The Bible declares that all people are, by nature, sinful. When we hear the word sin we tend to think of gross misdeeds committed by certifiable felons. In fact, the word sin describes a far wider range of thoughts and behaviors than crimes against society. Sin is the word that describes the fact that at times we all do what we know is wrong and that we often fail to do what we know to be right. But sin is more than what what we do or think. Sin is a state of being. Sin grips and binds us; it makes us less than what we want to be (and are called to be by God). In its essence, sin is rebellion against God. The consequence of sin is that all people are alienated from God. They are lost and alone in the universe and, without outside intervention, the path they walk leads to personal disintegration and destruction. All this, the Bible says, is the result of sin.
This may sound very “theoretical,” but when in the grip of addictive behavior, no one has to convince us that the biblical view of human personality is accurate. We know what it means to be under the control of an alien power (as we wage war internally between not giving in and giving in – knowing that mostly we give in). We experience the feeling of lostness (as our addictive behavior creates barriers between us and all we care about). We experience our powerlessness to change and our need for help from a superior power. Addictive behavior is a window for us to see the fact that our natures are flawed, fallen, and in need of reconstruction.
In fact, some authors feel that addiction is an appropriate term to use when defining the biblical concept of sin. For example, Keith Miller states:
It is the thesis of this book that this blinding self-absorption called Sin – however well it may be disguised by our civilized exteriors – is the same elusive underlying dynamic as that in the life of the traditional chemical addict. Sin is the driving dynamic that leads addicts to fasten upon an addictive chemical or behavior that promises to fulfill their self-centered and often grandoise dreams and to blot out the feelings that threaten to overwhelm them. Sin is the universal addiction to self that develops when individuals put themselves in the center of their personal world in a way that leads to abuse of others and self.