How to Overcome Bad Habits as a Christian

How to Overcome Bad Habits as a Christian

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘we first make our habits and then our habits make us’? When you stop and consider how much of your life is spent on automatic pilot it can come as rather a shock. ‘Habits are involuntary behaviors, controlled by the subconscious mind. Studies by neurobiologists, cognitive psychologists and others indicate that from 40 to 95 percent of human behavior – how we think, what we say, and our overall actions – falls into the habit category.’ Stuart G Walesh

We need habits in order to function; can you imagine what it would be like if you had to make a decision about every single utterance or action as if it were always like the first time this event had occurred? You don’t need to make a decision about that first cup of coffee in the morning, it’s what you always do, it’s a habit. Habits are the way in which we program ourselves to perform certain actions in the most
efficient way, but what about when the habits that we have formed are destructive or a sin?

‘I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.’ Romans 7:19

Not all habits are bad and not all bad habits are sins but if you open your heart to God the light of His wisdom will illuminate the bad habits that you have created.

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.’ James 1:5

Do not deceive yourself that you are free from bad habits, failing to do what’s right is a form of doing wrong, and if you cannot admit weakness, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

‘That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12:10

The formation of habits follows a regular pattern. First there is the trigger: I have had a very stressful day. Second there is the behavior: I deserve a glass of wine and maybe I’ll finish the bottle. Finally there is the reward and this is the reason why you will repeat the behavior and it will become a habit: I feel great after drinking that wine and I’ve forgotten all the troubles of my day. As with all challenges, the first step toward breaking a bad habit is through prayer. Open your heart to God and see with the clarity of the Lord’s guidance those things that you do which are destructive or sinful. Record your prayers in your journal so that you can look back on your spiritual journey and see the wonder of God at work in your life. Make a commitment to change and set yourself a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and has a time frame. You can just stop a bad habit, you can quit smoking right now if you have the willpower, but the most effective way to end a bad habit is by turning it into a good habit. The triggers for the bad habits will still be there: you will still have stressful days. So, what you need to do is substitute the behavior, substitute a good habit for a bad one. When you have a bad day, go for a run or go to the gym, your reward will be the endorphins that flood your brain. With God at your side there is nothing in your life that you cannot change.

‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13


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