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When Secrets Kill: How Addiction Reveals Our Worship Disorder

This is part 2 of The Scorching Thirst that Fuels all Addiction

The bizarre conversation between the Samaritan woman and Jesus continues as Jesus introduces himself as the provider of living water.

When the woman asks Jesus for a drink of this living water (v.14), Jesus reveals her spiritual thirst as he says, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (v.16)

“I have no husband,” she replies.

Jesus says, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

Jesus is showing her the reality of her life: she is trying to quench her spiritual thirst through going from one man to the next. She has had 5 husbands and now she is living with a man she isn’t married to.

Even by today’s standards, this is pretty shocking. And this woman was still thirsty.

To know and to be known

This reveals something fundamental for bringing transformation and freedom from addictions. It’s our greatest need to be known warts and all. It’s the need to reveal the darkest side of you, the part of you that you try very hard to keep hidden.

You see, addictions are like mushrooms, they grow in the dark. They feed on lies. It’s not so much about what the addiction is but the addictive patterns in things that control us, which are hardwired into us through practice. A step towards change is to bring them into the open and speak the truth.

God intended us to live our lives openly. No masks. No cover-ups. No lies. Before sin complicated everything, Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.”

Have you ever been exposed? Have you been caught in your addiction?

Being exposed is embarrassing, yet here is the reality: God loves you too much to let you persist in darkness.

What could be the worst thing imaginable God could do to you? It is to leave you to freely go down your dark, addictive path. The best thing for God to do is intrude, shine His light, and lead you in a new direction. When you get caught by God, thank Him.

What are you ashamed of and unwilling to speak to anyone about? What are you still hiding?

Secrets fester and the devil uses it to pull us back into the darkness. Freedom means bringing these things into the light.

If you have a behaviour which is controlling you, the best thing to do is to expose it NOW. Speak to a wise friend or Church leader.

When reality is exposed

You see, this Samaritan woman at the well has been living in darkness for a long time, she had been hiding from the whole town because of all the guilt and shame attached to her lifestyle and past.

But now she can hide no longer, Jesus has exposed her. She would have felt like crawling in a hole and dying, but Jesus is actually offering her a way out.

When Jesus put his finger on her personal life, the woman squirms, like most of us do when our darkest sin is exposed.

So she deflects, “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

This woman, like most of us, prefers to keep the conversation theological rather than personal. We would rather show off our theological knowledge than reveal our hearts.

The woman quickly diverts the topic away from her personal life to the question of where to worship (v20).

Jesus tells the woman the tradition of where to worship will soon be dead (v21), but there will be a day in the future when worship will be not based on a place but on “spirit and truth”(v23). This day will begin through Jesus’ death and resurrection which will lead to an outpouring of the spirit.

Jesus diverts the topic back to himself. He brings worship back to the heart. Only this can lead us to live truly for God as we listen to the word of truth (Bible). This is true worship.

A worship disorder

True worship is the key factor in our dealing with addiction. Addiction is a worship disorder. The critical question in addiction is “Who do you worship?” and “Who will be Lord?”

Addiction is a form of self-worship. We worship people and things to get what we want. But these false gods always end up controlling us and we become slaves.

How does this work out in our reality? Let me introduce you to Tom.

Tom is a porn addict and he has been addicted for a long time. He tries everything to stop, such as going to a support group for porn addicts and getting an accountability partner.

He has read all the books and heard all the recovery stories, but he just can’t seem to get free. He tries to set rules so he won’t go back to porn. He promises to confess to his accountability partner when he relapses.

But he always ends up going back to it, or his addiction only comes out in other ways.

Then one day, Tom read from a Christian book that addiction is all about what we love. We are created by God to love Him, but because of sin our hearts try to seek love from everything apart from Him.

So the only way to uproot our addictions is through an even greater love. It is only through the “expulsive power of a new affection.”

You see, worship is about loving and living for something. And if we are not loving and living for Jesus, then we are loving and living for something else.

A far better addiction

If most people knew these things I have done, they wouldn’t want anything to do with me, like the Samaritan community who had outcasted the woman.

Jesus knows us and loves us as we truly are, that he sees right through us, through all the wrong things we have thought, said and done and still loves us.

Addiction is worshipping something other than the living God, so the way out of addiction is to return our worship back to Him. In other words, the way out of addiction is to love Jesus more than your addiction.

But how do we do it? Here are some practical ways you can do this:

  • Develop your imagination. We can tell what we worship by what we daydream about, those things we think about most in our idle moments. In order to love Jesus more we need to let God's word unleash our imagination. When we fall in love with someone, we think about them, we turn our thoughts over and over again. We imagine their beauty, what they say, memories we have shared with them. Let us imagine Jesus, let us be obsessed with Him and let our love for Him grow.

  • Be addicted to Jesus. Fellowship with other brothers and sisters, singing songs about Jesus and listening to the Bible being read and taught is a way for your love of Jesus to grow.

  • Pray. Praying helps the truths of the Bible go from our head to our heart. It means that in those moments when we are tempted to love our addictions more than Jesus, we can remember Bible verses which tell us how much more amazing and better Jesus is.

Only an unconditional love that makes it possible

Jesus died on the cross while we were living wicked, evil, selfish lives so that we would have living water. He experienced cosmic thirst on the cross so that we could drink from God's living water, water that was bought by Christ's suffering on the cross. Meditate on this truth, let it touch your affections, let it draw you to love and live for God. Let us worship God “in spirit and truth.”

God's Word not only addresses the issue of addiction, it speaks right at the heart of the problem. Human solution and fields of expertise offer wisdom that are glimpses at the surface issue but they have no lasting solution to the age-old problem of addiction.

You see knowing the true nature of addiction allows us to see the One who is the remedy.

Now that we recognize our quenching thirst and dark secrets are killing us and that addiction is a worship problem, let us look forward to the day when thirst is no more.

Listen to the words of God Himself. He said to me:

It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life."

(Revelation 21:6)


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