How Addiction Works

Andy Naselli —  June 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

Paul David Tripp, Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies  Tripp (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 22–23 [22-page sample PDF]:

The dynamic of addiction is that if you look to something that God created, to give you what it wasn’t intended to give you, either you get discouraged quickly, and wisely abandon those hopes, or you go back again and again, and in so doing, you begin to travel down addiction’s road. That created thing will give you a short-term buzz of euphoria, it will offer you temporary pleasure, it will provide a momentary sense of well-being, it will briefly make you feel that you’re something, and it may even make your problems seem not so bad for a bit. It’s all very intoxicating. It all feels great. The problem is that the created thing that you’re looking to has no capacity to satisfy your heart. It wasn’t designed to do that. It cannot give you inner peace. It cannot give you the heart rest of contentment. It cannot quiet your cravings. In a word, it cannot be your savior. And if you look outside of the Savior for something to be your savior, that thing will end up not being your savior but your master.

You’ll love the short-term buzz, but you’ll hate how short it is. So you’ll have to go back again quickly to get another shot, and before long you’ve spent way too much time, energy, and money on something that can’t satisfy; but because of what it has briefly done for you each time, you’re convinced that you can’t live without it. You’re hooked and you may not know it. The thing you once desired, you’re now persuaded that you need, and once you’ve named it a need, it has you.

Sex is powerfully pleasurable, but it cannot satisfy your heart. A shot of unexpected cash in your ATM account will make you smile, but it can’t give you true happiness. The touch of another person will stimulate your body and your heart, but it will never leave you fulfilled. Money has the power to change something in your life, but it has no ability whatsoever to make you a better person.

You see, whether we know it or not, every human being lives in search of a savior. We are all propelled by a quest for identity, inner peace, and some kind of meaning and purpose. And we’ll all look for it somewhere. Here’s the bottom line: looking to creation to get what only the Creator can give you will always result in addiction of some kind. The thing that you hoped would serve you pulls you into its service. What seemed like freedom ends up being bondage. The thing is not the problem; what you’ve asked of it is.

Related:

  1. Edward T. Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grace; Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel  (Resources for Changing Lives; Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2001).
  2. David Powlison, “Breaking Pornography Addiction,” Part 1 | Part 2.
  3. Posts tagged purity
  4. Posts tagged money

2 responses to How Addiction Works

  1. How does this book differ at all from Keller’s Counterfeit Gods?

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