Know Your Bible

VOL. 4                           January 1, 2006                           NO. 50

Seven Techniques For Breaking Sinful Habits

Are there sinful habits you need to break? Here are scriptural techniques for breaking sinful habits:

#1: Pray. Don't overlook the power of prayer. James tells us that the "effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (Jas. 5:16). The word "effective" in the Greek is "energeo" from which we get the word "energy." James is telling us to pray actively and with energy. The most potent way for overcoming sinful habits is to ask God for help.

#2: Overcome Evil with Good. (Rom. 12:21). "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." When you feel the urge to give in to an evil habit, do something good instead. Write a letter of hope to a friend, call and encourage a brother, or visit someone who is sick. In other words, replace your sinful habit with a good work.

#3: Surround Yourself with Good People. We're told "bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33). The opposite is also true: good company corrects bad morals. If you have a sinful habit you're trying to break, then seek out the company of good people. Let their "goodness" rub off on you.

#4: Confess Your Faults. James 5:15 says "confess your sins to one another." Admittedly, confessing your faults and sinful habits will be difficult. You may be embarrassed by the prospect of others "finding out" about your weakness. But when you confess your failings to others, then they can help look out for you. They can counsel and comfort you as you work to overcome your bad habit.

#5: Make Bad Habits Impossible. You may fall back into your sinful habit simply because sin is so accessible! Overcome sinful habits by eliminating your access to sin. "If your eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee..." (Matt. 5:29). If you've got a bad habit, make it harder to feed the habit! Look for ways to make sinning inconvenient rather than easy.

#6: Think Good Thoughts. The urge to feed a bad habit starts in the mind. Fill your mind with righteous thoughts and you'll reduce the chance that evil thoughts will blossom into sin. Let your mind dwell on things listed in Phil. 4:8.

#7: Take One Day at a Time. It takes only 2 weeks to develop a habit, but a month to break one. Don't despair! Don''t think about how hard it will be to break the habit, take one day at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow. Work to stop your bad habit today for "each day has enough trouble" (Mt. 6:34).


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Intermingling The Physical With The Spiritual

    If we are not careful we will gradually intermingle the physical with the spiritual. This was a problem even in the early church. Corinth turned a spiritual feast (the Lord's supper) into a physical festival (1 Cor. 11). What was supposed to be the Lord's supper became their own supper (1 Cor. 11:21). Paul reminded them that they had "houses to eat and drink in" and to so desecrate the spiritual feast of the Lord's supper with the physical was to "despise the church of God" (1 Cor. 11:22). So, he said, "If any man hunger let him eat at home: that ye come not together unto condemnation" (1 Cor. 11:34).

    Long ago the denominations failed to see the distinction between the carnal and the spiritual, so they built their kitchens and recreation rooms, and people soon looked upon church-furnished recreation and social activities as an integral part of the church’s mission. I can remember when Christians thought this was ridiculous. When I was a boy, the Presbyterians in my home town built a kitchen on to their building. Our brethren ridiculed it, and exclaimed, "The very idea of a kitchen in a church building!" Now, the church of Christ there whose building is just across the street, has a special building for a kitchen and a recreation room where they have social activities like baby and bridal showers, pot lucks, etc.

    Today, the liberal churches ape the denominations. There are liberal churches that have recreation programs, youth ministers, million dollar gymnasiums and well-furnished kitchens, etc. The spiritual-minded person finds this to be unscriptural and abhorrent. Worship is designed to draw our minds away from such things and focus them upon that which transcends all of this. The carnally minded think the church is not fulfilling its mission if it is not filling stomachs or entertaining someone. They intermingle praying with playing, and the social with the spiritual.

    We all need to be careful how we walk. Our Lord did not die for a YMCA or a Red Cross society. He shed His blood to purchase a divine spiritual institution with a divine spiritual mission. We must keep the line distinct and wide between the secular, the carnal, the physical, and the divine spiritual. The church has a threefold mission: Evangelism, edification and benevolence among it's needy members. That does not include recreation and social activities. These are fine, but we must refrain from anything that remotely indicates that we are intermingling the social with the spiritual.

    A brother was asked how services were last Sunday. He replied, "The preaching was weak, the coffee was cold, and the donuts were old." N. B. Hardeman used to say, "The less spiritual a person is the more fried chicken it takes to keep him interested." Someone has said, "If we must use tea parties, fried chicken dinners, and ice cream socials to keep a church interested, the church is as cold as the ice cream, as weak as the tea, and as dead as the chicken."

    Churches generally need more reverence in their worship and more spirituality in their members. Let it not be said of us as of ancient Israel, "They sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play" (1 Cor. 10:7).

---James P. Needham

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"God can use reverses to move us forward."


"People who do things that count

never stop to count them."


"He who is not content with what he has would not be contented

with what he would like to have."


"Guard your thoughts today,

for they produce your actions tomorrow."


"No matter how bad your situation,

you can lose your temper and make it worse."


"There is no right way to do a wrong thing."


"There is no telling how far a kind word, or look,

or deed will travel."

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