Bible Study Article:
Shannon Malaka copyright 2017
The carrot that dangles within our reach
Shannon Malaka copyright 2017
As hard as you’ve tried, there is a reason why you can’t kick that habit. As much as your healing depends on you, the cold turkey method never works because you and you alone will never be able to let go of the ties that bind you to a nature God has directed you to lay down.
Habits are hard to break and it is easy to form one as one is formed by constant indulgence or repetition over a period of three months. That’s the average estimation by professional standards. Try to shake loose from a habit, and the struggle is almost impossible to achieve and at times can leave us throwing our hands up in the air in defeat.
A habit is described by definition something a person does often. The Canadian Oxford dictionary only describes by an example one being addicted to drugs. This same dictionary defines an addiction as being enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity. It also states that an addiction is being physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance.
No one knows where habits come from. If they are something a person does often, then that must mean that there is a deeply rooted instinct to continue in habitual behavior for some benefit. Looking into the spiritual aspect to habitual behavior; habits are a form of indulgence that caters to the sin nature. Very rarely are habitual things done under the guise of self control. They are acted upon because it is pleasurable and it satiates an inner craving that is not satisfied but the body has become dependent on regardless.
Habits are a method that the sin nature keeps us rooted or grounded in in order to remain in a constant state of co-dependence with the evil inclination within our moral character. Habitual habits form for many reasons and often, especially if the sin nature isn’t dealt with correctly. While one habit maybe dealt with, another can manifest itself quickly in order to fill the void and contemplation of missing activity.
“So I say, live by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want.” Galatians 5:16-17 NIV
Habitual tendencies gratify the sinful nature. We only determine what is good for us by the positive experience we’ve had from the habitual behavior. If we do not see the need or the burden of sin in the habitual behavior itself, we will never see the need to change. Habits come in all forms and usually we cannot see that there is a problem until this becomes someone else’s problem.
Habits can be good when they have a place, such as keeping a tidy house or keeping up on personal hygiene. However we have to be mindful that positive habits only help to keep us disciplined and maintain our self control. Habits need to be assessed to make sure that they line up with God’s reasoning. Very rarely do we think the habits we indulge in are harmful, but we can’t know because most times they seem harmless or beneficial. Lining them up with God’s ways helps us to understand the real culprit behind all habit forming activities.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious; sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.” Galatians 5:19-21 NIV
In habitual behavior, we are feeding the greed. As much as you want to deny this, as much as you tell yourself you can stop in order to prove to yourself that you are not self indulgent, you can’t stop. Something we just can’t do on our own. No one can. The cold turkey method may work for some but not all and if you do manage to quit using this method, it is not by your own resolve that made you quit. Your determination helped, but God was in the details of that situation and took the desire away because of your genuine willingness and desire to stop that habitual behavior.
Habitual behavior is rooted in sin because one cannot repent from sin if they are not willing to stop their behavior. One has to have a desire to stop. This is what allows one to genuinely lend themselves into effort. Until this happens, one will always revisit the things they like to do most. In order to find freedom away from habitual behavior, one has to recognize the habit as what it is. Not just say what one may think is true, but truly realize and understand the negative effects of the so called benefit of habit. One has to recognize not just that it is wrong, but why it is wrong. No one can do this as this is a self realization that can only spark a change from within. In order to change, one has to see the change that needs to be made. One cannot change in themselves what they cannot see. This is why the healing has to be made self evident.
Scripture can help us to recognize habitual behavior. As much as Galatians seems obvious, sometimes we do better by having things better defined.
*All forms of indecent sex including masturbation. Using food in a lustful manner for sexual gratification is also wrong.
Impurity and debauchery:
*Anything that corrupts the mind, heart and body
*Anything that you covet, idolize, pay homage to.
*Piercing and tattooing your body.
*Putting one person over another such as fame and stardom/favoritism.
*Becoming a die hard sports fan. (Over the top rituals and behaviors)
*spells, channeling, divination, seeking after spirits, talking to spirits, mediums, psychics.
*Having a dislike for anyone.
* Trouble making. Jealousy:
*Not trusting your friends and personal intimate partners.
*Not trusting co-workers without just cause.
Fits of rage:
*Spousal abuse, beating up the neighborhood kid/bullying - any age.
*All of the above.
*Causing trouble among groups such as churches/pta meetings.
Factions: Same as above
Envy: Self explanatory.
Drunkenness/ orgies: Self explanatory.
Now that you know what sin is, you have to define it in the areas of your life. To do better means you have to be better. Change starts and ends with you. Only you can make the changes to allow God to do in you, what He needs to do.
“ I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21 NIV
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.”Galatians 5:22 NIV
Do you want to know how to rid yourself of habitual behavior? All habitual behavior feeds the greed from within and the only way to deal with this is to repent of it. We have to treat it as sin, because that is where it comes from. We cannot separate wayward behaviors from moral character because it is these wayward or righteous behaviors in us that form the fiber of our moral being.
It is easy to repent but harder to stand in repentance because repentance demands us to do something about our behavior. One cannot say ‘I’m sorry.” and return to that sinful way later on and expect it not to gain control.
Repentance means to have a sorrow in you that genuinely directs your heart and mind to turn away from that particular sin. You can’t walk away on your own, how you walk away from sin is to replace that sin with the spiritual fruit that only grows through struggle and effort.
· If you are angry, replace that anger by giving yourself over to kindness and understanding.
· If you are jealous, replace that jealousy by giving yourself over to goodness, faithfulness and trust.
How these things come to you is by adhering to the teachings of Jesus through the first four gospels of the New Testament. What is in your heart comes out in speech and action. This is why we are called to circumcise the heart. This simply means to cut off the sin nature that naturally covers the heart to expose a heart of righteousness. The spiritual foreskin of sin is discarded and not thought about again. Once it is gone, it is gone.
Habits need not be hard to break, when one sees the spiritual root from where they came one can better understand how to deal with them. Anything that feeds the sin nature by way of pleasurable indulgence has a spiritual taproot that is rooted deep within the sin nature. Dealing with this God’s way in trust and repentance is the way to kick the habit for good without negative residual effects.