In the previous article, I promised you victory over your habitual sins.
I overviewed our series and explained the three sources of habitual sins.
I. Three Sources of Habitual Sins
II. Resources for Overcoming Habitual Sins
You learned why your sins still have power over you even after becoming a Christian. And I showed you the four resources you have to overcome besetting sins.
III. Nine Steps to Overcoming Habitual Sins (Steps 4-9)
- Am I Truly a Christian?
- Confronting Yourself
- Lifestyle Change
- The Bible is an Important Resource
- Memorize Verses About Your Habitual Sins
- Pray About Your Habitual Sins
- Put on New Habits by Putting off Old Sins
- Involve Others to Help in Your Struggle
- Persevere…Even if You Fail with Your Habitual Sins
In the previous blog, I presented the first three of nine steps for overcoming habitual sins. They were:
- Firstly ensuring your salvation
- Secondly, confronting yourself about your besetting sin
- Thirdly, making necessary lifestyle changes
In this article, I will show you the last six steps you need to defeat your habitual sins.
4. The Bible is an Important Resource
Many new Christians are disappointed that they still struggle with the same besetting sins they had before becoming believers. But they need a reality check.
God doesn’t suddenly supernaturally “zap” people to transform their wills. Instead, he gives you the tools for change. And the essential tool for dealing with all your habitual sins is the Bible.
Because being in Scripture daily will slowly change the way you think about:
- How do you spend your time
- Your entertainment choices
- Your relationships
- God’s involvement in your daily life
- The Holy Spirit
- And your daily decisions
How often have you said, “I don’t feel like doing that.” Here is the crux of the issue. Your mind, not your emotions, should lead your actions. Not the other way around.
Without a doubt, our minds should direct our decisions, not our emotions. Specifically, we should choose to glorify God in all our thoughts, words, and actions whether we feel like it or not!
Most importantly, our life’s goal is glorifying God in every moment! The apostle Paul invites us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
But it can be challenging to submit all our life areas to God’s will (2 Cor. 10:5), so be patient; it will take time and practice to discipline yourself to ignore your feelings and be ruled by your mind.
5. Memorize Verses About Your Habitual Sins
Begin by reading and becoming familiar with God’s Word. Concentrate on verses about your habitual sin. You can find these verses online. Or use the topical concordance in the back of your Bible. You can also ask a Christian friend for help in finding these verses.
Don’t hurry through reading the verses, or read them only once. Instead, study and meditate on them.
Moreover, please read them over and over. Study each passage in light of learning its meaning. Then seek how it applies to you. Invite God to speak through this passage to you as you read it.
Additionally, pick at least one verse that relates to your area of struggle to memorize.
- To begin with, reading this verse over and over in its parts
- Then, write it on a notecard
- After that, say it out loud
- Pray it to God
- And share it with others frequently
This way, this verse will come to mind when temptation arises. Scripture memorization is necessary for overcoming habitual sins: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).
6. Pray About Your Habitual Sins
In addition to reading, meditating, and memorizing these Bible verses, remember to pray. As a result, Your prayer should be contemplative.
Contemplative prayer focuses on specific Bible passages that pertain to your particular sin. As you pray, personalize those verses.
And while you are praying and meditating on these verses, open yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading (Ps. 27:4). Prayer is an intimate conversation with God. As you speak to God, be receptive to who he is and what he wants you to do.
Specifically, pray for God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:97-98), confidence (Ps. 16:8), mercy, and grace (Heb. 4:16). Increasingly incorporate prayer into your daily life. Eventually, every moment of your day will be saturated with prayer until you are “praying continually” (1 Thess. 5:17).
The advantage of continual prayer is that we no longer feel the tug of temptations. Continual prayer influences the leading of the Holy Spirit.
7. Put on New Habits by Putting off Old Sins
The Bible tells you to “take off” habitual sins and, in their place, “put on” Christ-like behavior.
Overcoming habitual sins is not just stopping sinful behavior. Instead, it focuses on what is pure, true, and lovely (Php. 4:8). These choices produce spiritual health.
This solution is a lot like parenting. Tell a child they cannot do something, and what happens? Their entire focus becomes doing that activity!
Similarly, if your only approach is to stop doing something, you will become absorbed with what you are trying to “take off.”
For instance, ask yourself, “What:
- “Godly habits am I seeing in God’s Word?”
- “Christ-honoring activities will I use to replace my sins?”
- “Are the times, situations, and people I want to use to engage these new habits?”
Then consider taking action. For example, Are you going to:
- Join a church group to help get healthy spiritual relationships in your life?
- Start exercising daily to use your energy wisely?
- Memorize a weekly verse with a friend who can keep you accountable?
You remove evil from your life by replacing it with a greater good. Let good habits replace sinful ones. This approach means committing yourself to do God’s commands in every area of your life.
8. Involve Others to Help in Your Struggle
Involving other Christians to help change your sinful habits is too often ignored. But you aren’t meant to alter sinful habits by yourself. You are God’s child, and you belong to a family called the church. The church is not a brick-and-mortar building but a group of fellow believers.
In “putting on” Christ-like behavior, you must include trustworthy Christians.
- You may need to involve them at the very beginning: having them help you assess your sin and what needs to change
- You may need to include them in the “put on” process. By receiving help to know what God’s Word says about glorifying him and how to do that
- And most of the time, you’ll involve someone else in both the “put off” and “put on” process
These helpers could be a pastor, a family member, a counselor, or a friend. But consider having an accountability partner if you want your change to last.
It’s wise to have someone who can mentor (or counsel) you through this process.
You should also seek out a friend who can come alongside you as a friend. They can keep you accountable and encouraged.
9. Persevere…Even if You Fail with Your Habitual Sins
A word of caution. Habitual sins are deeply ingrained. Don’t get discouraged if you fail initially.
Persevere. All successful athletes know the frustration and pain of training.
And as you train yourself in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16), you will face three formidable opponents I previously discussed.
- First is your sinful nature (Rom. 6:12).
- Second is the surrounding culture (Jas. 4:4).
- And third is the devil (1 Pet. 5:8).
But the Holy Spirit indwells you and is working to conform you to the image of Christ. And if God is for you, who can be against you (Rom. 8:29-31)?
a. How will you persevere?
First, choose to become more like Jesus in all your thoughts, words, and actions.
Second, have a contingency plan. This plan should:
- Remove you from sources of temptation to sin
- Help you resist temptations
- Provide a path for fleeing when unexpected temptations arise (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
And without a doubt, unexpected temptations will occur! So don’t let these temptations discourage you. Your contingency plan is excellent preparation.
Third, don’t believe the lie that you have to do it all on your own. Battling habitual sins all alone is a recipe for failure.
Of course, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Bible, and prayer as resources. But it is often wise to receive guidance from more mature Christians. These can include pastors or trained counselors. Overall they can guide, encourage and support you while holding you accountable.
IV. The Next Step is Yours to be Free from Habitual Sins!
Habitual sins don’t need to haunt your new life in Christ (Heb. 11:1-3; Jas. 2:14-26). Christ gives greater power and pleasure than any substitute (Gal. 2:20; 1 John 5:4-5).
Every Christian has the tools to defeat habitual sins. In particular, there are three essential tools. First is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:9, 14; 2 Tim. 1:14). Secondly is prayer (Matt. 26:41; Luke 22:40; John 16:23-24; Jas. 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15). And finally is the Bible (Psa. 19:7-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12).
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God has promised that he will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability. And with the temptations, he provides a way of escape so that we can endure them.
So this week, take your first steps toward the freedom that God wants to bring you.
- Do you need to make lifestyle changes?
- Consider looking up and memorizing Scripture about your habitual sin(s).
- Maybe you need to put in place a contingency plan when challenges arise.
- Perhaps you need to seek out a mature believer to mentor