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Spring 2015: Habits: Human Versus Divine - You Decide
Publish date: Jun 1, 2015
Summary: From unhealthy dietary tips to compromising lifestyle advice, it seems we are being flooded with a mass of misinformation as to what is really best for us.
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From unhealthy dietary tips to compromising lifestyle advice, it seems we are being flooded with a mass of misinformation as to what is really best for us. These messages can be confusing and subtly lead us to think that there may be some good even in dangerous practices. These kinds of messages lead us by degrees to accept what we ought to reject. Simply put: First we abhor, then we tolerate, then we embrace and defend.
Recently a magazine arrived in our mailbox carrying an article entitled, “The Good News About Bad Habits,” with the subtitle, “6 ways to make the best of your worst quirks, from binge-watching your favorite TV show to sharing gossip.” 1 Bless the author’s heart, the article was giving people what was considered to be healthier options to a few of the everyday habits (quirks) that people indulge in, i.e., obsessive TV watching, occasional outbursts of anger, gossiping, etc.
Most people carry personal opinions about modern society’s trends. God also has His personal view. Compromising behavior is not limited to certain age groups, or by our ancestry, education, financial status, or gender, but subtly corrupts the Lord’s work of healing and sanctification in our lives. Isaiah 5:20-23 succinctly describes God’s deep concern:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
I’m so grateful our loving Lord is willing to not only tell it like it is, but also let us know how valuable our bodies are to Him!
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
Amazing to think about, isn’t it? We don’t own the body we live in. We have been purchased by God! With what? With the life-blood of Christ! (See 1 Peter 1: 18, 19.) And our bodies are to be the eternal dwelling place for the Holy Spirit of God. (John 14:16.) Because of this reality, for anyone serious about being ready to meet our soon returning Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in peace, there are a couple of very appropriate and valuable heart-searching requests to humbly place before God concerning the personal habits in our lives that we know to be damaging to our physical, mental, and spiritual health:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23, 24).
Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6).
I’m so thankful for God’s response to this type of heartfelt desire in Psalm 32:8:
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.
Amazingly, His promised guidance in the care of our bodies and minds holds true even when it seems as if our lives are filled with nothing but darkness and difficulties. Isaiah 42:16 tells us:
And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
Praise the Lord for His mercy and compassionate care for us! For whatever reason, many sincere Christians have not been instructed about the precious healing process that God has provided to enable us to lay aside our fallen habit patterns and replace them with Christ’s healing ways. (See Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:5; 1 John 2:5, 6; 3:2,3.) They have not been taught how vital this process the Bible calls “sanctification” is for our salvation – as vital as justification! In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, the apostle Paul states:
But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
In fact, verse 13 of the same chapter tells us that we are called by the Gospel “to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The spiritual “glory” of Christ is His character of love that we were originally designed to experience in all its healing, three-dimensional beauty. (See Genesis 1:27; Exodus 33:18, 19; 34:5-7; 1 John 4:8.) Our loving Savior and Guide lived and died to provide a way for us, not only to be forgiven for the sins of our past (Romans 3:25), but also to be restored to His image. (See also Romans 8:29.) Listen to the call of 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now here’s the crux of the matter: There are some people, including Christians, who have struggled with damaging lifestyles for years, precious individuals that may have lost the hope of ever gaining the victory over their distressing heavy-duty conduct. Perhaps they have even begun to wonder if it’s really that important to confront and overcome damaging habits that have harassed their lives. If you are one of these people, do not despair. There is hope. Please do not accept the idea that you are trapped in circumstances beyond help or hope of experiencing victory over a life-damaging habit. Nothing is too hard for God! (See Jeremiah 32:17.) Even if there is only a glimmer of conviction in your heart that victory might be possible, cling to it! Jesus lived and died to provide a way for every one of us to be freed from every weight and sin! Why? Because He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). And He wants to spend eternity with you and me! (See Revelation 21:3.) Hebrews 4:15, 16 gives a little glimpse of the compassionate caring heart of Christ:
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
He tenderly urges each of us in Hebrews 12:1, 2:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. . . .”
Bible Echo, April 15, 1893, par. 5, makes this very important observation concerning our efforts to cooperate with the Lord’s work to bring healing to our bodies and minds:
We shall often fail in our efforts to copy the divine pattern; we shall often have to bow down to weep at the feet of Jesus, because of our short-comings and mistakes; but we must not be discouraged; pray more fervently, believe more fully, and then, with greater steadfastness, abide in Christ and grow into the likeness of our Lord. As we distrust our own power, we shall trust the power of our Redeemer, and render praise to God, who is the health of our countenance.
With some of the identical wording, Steps to Christ, page 64 adds more insight into this vital topic:
We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.
O thank you, Lord! . . . but I feel so guilty about my tenacious habit. Help!
Dear friend, why not consider the freedom you have to exercise thankfulness for this guilt. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us of our need to express our gratitude:
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Why do I share such a brash idea? Well first off, you might consider this guilt to be evidence that you have not yet committed the unpardonable sin. The unpardonable sin is what Jesus calls “blaspheming the Holy Spirit,” where a person can no longer sense any conviction that he’s doing something wrong when he is actually sinning against God. (See Matthew 12:31 and John 16:8-11.) The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent.
Secondly, the fact you are keenly aware of your sin is also “evidence that Satan’s delusions have lost their power; that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you” (SC, 64).
Precious friend, please do something with these inspired convictions of a better life. Instead of pushing them away with an excuse, or blaming someone else that you’re feeling this way, or ignoring and masking them with the escape techniques of indulgence like busyness, food, entertainment, etc., rather, settle in your mind, that with the Lord’s guidance through His Word (Psalm 107:20), and in the power of His grace (2 Corinthians 9:8), you’re going to learn and practice the victorious healing ways He has provided through His Word to empower each of us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Just now, by faith, take hold of the strengthening messages of Psalms 34:19 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 and expressed in Desire of Ages, p. 528:
To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly,” 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience.
Knowing this dear friend, regardless of what anyone else in your family or church are presently choosing to say or do, and even if it is for the umpteenth time you’ve done so, in the quietness of your mind, I encourage you to make the decision, to learn and diligently practice Christ’s healing ways in your personal life. Jesus will help you. He has promised!
. . . him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).
Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour (aid) them that are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness (Isaiah 41:10).
I leave you with this inspired and empowering statement from My Life Today, p. 99:
The child of God will not rest satisfied until he is clothed with the righteousness of Christ and sustained by His life-giving power. When he sees a weakness in his character, it is not enough to confess it again and again; he must go to work with determination and energy to overcome his defects by building up opposite traits of character. He will not shun this work because it is difficult. Untiring energy is required of the Christian; but he is not obliged to work in his own strength; divine power awaits his demand. Everyone who is sincerely striving for the victory over self will appropriate the promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Through personal effort joined with the prayer of faith the soul is trained. Day by day the character grows into the likeness of Christ. . . . It may cost a severe conflict to overcome habits which have been long indulged, but we may triumph through the grace of Christ. . . .
If we are true to the promptings of the Spirit of God, we shall go on from grace to grace and from glory to glory until we shall receive the finishing touch of immortality.
Take courage, precious reader! I am “…confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Jesus loves you with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3) All the way to His inevitable and soon return, He is well able to keep anything and everything you commit to Him and His victorious, sanctifying ways! (See 2 Timothy 1:12.)
Dan Gabbert is a speaker, author and a mental/spiritual health coach practicing Biblical Response Therapy®. He has a degree in Christian Counselling. 1*All emphasis in the quotes of this article are the author’s. 2 Helmer, J., The Good News About Bad Habits, AARP, vol. 58, No. 1B; pp 18,19; December 2014/January 2015.
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