People come for counseling often because they are struggling with a pattern of negative behaviors. They say they want to change but have difficulty doing so. Sometimes it is the strong grip of a bad habit and sometimes the habit has been tolerated and become a full blown addiction. The cycle is: sin-confess-repent-repeat. So how can the cycle be broken?
According to Oswald Chambers, “The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him. Until that is done, I lose every time.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition, December 27)
Breaking the cycle and winning the battle requires something of us. Are we serious about positive change and growth or are we just speaking empty words. We must have an action plan and commit ourselves to it:
- Start with prayer. Get alone with God. Submit your will to the process of change and ask Him to show you where to start and how to proceed,
- External support is important, but it is not the starting point. Be part of a support or accountability group after you have humbled yourself before God and committed your will to change. Get the help from a good counselor and remember that no one can do the work for you. You must do your own work.
- Start each day with prayer and pray often throughout the day. This is spiritual warfare. There must be a daily recommitment to your original commitment.
- Have an action plan. Your counselor can help you with this. Set short term goals and long term goals. Develop strategies for reaching your goals. You need to decide what you will do as you move forward. Purposefully replace the old sinful ways with new righteous ways of living. Don't leave room for old habits to return. Walk by faith in obedience to God.
- Prayerfully determine to regain surrendered ground and hang on to it.
- Never relax your vigilance against old bad habits. Don't coast. Don't slide along on previous victories or be overwhelmed by defeats. Choose each day to hold the line regarding the decisions you have made.
- Let sin-confess-repent-RESIST become your new commitment.
A new year brings new hope. Each day is a blank page waiting to be filled with words and events. Choose to honor Jesus in all you say and do.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise … but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NASB)
Wishing you a blessed 2020,