Spiritual StrugglesWhen you struggle spiritually, how do you react?
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A Private Problem
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume (v.9).
Pastor. Husband. Father. Sex addict.
Nate Larkin’s addiction first began after he visited the red-light district in New York City. He was on a school-sponsored field trip at the time, intending to educate seminary students about the sex industry.
Eventually, Larkin would—as he put it—“toggle” between two lives. His double life included viewing pornography first thing in the morning (even on Sunday mornings before taking the pulpit to preach an hour later). Conflicted, he longed for “a private solution to [his] private problem.”
God’s solution didn’t involve confidentiality. When Larkin’s wife discovered his obsession, he decided to “get out of [his] private world and go somewhere else for help.” That “somewhere else” was a group of guys with similar struggles. Together they lived out James 5:16, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Being accountable to others, however, will work only if we’re done with deceit. Fellow believers can’t help unless we reveal the true depth and frequency of our sin. Honesty with others shows that we’re serious about sin, and it also pleases God (Proverbs 12:22).
Accountability also involves receiving correction when necessary. This means listening to and acting on “an open rebuke” (27:5) rather than being swayed by people who flatter us and enable our unhealthy habits (28:23). Accountability partners can receive the insights of others who have “been there.” Through this, the addict discovers that “the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume” (27:9).
Ultimately, only Jesus can forgive and cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:9), while freeing us from our cravings (Romans 8:37). And honest and humble relationships with other Christians can help us stay close to Him as we veer away from our private obsessions.
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Read Proverbs 21:2 to see why God must be at the center of addiction recovery.
How does friendship play a role in addiction? What will you do the next time you’re compelled to satisfy a craving?
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