Friday, September 5th, 2014
Practice Makes Perfect (Part 6)
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB)
What are your bad habits? Even after His conversion to Christ, the Apostle Paul seemed challenged by anger and impatience. In Romans 7, he was at odds with himself: questioning and disgusted by his own behavior.*
My bad habits included fits of anger and judgment; selfishness in too many ways to list; overeating on too many occasions to count. (I write in past tense as a way of speaking the elimination of my bad habits into existence; it's a declaration of my purpose and God's promise, rather than its perfect accomplishment.)
Actors, models and talent for Christ: whatever your bad habits include (or included), consider them to be going... going... gone. By the power of God, they are banished. They have vanished. To further this great disappearance:
1) Pray for it, 'Without ceasing' (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation' (Luke 22:40). Keep a handy, dandy list of your favorite Bible Verses to help you. Consider His Word, 'The Sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:17), to be your battle Gear. That's how Jesus fought Satan's temptations in the desert.**
2) Plan for it. 'Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts' (Romans 13:14). Clean out your mind. 'Whatever is true, whatever is honorable... dwell on these things' Philippians 4:8). Clean out your house. Clean out your friends. Clear out of haunts: 'Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness' (2 Timothy 2:22).
3) Praise for it. 'Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 15:57). So 'In everything give thanks' (including your inevitable triumph over bad habits), 'For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus' (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Because God inhabits the praises of His people. Where God is, Satan isn't.***
4) Speak for it. 'Let the weak say, 'I am strong' ' (Joel 3:10); 'I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13); 'Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers' (Ephesians 4:29). Speak life and victory, even to your own ears.
5) Wait for it. 'For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay' (Habakkuk 2:3). 'Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing' (James 1:4)... including freedom from bad habits.
6) Look for it. 'But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same Image from glory to glory' (2 Corinthians 3:18). 'Whoever looks intently into the perfect Law that gives freedom' (James 1:25), which is God's Word, will begin to reflect His brilliant freedom in appearance.
7) Expect for it. 'Being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion' (Philippians 1:6). Because 'The Lord your God is He Who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you' (Deuteronomy 20:4). He is the One Who promises delivery from every enemy, including bad habits.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Here's the bottom line on bad habits; to your best ability, discontinue their practice. Consider the seven steps above. God will do the rest, for 'The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations' (2 Peter 2:9).
To Be Continued...
* Romans 7:14-24: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+7%3A14-24&version=NIV
** How Jesus responds to Satan's temptations: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+4%3A1-13&version=NKJV
*** 'Yet You are holy, O You Who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel' (Psalm 22:3 NASB).
*** 'The Awesome Power Of Praise' (article): http://www.victorychurch.nu/articles/the_awesome_power_of_praise
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Practice Makes Perfect series.