“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
How many times have I tried to quit biting my nails? Good grief, who knows. I’ve started and stopped and started again too many times to count. I know it’s gross, but even worse…I’ll never be a hand model. *sigh*
It’s an unfortunate bad habit to have, and a somewhat silly example. But the incredibly strong hold that many habits have over people is no laughing matter. Especially when you consider that there are some pretty awful habits out there. Things like:
eating junk food constantly,
drinking too much…
The list goes on and on.
No matter what you believe about willpower, when you build up a pattern of consistently and intentionally making the wrong choice while KNOWING it’s wrong, that wrong choice becomes your first choice. You instinctively choose something that is bad for you because you’ve trained your body to do so, like a computer.
So how do we break those bad habits? You have to remind yourself that you’re different from a programmed computer.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit living in you and directing you. When we spend time with God, our ability to discern what is right and wrong grows stronger. Breaking habits probably won’t ever be easy as saying “Okay God, I give this up!” one time and moving on with your life. In the same way that you chose, time after time, to make the wrong choice, you must choose over and over to make the right one, building up a pattern of good choices instead.
Is it easy? Uhhhh duh, of course not. But isn’t it worth it? Why would we choose to sit in a mud puddle of bad choices instead of following Jesus and making new habits? If you have been saved by Jesus and surrendered your life to Him, you are already walking in freedom from your habits. The only power Satan has in your life is the power you give him. When you are tempted, I challenge you to stop in that moment and say out loud to yourself, “Satan has no power over me. I am walking in freedom with Jesus, and I will not _____ today.” Say it as many times as you have to!
We are far too easily defined by our bad habits instead of our good ones, but you can change that. It’s not enough to root out the bad; you have to replace it with good. Be proactive. Do more than make a mental list of all the things you need to stop doing. Pray Scripture over yourself. Know what your tempting triggers are and avoid them on purpose. Surround yourself with people who care about your spiritual health and want to hold you accountable.
I know you’re wrestling with something, because we all are. Just know that you are not alone, brother or sister. The only thing holding you back is excuses. Persevere and devote time to your walk with the Lord – that’s a habit you’ll never want to break.