Breaking The Habit

I took time this morning to run over to our local Public Health Unit to pick up some information on smoking.

No, I don't smoke. But I do know quite a few people who do.

Lest you think I am picking on smokers, or about to display a "holier-than-thou" attitude because I don't smoke, let me reassure you that such is not the case.

Anything, whatever it might be, that controls us and that we can't leave behind, avoid, or resist, is something that needs dealing with. Smoking just happens to be what I was talking to a friend about last night. She's quit before and now says that she can't quit again. Somehow it seems much harder to do this time. As we were talking, a familiar story that Jesus once told came to my mind.

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first" –Matthew 12:43-45, NIV.

Breaking habits is tough–especially if this is the second or third or fourth attempt. Whether it be an addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, porn, food, possessions, money, success, position, recognition, or anything else, it appears that the void left behind after the first successful attempt needs to be filled with something. Otherwise trouble is sure to come the next time circumstances or temptation threatens to drive a person back to that old familiar routine.

The principles Paul applied to sexual immorality (that can be an addition too) also apply to other habits. He writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV): "'Everything is permissible for me' – but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me' – but I will not be mastered by anything." He knew that whatever he was mastered by he became a slave to. He spoke about that reality in Romans 6:11-14, 16 (NIV). when he says: ". . . count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. . . Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey. . .?"

Anything that masters my life other than God IS sin.

To say that it is impossible to break a sinful habit is to say that God's grace is not sufficient for our weakness. If the habit isn't bad enough, the insult to God certainly is.

I don't doubt it's tough to break a habit (just ask me about my habits!) but it's not impossible. Nothing is impossible with God for the heart willing to leave behind the habit that is mastering it.

Someone is bound to call me an interfering old bag. But that's okay. I'll still do my best to provide the resources for those who really want to break the bad habits that master their lives. I care about them; their health, their testimonies, and their spiritual growth. Though I know nothing about smoking, I do know plenty about bad habits and I know that when I give them control I am snatching control of my life away from the Master I really want to serve.

And that's not a good thing.


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