It’s frustrating how entrenched sinful habits can become in our lives. God has provided many wonderful pleasures for us, but the effects of the fall have adulterated what God meant for good. For example, the enjoyment of good food has devolved into gluttony, God’s gift of love between a husband and wife has devolved into lust, and the value of rest has devolved into slothfulness.
We need a pathway out of the swamp of frustration and defeat of old habits. The pathway that I present here are not theoretical platitudes, but rather battle tested principles that I have used in my life and with others to overcome sinful habits. I face the battle daily just like you, but victory has become the norm and I pray these principles will help you as they have helped others that I’ve counseled over the years. Many of the principles I use fit into the acronym Pathway. Think of this as your pathway to victory:
P – Prepare Don’t expect to gain victory in the battle if you’re not prepared. Archilochus reminds us, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” It’s difficult to overcome temptation if you have not trained yourself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). The battle we face often takes place in the mind, that’s why it’s essential that your transform your mind with truth,
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
A – Avoid temptation Don’t feed the wild tiger within you. Much of what is the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is designed to trip you up. Television can be a major stumbling block – even the commercials are designed to make you believe that you need more. Are you clothed with the world or Jesus Christ?
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:14)
T – Take your thoughts captive A mind in neutral will always roll down hill. You can either live your life by conviction or by circumstances. A person who lives by conviction has a well thought through philosophy of life and does not acquiesce to the way of the world.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)
H – Hold onto God’s promises The Bible is filled with promises for those who hold on and persevere. But how can I gain the victory in a world filled with temptation? The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us the key,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
W – Walk by the Spirit There is a battle within us between our flesh and the Spirit. Where do you focus your attention, is it on pleasing your fleshly desires or walking by the Spirit? You must realize that the short-term easy leads to the long-term difficult, whereas the short-term difficult leads to the long-term easy. You may walk by the flesh and have momentary pleasure, but the guilt and shame afterwards makes you feel even worse. Stay in step with the Spirit,
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
A – Act in accordance with truth Passivity is a major problem of our day. You can know the truth, but if you’re not following through it doesn’t provide any benefit. You need to follow through, renounce sin, and do what is right,
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
Y – Yield to God You must realize that He is God and you are not. When you yield control to Him and come to Him in prayer, you stop trying in your strength, and you start trusting Him to give you the victory. The flesh cannot overcome the flesh. This can be a freeing concept – you can’t, but He can! This leads to an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. You discover that praise breaks the back of the mood monster. This is what David realized when he exclaimed,
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12)
God’s desire is for you to stay on His pathway. You must be determined to stay true to the quest at any cost – stray from the path and you will be lost. Solomon describes the benefits of walking on God’s pathway,
In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death. (Proverbs 12:28)
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
Follow me on twitter: rickhiggins5