The Medical Model of Addiction and the Life of Christ in a Believer

Rev. Don Steve M.A.B.C.

Director of Recovery Ministries, Grace Fellowship International

Proponents of the medical model of addiction view, broadly speaking, addiction as a disease that has biological, neurological, genetic, and environmental sources of origin. Recently much focus has been given to the neurological components of addiction as foundational to understanding addiction. Science has found that the brain literally rewires itself to produce neurological desire for the object of the addictive behavior. The driving force of the addictive pattern is thus assumed to be the neurologically altered brain.

There are at least two errant assumptions in this view.

The first is that the brain is the foundation of (or the center of) human motivation. This would be a logical conclusion for those who only accept material realities. However, human beings are not simply the composite of their physiological components. Man is body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23 and Heb. 4:12). Biblically speaking the foundational part of man is the human spirit. It is the condition of the human spirit with respect to the life of God that is most relevant to human wholeness and healing. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again (John 3:3-8). Jesus, the consummate Healer, refuses to simply treat symptoms. In order to set the captives free Jesus’ finished work had to include an eternal, comprehensive, spirit fix for those willing to receive it by faith. Christ gives new life (His very life), through the union of the Holy Spirit with our human spirit to the believer the moment faith is exercised in His redemptive work (John 3:36). He changes us from spirit beings completely void of His life to spirit beings possessing of all of His life (Eph. 2:4&5).

I am not implying that every problem is a spiritual one. We live in a mortal body affected by sin and death. There are physiological reasons for some psychological issues. However, science naturally tends to evaluate every psychological dysfunction on the basis of that which is known about the physical realm discounting what are often spiritual roots.

Human motivation is far more than a neurological phenomenon. Human motivation is ultimately determined by one’s faith response to the love of God. In his book Effective Biblical Counseling Dr. Larry Crabb stated that human motivation falls into one of two categories expression motivation or deficit motivation. Dr. Crabb, while not explicitly Exchanged Life in his counseling model, biblically articulates two basic foundations of human motivation – expression motivation and deficit motivation. Expression motivation corresponds to receiving the love and life of God by faith and manifesting that love and life out of Christ’s fullness in the believer. Deficit motivation corresponds to walking in the flesh which is an attempt to meet one’s own needs or produce a sensation of fullness of life. The two are mutually exclusive (Gal. 5:16&17). Addiction, in any form, could be correctly described as a symptom of deficit motivation. In a believer, we know that deficit motivation is fueled by deception. Why? Because believers are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).

The second assumption is that the neurologically rewired brain represents a diseased state. The fact that the brain rewires itself to support one’s choices is the way God made the brain to work. We are created to track with divine love – to relationally, intimately know the living God. The root problem is not neurological even when the neurological conditioning of the brain supports destructive choices. Neurology, in this case, is simply reinforcing a preexistent choice.

Biblically based, Exchanged Life counseling allows for every neuro-reality that science uncovers. However, a Christ focused counselor would never exalt the power of the brain and its neuro-chemical motivators above that of the Spirit of God in the life of a believer. The power of the life of Christ in a believer is easily able to deal with the suggestive power of a brain wired to support addictive behavior and substance usage. In fact, the brain and the spirit of man as part of a God created triune being are designed to complement each other. Romans 8:28 states unequivocally, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, and to those who are called according to His purpose.” The self-proclaimed purpose of Jesus can be found in Luke 4:18. Jesus came to bring freedom, healing, and true perception. A brain rewired to strongly suggest addictive patterns is not a good thing. But Scripture says that God can use it for good! How could that be? For a believer who understands the dynamic, resurrection power of the indwelling life of God the shouts of a brain wired to complement and suggest addictive choices can serve as a stark reminder to trust in God’s indwelling life. Dependent faith exercised in Christ within (Col. 1:27) is the doorway to experiencing freedom, to healing, and to truth-based perception. Truth-based perception comes from the Spirit of God registering truth in the spirit of man even before that truth registers in the brain (See Romans 8:16). The brain then becomes engaged in the renewing (rewiring) process being led by the Spirit’s witness within the human spirit (Romans 12;2).

Specific memories of addiction, which is at its core are choices made to try to produce life apart from God, may present themselves in opposition to the Spirit of God as they register in the mind and emotions. But, in a Spirit-led believer, the neurology of memory brain function and the new human spirit do not work in opposition to each other. Such an opposing internal state only occurs when a believer chooses to walk in the flesh (Gal. 5:16&17).

Diseased neurological brain function can lead to psychological and emotional impairment. However, addiction is not the result of diseased neurological dysfunction. Some forms of addiction, such as alcoholism, are actually a cause of neurological dysfunction.

As Spirit-led Biblically based counselors and helpers we can avoid the errant, impractical, helping strategies that result when we draw conclusions about human dysfunction and suffering that are not consistent with Scripture. By recognizing the infallible authority of the Bible, we can readily accept scientific truth and also sort out assumptions that sometimes masquerade as science. With God given Biblical perception we can avoid helping strategies that diminish the power of the Life of Christ. Such errant assumptions and misinformed strategies are becoming common. One prominent Christian ministry to men struggling with sexual addiction went so far as to state that the choice to use pornography was a sin when the first choice was made. But, after that first choice it is not a sin because the brain quickly rewires itself to provide the motivation to make like continual choices. This error comes from assuming that the brain is the center of human motivation, exalting the power of neurology above the life of God, and exalting the ability of science to describe reality above that of God’s word.

Jesus, the ultimate healer, uses every reality He created as a catalyst to bring healing by the power of His life. Living by His life is the birthright of every believer! So is God-given perception, freedom and healing. Let us minister healing grace with His love, by His life, with His power!

Spirituotherapy Workshop

We are thankful for the 18 who attended the Spirituotherapy Workshop in Pigeon Forge, TN March 3-7. Four were from Canada and three are Luther Rice Seminary students in the Discipleship Counseling Masters degree practicum.

Our next Workshop is scheduled for August 5-8. Alumni are welcome to return for a refresher (50% off).

A photo album of the week is online here:

DVD Seminars in South Africa

Our missionaries in South Africa, Piet and Sylvia du Toit, have recorded two of their Afrikaans Exchanged Life seminars at Baruch Media in Johannesburg. May God bless the distribution and use of these digital seminars!

Love Them to Life

Grace Fellowship Associates, Joe and Cherri Freeman, specialize in Exchanged Life Recovery ministry. They report:

We have had a very busy year, between counseling, speaking at churches and support groups, and teaching our Set Free Seminar.  Our most recent seminar was at Faith Evangelical Free Church in Acton, MA. We had a good turnout and great response from the people who attended. Joe also gave his testimony during the morning services the next day.

We are looking forward to two seminars in the month of February, one in Cape May Courthouse, NJ, at Lighthouse Church on Feb 9th and one in Egg Harbor Twp, NJ, at Friendship Bible Church on Feb 23. Check our LTTL Facebook page for further details.

If you would like us to present our seminar, testimonies, or start a support group at your church, please let us know.  You can contact us at 732-773-7747.

You can learn more about their ministry and resources at

PTSD Book Published in South Africa

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with veterans who have been traumatized in combat. Other causes of trauma also can cause these chronic psychological and relational problems. Dr. Solomon & Mark Miller wrote a small book on the spiritual resources that are needed in this type of counseling and care. A new translation has been published in South Africa. Let’s pray for God’s blessing on the initial printing of 1,000 in the language of Afrikaans!

Canadian Ministry

Groups of Comfort and Peace
Rob and Dottie in Canada

Grace and Peace to you from God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and comfort. God’s comfort abounds and produces patient endurance and hope. This is a summary of the first seven verses of 2 Corinthians 2. This passage says the grace of God abounds. In my experience, every kind of fear and problem abounds without God’s comfort. People also seek comfort in their own ways.

This fall in Canada I have set my focus on forming more groups that invite people to share how they have been comforted by God. I also write materials to facilitate these groups.

The grace and peace of God are wonderful. We should seek opportunity for people to share how this comfort becomes real in their life. Hope, trust and relationships abound when time is set aside for this.

Pray for us that our ministry of grace and peace abounds in Canada. This comes with a prayer for opportunity in your community to share the same.

Rob Clogg
Field Associate: Vancouver, Canada
Ministry Partner: City Axis Leadership Society
Tel: (604) 445-7789


New Staff Member: Don Steve

                                    John W. & Don S.

God is calling my wife, Leis, and myself on an exciting adventure and a very urgent mission. We have just moved from Toms River, New Jersey to the Pigeon Forge/ Knoxville, Tennessee area. The move is to answer God’s call, through the ministry of Grace Fellowship International, to respond to one of the enemy’s greatest tools of bondage, destruction, and death in our society today—substance addiction.

The need

According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 24 million Americans over the age of 12 used drugs in the month prior to the NIDA survey. Of those 24 million users, 19.6 million were considered to have a substance abuse problem. Addiction can start as early as the age of 8, especially in families were multi-generational drug use is present. Last year over 166,000 deaths occurred due to drug and alcohol abuse (NIDA statistics). The scope and intensity of the death and destruction grows each year. God’s call is to respond with the liberating, healing, life-giving power of the Cross and to move against this dark bondage with the same Spirit-filled truths that have brought freedom, wholeness, and light to many through GFI for decades.


God has been preparing me for this ministry since I came to know Christ as a teenager in 1979. I was not reared in a Christian home and was severely depressed my senior year in high school, the year before I met Christ. After placing my faith in Christ as my Savior my depression lifted. Four years later, while attending college, the depression returned (even as a believer) with greater intensity than ever before. I spent nearly two years with severe depression. I was counseled, medicated, and hospitalized twice during that two-year span. Nothing was helping. The medical experts were advising me to undergo Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a common treatment for severe, persistent depression at the time. During my depression, I used to wander through a Christian bookstore near my home for the slight relief the atmosphere gave me. During one of my trips, I saw a book, out of place and facing me on the shelf, entitled Handbook to Happiness. I did not intend to make a purchase; but, God had other plans. God used Dr. Solomon’s book to set me free. Due to the providence of God and the ministry of Dr. Charles Solomon, I found a much more effective treatment than ECT. Dr. Solomon’s Spirituotherapy® was far more effective treatment than ECT because the feeble attempts of man to produce wholeness and freedom are nothing compared to God’s glorious work through Jesus Christ. Praise God, I have been free from depression for thirty-five years.

God continued to prepare me for ministering to those in bondage through those thirty-five depression free years. God led me through relational brokenness, loss, and personal strongholds. All the growth and healing I experienced stemmed from the relevancy of the finished work of Christ to the believer who simply lives by grace through faith. This is essential to Spirituotherapy®. It is the foundation upon which I continue to grow and live victoriously and the foundation upon which I gain an experiential knowledge of Christ.

In 2006, I completed the advanced training curriculum of the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries at Grace Ministries (AELM) in Manassas, VA. Later that year, I was invited on staff of Grace Ministries as a Discipleship Counselor. I completed a master’s degree in Biblical counseling from Luther Rice University in 2013. The counseling department at Luther Rice features and promotes the Exchanged Life model of Biblical counseling pioneered by Dr. Solomon. I have been counseling men and women through ministries associated with AELM for the past 12 years. In addition, I have had two tenures as a pastor in both Virginia and in New Jersey. My wife and I moved from Virginia to New Jersey in 2013 to pastor Grace Christian Church in Freehold, NJ.

My wife, Leis, also completed advanced training in discipleship counseling at Grace Ministries in Manassas. She has a background in, and a passion for, addiction recovery having worked at a county run women’s recovery center in Virginia. God used her mightily in this secular setting after she also completed her Exchanged Life discipleship training at Grace Ministries. Since then, Leis has worked as a counselor at an AELM office and has been a staff counselor at Grace Christian Church.

While living in New Jersey, I was introduced to America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy by Joe and Cherri Freeman, GFI field staff who live near America’s Keswick. Cherri’s great grandfather founded the Colony of Mercy in 1897. Yes, the date is correct. The Colony of Mercy is the oldest addiction recovery ministry in the United States. I was hired as a counseling chaplain at the Colony of Mercy in 2015. I had no idea that God would use my time at The Colony of Mercy to redirect my life calling and ministry passion from the pastorate to addiction recovery ministry. I still love to teach, preach, and share God’s Word; but working with those in addiction, and training others to work with those in addiction, is a new-found passion. It is fascinating to watch the Spirit of God move in the life of those who know, through the addiction struggle, that they need wholesale life change, to watch Him illumine truth, and to watch Jesus bring a freeing faith in the midst of hopelessness! We at GFI intend to watch God do just that by the power of God and the truths that His cross established! I am excited and richly blessed to be taking a position as Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at GFI. I never imagined that I would someday join the ministry that God used to so dramatically set me free from depression in 1983.


Our mission for GFI Addiction Recovery Ministries is to teach, equip, and train individuals, ministries, and churches that are ministering to those in addiction recovery. In addition to the GFI Recovery Coach Certification track, we are developing opportunities for on-going, consistent training and support for individuals, churches, and ministries ministering to those struggling with addiction. Our vision is to teach and train utilizing the Biblically sound, Cross-focused theology that Spirituotherapy embodies. We also want to enrich those who minister to others by teaching personal helping, coaching, and counseling skills. We want to offer on-going support through critical phases of growth in the ministry process through the use of tele-conferencing technology. An additional goal, accomplished through providing on-going support, is to help identify, teach, and train leaders within the ministries we help who can then train others. Our mission will always be to build upon the rich legacy of ministering to hurting people and the theological veracity that GFI has already established. I can’t think of a better ministry to respond to the plight of addiction and bondage than Grace Fellowship International.

Pray with us. We cannot do this without you! Personally, I am praying for those that God will now call to be part of our ministry team. The only way we can accomplish this mission is together as a ministry body. We need prayer warriors! Leis and I need personal ministry supporters who will engage in this spiritual battle with us and provide the necessary personal funds. We will win by His grace. We will bring light into the darkness of addiction and we will do it together!

-Don Steve

Glimpses: Nov.-Dec. Issue



We just mailed about 4,000 copies of the Fall issue of GFI’s newsletter, Glimpses of Grace. Our thanks to the additional help from volunteers Ron, Chris, Jane, Jeff, Julie, John and William! If you would like a PDF copy to view, download and share, please visit the Newsletter page.