* Drive sinful habits from your life
God told Moses that before the Israelites settled in the Promised Land they should drive out sinful habits, the wicked inhabitants, and destroy their idols. In Colossians 31, Paul encourages us to live as Christians in the same manner; throwing away our old way of living, changing habits, and moving ahead into our new life of obedience to God and faith in Jesus Christ. Like the Israelites moving into the Promised Land we can destroy the wickedness, sinful habits, in our lives, or we can settle down and live with it. To move in and possess the new life, we must drive out the sinful habits, thoughts, and practices to make room for the new. (NLT)
Numbers 33:50-53– While they were camped near the Jordan River on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: ‘When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines. Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy.
* When taking over a nation, the Israelites were supposed to destroy every pagan altar and idol in the land. God knew it would be easy for them to change their beliefs if they started using those altars, so nothing was to remain that might tempt them to worship idols. We, too, should ruthlessly find and remove any centers of false worship in our lives. These may be activities, attitudes, possessions, relationships, places, or habits–anything that tempts us to turn our hearts from God and do wrong. We should never flatter ourselves by thinking we’re too strong to be tempted. Israel learned that lesson. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 12:2-3 – “When you drive out the nations that live there, you must destroy all the places where they worship their gods–high on the mountains, up on the hills, and under every green tree. Break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. Burn their Asherah poles and cut down their carved idols. Erase the names of their gods from those places!
* Why we criticize bad habits in others
Jesus tells us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bother us in others are often the habits we have ourselves. Our bad habits and behavior patterns are the very ones that we most want to change in others. Do you find it easy to magnify others’ faults while excusing your own? If you are ready to criticize someone, check to see if you deserve the same criticism. Judge yourself first, and then lovingly forgive and help your neighbor. (NLT)
Matthew 7:1-2 – [Jesus said] “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.”
* Habits becoming entrenched in religious traditions
Jesus told the crowd that many religious Jews who should be in the Kingdom would be excluded because of their lack of faith. Entrenched in their religious traditions, they could not accept Christ and his new message. We must be careful not to become so set in our religious habits that we expect God to work only in specified ways. Don’t limit God by your mind-set and lack of faith. (NLT)
Matthew 8:10-12 – When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites–those for whom the Kingdom was prepared–will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
* Why we must deal with bad habits
We all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give the Devil a foothold, so we must deal with our areas of vulnerability. If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, these verses are not directed at us, even if for the time we seem to keep on sinning. John is not talking about people whose victorious are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it.
Three steps are necessary to find victory over prevailing sin: (1) Seek the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word; (2) stay away from tempting situations; and (3) seek the help of the body of Christ–be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you. (NLT)
1 John 3:8-9– But when people keep on sinning it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not sink, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning because they have been born of God.
* Use this to get high, for depression, monotony, or tension
Paul contrasts getting drunk with wine, which produces a temporary “high,” to being filled with the Spirit, which produces lasting joy. Getting drunk with wine is associated with the old way of life and its selfish desires. In Christ, we have a better joy, higher and longer lasting, to cure our depression, monotony, or tension. We should not be concerned with how much of the Holy Spirit we have but with how much of us the Holy Spirit has. Submit yourself daily to his leading and draw constantly on his power. (NLT)
Ephesians 5:18 – Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.
* Bad habits can be a slave that controls
A person is a slave to whatever controls him or her. Many believe that freedom means doing anything we want. But not one is every completely free in that sense. If we refuse to follow God, we will follow our own sinful desires and become enslaved to what our body wants. If we submit our life to Christ, he will free us from slavery to sin. Christ frees us to serve him, a freedom that results in our ultimate good.
2 Peter 2:19 – They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves to sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.
1 In chapter 3, Paul explains true Christian behavior—putting on the new self by accepting Christ and regarding the earthly nature as dead. We change our moral and ethical behavior by letting Christ live with us, so that he can shape us into what we should be. (NLT)
Colossians 3 – Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. You used to do them when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Instructions for Christian Households
You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly.
You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord. Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.
You slaves must obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Obey them willingly because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil.
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