The Bible does not deny that we were various things—addicts, homosexuals, angry, prideful, pornographic masturbators—but that is what we were (past tense). The emphasis in Scripture is on what we are and what we are called to be. The Christian does not say, “Hello, my name is _____ and I am a X Y or Z.” The Christian says I was dead but now I am alive. The Christian says I am a struggling sinner yet I am a saint. The Christians says I am a new creation; I am transformed. We must remember however that we are “simultaneously saint and sinner.” This is the biblical balance. We are holy in Christ and yet we are progressively becoming holy (see 1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 10:14).
Paul wrote a letter to a church back in the day. The people had their own struggles. Many of them use to worship various false gods and perhaps were even involved in cult prostitution. But you know what Paul called them when he wrote to them? He called them “God’s beautiful creation” (Eph. 2:10). He didn’t say, “Now church, make sure that you are constantly reminding yourselves that you were part of the occult. In fact, when you meet together say, ‘Hello, my name is _____ and I am an occultist.’”
In a different post we are going to explore whether or not addiction is a disease. Suffice it to say that addiction is “a complex habit;” I would say a complex sinful habit. However, one of the problems in claiming the identity of “addict,” “alcoholic,” or “overeater” is that we deny that addiction is a habit that can be finally overcome. I am not saying it won’t be a struggle. I am not even saying that it will even finally be overcome in this life. Yet, the Bible teaches the freeing and empowering truth that in Christ we are currently a new creation. It says we are adopted children of God. We are even God’s beloved; His treasure.
Labeling may not seem like a big deal but it is. In hospitals it is important for people to be labeled correctly. If someone has a gunshot wound on their leg they should not be taken to a cardiologist; and someone that has the flu should not be lifeflighted. Labels are important for treatment.
The Bible talks about sin. Actually, quite a lot about sin. It talks about the deceitfulness of sin, the sin that sticks so closely, our sin natures, and various specific sins among other things. But it does not talk about us now being identified as sinner; addict, overeater, alcoholic, or otherwise. Instead, our identity is in Christ and Him alone.
The scope of recovery is… radically extended within a Christian view of addiction. Indeed ‘recovery’ does not sufficiently name the Christian hope in the face of addiction. Instead the Christian hopes for ‘discovery’ and ‘new creation’—not a return to some maintainable equilibrium between who we are and what we want but rather a transformation of the self that brings who we are and what we want… into perfect coordination and harmony.
The Bible doesn’t primarily keep us from sin by reminding us what we were when we were dead. And for that I am glad. That seems depressing. The Bible instead says things like this:
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-23)
“Be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1)“
“At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8)
The Bible says that we are progressively being transformed into the image of God. The Bible says that eternal serenity is available to us in Christ.
The Bible has taught me to say, “Hello, my name is Paul and I am transformed.” I was a lot of things. But now I am a new creation in Christ.
 Kent Dunnington, Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice, 88.
 Ibid., 183.