Overcoming Addiction: The Crucial Element You Might Be Missing

by | Mar 13, 2024

This is a guest post by Jonathan Daugherty, founder and president of Be Broken Ministries.

Identity is a big conversation in our world today. And I think it’s even bigger than most people can imagine because identity is the definition of who you are and why you exist. That’s a pretty big deal! And I want to show you how understanding your identity is essential to healing the wounds of sexual brokenness

In my teens and early twenties, I was a raging porn and sex addict. I was not living according to my true identity, the way God designed me to live. Instead, I was choosing to live out of a false identity of selfishness and shame. I thought happiness and wholeness came through getting everything I wanted. But I was wrong – and I was miserable. 

When the pain of this “misalignment” of identity finally became too much to bear, I broke down and cried out to God. I brought all of my secrets and shame out into the light and began the long, messy, beautiful journey of recovery. Through that process, I discovered what it meant in practice to truly live as one who bears God’s image rather than trying to build my own. Along the way, as I have learned who I really am in Christ, I have experienced increasing hope, healing, freedom, and joy. 

You, too, are made in God’s image to live “in Christ” as a beautiful witness to the love and power of God.


What does it mean to be “in Christ,” and how does this lead to healing and freedom?

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

–Romans 8:1

When you place your faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope of forgiveness and reconciliation with God, you are liberated from God’s rightful condemnation. Once saved, you are forever “in Christ” and therefore united in spirit with God. This is your true identity, who God made you to truly be.

But how does being “in Christ” lead to healing and freedom? It does so through the new life God gives us, which transforms our thoughts and actions. 

The following are four key ways that knowing and living out your identity in Christ leads to healing and freedom.

1. Identity defines your value/worth to God.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

–Psalm 139:13, 17

Since God created you, He gets to determine your value and worth. You were on His mind before He created anything (Eph. 1:4). You were certainly on Jesus’ mind as He bore your sins on the cross out of love for you. The cross of Christ is the picture of your value to God: you are worth the life of God’s only Son

During my years of addiction, my self-image was disintegrating to the point of suicidal ideation. I hated myself because I believed I was worthless as a result of my addictive behaviors. I was living out a false identity. 

When you know your true value as defined by God, your heart can heal and your decisions can change. You can begin to live from a place of deep security and love, rather than fear and shame.


2. Identity connects us to the body of Christ.

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

–Ephesians 2:22

Your identity in Christ is personal, but not private or isolated. Remember, from the very beginning, God declared it was not good for man (or mankind) to be alone. You can’t really “reflect” or bear the image of the triune God in isolation; it would be an incomplete reflection. 

One of the first things I was challenged to do when I got into recovery was to join a support group. I was scared because I had so many secrets and had been living a double life for years. But when I started meeting with other men on a similar journey of healing and recovery, it was as if my “full” identity was realized. This whole other part of what it meant to be “me” was only discovered in the “body of Christ.” My recovery flourished from that point forward.


3. Identity helps you recognize and combat shame lies.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

–Romans 8:15

Shame attacks your true identity. It is the idea that your life doesn’t really matter and that deep down you aren’t worth much (or anything). Shame lies to you about your identity. When God says you are a beloved child of His, shame shouts that can’t be true and points to all your sins as evidence. 

But when you know your identity in Christ and continue daily to “preach” the gospel to yourself, you can win the war against your shame lies. It is through your union with Christ and connection to other believers that you will identify and defeat your shame lies. 

I battled against my shame lies by using index cards, (I know it’s “old school” analog, but I still recommend it.) I would write on one side of the card one of my personal shame lies (for example, “I am undesirable”). On the other side of the card, I would write a verse or Scripture passage that directly contrasted that lie (“For God so loved the world [Jonathan] that he gave his only Son…”). Then, whenever one of these shame lies would pop into my head I would whip out that card and spend a moment meditating on the truth of who God says I am in Christ. Over time, those shame lies were “put in their place” by the truth of God’s love.


4. Identity reveals a purpose in – and beyond – pain.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

–1 Peter 5:10

Jesus Christ, the only perfect human, was not immune from pain and suffering. Neither are we as His followers. But this doesn’t mean that life must be miserable. When you know who you are in Christ, no difficult circumstance can steal your peace and joy.

Even though Jesus suffered, there was a purpose in it. His suffering was ordained by God for our salvation; you and I could not be saved apart from Christ’s suffering. Jesus felt the weight of this and even “wrestled” with the Father in prayer about it. But in His obedience, He accomplished His mission and fulfilled all joy – both for Him and the Father as well as for you and me. 

I wish I could say that my recovery was easy and painless. It wasn’t. It isn’t. But I know who I am: a beloved son of my Father in heaven. Because He loves me, I can do hard things that make a difference, both now and forever.

You will have pain and suffering in this life. Jesus told us so (John 16:33). But He also told us to “take heart; I have overcome the world.” In Christ, your true identity is realized, and you discover your purpose in and through whatever pain you may face.


What’s your next step?

Are you struggling with sexual brokenness, either your own or the effects of someone else’s? Do you wonder how you might heal or get free from the pain? I invite you to reflect on who you are in Christ. In Him, you are beloved and secure. Nothing and no one can ever destroy the value and worth of your life before God. As you navigate whatever challenging circumstances you are facing, do so with the hope and confidence that is found only in Christ. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

–Romans 8:35, 37


Additional Resources:

Book: “Grace Based Recovery: A Safe Place to Heal and Grow” by Jonathan Daugherty

Book: “Grace-Based Transformation: The 3-Stage Journey to Wholeness in Christ” by Jonathan Daugherty

Java with Juli: #505 What Does it Look Like to Struggle with Sexual Sin and Still Love Jesus?