Why do I fail to overcome destructive habits?
Most of us have habits that seem to have a relentless grip on our souls. Becoming angry, wasting time, overspending, indulging in impure thoughts or actions, and more—we recognize the need to forsake destructive habits, but after several unsuccessful attempts to do so, we often give up and accept them as undefeatable foes. Why do our attempts to overcome sinful habits often end in defeat?
Following are five possible causes of defeat:
1. We try to conquer habits in the energy of the soul.
Satan wants us to fight sinful habits with the energy of our souls—mental power, willpower, and emotional power—because he knows that those sources of strength are no match for the bondage he inflicts on us. However, God wants us to conquer sinful habits through the power of His Spirit. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [conquer] the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13, emphasis added).
2. We are double-minded.
A double-minded person has both a desire to overcome sinful habits and a conflicting desire to enjoy them. God warns us that such a person cannot hope for any consistent victory over sin. (See James 1:8.) “. . . Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30, emphasis added).
3. We fail to understand what it means to “be in Christ.”
The only way to consistently overcome sinful habits is to enter into the victory over sin that Christ has already won. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). (See also Galatians 2:20, Philippians 4:13, and I Corinthians 15:57.)
4. We make provision for sinful pleasures.
It is essential to make every effort to remove all provision for evil from our lives. We should cleanse the galleries of our minds (evil imaginations) and cleanse our homes of all “instruments of wickedness,” such as media that promote evil. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).
5. We attempt to hide secret sins.
One of Satan’s biggest lies is that secret sins will remain hidden, but God’s Word clearly states, “ . . . Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). When sin is properly confessed, the resulting shame is actually part of God’s provision for us to receive grace and conquer sinful habits. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). (See also I Peter 4.)
Sinful habits are not undefeatable foes. With God, nothing is impossible. (See Luke 1:37.) As you overcome these causes of failure and instead depend on the Lord’s power to deliver you from sinful habits, you can walk in victory, to the glory of God!