The Secret to Breaking Sinful Habits

READ Jeremiah 7:1-10:25

SITUATION Jeremiah prophesied from the Temple gates and challenged the people. He told them that even if it meant destroying the Temple, God would bring discipline on Jerusalem. The nation had forgotten God after the death of good King Josiah.

OBSERVATION True religion must have substance, integrity, and purity. God will uncover and rebuke sin, especially when people minimize it or let it go unacknowledged.

INSPIRATION Habits are the thought and emotional patterns engraved on our minds. These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences in our actions--in fact, perhaps more so...

As unbelievers, we formerly gave ourselves to developing habits of unholiness---what Paul called "ever-increasing wickedness"(Romans 6:19). Every time we sinned---every time we lusted, coveted, hated, cheated, or lied---we were developing habits of ever-increasing wickedness. These repeated acts of unrighteousness became habits that made us, in fact, slaves to sin.

Though we are to deal with these habits of unholiness, we must not try to do it in our own strength. Breaking sinful habits must be done in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and in dependence upon Him. The determination that "I'll not do that anymore," based on sheer human resolve, has never once broken the shackles of sin. But there are practical principles which we can follow to train ourselves in godliness.

The first principal is that habits are developed and reinforced by frequent repetition...This is the principle underlying the fact that the more we sin the more we are inclined to sin. But the converse is also true. The more we say no to sin, the more are inclined to say no.

Therefore, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, we must systematically work at acquiring the habit of saying no to the sins that so easily entangle us. We all know what these sins are; the sins to which we are practically vulnerable. We begin by concentrating on saying no to these. Then God will lead us to work on others in which we may not even be aware of at this time. The more we succeed in saying no to our sinful desires, the easier it become to say no.

In the same manner we can develop positive habits of holiness. We can develop the habit of thinking thoughts that are pure, true, and good. We can develop the habits of prayer and meditating on Scriptures. But these habits will only be developed through frequent repetition. (From The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges)

APPLICATION Are you a person of integrity? How do you work without supervision? Do you work harder if your boss is around? Do you cut corners you know your supervisor will never notice? Work for your employer as you would for Jesus Christ.
EXPLORATION Idolatry Punished -- Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; 8:19-20; 1 Kings 9:6-7; Psalm 97:7; Ezekiel 7:20-22; Romans 1:22-25; Revelation 14:9-10.
The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus - Max Lucado General Editor; New Century Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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