Bad habits are easy to form and hard to break. I read somewhere it takes 30-40 days to develop a good habit. But in my experience it takes less than 3-4 seconds to pick up a bad one.
There is a reason we say “I picked up a bad habit.” I mean you have never heard anyone say they just picked up a good habit. You have to work hard to develop a good habit.
We have a love/hate relationship with our bad habits. We hate them. But we can’t just shake them because we also love them. Come on, if you didn’t like it you wouldn’t keep doing it. The truth is your sinful nature loves it. The Apostle Paul writes about all this in Romans 7:15-20.
Bad habits are like ticks. Ticks are parasites. They live in trees, bushes and tall grasses. They have heat seeking radar. When they detect a warm-blooded body, they just drop. Once on you they find a tender, juicy spot and attach.
Ticks carry serious diseases. The disease can have long lasting and devastating effects. Just like a bad habit. You can remove the tick or break free from the bad habit, but sometimes there are long lasting devastating effects.
The Bible tells us in James 1:14-15 at the heart of our bad habits are evil desires that the enemy exploits. Once the desire has conceived it gives birth to sin. That is the bad news.
The good news is Jesus is creating a new nature in me (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).
I love this! When I chose to follow Jesus, I was forgiven, made clean even holy. I am pure before God clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.
God is faithful. I can depend on Him to do His part. But He is also a gentleman. He works with me as I learn to follow Him in my new nature that is making me like Jesus. However, by faith I have to learn to live by this new nature while I crucify daily my sinful nature.
Jesus said at the beginning of His public ministry a very powerful statement. “The time has come. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15).
Zero in with me on the single word “Repent.” The literal meaning of this word is to think differently now. Jesus is saying now the Kingdom has come, we need to think differently than we did before. Repent simply means to transform our thinking from the pattern of this world to thinking like King Jesus (see Romans 12:2).
Since we can trust God to do His part in the transformation, what can we do to repent?
- Choose to Change. Change always begins with a decision or commitment. When you are motivated your brain releases nuerochemicals necessary for change. Paul writes “in view of God’s mercy, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1).
- Train don’t Try. Trying to change is ineffective. When you try, you will ultimately fail. Failure brings guilt and quitting. But training allows for set backs. You are able to learn from mistakes. The more you practice the more your brain builds a path for the new behavior. Paul says that we are to train ourselves to be godly. Physical training has some value but godliness has eternal value (see 1 Timothy 4:7-8).
- Recite Defining Stories and Memorable Quotes. Memorize and recite God stories and phrases (beginning with Bible stories & memory verses) that highlight the new creation. Story telling gives a sense of belonging to a bigger narrative. These stories and the memorable quotes build a vocabulary that defines the culture and gives hope in our new nature (see Romans 15:4).
- Reduce the Noise. God said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). If change is going to happen, we have to begin to listen to those who speak from the Kingdom perspective. Who are the voices in your life? Who are the influencers in the way you are thinking?
- Pace Yourself. Transformation is a marathon not a sprint. You have to make a commitment to the long haul and run the race God has set before you (Hebrews 12:1).
Repent means to change the way you think. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). God has shown us kindness all for the purpose of leading us to repentance (see Romans 2:4).
Will you repent with me today?