November 11, 2022

Breaking Bad Habits

By Skip Heitzig

Everyone has bad habits. They range from the fairly harmless kind to addictive behaviors and life-dominating sins—substance abuse, pornography, uncontrolled anger. We often try to cover up these struggles with a thin coat of religion or morality. But at some point in our Christian walk, we need to learn how to break bad habits.

What does the Bible say about how to do that? In Colossians 3, we read, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (vv. 1-4).

There are two great truths in these verses you need to set your mind on: first, you're dead to the old you, the flesh (see Romans 6:11). That means it shouldn't dominate your life. And the second thing is that you're alive to God. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power you have to overcome bad habits.

The trouble is that many believers live an in-between life. They're just sort of dead to the old and sort of alive to God. But to walk in victory, you need to make a mental determination that you will not wallow in past defeats. You need to keep seeking the Lord. Keep setting your mind on things above. Think of the endgame: heaven, the place you were created for, where Christ is and where you're going to spend eternity.

Then act decisively. Colossians 3 says to "put to death your members which are on the earth" (v. 5). This is the solution for your flesh: kill it. Deal radically with it and cut off opportunities immediately (see 2 Timothy 2:22). Invite the accountability of others (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Then "put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Colossians 3:10). The best way to deprive your old nature is to cultivate the new nature. If you consistently walk in the Spirit, you won't be having to battle the flesh (see Galatians 5:16).

You will never be sinless this side of heaven, but you can sin less. Your bad habit doesn't have to control you. The key to victory is to keep your eyes on the Master. Set your mind on things above. Rely on the power of Jesus and His resurrection.

And know that when you fail, there is grace. That's one of the good things about temptation and bad habits: they teach us about God's grace. As Paul said in Romans 5, "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (v. 20). Thank God for that today—that you don't have to cover up your life with a veneer of morality, but you can experience true victory in and through Him.

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