Lesson 5

Victory over Bad Habits

Habits are common to us all.  We have good habits (brushing teeth, prayer) and bad habits (smoking,
cursing).  Too often, these habits, because they become second nature, they control us.  Instead, we
need to learn how to control them.

1 Corinthians 6:12  All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for
me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Reasons why we fail to overcome sinful habits:

1.  We try to conquer habits in the energy of the soul (the flesh).

We rely upon our strength of mind, our intellect, our willpower, and our emotional power.  These are no
match for the power of sin or of ingrained sinful habits.
God wants us to utilize the power of His Holy Spirit.  Only by His power can we conquer sinful habits.

Romans 8:13  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of
the body, ye shall live.   

2.  We are double-minded.
We have a desire to overcome sinful habits and, at the same time, a conflicting desire to enjoy them.

Romans 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Romans 7:15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Romans 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Romans 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Romans 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with
me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Romans 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

The problem:
We haven't yet learned to hate evil.

James 1:8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

3.  We fail to understand what it means to be in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.

The only way to consistently overcome sinful habits is to enter into the victory Christ has already won.
We must learn to appropriate His victory and His Word in our lives.

Look up the “in Christ” and “in Him” phrases:

4.  We make provision for sinful pleasures.
When we remove from our lives all provisions for fulfilling evil desires, we give evidence that we are
learning to hate evil.  Stop buying cigarettes, stop hanging around with smokers, sit in non-smoking
areas.

5. We attempt to hide secret sins.
There are really no secret sins; God knows.

Numbers 32:32  . . . and be sure your sin will find you out.

The shame and humbling that come from properly confessing sin are actually part of God's provision to
receive grace and conquer sinful habits, for God "...resists the proud and gives grace to the humble."

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.

7  STEPS TO CONQUER SINFUL HABITS

1.  Engraft Romans 6 and 8 into your soul.
To engraft it means to make it a living extension of our lives so it can produce spiritual fruit.  The more
scripture we engraft, the more varied the fruits will be in our lives.
(Engraft - adding new branches to a tree so that they become part of the tree.)
If we engraft these passages (Rom. 6 & 8) into our souls, we will have victory over sin.  Make the Word a
natural part of your thinking.

2.  Picture yourself dead to sin.
God's Word states emphatically that we are dead to sin; not that we are dying to sin, or should die to sin.  
We ARE dead to sin.

We are told to 'reckon' ourselves dead to sin. To reckon means to count it to be so.  If a dead man were
propped against a wall and a seductive woman were to walk in front of him, he wouldn't blink an eye.  It
would not affect him whatsoever.
This is precisely the response God wants us to have to the power and appeal of sin.

Dead people don’t sin.

Be unaffected.

Die to the world

Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life
which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

1 Corinthians 15:31  I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

When did we die to sin?
We died to sin when we became Christians.  At that moment, we became part of Christ.  Being part of
Christ, we share in his past achievements.  When he was crucified, we were crucified with him:  "I am
crucified with Christ..."  Galatians 2:20.  When he was buried, we were buried with him: "Therefore we are
buried with him by baptism into death..." Romans 6:4  When he rose from the dead, we rose from the
dead: "If ye then be risen with Christ..."  Col  3:1

3.  Compare the law of sin to the law of gravity.
It's one thing to say we are dead to sin. What we must do is experience it. One way to do that is to picture
the law of sin as the law of gravity and the law of the spirit as the Principle of aerodynamics.  The law of
sin will bring you down. The principle of aerodynamics will make you soar above temptation.
i.e. If the eagle flying high in the atmosphere folded its wings, it would immediately begin to fall.  But if he
spreads his wings, the principle of aerodynamics overcomes the law of gravity and he flies again.
In the same way, if we stop meditating on the Word of God in the face of temptation, we will begin to fall.
How do we overcome the law of sin?
The Word tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), to meditate on the Word day and night (Ps 1),
and to speak the truth in our hearts (Ps 15:2).  This will weave the Word into our thoughts.  As long as we
meditate on His truth, we will soar above temptation. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles." Is 40:31
We stretch our wings by quoting scripture - particularly from Romans 6: "What shall we say then? Shall
we continue in sin...?"  In moments, the temptation will lose its power and appeal.  The law of the Spirit
lifts us up above the law of sin.

Often we will pray for victory in these areas only to fall again. God didn't tell us to pray for this victory,
but to enter into the victory Christ already won. We gained that victory when he died to sin and rose to
life again.
It is vital that you begin to meditate on scripture the moment you experience temptation.  Sin can Work
quickly.  You must keep the Word on your mind.

4.   Personalize the scriptures.
Turn it to the first person. In that way you will engraft it into your life.
i.e. "What shall {I} say then?  How shall {I} being dead to sin live any longer therein?"
Then identify the particular sin and put it there.
i.e.  "What shall {I}I say then?  How shall {I} being dead to {bitterness} live any longer therein?"

5.   Make no provision for the flesh.
If we seek victory over temptation, while at the same time provided the means to continue the
temptation, we deceive ourselves.   
Romans 13:14 "...make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."
This means we must cleanse our lives and our homes of every item that grieves the Holy Spirit and
contributes to spiritual defeat.
i.e.
•        Sensual or humanistic TV content
•        Music with negative content
•        Sensual novels or magazines
•        Habit forming drugs or drink
•        Occult materials  (Horoscopes, Ouija boards, etc.)
•        Friends who influence us to violate God’s standards
•        Objects that have evil or improper associations
•        Clothing that defrauds  (negative words, emblems, or phrases; revealing clothing)

6.   Become accountable for consistency.
Go to those who are concerned for your spiritual well-being (parents, spouse, church leaders, friends)
and ask them to regularly check up on your spiritual achievement.  Tell them what your goals are and
give them specific questions they can ask.
i.e.
•        Quote me the scripture you memorized this week.
•        What did you get from your devotional time this morning?
•        What scripture passage have you meditated on today?
•        How are you doing with overcoming temptation?

7.   Be alert and obedient to promptings which are in harmony with scripture.
It's not enough to be dead to sin, we must be alive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Learn how to discern
the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to quickly obey him.  He will always be consistent with God's Word.  
That will be the test.)
How do we obey the Spirit?
The same way you obeyed the promptings of your sinful nature:
"As ye yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity...even so now yield your members
servants to righteousness unto holiness." Romans 6:19

How we Yield:
  To Sin -

1.        We experience a sinful desire (temptation).
2.        We visualize the pleasure we would receive from fulfilling that desire.
3.        We decide to fulfill that desire.
4.        We become a servant to sin.  (        Romans 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves
servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
righteousness?)
5.        We yield the members of our bodies to carry out the desire.

  To God -

1.        We experience a scriptural prompting to do something.
2.        We visualize the action required to obey the prompting.
3.        We make a decision to obey it.
4.        Our decision to us the we are God’s servant.
5.        We yield our members to carry out God’s will and prompting.

Prerequisites for Victory

Humility -
To admit our shortcomings, our need, our weakness, and to prepare to receive help from God and other.  
We must strip ourselves of pride.  You simply cannot do it in your own strength.

Revelation-
Let God open your eyes rather than you figuring it out.  Too often, we see it of figure it wrongly.  We must
look to God.  Only His revelation can free us.

Identification -
Identify experientially with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  These are not just symbolic:  we
experience them in our spirits.  It is our only hope for victory.

Cleansing -
We must rid ourselves of the sources of temptation.  Put out of your life those things which cause you to
fall.  

Accountability -
Our shame makes us keep our sins or weaknesses a secret, but that keeps us dealing with it alone.  We
need to be accountable to someone who can help us without judging us.  Someone besides ourselves to
monitor our behavior.

Gratefulness -
Many sins and problems are related to ungratefulness - a failure to acknowledge God properly.
(Romans 1:21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful;
but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.)

STUDENT

Memorize : Romans 8:13; Numbers 32:23; Romans 6:19

Do you ever struggle with bad habits?

There are several reasons why we may fail to conquer bad habits. Ponder these this week and see which
may apply to you.
1. Trying to do it in your own strength.
2. Double-mindedness.
3. Failing to understand our position in Christ.
4. Making provision for the flesh.
5. Hiding sin - even from ourselves.

Do you think it is possible to overcome bad habits?

Read Romans 6-8. List the principles in these chapters that might help you overcome bad habits.