
Alma... asks...speaking frankly to the members of the Church, "I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?
Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" (Alma 5:14.)
He continued, "If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26.)
The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.
"Human nature can be changed, here and now," said President McKay, and then he quoted the following:
You can change human nature. No man who has felt in him the Spirit of Christ even for half a minute can deny this truth. You do change human nature, your own human nature, if you surrender it to Christ. Human nature has been changed in the past. Human nature must be changed on an enormous scale in the future, unless the world is to be drowned in its own blood. And only Christ can change it.
(Quoting Beverly Nichols, in Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, pp. 23, 127.)
Finally, men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 192). Their will is swallowed up in His will (see John 5:30). They do always those things that please the Lord (see John 8:29). Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him. Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians. They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places (see Mosiah 18:9). They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought (see D&C 6:36). They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever (see Alma 37:36)... every week they partake of the sacrament and witness anew to their Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.
In Book of Mormon language, they "feast upon the words of Christ" (2 Nephi 32:3), "talk of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26), "rejoice in Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26), "are made alive in Christ" (2 Nephi 25:25), and "glory in [their] Jesus" (see 2 Nephi 33:6). In short, they lose themselves in the Lord, and find eternal life (see Luke 17:33). (A Witness and a Warning, pp. 61-65.)
(Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 75-78.)
*Highlights from Mark Kastleman’s recovery program as he overcame pornography, as outlined in his book:
1) Teach the truth about sex.
2) Shut down the gateway to porn addiction.
3) Don’t underestimate pornographers and overestimate people – PROTECT!
4) Fight for decency.
5) Create and nurture true intimacy in your family relationships.
THE RECOVERY PROGRAM
1) Recognize and admit you have a problem.
2) Understand “How you got here.”
3) Clearly identify your motive for recovery.
4) Shed the shackles of shame, isolation and secrecy.
FOUR SIMPLE DAILY COMMITMENTS
1) Engage in consistent daily self-care for your spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental well being.
2) Build new mental models & habits through consistent daily practice; the Lord will help you greatly to realign your thought patterns as you come to Him and ask for help with real intent.
3) Nurture healthy, intimate relationships.
4) Keep a journal to consistently track and assess your progress.
Learning how to love as the Lord loves is our primary purpose in life, which, guaranteed, will lead us to the greatest happiness in this life and Eternal Life in the life to come. This is key to overcoming all problems and all addictions. To this intent, I have written an article called All About Love: Finding, keeping, understanding, and enjoying true love in your life.