Worldly Terms vs Biblical Terms

  • Worldly Terms VS. Biblical Terms

    We should always remember that lies = bondage, truth = freedom. Or as John 8:32 (NKJV) puts it, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

    For this reason, it is important that we believers communicate using biblical terms that convey truth and avoid worldly terms that confuse.

    I will give some worldly terms that confuse and then we will examine the biblical words that bring clarity.


    The worldly term is “addiction” which is confusing because it minimizes personal responsibility and removes hope of freedom. The world wants us to believe “once an addict always an addict.” But the Bible says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (John 8:36).

    So what word does the Bible use to convey being trapped in sin, or what the world calls “addiction”?

    "For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin." (Romans 7:14 NASB)

    "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'” (John 8:34).

    The Bible’s word is “bondage” or “captivity” which conveys the true situation of being caught in a sin trap. It refers to “slavery” rather than “addiction.” This truth of being in bondage or captivity, of being a slave to sin, actually gives hope because it implies the potential for rescue and freedom (see Isaiah 61:1-3).

    The truth is that all our previous worldly labels were nailed to the cross and buried in the tomb. So, we no longer use the word “addict” to describe a believer.


    The world has taught us to look for “triggers” to destructive behavior. This word is one of the worst. Think of the analogy: when a bullet is “triggered” it shoots out of the gun and arrives at its destination. It must leave the gun, for it has been triggered.

    The implication is that we can experience certain situations or people or events or surroundings, sights or smells, etc. that “trigger” us, and when “triggered” we must act in a certain way, just like the bullet must leave the gun and fly to its target when “triggered.” This is a damaging description for any believer to use.

    Let's see what the Bible says.

    "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak." (Matthew 26:41 NKJV)

    "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it]." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

    Look at the difference: when a bullet is triggered, it must fly to its destination, there is no other choice. But when a believer is tempted there is a way out, a way of escape, a way to bear up under it and not immediately fall to sinful gratification of the flesh.

    To be “triggered” is to avoid all responsibility, and to simply fall to sin as if we had no choice and no help from God. The statement in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear” entirely contradicts the teaching of being “triggered.”

    We can see from these verses that the psychological term “triggered” should be replaced with the biblical term “tempted.”

    Friends, to believe in being “addicted” and being “triggered” is to believe in lies. These are the ways in which the evil one keeps people enslaved, whereas “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

    To find freedom, we must reject the lies of the world, turn away from using the word “addicted” and “triggered” and instead use the biblical words “enslaved,” “trapped,” “captive” and “tempted.”

    Sober or sobriety:

    To be clear, I’m not referring to the admonition in Scripture to be “sober-minded.” I’m referring to the catchphrase, “I’ve been sober for three years," etc. The world says “I have been sober from _______,” with the emphasis on “I.” This is a self-centered accomplishment of "working the program." Sobriety is false freedom from whatever has enslaved us.

    I think of two biblical examples — first, the Pharisee.

    "Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: (10) "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! (12) I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' (13) "But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' (14) I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 NLT)

    The Pharisee was “sober.” He prayed, “Look at ME, I am “sober” from cheating, adultery, etc.” He was "working the program" through his fasting and tithing. But his heart was proud and self-promoting. He wasn't free.

    The second example: Saul (who became Paul) said of himself: "although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: (5) circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; (6) as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. (7) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ." (Philippians 3:4-7 NASB)

    Before he became the apostle Paul, Saul was very self-centered, a ”sober” Pharisee trusting in his self-effort. Pharisee Saul was "working the program." Peter comments on this as: "promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved." (2 Peter 2:19 NASB)

    But after his encounter with Jesus (Act 9), Saul became a new creation who took on a new name, Paul, and he said: "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

    The world offers “sobriety” and false freedom only when "working the program." God offers “true freedom” when we realize that the flesh has been crucified with Christ on the Cross, and we then live by faith in the Son of God.

    We’ve looked at “addiction” and agreed that it is described in the Bible as “captivity” and “slavery.” We’ve looked at “triggered” and saw that it’s a replacement for the biblical word “tempted.” And we’ve seen “sober” or “sobriety” as a replacement for gospel freedom.

    In closing, let's consider the term "recovery."

    You might hear someone say, “I’ve been in recovery for twelve years.”

    When we say that we are "in recovery," we minimize the power of the cross. Jesus did not say, “if the Son sets you free, you will be in recovery the rest of your life” but rather, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed!” Not just free, but free indeed! Not just free from the behavior, but free from the love of the behavior! Not just free in action, but free in heart!

    Consider what the teaching of "recovery" is saying. It's as if it is teaching that Jesus did not fully die on the cross, but rather merely "swooned", or fainted, and then on the third day He began to recover.

    No, Jesus fully died and was raised from the dead three days later. And believers have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and they died with Christ (Romans 6:1-10). Then they rose with Christ on the third day (Colossians 1:1-3) as new creations in Christ.

    If we are "in recovery" this means that we have not died. If we have not died, we are still under the power of sin (Romans 6:7). If we have not died, we have not risen as new creations.

    But as believers in Jesus, this cannot be true. We are not "in recovery" but rather free! We are free from the guilt and penalty of sin, we are being freed from the power of sin, and we will one day be free from the very presence of sin. We died and rose again to a new life. Jesus didn't merely "swoon" and then recover, He died and rose again.

    Can a believer still sin? Yes, we do, but this does not mean that we have had a “relapse” but rather that we still have flesh, that is, we still have sin living in us. “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:20).

    It is important that believers drop worldly terminology, labels, and the identities of the world, and instead use biblical words. This is not a matter of semantics but rather of acknowledging that “lies=slavery” and “truth=freedom.”

    Mike Cleveland

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