I’ve never been drunk, just so that the record is clear. I’ve never abused alcohol or any form of drug in my life. If I’m guilty of overdosing on anything, it would be coffee. And I am working on curbing how much of that I drink too.
So, why am I writing about overcoming temptation like an alcoholic?
I was listening to a presentation about how the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups work while I was still in Bible school. The names and the dates didn’t really matter to me; I don’t have the foggiest clue who started AA or when it was founded. But what I do remember was a part of the program. I can clearly recall one thing that all AA groups teach to try to help these men and women through the temptation to drink alcohol. It was strikingly simple, but deeply insightful. It was an acronym.
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
I am not sure how they came up with the acronym, but once I heard it, it was stuck in my head.
HALT are the feelings or emotions that they have found are prime times for alcoholics to slip up. Whenever a man is feeling angry, something has irritated him, it is easier for him to give into that old temptation and hit the sauce. If a women is feeling alone, sitting in her house or at a restaurant by herself, it is a prime time for her to fall from the sobriety wagon and down into a drunken hole. When a person is tired, they have been up too late or they are just exhausted, the urge to have just one drink, and then another jumps exponentially. With a mind that is not as sharp or able to fight off destructive thoughts, alcoholics go back to the path that is all to familiar to them. While a fine meal with good company is enjoyable, there is a reason that some foods are served with alcohol. It compliments the meal, and it does taste good. Being hungry, or driven by hunger can also be a way that leads to indulging in alcoholism.
Like I said at the top, I am not an alcoholic. I have never abused any form of drug, but I found that HALT was useful for more than just people with this particular addiction.
In our series, Sorry Rev, Masturbation Is A Sin, I confessed that I have and do have a problem with masturbation and sexual sins. I admitted that I have a problem and that I need help.
In Part 2 of that series, I did list some things that I have been doing that have helped me avoid the temptation and even defeat it when it turned up.
HALT is another way to do that. This acronym is a great way to help identify when temptation or the urge to be self destructive will happen. With this AA tip, we can look at our own lives and see where temptation is sneaking up on us.
Especially with sexual sins, the temptation comes when we are alone, when there is no one else around. Even more so when we are feeling lonely. Not necessarily physically alone, but even emotionally alone can be enough for us to give into temptation and sin.I can think of occasions where I have sinned and it was because I was not fully awake. I was tired and I didn’t feel like fighting the urges I was feeling. So I didn’t. And by doing so I sinned. Anger and hunger are harder to see working with sexual sins and masturbation. But I would argue that the need for satisfaction, like food brings to the stomach, can drive people to give into temptation. Sinning does feel good, even though it is not good for you.
While you can make a case for hunger, a case can be made for anger as well. Quite often when we are angry, it is a case of us being upset that things are not going the way we would like them to. Our bills are stacking up, we want them to vanish. Our boss is overbearing, we want him to give us some slack and breathing room. Our children are constantly bothering us, we want five minutes to ourselves. In a time of being upset, we will do whatever we can to gain a small piece of control. Often we will do something where we control the outcome, where we have the power and authority. This is a prime situation for the temptation for sexual sin to rear it’s ugly head.
As I sat and meditated on HALT and how it could be very helpful for me personally, I realized that this acronym was not limited to alcohol or sexual sins. The principle behind it can be used to help identify the potent threat of sin in anyone’s life, regardless of the sins that they struggle with. When there is a situation where we are seeking satisfaction or gratification, temptation will turn up. Where we are upset or bothered by something, this is fertile ground for sin to rise up and choke the life right out of us. If we are alone, or we are lonely, physically or emotionally, we need to be vigilant. It is times like these that our defences are lowered and we may be more prone to give into sin. With eyes weary and mind slowed down, when we are tired, we are soldiers with our guards down. We do not have the energy or the will to fight, and can be walking right into temptation’s trap.
We need to be careful.
Remembering HALT is a great way to identify the times when sin is going to try to attack us. Is this the only time that we will be tempted? Probably not. Temptation is not so predictable that we can work out the exact method and time when it will happen. HALT is simply a useful tool to help us all in the fight against sin and temptation.
I hope that you find this helpful, and that you keep on fighting the good fight.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4. 7 NIV
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. – Ephesians 6.13
Have you ever heard of this AA temptation avoidance technique?
What do you do to keep yourself from sin?
Let us know in the comment section.
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