through His Word
by Katy Kauffman
Bad habits are like deep ruts that are hard to get out of. As we navigate our way through life, we may find ourselves traveling in an inescapable rut. Ruts can ruin our godliness, our relationships, and our spiritual health and strength. They can damage our joy, peace, and even our sanity. The more we say yes to these bad habits, the deeper the rut becomes. So how can we break free?
Strategies for Escaping a Bad Habit
1. Recognize the bad habit for what it is—not a help but a poison.
We often start a bad habit to fulfill a need or to solve a problem. But inevitably bad habits do us more harm than good. Satan’s lie is that we can exchange God’s way of doing things for harmful habits and they won’t hurt us. But we end up poisoning our minds, hearts, relationships, and often our bodies.
2. Identify why you started the habit in the first place.
What need was the habit supposed to fill, ease, or silence? Get to the root of the problem, and don’t be afraid to talk to a trusted friend or counselor about what’s going on. Talking through things may help you find the root cause of the habit and break free from it.
3. Find out what God’s Word says about how God can meet the specific need you have.
Satan’s counterfeit is a cheap substitute for God’s best. God cherishes His children and knows how to provide for our every need (Matthew 6:32, Romans 8:32, Philippians 4:19). His timing and method may not be what we expect, but what He can give is so much greater than what we can try to scrounge up on our own.
Search the Bible for the words need(s) and desire(s). What does it say about God meeting our needs and the desires of our hearts? What does God’s Word say about the root need of the bad habit? Hold on to God’s promises and truths, both the truths that comfort and the truths that warn.
4. Depend on God to take care of you and to help you quit what hurts you.
You’re not alone in the fight to break free (Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 18:39a). You have the most powerful and loving Person available to help you. So look to God, depend on His strength, follow His prescriptions for freedom, and stay under His protection and blessing.
5. Practice the principle of displacement—displace the bad habit with good ones.
If you put your fist in a glass of water, what happens? The water comes out. If you start practicing good habits, there won’t be as much room for bad ones. Displace the bad habit with healthy ones—listen to more Christian music that focuses on God, maintain a regular quiet time, spend time with family and friends instead of pursuing the bad habit, do fun things with good people, start a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, listen to good sermons on the way to work or as you pick up the kids from school. Choose those habits of mind, heart, and life that keep your focus on God, your faith in Him strong, and your mind centered on good, healthy things.
6. Transfer the emotional fulfillment that you gained from the habit to your relationship with God and the good things He has given you.
A habit can become an emotional crutch—that’s why it’s so hard to break. Find your peace, joy, and energizing strength in God and the blessings He’s given you. When you see the habit as a poison instead of an emotional fulfillment, the emotional appeal grows less and less. The joy and strength God gives are lasting, but the emotional boost a bad habit gives, is temporary. That’s why we have to repeat the habit to be happy, and we end up damaging ourselves.
7. We’re not likely to fix a bad habit overnight, so keep trying until you succeed.
Don’t beat yourself up with guilt if you slip back into the bad habit. God knows how weak we can be, but in Him we can be strong. So stay close to God and depend on Him to break the bad habit. Ask Him for forgiveness when you slip, and then get up and take the next step on His path. Getting up when we stumble is just as important as choosing to break the bad habit.
8. Remember why you’re stopping the bad habit.
Choose Godly habits for the good of your soul, the well-being of those around you, the depth of your relationship with God, the freedom and healing you need, and your effectiveness for God’s kingdom. It’s not easy, but it’s worth your sanity and spiritual health and strength. And very often, your emotional and physical health too.
God has helped me to stop harmful habits. Trusting Him has brought me peace and joy. I trust Him that He will meet my needs and guide me through life. I have peace that He will provide what I need in just the right timing. The joy of life with Him has sustained me. And He has provided people to walk through life with, people who are trusting God too.
Cast off the chains that bind you to fear, worry, frustration, and bad habits. Escape the rut. Embrace those good habits that contribute good to your life and not harm. The process isn’t easy, but it’s worth every ounce of fight you have in you. And you don’t fight alone.
What helps you to escape bad habits and embrace good ones? Can you share any Scripture verses that have helped you? Share your thoughts below, and let’s help each other throw off what harms us and choose what helps us.
© Copyright 2016 by Katy Kauffmanbreaking bad habits, spiritual bondage, freedom, Breaking the Chains: Escaping the Rut, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies