Speaking the Truth in Love
Breaking Sinful Habits
It would be logical to assume that any one of us has had times in our lives when we struggle with kicking a bad habit. As humans, we are creatures of habit, and sometimes we find that we have picked up a habit that is not good for us. We repeatedly do something that is not in our best interest. But despite our best intentions, we find that stopping the behavior is a real challenge for us. As Christians, we must realize that these habits, if they are contrary to God’s word, constitute sin and will cause us to lose our soul if they continue to rule over us.
Many people spend fortunes on various remedies designed to help them overcome their habit. Some turn to psychologists, some to self-help books, some to the latest medications. Some may find success using these means, but children of God have a Father who has given us the best tools for breaking bad habits, all free of charge and available right here in His word.
Let’s look at 9 scriptural techniques for breaking sinful habits:
#1: Become A Christian
Many times we may think we cannot make it in life. We may think we have so many problems that we will never be able to overcome them. These things may be true if we continue on our own, but with Jesus by our side, there is nothing we cannot overcome (2 Timothy 4:17-18, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 4:11-13, Romans 8:31-39). But in order to have Jesus by our side we need to humbly obey his commands (Acts 2:38, 8:35-40). When we obey His commands (and not before) we become a Christian (1 John 5:1-5).
#2: Work with a local church of the Lord
As Christians, we need to work together with other Christians to stir one another up in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). Christians need each other in order to grow and share one another’s burdens (John 13:34-35, Romans 12:9-16, 14:19, Galatians 6:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, James 5:16).
Don't overlook the power of prayer. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus told his disciples to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” When you know temptation is coming your way, you must call upon God for the strength to resist the temptation. If your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak, you need God’s hand leaning on the scale to help your resistance outweigh the force of habit. The most potent way for overcoming sinful habits is to ask God for help. (cp. Luke 11:4; 18:1)
#4: Think Good Thoughts
The urge to feed a bad habit starts in the mind or “heart” (Mark 7:20-23). If you allow your mind to dwell on your habit, those evil thoughts will blossom into sin (James 1:14-15). Instead, fill your mind with righteous thoughts, dwelling on the things listed in Philippians 4:8.
#5: Replace Evil with Good
When you feel the urge to give in to an evil habit, do something good instead. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to replace the old self with a new self, falsehood with truth, stealing with labor, unwholesome speech with edification, and bitterness with kindness (Ephesians 4:20-32). Likewise, replace your sinful habit with good works. Write a letter of hope to a friend, call and encourage a brother, or visit someone who is sick. You only have 24 hours in a day. Filling it with good works will leave no time for your sinful habit.
#6: Make Bad Habits Impossible
You may fall back into your sinful habit simply because sin is so accessible! Overcome sinful habits by eliminating your access to sin. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you" (Matthew 5:29). If you've got a bad habit, make it harder to feed the habit! Look for ways to make sinning inconvenient rather than easy.
#7: Surround Yourself with Good People
Paul tells us that "bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33). The opposite is also true: good company corrects bad morals. If you have a sinful habit you're trying to break, seek out the company of good people. Let their "goodness" rub off on you.
#8: Confess Your Faults
James 5:16 says "confess your sins to one another." Admittedly, confessing your faults and sinful habits will be difficult. You may be embarrassed by the prospect of others "finding out" about your weakness. But when you confess your failings to others, then they can help look out for you. They can counsel and comfort you as you work to overcome your bad habit. (cp. Acts 19:18-19)
#9: Take One Day at a Time
It takes only 2 weeks to develop a habit, but a month to break one. Don't despair! Don’t think about how hard it will be to break the habit, but rather take one day at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow. Work to stop your bad habit today for "each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).
If you want to break sinful habits in your life, first you need to become a Christian (Matthew 6:33). Are you one tonight? After you become a Christian, as you can see from our program tonight, there are many tools the Lord has given to help overcome the habits of sin. Check these things out for yourself. If you can read them in your Bible, we plead with you to obey them and put them into action in your life. We hope to see you next time on, “Speaking The Truth In Love”.