The problem with sin is that it is somewhat habitual. We all probably have those times when we do something that is out of character for us, and are immediately repentant and take quick action to make right the wrong. But probably the biggest hang-up we struggle with is those issues that continuously evidence themselves in our lives. Our besetting sins.
One of mine is impatience. My impatience often causes me to act in ways that are unloving toward others. Sometimes, my impatience gets in the way of my relationship with God. Impatience is something I need work on.
Marco Adragna at lifehack.com wrote a short post with instructions regarding how to quit a bad habit. DISCLAIMER: Marco seems like a fairly intelligent dude, but is clearly a bit humanistic in his writing. Thus while common grace may have provided him with some statements which reflect wisdom, he should not be looked at as a guru for spiritual growth. Glean what you can.
Adragna suggests five reasons why it is difficult to break a habit. I’ve listed four below:
- The forbidden fruit is always very attractive.
- Quitting something is difficult when you always think about it.
- There’s no excitement in just saying no.
- You never simply quit something, you do something else instead.
Think about your besetting sin, and contemplate whether any of these are reasons why you struggle for victory.
Later Adragna gives four questions you can ask yourself to fire into “habit-breaking mode":
1. What will you do instead?
2. Do you really want to change?
3. Is now the right time?
4. What’s in it for you?
I would suggest this. Give these questions serious consideration… Then, notice how individual-centric these are. Understand this, you cannot defeat sin yourself, or by doing what is “good for you". So if you want to break a sin-habit, you’ll have to change these questions.
1. What is the virtue God has called me to in place of impatience?
2. Does God expect me to change?
3. —— forget this one, it’s always the right time to stop sinning.
4. What kingdom benefit is in it?
Of course, the final step is to figure out the how of changing. I must rely on the Spirit to change me, but in order to do so, I must utilize the tools He’s given me for change, namely, the Bible and the community of believers.
Rely on the Spirit.
Engage the Word of God.
Commune with the Body of Christ.
Open yourself to the correction of others.
Discover the actions the Bible is teaching you.
Consider the direction of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Determine the next step to end the sin that is besettting you.