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Good News For Those Struggling With Bad Habits — 70 Comments

  1. Thank you, Phil, for reminding us of God's compassion towards us and that a reasoned approach, without beating ourselves up, is more likely to result in habit transformation.

    I suspect that a lot of folks have tried to "just stop" habits without success, not realizing that that doesn't usually works. Thank you for pointing out that that is not unusual, but normal, because old habits can only be changed by overlaying the habit pathway with a better habit.

    I love your suggestion of writing a note to self to kick-start conscious evaluation of a choice about to be made.

    Character development is not automatic but is often hard work. Thank you for making the path a little easier. 🙂

    Amen!(36)
  2. Thanks Phil! Good suggestions 🙂

    Let's remember though that without God (and Christ), we can do nothing (John 15:5). Even Christ Jesus, when he laid down his divinity and became flesh, could do nothing without God (John 14:10; John 5:30).

    Our greatest need is to recognize our helplessness and dependence on God Who alone can give us the will and do the works (through us) which please Him (Philippians 2:13).

    Amen!(20)
  3. I have heard nothing about addictive habits. Those are the very worse kind. We have all heard the horror stories of addictions that lead to every type of outcome imaginable, because the time to form a habit is nearly instantly. Interesting where the focus is, or isn't placed.

    Amen!(9)
  4. Hi Phil

    We should see your articles more often as it seems that your work&life experience gives you a different outlook from what I usually see at ssnet.org. This article has been very informative and it will be a good/balanced introduction to the ss lesson (personally, I am fed up with approaches 'we can do everything' while in reality, the same people who put such unrealistic expectations fail miserably in their private lives - I believe balance and realistic expectations are the key words). Please keep contributing to this webpage as God has given you certain knowledge & experience that can be quite useful for us who did not have that kind of learning opportunity.

    Thanks.

    Amen!(26)
  5. I am and has been confused of how our brain works.It seems that the brain works against us in so many aspects. Like when you can't sleep at night. You tell your brain I have to wake up early to go to work,let me fall asleep yet it is ignored. Do we have two brains or what????? And who is speaking is it not your brain??? I hope I have given the right explanation.

    Amen!(9)
    • Hi Emanuel

      You are right when you say it seems that the brain works against us in so many aspects. We are living in a world and in a way we were never designed to live. Consequently, the carry-over desires of the 'image of God' created within us, the 'back-up' survival tendencies of our brain and mind, the impacts of living within a fallen world, and so on do frequently 'clash'.

      Amen!(8)
    • Emanuel, the Bible says; "You will keep him in perfect peace who's mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."

      If our bodies are imbalanced, our minds, which are dependent upon our bodies, will also be out of balance. Our lifestyle(rest, exercise, diet, drinking water, etc) affects our brain as well as our body, and thus affects our brain functions. Sleeping well depends on a balance in our lifestyle. Yet, in this imperfect world, a right "balance" in our living may not be enough if our food is low in minerals. This is a real issue, and when discovering a simple mineral and it's vital role in proper brain function, I was able to sleep through the entire night properly.

      We are counseled to study cause and effect, and can often find the cause of most irregularities if diligent in our study of these things. Our greatest asset is prayer, which allows God to guide us in specific ways as needed. Bring every care to our Lord, claiming His promises, and see how He will work.

      Amen!(11)
    • hi Emanuel, our body is like a machinery. we need to study its basics rule in order we can use it effectively. I would like to suggest to read books on health especially the books of Ellen White: Healthful Living, Counsels on Diet and foods, and SDA health books. Hans Diehl Books are awesome. Study the basics of anatomy and physiology.

      Amen!(6)
  6. Hi Phil. Thank you so much for practical down to earth information. It was really refreshing and encouraging to read your post. I wonder whether you or any other reader could perhaps signpost to further information/ literature that elaborates some more on the valuable insights you have shared.
    May GOD richly bless and enable you.

    Amen!(6)
    • Hi Marcia

      What I wrote was drawn from many areas of literature so there is no single source I could point you towards at the broad level. If you happen to know which specific areas you are interested in learning more about, that would help narrow things down a bit.

      Amen!(4)
  7. Hi Emanuel, yes you explained yourself quite well because a lot of us have been in the same state with sleep problems and confused as you. Remember though that physically we have one organ called the brain. It is made of two lobes and other parts which are fairly easy to recognise. Through modern research in the last 30 to 50 years or more, we are finding out how the brain works. Chemicals and electricity have a big part to play in how the brain functions. There are different levels of the brain, two most commonly used are ‘the conscious level’ – is where we have a fair idea of what is going on around us using our senses, and the ‘subconscious level’ where past learned behaviours have settled down underneath our conscious level.
    The 'mind' some see as the same as the brain, others say they are two separate things. And some say 'I feel in my heart' when maybe they should be saying, 'I feel in my mind'. Some others have tried to explain the two brain lobes have different functions for example - by saying 'the creative aspects of us is on the left side of the brain', which can confuses folks wondering if they have two brains, then others have tried to explain, that is not entirely correct. In fact ‘thinking’ still has not been properly defined or explained, as a property of the brain. So it becomes a matter of language- of who you are speaking to, and what knowledge they have of the brain and mind, and how well they teach, of which they speak. Who can explain God and his powerful creations? He is awesome. Godbless today, Mrs A Stolz

    Amen!(5)
    • Absolutely Susan - that's what the info is for, to help wherever it can. No credit needed.

      Regards, Phil

      Amen!(7)
    • Susan, thank you for asking. It's the proper thing to do.

      When you share anything from Sabbath School Net, you need the author's permission, and we also ask you to include the URL (web address) from our site where the article was published.

      I think you'll find that adding proper credit lends your sharing greater credibility.

      Amen!(4)
  8. Our Helper is greater than all the influence of our past/present, and today, if we yield ourselves as "living sacrifices", He is "able to keep [us] from falling" into the well-worn ruts of our past habits. This is a moment-by-moment choosing that begins each day bowing before the one we would choose to be the Sovereign of our life today(if we don't bow before Him, we will serve another by default). Give no anxious thought for tomorrow until it comes at the end of today. (consider: how long would it have taken Peter to develop the skill to walk on water? How long did it take him with Jesus at his side?)

    The Word of God is our (only)gateway into this new life as we find and claim the exceeding great and precious promises of God. This is the great new habit we must choose to develop until we say with Jeremiah; "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." and "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee". It is THIS that constitutes abiding in Christ, opening the door to His persistent knocking, and taking His yoke upon us by learning of Him. It is in this Word that we discover what the woman at the well discovered. There is no remedy without this.

    The note on the box of chocolates might be good, but what about a simple verse of scripture keep us yoked with our burden bearer? Perhaps; "In all [my] ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will direct [my] path." Or any one of many more that would remind us to "do all to the glory of God". Why struggle alone? Who is sufficient for this? I would also suggest we not place temptation within reach. We should do what Eve should have done, turn, and run to her Lord. Don't bring it home!

    I'm not sure who it was that wrote: "Without Christ, we cannot hope to succeed, but with Him, failure is impossible."

    Amen!(9)
    • I suspect that for someone struggling with over-indulgence of chocolate, the note that Phil suggested might just be more effective than a Bible verse. 😉 Phil's note is a practical application of Bible principles. (That's my take. Would love to hear from others.)

      I wonder if more practical application and less sermonizing might not be more helpful for a lot of people?

      PS to clarify my last sentence: I meant that comment for all readers, myself included. (It was not meant as an "accusation" of anyone.) From our own experience, we should be able to show how Bible principles work in practical life. And people should be able to see this demonstrated in our lives. I believe the old adage holds true for most people: "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day."

      Amen!(9)
      • Inge, if what Robert is doing is sermonizing, then we need more of it, not less. There is nothing at all wrong with practical application. If it denies the healing power of Christ, then it is not only impractical, but dangerous.

        Amen!(2)
        • I agree Carl. Look what the Israelites said about practical works (Exodus 24:3; Exodus 19.8; Exodus 24:7; Deuteronomy 6:25). Not one of them made it to the promised land.

          Jesus in His earthly life realized that He could do nothing without God (John 5:30). Why is it so hard for us to accept this reality in our lives? Why must we continue to make the same claim the Israelites did ("we will do it").

          All that we do independent of Christ is sin, no matter how many times we practice it (Romans 14:23).

          Amen!(4)
          • Totally agree with "All that we do independent of Christ is sin, no matter how many times we practice it (Romans 14:23)."

            I see the question as being one of how we can best work with Christ as He works in us. (Phil 4:13)

            Amen!(3)
      • Inge, what do we find in scripture concerning God's "practical applications" when His people were lost in sin? How did/does God show true compassion for those lost in the pit of transgression? Sin degrades the sinner and strengthens it's hold while hardening the heart against God. What method did Jesus teach and instruct His disciples to follow, which Paul also points out as God's method of warning/entreating sinners to "repent and believe the Gospel"?

        Is it not the "foolishness of preaching"(Luke 24:47-49, 1 Cor 1:21)?

        Amen!(1)
    • If chocolate (or indulgent food) is a problem then praying about it has to be followed up by a bit of practical decision making. A good place to start is cleaning out the refrigerator/ pantry. I have documented previously my own struggle with weight, where prayer had to be followed by decision making (and a bit of good old fashioned help from Carmel - who restocked the cupboards with healthy foods and limited serving sizes!)

      When I was teaching programming languages, we had one of those Integrated Faith and Learning seminars that Church educators are fond of. There was a lot of talk about integrating the Bible into our classes. I asked the question, rather facetiously, where I could learn Fortran in the Bible. That led to an interesting discussion, but the meaningful bit was that because I was a Bible believing Christian teacher I would make my Fortran classes practical and relevant.

      There are great principles spelled out in scripture, but it is up to us to listen to the Holy Spirit and take action and make decisions to put those principles into practice.

      Amen!(8)
  9. Thanks Phil
    Praise God for the information you have shared. Your personal testimony is appreciated.
    I am a recovering alcoholic (sober one day at a time through the Grace of God for 32 years this month).
    The 12 biblical principles which are the root of the 12 steps of AA start with the first three which state; I can't, He can, I think I will let Him.
    2 Cor 12:7-10 describe the process that Jesus provides.
    Christ Centered 12 step recovery groups help to develop new habits which push the bad ones into remission.
    There is so much information available as you stated and in these groups we evaluate many. The most accurate information on how to overcome is told to us in the Bible by the greatest teacher ever, Jesus Christ. So grateful for Him.

    Amen!(13)
    • Thank you for your comment, Phil. Even when I didn't believe in Christ, He used this program to save my life. If He hadn't done that 25 years ago, I don't think I would have been around when I finally gave in to His wooing. Praise God.

      Your comment made me think of how closely AA tracks with Christianity. I just went back and read "How it Works" (The Big Book) and it is amazing how much it, in essence, comes straight out of the gospel. Replace "alcohol" with "sin" and it is basically the same.

      1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (sin) — that our lives had become unmanageable.
      2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (Christ) could restore us to sanity.
      3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

      Amen!(10)
  10. Many a time when a person fails to get rid of detrimental habits, we give up and turn into doing even worse.

    This information, I believe it has changed a person's view, more so me. Thank you .

    Thank you so much for the information Phil, you have helped me. God bless you.

    Amen!(9)
  11. Thank you very much for this,I will try it out.trying to Developing a constructive habit to replace a detrimental habit is usually hard word and takes considerable effort and, frequently, discomfort to develop.

    Amen!(4)
  12. Where I live, we are praying for a recovering alcoholic who is now attending church because his marriage has failed. He seems a really nice man but apparently he is a 'nasty' drunk. Phil, I was particularly struck by your Number 1 Statement - "You need to know that you cannot get rid of a habit." Yes, that grabbed my attention because I did not know that. Then you gave an explanation of the habit and gave hope that is sorely needed, “meaning it will once again surface as an impulse. If this happens, be informed rather than horrified. It doesn’t mean you have failed, it’s just part of how things work within a fallen world." Thank you sincerely for that: I have given a copy of your talk to our minister (with your name as the author and the site I retrieved it from). Godbless today, Mrs A Stolz.

    Amen!(10)
  13. Phil, I am so sorry. I wish it weren't so but I have to speak up. When I saw the title of your post, the title that started with "Good News...", I was stoked. "The Gospel! I can't wait to read this." I started reading and the more I read, the pit in my stomach kept going deeper.

    This sounds like the opposite of the gospel. This offers me a way to hang in there until God actually heals me. It gives me the choice to help out with my freedom from sin. These stratagems are as ropes of sand. (SC 48) (Bad or less-than-good habits are sin. Even though it might not seem like it, we are choosing to sin.)

    Being freed from addiction might not be dramatic, but that doesn't mean you have to wait. "Wilt thou be made whole?" John 5:6. Jesus didn't offer the man compassion as he kept trying to gain the victory. If the gospel is not sufficient to free us from sinning, we are all lost.

    Here is my testimony as posted on this blog. It is not the gospel but it is my testimony to the power of that gospel. Part of my testimony is that it was a works program that took me out of the church when I was in my twenties. I tried everything. No victory.

    http://ssnet.org/blog/gods-love-wins/

    Even better, read the chapter in Steps to Christ called "Consecration". I was looking for the page number for the "ropes and sand" reference. I started reading and... there you have it. She is talking about the gospel. I urge anyone who is struggling with habitual sin to read the whole chapter. Jesus is longing to free anyone who is suffering.

    http://www.whiteestate.org/books/sc/sc5.html

    This our song of victory
    Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

    Amen!(8)
    • It seems that we could learn something from the folks at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) who understand that "The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success" (from Chapter 5 of the Big Book).

      First 3 steps of AA:

      1) We admitted we were powerless... that our lives had become unmanageable.
      2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
      3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

      In summary, "I can't, He can, He will if I surrender to Him."

      Amen!(3)
      • Thanks Sieg.

        I have read the first 3 steps of the AA philosophy you mentioned - and the remaining 9 steps. Absolutely agree that any life that is based on self-will (ie, 'my will be done') will not work.

        In regard to surrendering myself to God, there are 2 views of what this looks like. One view is that I sit back and wait for God to change me without me having to be involved in the change process - the 'let go and let God' view. The other view is that I am a willing and active co-labourer with God in the change process as per Philippians 2:12.

        Amen!(7)
      • Excellent reminder. The way I see it, Phil provided some practical advice to those struggling with bad habits so that they can give themselves the opportunity to make a conscious decision to turn Christ for strength - as in his suggested note on the box of chocolate.

        Can we consider that part of "working out our own salvation," as Paul suggests in Phil 2:12-13?

        Amen!(5)
    • Thank you Jeffrey.

      I have read your comments and concerns as well as your testimony and the Steps to Christ chapter. And I absolutely agree with you that if I were denying the healing power of Christ or only offering you to hang in there until God actually heals you, then I would be doing you a dis-service.

      Amen!(5)
    • Jeffrey, thank you for giving us something to think about. It is true that psychology can be used as a substituted for the gospel. But I don't think that's what Phil is doing in this post. (Our blog functions like a little community, and it helps to consider the substance of Phil's regular contributions.)

      I believe the "good news" high-lighted Phil's post is that God loves us infinitely, and He doesn't condemn us for not being already perfect. He works in us, as we choose to let go of bad habits and replace them with sanctified ones. And Phil provides some practical advice with following through on our choices.

      The chapter you reference in Steps to Christ includes these paragraphs:

      The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.

      The government of God is not, as Satan would make it appear, founded upon a blind submission, an unreasoning control. It appeals to the intellect and the conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together” is the Creator’s invitation to the beings He has made. Isaiah 1:18. God does not force the will of His creatures. He cannot accept an homage that is not willingly and intelligently given. A mere forced submission would prevent all real development of mind or character; it would make man a mere automaton. Such is not the purpose of the Creator. He desires that man, the crowning work of His creative power, shall reach the highest possible development. He sets before us the height of blessing to which He desires to bring us through His grace. He invites us to give ourselves to Him, that He may work His will in us. It remains for us to choose whether we will be set free from the bondage of sin, to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Steps to Christ, page 43)

      The government of God appeals to our reasoning powers, and that's what I see Phil doing in his post. I believe he wrote from the premise that those reading this post want to be surrendered but are having a difficult time following through. Perhaps the note on the box of chocolates should include a reminder to call on God for strength to do what is right.

      Thank you for linking to your story. I hope people will read it and thus gain context for your comment.

      You wrote, "This offers me a way to hang in there until God actually heals me."

      Is it possible that God heals in different ways according to their circumstances ad personalities?

      According to my observation, God usually heals gradually. Consider the story of Lester, whom I knew well:

      Lester was known as the town drunk in a small seaside town of Nova Scotia. He was in his late 60's, jolly and lovable - even more so when drunk than sober. Everybody knew him, and everybody loved him - thus assuring a constant supply of liquor. But Lester had been a Christian in his youth, as had his cousin with whom he sat over drinks in a bar one evening. His inebriated cousin got more "religious" the drunker he got. And this evening he was very drunk. In the midst of his religious fervor, he stopped and looked at Lester through bleary eyes, pointed his finger at him and intoned, "Lester, the Lord is lonely for you! He said, 'I am meek and lonely of heart.' He is lonely for you, I say!" Somehow that hit Lester hard, and he blubbered into his drink . . . But the conviction stayed past his drunkenness, and I well remember the Sabbath he showed up at the back of our church. Most of us had never seen him before - not being nearly as much 'friends of sinners' as Christ was. But my husband, who was the pastor at the time, got acquainted with Lester, who told him how he was drawn to Jesus because he was "lonely" for him.

      Lester gave his heart to the Lord and was baptized after a short series of studies, as he was already familiar with Bible truths. (He had once been a colporteur.) The Lord immediately removed his craving for tobacco, and it never returned. Having worked with Stop-Smoking clinics, we knew what a mighty miracle that was! But, unknown to us, Lester continued to struggle with his craving for drink. Though we thought he had gained the victory before baptism, that was not so. He had many battles with the demon of alcohol, and he lost quite a few of them, as we found out later. Finally, one evening, as he was sitting alone at his table (since he could no longer go to the bar and drink in public), he was about to pour himself a drink, when he had an impression as strong as though a voice had spoken to him. It told him to "choose this day" whom he would serve. He believed that if he chose the bottle instead of Christ, that would decide his eternal destiny.

      He chose Christ and emptied all his bottles down the kitchen sink. But his craving still did not completely go away. It lessened gradually, as he consistently refused to give in to it, pleading with Christ for strength.

      So why did Christ take away the craving for tobacco miraculously and not the craving for alcohol?

      Perhaps it was in fulfillment of the promise that Lester would not be tempted beyond what he was able to bear. (1 Cor. 10:13) The many years of alcoholism had likely eaten away so much of his brain that the power to overcome nicotine was not there. (We know that smoking is more difficult to overcome than drinking.) But God left enough of a challenge in his life by leaving him to battle with alcohol through the right exercise of his will - choosing to look to Christ in faith whenever he was tempted. And thus Lester grew in the Lord, becoming a beloved and faithful member of our congregation, able to strengthen the discouraged and weak, and a powerful living testimony in that little Nova Scotia community.

      Yes, we are all healed as we come to Christ. The closer we come to Him, the more whole we become - as we are transformed into His image. We all have different areas of our lives that present a particular battle to us. Some of us have been delivered miraculously from a certain burden. Most of us have experienced miracles in slower, not easily recognizable fashion. Isn't all changing into His image a true miracle of grace?

      When Christ convicts us of the rightness of a course of action, He will also give the power to carry it through, but that doesn't exclude practical measures that will stop a habit in its path and allow us to consciously choose a better course of action. That is part of cooperating with Him while we walk with Him.

      The Apostle Paul makes it clear that the changing of our "sinful nature" is a life-long process, and the final deliverance (when there are no more "carnal" desires) comes when this mortal shall put on immortality. (1 Cor 15: 50-54)

      Amen!(7)
    • I may not have understood clearly. Phil and Inge, you have each talked about stopping bad/detrimental habits. I understood that to mean you were talking about overcoming sin. Have I been mistaken?

      Amen!(0)
      • Hi Jeffrey.

        The best way I can think to answer your question is to mention the purpose for what I wrote. I wrote this article specifically to help people better understand the nature of habits and habit formation and to use that information to better inform them in 'their' (meaning a collaborative union with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of the redevelopment of our character to ever greater Christlikeness as per point 5) efforts to cultivate constructive habits that enable them to be better stewards. I wrote it to inspire and encourage anyone who may be discouraged to not give up but to, instead, see themselves as God sees them and to realise that God treats us with compassion when we 'fail' rather than condemnation.

        If my response does not address what you were wanting to know, ask me further.

        Amen!(8)
        • I would include here that God, as revealed in Jesus' ministry on earth, does not need to condemn anyone. This is the purpose of the law and work of the Holy Spirit; to point out sin to the transgressor that they might not stumble on in darkness unaware of their great and eternal peril. This is the merciful function of the "law" and Spirit isn't it? God is merciful and He is author of the law and giver of His Spirit. So by our transgressions we condemn ourselves, and the law's condemnation leads us to the only remedy for sin/guilt/condemnation if we don't excuse our failings and deny the truth/law. This denial is where sinners get into deeper trouble, being the fruit of pride, while humility will lead the sinner to acknowledge God, seeking and accepting by faith(through confession/repentance) the Remedy offered to every sinner.

          God's compassion is seen in both the law and gift of the Holy Spirit to "convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". How else is one to be warned of their danger? Prophets were raised up when the people shunned the God-given method(s) of warning them. Today it is preachers who stand between the living and the dead, uplifting both the law and Gospel of Christ(hopefully!).

          God also knows that every indulgence strengthens the hold of sin upon the sinner and that repentance must come sooner than later, since later is usually found to be fatal.'

          Notice the great compassion of God in Isa 58:1, and what He offers sinners in verses 6-14. God knows best how to deal effectively with the insidious cancer of sin.

          Amen!(3)
      • Jeffrey, perhaps it would help to think of your own experience: You mentioned that you do not knowingly engage in major sinful habits of the past (e.g. drinking, smoking), yet you still struggle with certain things you know are not Christ-like. You realize that you are still growing in this area. (Think of your reaction to rude drivers 😉 Also consider Phil's example of the chocolate.) These are also habits, and Phil is addressing all kinds of habits. Phil explains how habit patterns are formed in the brain, and how they can be overcome, using the power of choice that we have through Christ. (Without the power of God, we are slaves to our habits.)

        Strictly speaking, anything that is not of faith is sin. But God is very patient with us - for which we can all be grateful.

        Amen!(4)
  14. To the ppl who have been (harshly) accused of sermonizing:- I'm a second gen SDA - I agree with everything you say about dependency on Jesus, but, EGW does point out that not 1 in 20 (95%) of us have an understanding/relationship with Jesus to enable us to live with him in the after. This is a disastrous failure rate. If we continue to preach the same , same - nothing will change. Providing alternate methods designed to help ppl out of their depression resulting from our traditional instruction methods (remember - 95% failure) and point them closer to Jesus should be encouraged. On a different note: I hope to read more of Phil's search to discover Truth regarding the nature and character of God and of reality (either publicly or private). Please??

    Amen!(7)
  15. This is great Phil, the practical advice in your article coupled with a complete surrender of our bad habits to Christ makes success feasible. We depend on the practical antibiotic to get rid of the bacterial infection, and think nothing of it. We should be able depend on practical mind advise and God to get rid of a habit and give Him all the credit.

    Amen!(4)
  16. Thank you so much. This has been a blessing to me and I really recognize the need to play our honest part if a good habit is to be formed and a bad one weakened. There must be a commitment to progress from that point. The Lord is even more willing to come to our rescue. GOD bless you

    Amen!(3)
  17. I am afraid I have developed habits that have caused considerable harm to myself. I regret a lifetime of failures. Looking back on my life I see bad habits that redirected my course in life. Where I am today in life verses where I should be is in direct parallel to bad habits. I unfortunately have squandered time because of bad habits. How I wish for purity of mind and body.

    Amen!(10)
    • Dear Bryan,

      I know how you feel because I have had a lifetime of "failures" and regrets, not to mention real and imaginary guilt. We can't live happily with these things weighing us down. As far as the East is to the West, so far has God trashed our sins in the bottom of the ocean-and we need to leave them in the bottom of the ocean.

      We can start today and find the kernel of goodness or the lesson learned in the bad times. God has always loved you, even while you were doing wrong, but He wants to keep all of us from doing wrong. He loves you and wishes for you to be happy and to overcome.

      This is what I have been going through for the last months: learning to move on. All we have is today-this moment. So "From This Moment On", keep going. Read the scriptures and concentrate on the promises. They will give you hope and peace. There is no peace when we are struggling with the emotions you describe.

      I've been there for decades and it's high time to live whatever precious life God has given you. There's a place for you to help others. Pray that God will show you. In keeping God alive in your life through His promises and in giving to others, you may heal. This has been my experience. May God bless you!

      Amen!(10)
      • Dear Jane, Inge, Robert

        Thank you for your kind words they were much appreciated and motivating.
        I appreciated Phil's remarks on subconscious and conscious mind and development. It made sense to me.
        I am a very cautious man that lends His thoughts out about personal developed habits and their consequences to very few individuals. I guess it's because I have very few friends, I have a lot of acquaintances but few friends. I have overcome so many challenges and obstacles in my life only because of Jesus Christ, I am certain of that. My swearing like a sailor, drinking like one also, drug addiction, "smoking" was a miracle being selfish, so many more things but I keep stumbling when I'm in the moment if that makes any sense. I feel like Forrest Gump "stupid is as stupid does". I still stumble over one pictacular sin that has haunted me for decades and I feel if I don't get over this I will miss Heaven. I know that sounds well I don't know what it sounds like. It's just the way I feel, always felt that way. Am I being just a "Forrest Gump"?

        Bryan

        Amen!(2)
        • Simply follow the Bible's teachings on how one is saved by faith, understanding how faith is exercised if genuine saving faith. Understand the conditions and requirements of the Law and Gospel, and follow these with "strong confidence" and in "the Blessed Hope" of God's great assurance through Christ who saves "as many as received Him...and believe on His name" in order to be saved from sin.

          I would also recommend the book "Steps to Christ" which highlights the path the Bible prescribes for sinners who would find eternal life in Jesus.

          Amen!(4)
          • Thank you for your words of hope, they are appreciated I sincerely mean that.

            Bryan

            Amen!(1)
        • Bryan, you are far more valuable than Forrest Gump. 🙂 (Some may not be aware - Forrest Gump is a character in a movie from the 90s.) But I know what you mean. You say you have stumbled over the same sin for decades. Be assured, you are not the only one in this boat. Sin is a deadly monster and Satan will beat us relentlessly with any sin, as long as we give him permission to do so. There is good news! You can have victory over that sin right now. As Robert says, pray expectantly, knowing that God must answer prayers when we believe and claim His promises. (By the way, “claim” simply means saying, “Yes. Thank you” for the fulfillment of the promise.)

          Here are two of my favorite promises. The first is Rom. 1:16 which assures us of the truth that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, for everyone. That includes you and me both. The second is Jude 1:24(KJV) that assures us that the Holy Spirit will keep us from falling. I believe that the good news is that we no longer have to say “Yes” to temptation. The power of God unto salvation is the power to say, “No!”. We can say this boldly because the Holy Spirit has invited us to do so. (Heb. 4:16)

          Bryan, I have prayed for you and will continue to. I am certain I am not the only one who has read your words and is praying for you right now.

          If you decide you have truly had enough of the beating from Satan, say this prayer: “Father, I am done fighting. I can’t it take anymore. Your Word tells me that you sent your Son to die for my sins and to, by His own blood, free guys like me. I believe this and I accept this gift. Please forgive my sins, especially this one.

          “Father, whatever the cost to me, free me from this sin and lift the burden of guilt and shame I have been carrying for decades. I have met the conditions. You have promised that you will keep me from falling. I thank you for doing this for me. I praise You and I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen”

          Believe and be free, Bryan. And don’t forget to say, “Thank you.” 🙂

          Amen!(2)
          • Thank you Jeffery for you kind words, I can tell your words come from your heart and mind. Thank you very much

            Bryan

            Amen!(2)
    • Bryan, please take heart in the fact that God offers a completely new start. (See 2 Cor 5:17) It starts with surrendering yourself, including all your talents, your bad habits and your good ones, completely to Jesus. It's not necessarily easy. After all, Jesus asks us to take up our cross (death to self) and follow Him. (Luke 9:23) The dying to self is a daily matter, but it's well worth it, because Jesus promises that our joy will be "full" if we follow Him. (John 15:11)

      Once you have surrendered yourself to Jesus, you will have His power to give you strength to overcome the habits you know to be bad. Phil's post should help you understand why it seems impossible to "just stop" bad habits. By the grace of God, you need to put good habits in the place of bad ones and avoid situations that formerly led to indulging your hurtful habits. As Phil suggested, you may put up notices to remind you to think and turn to Jesus for help instead of indulging your habit.

      May the Holy Spirit guide you and give you the will to start a new life in Jesus.

      Amen!(5)
      • Inge, I always wondered why Jesus took away smoking so quickly, short version" I was smoking trying to quite, tried to quick" so many times" anyway one day I was just standing there and a small wee voice said, " It would be better if you didn't smoke", I stopped right then and there, never wanted to smoke again or the desire, never went back. " It's a bloody mystery to me but I know for a fact it was Jesus Christ who initiated it.
        I want to thank you for your heartfelt thoughts and prayers, thank you Inge. I appreciate your comments very much, there from your heart.

        Bryan

        Amen!(2)
        • Wow! Bryan, you have some good evidence that God cares for you personally! 🙂 It sounds as though your experience may be similar to Lester's in that he took away your desire to smoke so you could focus on other areas of your life. He will give you the power to overcome if you will continually choose His way over your way. It will take more than *one* prayer. It will take being in a continual attitude of prayer - of staying connected with God. Continually choosing God's way will give you strength, and the fact that you have had to struggle with at least one issue should give you compassion.

          One last word: Keep your eyes on Jesus and His love, His power, His will for your life. Do not look to yourself - either to beat yourself up or to be proud of yourself. Self-focus works directly against victory in the Christian life. Just keep focusing on Jesus through Bible reading, prayer and meditation. Then He can change you into His image. The battle is really about where you focus much more than it is about a particular habit. In fact, focusing on NOT doing something is counter-productive. Instead, keep a positive focus by allowing Jesus to guide you.

          May you be richly blessed as you seek to draw closer to Jesus.

          Amen!(1)
    • Bryan, turn that wish into an expectant prayer for what you desire(Ps 37:4,5). we have the exceeding great and precious promises of God by which each repenting soul may become partakers of the Divine Nature(2 Pe 1:4). There isn't a person alive who has heard and listened to the Voice of conviction that doesn't wish for the same. God can, and is longing, to do more than we can think or ask(Eph 3:20).

      Amen!(3)
      • Thank you Robert, I will do that thanks, I think I am my own worst enemy that's for sure, a lot harder on myself than I should be.

        Thank you for your kind words, they help

        Bryan

        Amen!(1)
        • Christ asks for surrender of self, I believe this includes our desire for heaven aswell. If all our effort is to 'get me to heaven' what good is that. It's still a selfish motive. You will find that is much more effective to reform bad habbits if together with Christ you concentrate on helping another get to heaven rather than just saving your own ... self.
          It is so much easier to 'not do a stubling block thing' (ie a bad habbit)for someone we love and want to be saved, than just to save our own hide. Why? Because saving others is what Jesus is all about - sharing in this will enable bits of Jesus to become part of us. It's almost strange that only when we stop worrying about our own hide are we in the best position for Jesus to change us. AKA: helping another to be saved is more important than saving ones self, just like Jesus & Mosus, and it works.

          Amen!(5)
          • We have the example of Christ Himself who risked His life with the Father for the sake of our salvation, and we also have the example of Moses who pleaded with God for the salvation of Israel or else to blot out his own name. I believe that's the ideal, but I suspect that few on this earth ever come up to it.

            In the meantime, God does hold out the prospect of heaven or hell to help us make right choices in our sin-befuddled state. But the nearer we come to Jesus, the more will our desires line up with His. And I believe there are many saints alive today who so identify with Christ that they forget self in their zeal to represent Christ aright.

            Amen!(1)
  18. I see I am going to have to say more than I initially intended several days ago when I first responded to Phil's post. In one of my more recent responses, I asked Phil and Inge if I was mistaken in thinking that this post is about overcoming sin. I was hoping one or both of you would clearly say "Yes" or "No". Since neither of you did, I am going to assume that we are talking about exactly that – overcoming sin.

    Thank you for reading my testimony, Phil. That will go far in giving context, as Inge suggested, to what I want to share now. As part of my testimony, I tried to explain how I understand and experience sin and victory over sin. I claimed that I no longer choose to sin. If I have a choice whether or not to do something I know I shouldn't do, by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I choose not to do it. By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I don’t do it. I believe this is the gospel - the power to say "No" to temptation. Jesus let Himself hang on the cross to give you and me this choice.

    Inge, you said, “Think of your reaction to rude drivers. Also consider Phil's example of the chocolate.” I submit that there is a difference between internet porn or chocolate and my reaction to the drivers. With internet porn or chocolate, there is a clear choice. For example: In the past, I had an issue with internet porn. (I am assuming that this falls into the category of detrimental habit.) When I sat down in front of my computer, I had a clear choice and chose to continue sinning.

    With the drivers, the choice is whether or not to continue with those thoughts. The un-Christ-like thought comes unbidden from my perverted nature; there is no chance to choose whether or not to have the thought. That does not mean it is not sin. The way I experience this is, that as soon as I realize what is going on, I have a choice - repent and ask for forgiveness or indulge the thought, even though I know I shouldn't. When I repent, I trust that He is working on me, putting me through the refiner’s fire to burn out this sin and straighten out my perverse nature. He does ask me to cooperate with Him by always choosing to say "Yes" to Him. He is the one doing the work; I am choosing to let Him do it. The point is that I never choose to sin. That experience is available to anyone right now.

    (Reading over this paragraph, I can understand that it might come across as holier-than-thou. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am always confronted with my own wretchedness. And saying, “Yes”, to God earns me no merit whatsoever. It is a choice anyone can make. It is not that I am not subject to self-righteousness. That may come through in the words that I write. I pray that it doesn’t happen here. If so, please forgive me. I don’t believe it, that I am somehow more righteous than anyone else. It is a lie and I reject it. This is my story and I don’t know how else to tell it.)

    Phil, you talk about two opposing views of surrendering oneself to God: "let go and let God" which involves "sit(ting) back and wait(ing) for God to change me without me having to be involved in the change process" and being a "willing and active co-labourer with God in the change process as per Philippians 2:12."

    I suggest that there is at least one other way to look at the "let go and let God" view. For me, the "letting go" process is the whole ballgame. God can do nothing to change me unless I choose to let go. (Choosing for us is the ONLY He can't do.) Once I let go, God says, "Follow Me." That is when the work begins and the work is always prompted by Him saying "Follow Me." I choose to let Him do His work. This is how I am a co-laborer with Christ

    Phil, you also refer to Philippians 2:12 and Inge adds verse 13. What do you suppose God is telling us when Paul says "work out your own salvation"? How do we work out our own salvation? Are we to work it out ourselves but with God's help? How can we reconcile this verse with Eph. 2:8-10? "For by grace are ye saved... not of works, lest any man should boast... we are HIS workmanship...". For me, the only way to reconcile these two passages is to include Philippians 2:13. It is God doing the work. All we can work out is whether or not we want cooperate with His work by choosing to let Him work.

    To me, this conversation is more than a mere difference of opinion. What we are talking about is whether or not we have a part to play in our salvation and if so, what that work is. My claim is that our only part is to choose to put all of our trust in Jesus and follow Him. You both suggest, in so many words, there are methods by which we can improve our condition so God can do His work in us. You suggest we can realize those methods by learning how the brain works, how habits are formed, how to re-form or replace those habits with those that are less detrimental, and how to practice these methods.

    Phil, what if your research has led you to conclusions that are not true? Even if they are only slightly wrong, is it safe to share your conclusions with believers who are trying to overcome sin? What happens when that person tries these methods and they don't work? Prayer and trust in God have proven insufficient for overcoming sin. Now where does the sinner go?

    The methods you describe sound like a form of behavior modification. I may have misread what you have written, but it seems that you are saying that once a person has this knowledge they will be able to talk themselves out of sinning, even to the point of writing a note to themself to convince them to make the correct decision.

    ************************
    I want to talk about the methods. (“>>>” represent my comments.)

    "When you better understand these, you can use this knowledge to inform your efforts (my emphasis) to replace your detrimental habits with more constructive ones."

    >>> Isn’t this God’s work? I don’t believe this is mine nor anyone else’s responsibility.

    1. You need to know that you cannot get rid of a habit. You can only progressively develop a more preferred habit. Habits that are not used become ‘dormant’ (yes, like a volcano). If you happen to encounter the right convergence of conditions, the habit will be reawakened – meaning it will once again surface as an impulse. If this happens, be informed rather than horrified. It doesn’t mean you have failed, it’s just part of how things work within a fallen world. And that is not an excuse, it’s an explanation.

    >>> So when sin overcomes you, don’t be horrified but be informed? What about repentance, confession, thanking God forgiveness?

    2. Habits are formed by repetition – not by decision alone. You can decide/intend to form a new habit all you like, but unless you practice it over and over and over, it will end up like most New Year’s resolutions.

    >>> The sinner is encouraged to overcome sin by practicing?

    4. Developing a constructive habit to replace a detrimental habit is usually hard work and takes considerable effort and, frequently, discomfort to develop.

    >>> It sounds like you are encouraging a person to try harder. How hard will they have to try? How will they know when to stop, that it is time to try something else?

    6. Trying to not repeat a detrimental habit by willpower alone works for some people, but not for most.

    >>> The chocolate story. You don’t mention any part that the Holy Spirit plays in this scenario. Do these methods include any role for Him to play? How can I ask Him to help me overcome my sin while I stare it in the face (the note)? “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Matthew 4:7.

    ****************************
    I have been using the word “sin” instead of “detrimental habits”. I see no other way than to treat “detrimental habits” as a synonym for “known, habitual sin”. I don’t take any delight in using the word, but we must call sin by its name. Eating chocolate when you are convicted that it is wrong is sin. Fantasizing about people who are not your spouse is sin. Giving in to the temptation to give another driver a rude gesture is sin. Indulging in the practice of masturbating to porn is sin. Harboring thoughts of revenge on your enemy is sin. All of these are known, conscious sin, no matter what you call it – habits, detrimental habits. It is folly to call sin by any other name.

    Phil, when I asked you if detrimental habits were sin, you offered an explanation of why you wrote the post. I do not doubt that your reasons were well-intended. Nonetheless, your apparent reluctance to use the word “sin” seems like denial. Using the word “habits” dilutes the reality of what sin is. Then, in the first sentence, you add another level of denial. Now “bad habits” become “detrimental habits”. The enemy loves is when a person is convinced that sin is something other than what it is.

    Inge, here are a couple of questions for you.

    “So why did Christ take away the craving for tobacco miraculously and not the craving for alcohol?”

    >>> Perhaps it was because Lester was not ready to let go of the alcohol. That was Lester’s choice.

    “I believe he (Phil) wrote from the premise that those reading this post want to be surrendered but are having a difficult time following through.”

    >>> You must already know this, but there is only one thing that can help someone who is struggling to surrender. To suggest that they have another option, such as learning and practicing habit control, totally obliterates the view of the cross. There is only one option. There is no salvation in anything except the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). If a person is unable to surrender, point them to the cross.

    Phil, just a couple more questions for you: Is there any evidence that these methods are effective in bringing someone closer to Jesus? Is there any testimony that someone has gained the victory over sin by using these methods with God’s help? If these methods are as effective as you suggest, why did God wait so long to share them with us?

    ****************************
    This is not a matter of difference of opinion. This is not an interesting conversation on a blog. There are many important things we discuss, e.g. how to dress, how to eat, what music is appropriate for worship, etc. Often in these discussions, someone will remind everyone that what they are discussing is not a “salvation issue”. What we are discussing on this post right now IS a salvation issue. It is the most important issue of all.

    The title of this post proclaims “good news” then proceeds to teach other methods, or at least additional methods, for ridding oneself of sin. These methods say nothing about the power of the Holy Spirit or the efficacy of the blood of Jesus for remittance of sin. They all point the reader to learn and practice ways to obtain victory over sin. When the convicted crowd asked Peter, “What must we do to be saved?” his answer was unequivocal: “Repent.” (Acts 2:38) As if to say, “Stop. All of you. Don’t PRACTICE stopping sinning. Stop sinning.” As Robert pointed out, every time we decide to continue sinning, it weakens our ability to choose Jesus.

    This is the final choice. This is that question that must be answered before our probation closes. This is about the three angels’ messages. Do we choose to worship our Creator or do we rely on what we have learned and what we do (practice) to gain for ourselves salvation from our sins? Satan spends every moment doing everything he can to convince humans that they can do something, besides choosing Jesus, to save themselves. He knows if he can convince us of that, it is over for us and we won’t even know it. I imagine some will be shocked when they find themselves in the final judgment with a mark on their hand when they thought they would have a seal on their forehead.

    *********************
    To anyone reading this, now or in the future, who is struggling with sin of any kind, please look at Jesus hanging on the cross. There is no other way to stop sinning. Do not listen to anyone who leaves the door open to believe that your habits are not sin; your shame testifies that they are sin. Do not listen to cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 2:16). Choose the genuine good news, the gospel and the power of God for salvation from your sins (Romans 1:16). You can learn and practice carefully researched methods but, through them, you will not gain relief from guilt and shame. Come to the Word of God and believe in the Holy Spirit. Accept His promise that it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

    Do not listen to anyone who tries to convince you that a life of victory over sin is not available to you right now. It is. On Mount Carmel, Elijah pleaded with the children of Israel to choose God or Baal TODAY, not at some future point when they had practiced enough (1 Kings 18:21). At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked the lame man if he would choose to be whole. Moments later, He pulled him to his feet and told him to stop sinning (John 5:8). Jesus gave this man the power to walk and to stop sinning. He will give you the same power. All that is required of you is to say, “Yes.” The only other option is to say, “No”. Please don’t choose that option.

    Jesus loves you more than you can imagine. He chose to give up everything for you so you can say, “Yes.” For Jesus sake, please say, “Yes.”

    Amen!(6)
    • Thank you for sharing, Jeffrey. I agree with the thrust of your comment, but I think a little clarification might be in order.

      You wrote:

      With the drivers, the choice is whether or not to continue with those thoughts. The un-Christ-like thought comes unbidden from my perverted nature; there is no chance to choose whether or not to have the thought.

      And you just described how a habit works. A long-indulged habit makes nerve pathways in the brain so that we find ourselves doing things without having chosen to do it. (Is it possible that something in Phil's post might help you overcome this un-Christlike habit?) Pornography viewing works the same way, once it becomes a habit. Phil said that a habit cannot be just stopped, it must be replaced with another habit. So I'm asking you: Did you just stop viewing pornography and put nothing in its place, or did you purposely start a habit of prayer and Bible study that displaced your sinful habit? (By the way, Jesus told a parable regarding this very principle mentioned by Phil. Please read Matthew 12:43-45)

      Phil can speak for himself, but I do not see his advice as an alternative to turning our lives over to Jesus, rather I'm seeing it as advice on how to cooperate with God's work in us. (Phil 2:12-13)

      You also wrote:

      Inge, here are a couple of questions for you.
      “So why did Christ take away the craving for tobacco miraculously and not the craving for alcohol?”
      >>> Perhaps it was because Lester was not ready to let go of the alcohol. That was Lester’s choice.

      As I remember it, Lester did not "choose" to give up tobacco. He chose to surrender his life to Christ, and the craving for tobacco was removed miraculously. I suggested you think about why God did not miraculously remove the craving for alcohol as well. You said Lester did not "choose" to give up alcohol, but he didn't choose to give up tobacco either!

      Lester very much wanted to give up alcohol but found himself apparently powerless to do so, by force of long habit. God did miraculously intervene in this habit as well - not by taking the craving away, but by clearly speaking to Lester and making him realize how important this decision was. Then He gave Lester the strength to follow through. But Lester still had to struggle for some time, and he had to continually choose. I don't know that Lester wrote notes to himself, but I think that could have helped him choose not to give in to his habit. As I suggested above, having to fight the urge to drink helped Lester grow stronger, and it also made him less likely to judge others who were not miraculously delivered from their sinful habits.

      I think we need to be careful when we extrapolate from personal experience that we do not judge others whose experience is different from ours.

      That's why it is important that many share their testimony of how God has worked in their lives. It helps us see that God meets us where we are and works with us there.

      Amen!(7)
  19. Hi Jeffery - that was some reading 🙂 Thinking about your descriptions of sin ... Separation from our created relationship with God is sin. Returning to this original relationship is to be saved or righteous with God (AKA: with God = no sin). Everything we do - here on this planet is influenced by either the Holy Spirit or Satan and their respective agents & influences. (I think it's unfortunate that for some reason we have the habit of calling good deeds resulting from the H/Spirit 'fruits of the Spirit' but we don't call bad deeds resulting from Satan "fruits of Satan"). If Sin is not the same as 'fruits of Satan' (of course a 'fruit of Satan can not take place unless one has separated them selves from God which is 'sinning already'), how do we deal with 'fruits of Satan' which have formed habits or are addictive? Some ppl can go cold turkey, pray & find a fantastic relationship with God almost immediately. Personally I'm totally jealous (in a good way) of these ppl. For me - I needed information. AKA: EGW told us about addiction to alcohol, gambling, smoking - all are invented by Satan to make it as hard as possible for me to keep making daily the right choice.
    But EGW didn't write about the addiction qualities of social media, how these up and coming generations are going to be completely addicted to the dopamine serge from every time they get a like (or in this forum an 'amen' - are you going to feed my addiction?). How these up and coming generations will have had many shallow relationships with many possibly 1000's of friends but few if any experiences of deep and meaningful relationships.
    If staying with God is all about having a deep and meaningful relationship with him, these younger generations are going to have a tough time.
    Most kids don't even know this stuff is addictive. Anyone can Google it - but who would think to? But even if they know - how many kids are going to pray to stop liking Media likes? (Hi kids - OK ur not allowed to drink, dance, dress up, look cool & btw u no being liked a lot could send u to hell. [Expect a good response])

    Habits and addictions need to be shown for what they are (IE education) and supported with as many different methods and support as there are different ppl on the planet - as long as all these methods help the individual to find and stay safe in their loving relationship with God.

    Amen!(6)
  20. A sincere thank you to each person who has contributed to the discussion on the topic/issues of this post.

    On the one hand, there are those of you who found benefit and encouragement from what was written - and when I read your responses I thanked and praised God for what each one of you wrote that you were experiencing.

    On the other hand, there are those who have expressed very serious concerns indeed about what I have written and have alleged it will lead people astray by denying the healing power of Christ and obscuring the view of the cross. These are allegations that I do not take lightly and I am more than willing to be called to accountability for what I have written.

    Having reviewed (prayerfully) at length what I wrote - in light of the concerns raised - I stand by what I have written as principles related to the topic of habit formation/reformation that are biblically consistent/valid for the purpose of informing and encouraging the discouraged how they might "press into God instead of getting down on (themselves), drawing upon His strength (Phil 4:13) and following Paul’s example in Phil 3:12-14".

    Amen!(7)
    • I very much appreciate the article you wrote Phil and also the comments and experiences that others have contributed. One issue that we need to consider is the diversity of experiences. While some people have instant change, others have to grow into change. We should be careful that we do not create the impression that someone who has instant change somehow has more faith than the person who grows into change.

      I have been in situations where people who have claimed to have been healed from terminal illness have been giving their testimony in church, while there have been people in the congregation who have had family members dying from a similar disease. There is an unspoken inference that they have not exercised enough faith.

      I like to think that as Christians we respect the different personal experiences the we have and provide support and encouragement for all. I hve mentioned in previous posts that I grew up in a church that supported a person who smoked. It took him something like 20 years to give up. (this was in the days before 5-day plans and nicotine patches) He was always welcome at church even though he smelled of smoke. I still remember the time when he finally overcame the habit and finally stopped smoking. The whole church rejoiced.

      Since then I have seen other situations where folk have stuggled with habits and have made their problems known to church members, who have supported and encouraged them for as long as it takes. We should recognise that God expects us to be part of the miracle.

      Amen!(7)
    • Hello Phil,

      Your post has generated the most candid, practical, spiritual and thoughtful exploration of the struggle with sin that I have read. It is easy to think I am alone in this struggle and encouraging to see from those who have shared that I am not. It is a raw, real battle within each of us that does not end until death or until Jesus comes to finally deliver us from the evil one. Each deliverance we have now is a taste of the final deliverance of our Lord Sabaoth.

      The Deceiver makes it all too easy to obsess on "overcoming" sin when in fact our only hope is to deny that focus on self and fix our attention and hope on Jesus who alone can save and deliver us.

      Thank you for this post.

      Amen!(6)
  21. Thank you phil!
    I found this information just browsing around after studying my Sabbath school lesson. What caught my eye was the topic. I have struggled and continue to struggle with a variety of bad habits. What I like most about the article is the idea of compassion and the reality that everyone who seeks to overcome bad habits must act!
    Can't just have faith!
    What I found over the many years of struggling with my bad habit is that the war between the flesh and the spirit is a moment by moment warfare.

    Amen!(4)
  22. This message is so powerful indeed in that it has helped me a lot.may the God of our Fathers continue blessing you,even as we are waiting for the soon coming of Jesus Christ.

    Amen!(2)
    • Your question, Samuel, is similar to these:
      Is it right to consult a doctor when ill?
      Is it right to consult a dietician for help with a specialized diet?
      Is it right to take a course of study to learn how to eat right?
      Is it right to attend a stop-smoking clinic offered by the Adventist Church? (We used to offer 5-day plans to stop smoking until another organization co-opted the name. Now our stop-smoking plans are called "Breathe Free.")
      Is it right to attend a depression seminar offered by the Adventist Church? Is it right to conduct such a seminar?
      Is it right to attend school to become a doctor? A nurse? A counselor? A psychologist? A teacher?
      For that matter, is it right to take Bible studies from a Bible worker? (After all, you can read the Bible for yourself.)
      Are some things right for others, but not for us?
      What is the role of individuals in their own salvation and the salvation of others?

      How would you answer the questions I proposed? Could it be that the answer to your question is similar?

      Amen!(5)
  23. Thank you so much for this divine guidance and understanding. This will enhance my Christian journey as i take responsibility for my bad habits, not beat myself up constantly and lean on Jesus and his strength through the Holy Spirit to make me a daily conqueror.

    Amen!(2)
  24. Thanks Inge for this insight. Owning a sole responsibility for my bad habit is hard.Moreso,when I see its effects on myself and others. It pains more when I pray to God to turn away from it and more often than not I find myself in the same drama worse than before. You have let me know that individual responsibility is more important than any other thing.
    God help me.

    Amen!(2)
  25. Some people find that it is sufficient for them to walk alone in God's presence when dealing with life's challenges. Other people have more difficulty doing life this way. One is not more right than the other. While we must each exercise our individual responsibility, some people benefit from walking life's journey in the company of safe and trusted 'others' (whomever they be).

    What God had to say: "It is not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:18)

    What Solomon had to say: "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble... A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." (Eccl 4:9, 10, 12 NLT)

    What Paul had to say: "For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours." (Rom 1:11-12 NLT)

    Christian community was intended by God to be a safe and trusted 'space' that helps us each in our walk. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is unfortunately not.

    Amen!(2)
  26. For the past three weeks, I have been studying the day of atonement, 1844, and the pre-advent judgment. Yesterday morning, I came across an article in Ministry Magazine and I thought of you (all of you). Though the article was written over twenty-five years ago, it is the best treatment of this topic - the final step in the plan of salvation - that I have encountered. I am convinced that the entire article is worthy of your time; this is but one the of quotes that made me think of the conversation we are having now. If there is anything I might add, I am sure I already said it in my previous replies.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Clifford Goldstein, "Investigating the investigative judgment", Ministry Magazine, Feb. 1992.

    Connected with Christ, though, Christians have the victory: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 that you can stand up under it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

    This side of the Second Coming we will always have a sinful nature. We will always have to struggle with the clamors of our own fallen flesh. We will always be aware of the evil that dwells within us. But we don't ever have to yield to sin! Yielding, for a converted Christian, is a conscious choice. How could it be anything else? If God promises power not to sin, yet we do it anyway, it is only because we have decided not to avail ourselves of that power. We have chosen the act of sin instead. This decision of choosing our own sinful desires over Christ is basically what Judas did.

    We sin only because we choose not to claim victory in Christ (1 John 2:9; Jude 24; Rom. 6:1,2). The Lord can and does pardon sins when we confess them. But if we deliberately sin and keep sinning, sooner or later, like Judas, we can become so hardened in them that we will make the same decision to reject Jesus, whether we realize it or not.

    Amen!(0)
  27. Thank you for the article Phil. I have shared it with two of our folk that are trying to quit smoking. Thank you for pointing people to Jesus, Jeffrey. Jeffrey, I don't think that Phil is saying that smoking and drinking is not sin and not to worry about it. He is simply helping people to understand how the brain works and how bad habits (sins) are entrenched and how to overcome them. We are told that natural methods of healing are what we are to use in the last days. This involves education. It also requires diligent effort. I would classify this as doing what we can to avoid triggers.

    "The way in which Christ worked was to preach the Word, and to relieve suffering by miraculous works of healing. But I am instructed that we cannot now work in this way, for Satan will exercise his power by working miracles. God’s servants today could not work by means of miracles, because spurious works of healing, claiming to be divine, will be wrought. { 2SM 54.2}
    For this reason the Lord has marked out a way in which His people are to carry forward a work of physical healing, combined with the teaching of the Word. Sanitariums are to be established, and with these institutions are to be connected workers who will carry forward genuine medical missionary work. Thus a guarding influence is thrown around those who come to the sanitariums for treatment. { 2SM 54.3}
    This is the provision the Lord has made whereby gospel medical missionary work is to be done for many souls.—Letter 53, 1904. { 2SM 54.4} "

    Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. { GC 425.1}

    Amen!(1)
    • Thanks Wayne for both your feedback and your additional contribution. Much appreciated. You are 'spot on' with your perspective.

      Phil

      Amen!(0)

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