Repetition Breeds Habit

Young man, you aught to pay careful attention to your habits. The things you do and the way you are now will essentially drive the rest of your life. Habits are simple things, but hard to break. And the longer you’ve had them, the harder it is to change!

Sinful habits must be broken, and by the promise of God and the power of the spirit, they will be. Through the promise of sanctification, you’ll be made more and more like Christ, and you are at peace. At the same time, you MUST kill the sin in your life. The love of God demands it, and this holiness is entirely your responsibility. God is not liable for any of your sin.

Habits of holiness get less attention, but are vital replacements for the old lifestyle. Christian, God does promise to draw you near to himself, and will build a relationship through positive habits. But, you need to work today to spend time with God, to put on the armor of God, to walk in the spirit. And you’ll have to someday stand before God and vouch for your stewardship of His time.

Make change faithfully–repeat the good things. Steady as she goes. Focus on today’s troubles. Simple repetition is what breeds habit. And pray without ceasing for God’s grace in your life.

Because he Talked with God

At a recent open house, a grandson of one of my Dad’s oldest friends was celebrating graduation from high school. While we were there, a good friend we hadn’t seen in years commented how I act just like my Dad, and how that was one of the ways he recognized me. Some call inherited habits like that “Family Idosyncricies.”

Of course, I’ve watched Dad’s behavior for years, and consciously or unconsciously mimicked him. In my case, Dad has given me a pretty good basis for operations in life. It’s the same with anyone you spend time with; being a second-born son, I watched my older brother, too.

As Christians, adopted into the family of God in Christ, we need to keep our eyes constantly on our Father so we can pick up his habits. When you Spend lots of time with someone you naturally know and love them more–and you become more like them. Keep at Jesus side so that you can assimilate His glory!

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, … Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. – Exodus 34:29-30

Killing the Old Man

You’re powerless to fight the old, sinful man dwelling in side of you, brothers. It’s only by Christ’s killing of your sinful self that you can have new life in Christ. But often, we aren’t willing to let go of the old nature just yet.

Maybe you still find pleasure in sin–pleasure can become an idol. Or maybe you’re afraid of what the new life might look like without the old. Or maybe, you’re just angry at God.

One of the most important “Want to Want-to’s” is to hate sin, and want to die to your old self to be renewed in the image of Christ. If you’re truly saved, Christ will complete the work that he has begun of sanctifying you. And, it is your responsibility to work hard for sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit. You were dead in your sins, and Christ made you alive; and by faith you are saved. Christ will sanctify the true Christian regardless of your cooperation, but it is your responsibility to be sanctified through the Spirit. Both/And!

Young men, give up the sinful lusts and passions of your heart that destroy your relationship with God. Forget anything this world has to offer apart from Christ. Be done with sin. Pray without ceasing that God will kill your old man and invigorate new life. It’s in personal holiness that you will find freedom, peace, joy, love, and most importantly, where you’ll most clearly see and love the beauty of Christ.

Wanting to Want To

Brother Andrew tells a story in his book, ‘God’s Smuggler’ about an opportunity he had to print a huge number of Chinese Bibles. The trouble was money–Andrew didn’t believe in begging for money–as God is the King, he would know and supply their needs. But God didn’t seem to be sending funds for this project. But focused on the importance of Bibles for China, he considered a way to get enough money to produce the Bibles–to sell their house. Although Brother Andrew felt that God might be calling him to sell, neither he nor his wife could bring themselves to do it. So their prayer turned from “God, let us be willing to sell our house” into “God, make us willing to want your plan, so that we will be willing to sell our house.”

Often times our primary sin is not that we don’t do what God commands, but that we don’t want to do what God commands. When you want to serve the True God in your own way, and not in His way, that’s idolatry and rebellion. Even if you’re doing what he wants (like printing
Bibles for China) but do it in your own way, that’s sin.

So like Brother Andrew, our prayer often becomes, “God, let me want-to want-to!” Pray for the desires of God to be your desires, and that His heart would be your heart. Only then can you truly love God as you aught.

As Christ Loved the Church

Paul teaches two things in Ephesians 5–how husbands should love their wives, and how Christ loves the church. Young man, it’s vital that you know how to love your future wife. But it’s a critical prerequisite that you know the Love of Christ.

Christ loved us, setting aside His own desires, and putting the our needs before His own (Mat 26:39). He loved us, sanctifying us to make us holy both in the sight of God (1 Cor 6:11) and physically holy in the world (Eph 5:8). He washes us “with the water of the word” so that we might be spotless and clean. The sacrifice that Jesus made to bring us sanctification was complete–he undertook the whole wrath of God for our sake.

Our calling then, is to love as Christ did, in every circumstance where we are called to love:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39

Knowing About God, or Knowing God?

Ephesians is a book about knowing God. (Eph 3:17-19) As Paul puts it, the purpose of his preaching and apostleship is that Christ may dwell in our hearts, that we may know the breadth and length and height and depth [of God and Christ], to know the love of Christ, and to be filled with all the fullness of God. Similarly, the phrase, “In Christ”, occurs 57 times throughout the book. So Paul’s focus is for us to be In Christ, and also to be filled with Christ and God.

Even the demons know about God–James 2–but instead of loving Him, they shudder. Satan must see the love of Christ towards His elect, but reviles it. Then, is seeing the love of Christ towards others enough to know it in Paul’s sense? Obviously not. You’ve got to experience that love, to have the fullness of God filling you.

One of the first times the word “know” is used in scripture is when Adam “knew” his wife Eve, and they had a son. And indeed, knowledge is a frequent term of close relationship throughout scripture. Later in Ephesians, Paul even associates the relationship of husband to wife with the relationship of Christ and His Church. Marriage is a deep, intimate, personal relationship, not just an intellectual understanding.

So then, we must be careful when studying God that we don’t simply learn about Christ, but that we learn Christ. Firsthand experience, not intellectual knowledge.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – John 17:3