Detoxing is a medical term often associated with cleansing the body from impure substances. You can detox from anything ranging from sugar to relationship or from chocolate to crack cocaine. While detoxing from sin is not a topic directly found in the Bible, there are certainly many similarities.
To Live Free, We Must Be Sanctified
As soon as you come to Christ, you are free. But you won’t live free until certain areas of your life formally in bondage are sanctified from sin. (Galatians 5:1)
Every Christian is in the process of sanctification, which is a topic discussed a lot in the Bible. Spiritually speaking, to sanctify means to remove impurities. It means to be made holy. It is a word similar to “saint” which is a person set apart for God’s holy purposes and service. And so to sanctify an area of your life, it means you are setting it apart for God.
Jesus has made us completely pure as soon as we put or faith in him and received his grace, but every part of our life is also in the process of sanctification. During the beginning phases of being sanctified from certain addictive sins or sins that have been a part of our life for a long time, we will feel a lot like getting detoxed.
To look at porn for decades and then to all of a sudden stop means your body, mind, and whole self is going to feel that burning absence. To stop watching five hours of TV every day when you’ve done this since the age of three-years-old is going to be a dramatic switch. To downsize to a small house when you’ve lived in twice as much space for a significant period of time is going to be surprisingly challenging. To cut yourself off from alcohol completely when you’ve been a daily drinker for years might even have health risks as your body adapts.
Detoxing From Sin Is Painful, But Pain Is What Often Transforms Us
All this to say, detoxing from sin is usually painful, uncomfortable, but totally necessary as you begin the process of sanctification in certain specific areas in life. To remove coping mechanisms and comforts which you’ve turned towards in times of stress and hurt is, well, uncomfortable, stressful, and will hurt.
But the most important thing to remember as you detox is that it always gets better if you stick with it. You have to go through this painful process if you want to break free from small addictions and big addictions alike.
Pain, in fact, is often our opportunity to be transformed. Pain is God’s invitation to change. Sin gets its claws deeper and deeper into us when we run towards selfish, unholy pleasure during pain. God allows pain to enter into our lives because he wants to use that pain for transformation. If we constantly run to quick pleasures every time we feel pricks of pain in our lives, we will never be transformed and become the sons and daughters God has destined us to be.
And so if you are planning to change some unwanted, unholy part of your life, prepare to detox my friends. Prepare for pressure. Prepare to resist. Prepare for one of God’s most effective transformation tools – pain.
In the Bible, the process of purification is often analogized through liking it to precious metals being purified in a hot fire. When we leave sin behind and turn to our Savior, it can literally feel like you are being torn in two if your addiction is particularly strong or deeply rooted through years of use.
But it’s all worth it. For when the pain has passed, the pleasure will be even greater. You will have new tastes when you let go of the old. Your senses will know the tastes of pure pleasures once again. The sacrifice to let go of what you’ve been leaning on to cope with the difficulties of life will be far greater than you imagined. To no longer have those crutches will feel like losing a limb.
After all, the reason you want to detox from these quick pleasures that you’ve had for so long is because you now know over the course of months and years, pleasurable sin has turned into destructive, all-consuming torture that has (or will) overtake every part of your life for the worse. The longer you allow yourself to need a specific action, drug, or relationship to deal with life, the more painful it will be when you let that go. Those years of dependence will have taken you deeper and darker than you ever thought possible.
But we must let go, and so we must prepare to endure the refining pain of God. The initial detoxing process is going to hurt. The pain will be surprising. And for a while it will get worse. But freedom, transformation, and wholeness is at the end of the tunnel.
So in the spirit of preparing and giving ourselves the best chance to succeed as we detox from addictive sin, or any sin really, here are some things to prepare for.
Expect the Cravings To Be More and More Powerful Until They Break
Whether it’s the need for a sexual release, a drink of mind-numbing alcohol, or a text from your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, the more you resist what you formally indulged in, the more your cravings will increase until they finally break.
Biologically this occurs because you’ve built up a tolerance towards your drug (sin) of choice. Over the years, you’ve tried to “balance” stress, pain, and hurt through medicating yourself with this substance (or sinful activity). This works, but your body adapts, needing more of the substance to handle the increasing stress, pain, and hurt that is simply getting worse as you only numb your feelings rather than actually treat the root problems.
So when you take away your sinful comforts, your level of stress, pain, and hurt is going to skyrocket since you’ve built up this huge tolerance. When you take out your sinful, self-medicating tactic, all of sudden it’s going to feel like falling off a cliff. The void in you will feel all-consuming because you’ve stretched that void so wide through the process of building more and more tolerance towards your drug/sin of choice.
Thankfully, however, like a fever getting hotter and hotter, eventually your cravings for your former addictive sin will break. You will always have to guard against it, but the craving for it won’t always be as intense as it is during this initial detoxing phase.
But if you never let the cravings get that bad, it will never get better. You have to let the detoxing process run its course as your body, mind, and heart return to normal balances and regain tastes for pure pleasures in Christ.
Expect Mood Swings and a Season of Emotional Unstableness
Not only will your body need to readjust. Your emotions will need to be rebalanced as well. When you let go of some addiction in your life, even something others would think is silly like your need for ten cups of coffee a day, don’t be surprised if your emotions seem out of whack for a while.
One day you might feel super depressed, and then super energized, only to be followed up by a wave of apathy – none of it reasonable or explainable to yourself or onlookers. These feelings won’t match your external circumstance because the battle and source of your imbalance will be within you. Again, all this is going to happen because you are removing a variable your emotions use to factor in and count on being there. When that sin is no longer there, it takes time for your emotions to figure out what’s going on.
Overall, seek Christ in every emotional storm, but don’t over analyze why you feel so depressed, lonely, or angry. It’s probably just because you are detoxing. When you’re detoxing, don’t also go get marriage counseling, anger management therapy, or new mental medication. After some time passes and you no longer have such strong cravings for that sin you are detoxing from, more than likely you will start to feel more normal about these other areas of life too.
How To Detox From Sin: Stick With It
If you’re ready to let go of that addictive sin, whether it be a relationship, an actual drug, or even just a negative way of thinking, prepare for the painful detoxing process. Surround yourself with a support system, pray more than normal, read your Bible every chance you get, and do whatever helps you honor Christ.
But overall, just stick with it. You will never break free if you are not willing to go through the painful sanctification process of detoxing from sin.