prayer

Overcome Habitual Sin: Practical Steps to Keeping the Heart

 

We will never experience a real, vibrant Christian walk if we struggle to overcome habitual sin. Sin binds and keeps us from becoming the men that God wants us to be.

Do you struggle to overcome habitual sin? Are you tired of the cycle of gaining control for a few days and then slipping right back into the same sin?

Then keep reading. God has given us help in His Word.

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

If we want to overcome habitual sin, which is an “issue of life”, then we need to learn to keep our heart. That’s what this verse tells us, right?

The word “keep” in this verse has the meaning of a military guard, a post. A constant guard, a watcher, to make sure that our heart is protected. If we want to overcome habitual sin, we need to set a watch, a guard on our heart.

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Heart

So what is the heart? When the Bible says to keep our heart, what is it specifically talking about? We need to know what the definition is so that we know what to guard.

The best way to interpret the Bible is to let the Bible interpret itself. So, what does the Bible tell us about the heart?

In Proverbs 23:7, Solomon again wrote, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he; Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

So the heart is our mind, our thoughts.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

So our heart is also our desires, our will. That part within that drives us toward what we strongly desire; normally evil.

Again, Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This indicates that our heart is also our emotions. The heart is the mind, will and emotions.

So, in Proverbs 4:23, when the Bible tells us to keep our heart, we now have a better understanding of what it means.

If we want to overcome habitual sin in our lives then, we need to keep (or guard) our mind (our thought life), our desires (our will) and our emotions.

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Mind

The mind is our central processing unit. It’s like our computer. Put garbage in and we get garbage out. It’s been said that we become what we think about most.

I need to ask myself, what do I think about most? If I’m always thinking about the sin that I want to overcome, then I’m actually pushing myself in the direction that I don’t want to go!

Many of the sins that men face involve some form of fantasy and that’s a direct result of our thought life.

So, how can we guard our mind? How do we keep that area of our heart that involves our thought life?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

This passage in Philippians tells us what we should be thinking on: those things that are true, pure and of good report. How do we do that?

Read and memorize the Bible!

We may have heard this before, but have we really tried? Have we been diligent to “keep” our mind and really flood it with thoughts designed to keep us from sin?

Read, memorize and meditate on God’s Word everyday, all day. It’s crucial in the fight to overcome habitual sin.

I wrote a short article about meditating on God’s Word that will help. Click here to read that post: How to Meditate on God’s Word.

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Desires

Our will, our desires, are closely related to pride and ego. I would argue that pride is the original sin against God. Most sin, if evaluated, starts with pride and our desire to please ourselves.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Isaiah 14:12-14

In these verses, we get a glimpse at the pride of Satan. We have that same pride within us. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

When I sin, I do so willfully. I am, essentially, shaking my fist at God and saying, “I will do this because I want to!” I am exercising my will, for my desires, above God’s will for me.

If we are to overcome habitual sin in our lives, we need to guard our desires. We need to submit our will to God and not exercise our own will toward our own desires, which will always lead us toward sin.

How can we overcome habitual sin in this area?

I recommend fasting and praying. The concept of fasting may be strange to some and it’s beyond the scope of this article, but it’s a practice of denying yourself something that you desire, usually food, and focusing on prayer and asking God for help.

Fasting also, I believe, shows God that we are serious about our request for help and that we are serious about overcoming our sin.

Not everyone should fast and give up food. Talk with a health professional about it and make sure it won’t be a problem first.

When I have fasted, I normally select a specific day and commit to not eat any food that day, I  just drink water. (No coffee either!)

Then, when I feel hunger pains during the day, I use it as a reminder of why I am fasting. I stop what I’m focused on and I pray and beg God to work in my life, or the life of another if I’m fasting and praying for someone else.

Fasting requires discipline. While fasting, we practice denying our fleshly desires in favor of greater, spiritual growth.

Fasting doesn’t always have to be food. You could make a commitment to shut off all the computer, TV and movie access and deny yourself that for a week or two.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Galatians 2:20 tells us that we need to consider ourselves crucified with Christ. We aren’t alive, meaning our desire and our will shouldn’t drive us. We need to be submitted to God’s will.

If we want to overcome habitual sin, we need to daily submit our will to God and seek His will for our life.

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Emotions

Our emotions include that area of our life where we feel we deserve to have our needs met. “I have a right to be happy in life, don’t I?” Or, “I don’t really get the fulfillment that I need from my marriage.”

We need to be honest and ask; is the sin that we want to overcome being used as some sort of replacement for meeting a perceived need?

We need to realize that the only way we can be content and have all of our needs met, is through our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the only one that fulfills. We should be seeking Him to meet all our needs.

We will never find lasting fulfillment in anything this world provides. And we definitely won’t find lasting fulfillment in our sin. What we get from sin is bondage, shame and guilt.

One of Satan’s strategies is to make us feel discontent with what we have. To make us feel like there’s something better out there. That’s what he did when he led Eve into sin.

Satan wants us to feel like we deserve the pleasures of our sin. That somehow, God is keeping us from the good stuff.

It’s all lies.

So how do we keep our heart in the area of our emotions, our needs?

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:11

The Apostle Paul had learned to draw his sense of being, his purpose, his fulfillment from his relationship with Jesus Christ and the mission that God had given him. He wasn’t trying to find fulfillment in anything else.

We need to learn to be content and realize the blessings that God has given us. He has, and will always, meet our needs.

 

The apostle Paul found contentment in serving God despite being jailed, shipwrecked, beaten and mistreated. We can too.

By the way, if you think you can’t overcome habitual sin in your life. Read Philippians 4:13 again and realize that maybe you can’t, but you can if you allow Christ to work through you!

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Effort

Back to Proverbs 4:23 where we continue to read, “Keep thy heart with all diligence…”

Diligence means work, men! There’s no way to get around it. If we want to overcome habitual sin, it’s going to take work.

We need to commit and be obsessed with gaining the victory. We need to exercise all diligence in this area.

If you had one million dollars in your house and you were unable to put that into a bank, how diligent would you be in protecting that cash?

My guess is that you would check several times a day to make sure it’s still there and protected. That the safe was locked. That the security system was online and working. I would be willing to bet that many of us would lose sleep thinking and worrying about losing the cash.

If we mean to overcome habitual sin in our life, God is telling us here in Proverbs 4:23 that we need to exercise all diligence to keep our heart. Protect your thoughts, your mind. Guard what you see and hear.

Be obsessed with filling your mind with God’s Word. Read, memorize and meditate every waking minute of the day, if possible! Hey, how serious are we about this?

Someone said that life is a struggle for territory. If you aren’t actively fighting for what you want, what you don’t want will automatically take over.

Degradation and propensity to sin is the norm in this life. We have to work hard to move things into the area of growth and prosperity.

Overcome Habitual Sin: Our Results

Proverbs 4:23 finishes with “…for out of it are the issues of life.”

The reason we struggle with habitual sin to begin with is because we allowed it into our life and now we reap what has been sown.

Out of the heart, the verse tells us, are the issues of life.

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Matthew 15:18-20

Jesus tells us in Matthew 15 that what proceeds out of the heart is what defiles a man.

If we are serious and really want to overcome habitual sin in our life, we need to keep our heart with all diligence. We need to work to guard our mind, our wills and our emotions and keep a constant, consistent focus on the things of God.

Because what is in our heart, is what shapes us and what drives us toward our habitual sin, or toward godly living.

Change the focus of the heart and change the direction of your life.

If this post has helped you, please share it with other men.

Also, I have a more in-depth ebook that I would like to give you. On my home page or in the right sidebar, you can enter your name and email and I’ll send you what I call, 7 Keys to Break Free From Habitual Sin.

 

Doug is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who enjoys computers and technical gadgets. He serves God in his local church in the audio/video ministry. He holds an Advanced Diploma of Biblical Studies from Faith Bible Institute. Doug and his wife, Emily, have been married since 1989 and have successfully raised three children. It is his desire to impact young Christian men.

“I believe that most men are not living up to the potential that God has for them and I want to help them to find their purpose, grow spiritually and impact other men for Christ.”

Posted by Doug Allison in Personal Development, Spiritual Growth, 2 comments
3 Characteristics of a Real Man: How Do You Measure Up?

3 Characteristics of a Real Man: How Do You Measure Up?

Here are just a few characteristics of a Real Man and some verses to help you.

You might consider memorizing some of these!

Characteristics of a Real Man: Humility

Pride destroys you and those around you. It brings down your family, your church and your work environment. God expects men to be humble. It’s when you are humble that God will exalt you.

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Prov 16:19)

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. (Prov 29:23)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matt 23:12)

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1 Pet 5:6)

Characteristics of a Real Man: Strength

Being a Real Man means having strength that goes beyond just physical strength. There are men that have physical strength, but no depth of character. God calls Real Men to have strength that is based on dependence upon God.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deut 31:6)

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Josh 1:9)

I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; (1 Kings 2:2)

And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. (1 Chron 28:20)

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (2 Chron 15:7)

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (1 For 16:13)

Note: “quit you like men” in the older English would be the equivalent today of “be a man”. The greek word is andrizomai, which translates to “be men”.

Characteristics of a Real Man: Prayer

A Real Man is a man that spends time in prayer, humbly before God. It is when a man is humble and in prayer that he is Strong.

Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: (1 Kings 8:28 – King Solomon dedicating the temple of God.)

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. (1 Chron 16:11)

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. (Pslam 55:17)

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matt 5:44)

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt 26:41)

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

Characteristics of a Real Man: Conclusion

Solomon was the wisest man that lived. Yet in all of his wisdom, he sought out things in life that never satisfied. You can read about this searching of his in the book of Ecclesiastes.

After looking everywhere and seeking everything, Solomon posts his conclusion.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Etc 12:13)

Fear God: Hold the proper respect of God which requires humility.

Keep His commandments for it’s here that we find our strength.

The world doesn’t understand what makes a Real Man. It will tell you that a man must be proud, self-reliant and dependent upon no one.

Not so. A Real Man is humble. A Real Man is dependent upon God. A Real Man is a man of prayer.

 

[Please like and share with others. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts.]

 

Doug is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who enjoys computers and technical gadgets. He serves God in his local church in the audio/video ministry. He holds an Advanced Diploma of Biblical Studies from Faith Bible Institute. Doug and his wife, Emily, have been married since 1989 and have successfully raised three children. It is his desire to impact young Christian men.

“I believe that most men are not living up to the potential that God has for them and I want to help them to find their purpose, grow spiritually and impact other men for Christ.”

Posted by Doug Allison in Personal Development, 0 comments
Marriage Tips: Lessons Learned After 28 Years of Marriage

Marriage Tips: Lessons Learned After 28 Years of Marriage

I would say that my wife, Emily, and I have built a successful marriage.

We just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in May (2017 as I write this). We have raised three children who are all doing well in life. And we are enjoying grandchildren now, too!

We really don’t fight or have too many misunderstandings anymore. Our love grows with each additional anniversary celebrated.

Does that mean that we’ve had no problems? No fights? No misunderstandings?

Absolutely not!

But I think, after 28 years, I’ve learned a few things that I can pass on.

I’d like to give a few marriage tips to some of you younger, married men. And, if you’re not married yet, take notes for the future.

Here are few key marriage tips that I would like to pass on to you. Just a few of the many things that I’ve learned.

1) A woman’s greatest need is love.

1989: Wedding Day

A man’s greatest need is respect. A woman’s greatest need is love.

That’s why we read in Ephesians 5:33, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Men are selfish by nature and we need to learn to push that aside, humble ourselves and learn to love our wives. Ask God to help you to love your wife as He wants you to. It’s a much higher, sacrificial love than we’re capable of alone.

A great book to help with this is The 5 Love Languages. From this book, I learned that not all people feel or show love in the same way. Learn what makes your wife feel loved and focus on that “language”.

Loving your wife also means keeping your focus on her alone, not someone else. Satan will try to make you feel dissatisfied with your wife. Send him packing and get back to loving your wife!

2) Learn to say, “I’m sorry!”

I can’t tell you how many times in 28 years that I have apologized to my wife for things I’ve said, done or not said or not done!

1996: In the US Air Force

Again, this takes humility. Put your ego aside and let your wife know that your marriage relationship–she–is more important than your pride.

I know. I can sense the next question or statement… “Yeah, but I was right! I’m not going to apologize for something that I didn’t do!”

Be careful! “Only by pride cometh contention…” (Prov 13:10)

That’s the attitude of a worldly man, not a real man. And men that I have known with that attitude have not built successful marriages. In fact, those that I’ve met are either miserably married, or divorced.

Jesus did absolutely nothing wrong. He was sinless. Yet, while on the cross he asked the Father to, “forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Wow! What a standard of humility to work into our lives!

3) Don’t stop dating.

Even after my wife and I had children, we still dated. There is something called a babysitter! Hire one and take your wife out. Just you two, no kids.

Remember, you’ll be married much longer than you’ll have kids in the house. Work on building that strong marriage relationship with your wife. Otherwise, after the kids all leave, you’ll be wondering what happened and why you don’t know each other!

Six years ago, the last of our kids left the house for college. My wife and I both have our own jobs, but we still have our date nights.

Get out and enjoy life together. Talk about deep things that are meaningful, not just surface “how was your day” stuff.

4) Attend Church & Pray Together

2008: Growing a Beard!

This might be the biggest of all the marriage tips that I can give.

Serving together in church, I believe, is a huge reason that my wife and I have a strong and happy marriage.

This assumes, of course, that you’re attending church. If not, get into church. I know there are people out there that don’t think church is important. They’re wrong. Read Hebrews 10:25.

I believe that God blesses individuals who are faithful to a strong, bible-believing, bible-preaching church. He blesses the married couple who serves and attends church together as well.

If the pastor of your church preaches the whole counsel of God, you can believe that you’ll get plenty of marriage counseling right from the pulpit!

Get the counseling from God’s word through preaching and put it into practice. You’ll be amazed how God can work on you and your wife to build a stronger marriage.

Praying together will knit your hearts together like nothing else. When of you are in agreement and praying for your family and each other, it builds a marriage more than anything else you can do.

Final Thoughts

I have many more marriage tips, but I’ll have to give those out in another post some time later.

These may just be a few, but I know that they will help you.

Trust me, I’ve done a lot of things wrong over the last 28 years and I’m thankful to a wife who has been forgiving and allowed me to grow. (Something that I think she learned from attending church and listening to God’s word being preached.)

I hope you get some wisdom from what I’ve shared here and use it to help you.

Please comment below and let me know what your biggest take away is!

Then share this with other men that you know so we can help other marriages grow stronger. Use the social media buttons!

 

Doug is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who enjoys computers and technical gadgets. He serves God in his local church in the audio/video ministry. He holds an Advanced Diploma of Biblical Studies from Faith Bible Institute. Doug and his wife, Emily, have been married since 1989 and have successfully raised three children. It is his desire to impact young Christian men.

“I believe that most men are not living up to the potential that God has for them and I want to help them to find their purpose, grow spiritually and impact other men for Christ.”

Posted by Doug Allison in Marriage, 4 comments