On Addiction: How Do We Win a Game We Are Guaranteed to Lose? An Excerpt from the Forthcoming Tin Solders Workbook

Destroying Addiction, Part  V 


Sin will always overwhelm us and “win” if we are not close to Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, instead of putting all of our efforts into “not sinning” or “winning the battle,” we should instead pursue discovering new intimacy with Him.  It is a subtle, but ultimately enormous, difference in motivation.  – P.77

I’d like to present an imaginary scenario to you:  Let’s say you have been challenged to play one-on-one basketball by Lebron James. He wants to play one game, to seven points.  

Admittedly, your chances of winning would be negative twelve percent.  You most likely would not even score.  He would block every shot, steal the ball from you constantly, and dunk on your FACE over and over again.  You could train all day, every day, for months.  You could run suicides and practice ball handling drills.  You could buy the best basketball shoes. You could watch film on LBJ’s potential weaknesses.   And still, you would have zero shot at beating him.  Every single person reading this (unless you happen to be an NBA ball player) has to admit this game would be a pointless waste of time, if the object of said game is attempting to win, that is.

But let me add two large caveats to the scenario, here.  First, if you defeat LBJ, you will receive a one hundred-foot yacht and your own island in the south Pacific.  Second, and most importantly, you have the ability to send a three-man team to play in your place, consisting of any players you choose, in their primes, from any era (Personally, I would pick the trio of Michael jordan, Magic Johnson, and Shaq).  James, then, would be the one at an extreme disadvantage.  He would have almost no chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you would sit on the sideline while your team wins for you.

Oh yeah, one more thing: you get to keep the prizes.

Now, I have one, completely ridiculous question in light of this equally ridiculous scenario: Is there any way in the world you would not want to allow a three-man, all-NBA team to play in your stead?  If you answered “yes” for any reason-beit pride, or “for the experience”-you would obviously be a fool.  Anyone with half a brain would answer this question with something to the effect of…I’ll take the island and the yacht.  My replacement team can keep the credit.

Well, in this fictitious scenario, Lebron James represents sin (and its manifestations as various addictions), and you represent…well, you.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-the Godhead-is your replacement team (though they may wear the faces of Bill Russell, or Larry Bird, or Michael Jordan, or Kevin Durant).  The island/yacht payoff is the eternal blessings reaped in the “victory” over addiction that is won on your behalf.

It all sounds so logical on paper (or in this case, in your browser/on your screen), doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  God has already defeated our sin and our addictions, and we need but get out of His way.

But for some reason, we keep trying to lace up the sneakers, thinking we are ballers, because we want the satisfaction of the “victory.”  We think that if we set up enough boundaries and rules we can effectively rid our lives of rebellion.  We think If we just try harder we can win.  Then, we can know we beat it…with our own two hands and strength of will.   Then we don’t have to admit we are weak, that we need help, that we are not as great as we think we are. But we have zero chance, because sin is a part of our nature as humans.  If we lived in the truth, we would realize we can’t defeat our vices with effort, intelligence, or sheer will.  Lust, deceit, selfishness, greed, and the like own us without divine intervention.  And so do their manifestations-alcohol, adultery, fornication, porn, gambling, and every other vice.

Now, it’s very difficult for us men to allow someone to do the work for us.  We don’t ask for directions, and we rarely ask for help.  We don’t want Shaq , Magic, and MJ to play for us, we want to be able to beat LBJ ourselves.  So, we try, try, try to be good, normal, well-adjusted, strong men.  And when it doesn’t work we wallow in regret and shame, always adjusting our strategy in an attempt to find the “winning formula.”

The victory that is to be found is a victory that isn’t ours.  How can we internalize this concept and write it indelibly on our hearts?  How can we allow God to fight for us?  Wave the white flag.  Give up.  Realize you absolutely suck at basketball.  That is when weakness becomes strength.  That is when you can wink at LBJ as he gets crushed in one-on-three.


Read Galatians 5:16 and Romans 6:14:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

What areas of your life do you lean on your own strength the most?  List them here, and write the reasons why you rely on yourself for each. 

Why do you think it is so difficult to allow Christ to have the victory over sin in our lives, instead of trying to take the credit for ourselves?

Have does it mean to you to “walk by the spirit?”  List scriptural and personal examples. 


We men have to unlearn our tendency to rely upon our own abilities when it comes to spiritual growth.  God wants to recondition you. But in order to do so, we must spend ample time in His classroom, learning skills that don’t come naturally to us.  Like learning to dribble a basketball with your weak hand, reliance upon Jesus requires patience and discipline.  Just give God one chance, in one situation this next week, to take the lead in a situation where you would normally trust in your own strength.  For example, you are about to drive home in rush hour traffic.  Your temper is bound to flare up at some point during the drive, as it normally does, due in no small part to all the inconsiderate drivers you are promised to encounter.  Before you drive, be conscious of God’s presence.  Believe He can give you the perspective you lack, the patience you cannot find.  He will.  And when He does, you have evidence that he can and will do the same in other areas of your life.

The new edition of The Tin Soldiers is here!   The Tin Soldiers Workbook is coming very soon.  I promise.  In the meantime, grab a copy of The Tin Soldiers as an ebook here or wherever ebooks are sold.

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