Definition: A habit is a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition; an established state of mind or character; customary manner or practice. Habits, of course, can be either good or bad, helpful or harmful.
1. Some common causes of bad habits:
Psalm 55:19b [Being comfortable and familiar with our situation:] Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 [Not nipping problems in the bud:] Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Jeremiah 22:21b [Because we logically think, "Well, I have always behaved this way."] This hath been thy manner from thy youth.
Jeremiah 13:23 [Thinking "But this is the way God made me."] Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Luke 5:39 [It is the carnal nature of man to be resistant to change:] No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
James 1:14,15 [Repeatedly yielding to temptation ends up in a destructive bad habit.] But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. [See also Romans 6:12 ; 7:23 .]
2. In order to continue to grow spiritually, we need strive to replace old bad habits with positive new ones.
Psalm 19:13a [King David prayed that his sins wouldn't become hard-to-break habits:] Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous [proud] sins; let them not have dominion over me. [See also 119:133 .]
1 Corinthians 5:6,7a Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7a Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump.
Ephesians 4:22-24 [It takes a spiritual renewing:] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. [See also Colossians 3:7,8 ]
2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
3. The Lord can help us change and overcome anything; all He needs is our yieldedness and cooperation.
1 Samuel 10:6,9 [God changed young King Saul into a new man by the power of the Holy Spirit. The prophet Samuel told him:] And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. ... 9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
Psalm 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of Thine Own hands.
Jeremiah 18:3-6 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel.
Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?
Ezekiel 36:26,27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.
Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
4. We need to shun bad habits not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of others; it's a part of love.
Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Galatians 5:13,14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
1 John 2:10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
5. We need to get militant against bad habits for God's work's sake.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Philippians 3:13,14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
6. Some of the more serious "bad habits" may have evil spirits at the root.
2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
1 Peter 5:8,9a Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 9a Whom resist stedfast in the faith.
7. We need to pray for a "can do" attitude toward overcoming our bad habits.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Romans 4:20,21 He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
2 Corinthians 3:18 [Keep your eyes on Jesus and the "new creature" He is making of you:] But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
8. Especially when we are beginning to form new positive habits, we need to ask the Lord to remind us when we are falling back into our old ways, so that we can learn to catch and correct ourselves.
Psalm 32:8,9 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye. 9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
Psalm 143:8,10 Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee. ... 10 Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
John 16:13a Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.
9. We need the prayers and safeguarding of others to keep from falling into bad habits.
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Matthew 18:19,20 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in Heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 10:24,25 And let us consider one another to provoke [stir up] unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
10. Once we've determined to change, we need to be on guard and rebuke every temptation to fall back into our old habits.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [See also 1 Corinthians 16:13 .]
Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the Devil.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
11. With conscious effort and the Lord's help, positive new habits will come more naturally.
Job 17:9 [Holding on to the Lord brings strength:] The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.
Psalm 84:7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
John 8:31,32 [Living in the Word helps you break free from your old man:] Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Galatians 6:9 [Don't give up:] And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. [See also Hebrews 6:15 ; 10:35,36 .]
1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
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