All of us have things in our lives we wish we didn’t do. Breaking bad habits is actually one of the top resolutions people make every year. Now, “bad habits” could be something that isn’t “wrong,” but instead something you wish you didn’t do. Like biting your nails, it’s not morally wrong, but you may wish you didn’t do it.
So a better word for this post would be wrong habits. That is, things we may do that aren’t good. Maybe that’s eating unhealthily, gossiping about others, porn/drugs/alcohol, spending too much money, or being a UNC fan, for example.
So how can we take steps to stop or fight against these bad habits? Here are 3 ways.
CALL IT WHAT IT IS
In Ephesians 4:17-18 Paul writes, “Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as [those who do not know God] live, in the futility of their thoughts.They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.”
One of the problems with our world is that we don’t want to call things what they are. We don’t want to be wrong, or tell someone how to live, or sound non-inclusive. And I get it, on the one hand we don’t want to be a jerk right? But at then end of the day, sometimes the most loving thing to do is be honest about what we see.
Sometimes when it comes to sin, we aren’t be honest about it when we see it. You may be wrestling with sin in your life, but you won’t call it that. Instead we try and manage it and say things like, I’m having some issues in my life, or I’m wrestling through some things, or I’ve made some mistakes.
Here’s the reality, we would all admit we have made some mistakes. But we all have a harder time saying we have sinned, because sin sounds so serious.
That’s because it is.
A mistake is when we run a stop sign because we didn’t see it. A mistake is not, “I had an affair.” Or, “I lied and wasn’t honest with a client in a business deal so I could make more money.” You don’t plan a mistake. You don’t make up elaborate excuses for a mistake. We don’t have secret passwords for secret websites for a mistake.
These are not mistakes, these are sins. Again sin sounds so serious because it is serious. After all, sin murdered Jesus. Jesus came and died because of and for our sins.
Until we see sin as serious, we will not be serious about getting it out of our lives. So one step we can take when it comes to our wrong habits is simply to be honest about what they are.
CONFESS IT TO GOD
Why do we need to confess our sins or bad habits/addictions to God if he already knows when we sin?
Think of a parent of young kids, who knows their child did something they weren’t supposed to do, yet they still ask their child if they did it. They aren’t asking to learn whether or not they did it, instead they are asking because they want their child to understand what they did was wrong.
Here’s another way to look at it. Confession has nothing to do with information. It has everything to do with transformation. Confession
Sin is destructive, and we don’t need to play with it. We need to get it out of our lives.
If I told you today that you had cancer, you would immediately schedule an appointment with a doctor to try and get it out. Sin is more serious than cancer has ever been.
Cancer can destroy your body, but sin will destroy your soul. Our bodies won’t last forever, but our souls will.
If you are struggling with an addiction or a long lasting sinful habit, being honest about it is a huge step, of course it won’t fix it overnight (and that’s ok!), but it’s a step. Confessing our sins to God and being honest with him is a huge deal.
The good news is you are not alone. In 1 John 1:8-10, John writes, ‘If we say, “We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
In other words, all we have to do is be honest. God doesn’t want to condemn you, he wants to forgive you! And part of following Jesus is confessing when we fall short.
CONFESS IT TO OTHERS
Lastly, another step we can take is by confessing our struggle with others. A few sentences later in Ephesians 4, Paul writes in verse 25, “Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.”
But this is where we aren’t sure, right? Telling other people? So we say things like “well my life is my life and so I’m only affecting me.” Which by the way is one of the biggest lies we believe, our decisions always affect those closest to us.
Proverbs 28:13 shows us why confessing our struggles to God and trusted friends who can walk with us is important. “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.”
Whoever confesses finds mercy. Not judgement, not wrath, but mercy. And it’s easy to think that God must be upset or angry with me because I struggle with (your issue).
However the conviction of God equals the love of God. God is not convicting you because he wants to condemn you, he is convicting you because he wants to correct you, and he wants greater things for you than the way you are living right now. That’s why Jesus came; to give us a true and free life in him.
If you will believe that sin is serious, that it can destroy you, and that it is holding you back from living the life God wants for you, then you will be serious about fighting it. There is no reason for you to resign yourself to thinking things will never change. They will only never change if you keep trying to fight it on your own.
Lastly, the truth is that we will always fall short, none of us are perfect, and that is why Jesus came. So as we strive to honor him, we do so in light of the Gospel. Which means that anyone who is in Jesus has nothing to prove and no one to impress. We don’t fight sin to get his approval, we fight it in response to the love he first showed us.