“I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”
- Philippians 4:13 TLB
Since I have begun walking closely with the Lord, and have made a commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly, I have been able to overcome many habitual sins and bad habits. But there are some that remain and continue to trouble me. I know that I will never reach perfection in this life, but I also know that God’s Word commands us to “aim for perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV). So it is my heartfelt desire to cooperate with the Lord’s plan to make me more like Christ every day. (2 Corinthians 3:18) When I earnestly sought the Lord recently about my deep desire to be free from some of my lingering bad habits, He revealed some principles from Scripture to help and encourage me in this area, and I would like to share them with you.
First, the Lord told me that we must “face” our sin. Even as believers, you and I have a tendency to run from God when He’s trying to deal with us about something in our lives that no longer fits who we are as followers of Christ. But this kind of attitude only hinders our spiritual growth, and limits God’s ability to bless us and use us for His highest purposes. The Bible says: “The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons.” (Hebrews 12:6-7 AMP) When we allow the Lord to deal with us about our attitudes and conduct, we are well on our way to victory. In the heat of battle, God once told His people: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to FACE them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you." (2 Chronicles 20:17 NIV) Facing our sin is the first step to overcoming it.
The second step is heartfelt repentance. Repentance goes beyond simply confessing our sin to the Lord. A good definition for repentance is, “A change of heart, which includes sorrow for sin and a determination to live a holy life.” Very often, we are truly sorry for our sinful behavior, but we lack a sincere determination to leave it behind. God wants to set us free, but He expects us to do our part. And He usually requires us to show some good, old-fashioned backbone by taking a step or two away from our sin. We may have to avoid certain people, places, or things in order to cooperate with God’s plan for our deliverance. Very rarely are we able to overcome habitual sins without making a considerable sacrifice of some kind. But it will be well worth it in the end, because this kind of true repentance prepares the way for God to work mightily on our behalf. Scripture says: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.” (Luke 3:4,6 NIV) These are the words of John the Baptist, who preached that repentance for sins would reveal God’s glory and saving power.
Lastly, we must rely on the presence and power of God’s Spirit. Every time we try to overcome our sins, addictions, and bad habits without depending on the Spirit of God’s enabling power, we will fail. Zechariah 4:6 (NIV) says: “'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.” The Living Bible translation says, “You will succeed because of My Spirit.” Our ultimate success lies in becoming more God-inside-minded, and learning to hear and heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis. You and I can rejoice because the Lord’s will for us is total freedom from everything that would hinder us from fulfilling our God-given purpose and potential. And He’s given every believer in Christ His Spirit to guide us and strengthen us with His own divine wisdom and power. His Word says: "Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:17,18 NLT) You were created anew in Christ to be an overcomer. Are you ready and willing to become all that He created you to be?
Prayer: Lord, today I renew my commitment to live for You, and to turn my back on sin. Give me the strength and the resolve I need to face my sin, and to allow You to deal with me about it. Move me to study and meditate on Your Word, and use it to correct, guide, and train me to live a holy life. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Thank You that as I follow Your plan for my transformation, I will experience the victory, success, and freedom that can only come from Christ!
- J. M. Farro