OVERCOMING BAD (SINFUL) HABITS
Felix had a problem with stealing. He stole from everyone and anyone. Many times he got caught and his father beat the living daylights out of him. Felix sincerely promised many times that he would stop stealing, but he failed. He was not able to stop himself.
He was never happy when he stole. Each time he did it, his heart was full of dread, guilt and despair. Felix knew that if he didn't stop stealing, he’d become an armed robber. This prospect terrified him, but how could he avoid this if he couldn't stop stealing.
People who knew about Felix’s lifestyle avoided him. They literally put away their purses when he came by. He pretended as if he didn't even notice and that he didn't care; but he did. He was ashamed of himself. He hated his lifestyle, yet he couldn't stop. He felt trapped in the cage of his own. He kept asking himself: "why can't I stop?”
Peter was Felix’s friend. Peter became born again 4 years ago and has been enjoying every moment of it. He prays regularly and is quite active in the local church. He particularly plays the bass guitar pretty well. He is literally in every meeting in church and everyone loves his dedication but Peter has a problem. He can’t seem to stop his addiction to pornography. The more he tries, the more he seems to be falling deeper and deeper. He is about giving up as he feels this may just be his own weakness to live with.
Just before we conclude that the people with these struggles were probably spiritual weaklings, let’s quickly read another account:
‘So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.’ (Romans 7:7-25, NLT)
You are probably already angry at the ‘immature Christian’ who penned down the words above. Don’t look too far. Those were the very words of Paul, the apostle. Yes, the same Paul who wrote half the books in the New Testament and testified boldly for Jesus Christ everywhere. So you are wondering: ‘If Paul had those struggles, I am totally hopeless’. Not at all, Paul’s concluding remarks can be yours also:
‘Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans 7:24-25a, emphasis ours)
Do you face a problem like the one that Felix had? Or is your life like that of Peter? Does their story sound like yours – even if just a little bit? Has SIN become a habit in your life? Do you do that thing again and again and it makes you feel guilty and sad, but you still find yourself doing it?
If your story is like Felix’s, there can be a change. You can't overcome that sinful habit by yourself, but God can change you. No matter the type of sin: anger, revenge, masturbation, fighting, fornication, etc. God can break you free from its hold. The truth is if you have already received Jesus Christ, God’s power resides in you and there has been a great change in you but you may not yet realize it. Do you know why JESUS died on the cross? He died in order to crucify the sinful nature and destroy the power of sin.
‘Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed’ 1 Peter 2:24, GNT
‘We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.’ (Romans 6:6, NLT)
If you have put your trust in Jesus and believed that He died, rose again and that He is God Son, you have been set free from the power of sin. If you have never done so, that is the very first thing to do. Ask Jesus to save you from sin, and rule your life. It's too simple! Why don't you do it right now? You can pray a simple prayer like this: "Lord Jesus, I thank YOU for dying on the cross for me in order to destroy the consequence and power of sin over my life. Lord I receive YOU today and the victory that YOU died to purchase for me. Help me to live the new life in YOU as from now on, in JESUS name. AMEN!’
If you have done so, you are now a new person. Yes, you may not feel different, but a change has occurred in you and you can now behave differently from the way you behaved before. (2 Corinthians 5: 17). (If you have just made this decision, we will love to help you grow. Please send us a message through our email or phone numbers indicating your decision to receive Christ or simply read and respond to the article ‘Welcome To His Family’ @http://www.pensforchrist.org/article/welcome-to-his-family
The truth is you don’t have to be held bound to sin. As regard sin, you now have the ABILITY to say 'NO' to sin. As a Christian, sin should no longer dominate or control you any longer. It has no right and no power over you any longer. ‘Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.’ (Romans 6:14, NLT) But the choice is yours. God has given you all that it takes. The ball is now in your court.
By dying on the cross, Jesus crucified the sinful nature. When you become a Christian, your sinful nature becomes dead and you receive a new nature. That new nature can subdue and overcome sin.
‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.’ (Galatians 5:24, NLT)
So if as a Christian, you still struggle with a sinful habit, it's not because you can't help yourself (sin can no longer be your master), it's because you are not exercising your power over sin!
‘Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.’ (Romans 6:12, NLT)
‘Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.’ (Romans 6:16-18, NLT)
‘Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.’ (Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT)
As a child of a very rich man with many servants, should you be running errands for the servant? NO! You have authority over them. But you can choose not to exercise that authority and become the slave of slaves. However this won't shake the fact that you are a child and not a slave. The day you again choose to start exercising your authority, that day you return to your rightful position.
So child of God, shake off the oppression of sin and satan, and start living free because that's the right way for you to live!
To be continued...
(For ‘Pens For Christ’).
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