When Old Habits Die Hard
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
I punched my dinner the other night. Yep, full fist right into my tilapia foil pack.
I'm not exactly sure what happened there. I was frustrated but not that frustrated. Honestly, my reaction scared me (and my husband). I thought back to the times of screaming fits and wall kicking as a kid and throwing high heels at my boyfriend when I was 19. I was what they call "crazy", but my crazy hadn't come out to play in years. Truthfully, it was an issue I thought to be resolved simply because of my conversion to Christ. I cried in my man's arms for a minute, frightened and embarrassed by my own actions. I think I was mourning the loss of believing I had overcome my tendency to overreact.
So what do we do when old habits creep back into our lives? Well first, we repent. We ask for God's forgiveness and turn away from the sin that reared its ugly head. He is still ready and willing to forgive. Don't delay. Christ died for your sin knowing you'd fall again and again. He knew you'd take 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. He knew you'd struggle, and He is near to you in the midst of it. Take hold of grace.
After putting off the old, we must put on the new (Colossians 3:5-14). Whether your struggle is anger, lust, envy, or any other sin known to man, you must toss it away and put on the Biblical replacement. Furthermore, we must be willing to dig deeper into our hearts to discern what the root of our sin issue is. Then, create safeguards and boundaries to fight our own flesh. For example, if you get angry when things go awry while cooking (like me!), the root desire in your heart may be an expectation for everything to go perfectly as planned. For me, I realized I am the opposite of meek, which is defined as "a willingness to be easily imposed on." Therefore, I need to put off anger and put on meekness. Then, I must set up safeguards to help my heart be ready to fight this sin when it arises.
This, "put on, put off" idea is a continual process for the Christian. It's a daily mindset which sets us free from shame and enables us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live obediently before the Lord. When old or new sin habits arise, draw near to the throne of grace, and you will find help in the time of need...help to repent and help to push forward living a life that glorifies God.
Father, I praise You that even when we've fallen back into old ways of sinning, You promise to forgive us if we turn to You. Thank You that Your throne is one of grace--that because of Jesus, we can approach You for help. We need You in order to obey. Give us the power to put off the old and put on the new, for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
If this has brought a particular sin struggle to the forefront of your mind, I encourage you to take the following steps to fight it:
1. Identify the root desire. Ask yourself, "Why did I react that way?", and "What is it that I'm wanting right now?"
2. Define the Biblical replacement. If you're unsure, ask a mentor or close friend who loves Jesus if they can help you.
3. Put up boundaries and safeguards to help you fight this sin.
4. Pray for God's help in fighting this sin.