For some reason, New Year’s Day has become a time for making resolutions. That is, making a decision to change something in our life for the better. So, this week many of us have started to do something we have been putting off, or are trying to stop doing what we wish we did not do. For a while, gyms will be busier and not as many cigarettes will be smoked and fewer calories will be consumed and many other good things. New Year’s resolutions are always good for us. Well, at least I never have heard of anyone resolving to start a bad habit. But I’ve seen that most resolutions are only for a while.
Why is doing what is good for us so hard and doing what’s bad come naturally? Jesus told us the answer. He taught us that, “The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.” The specific instance was the inability for the twelve, minus Judas, to stay awake and pray. Even though Jesus had just asked them to watch and pray, “Lest they fall into temptation”, they still fell asleep. [Mat. 26:36-45]. The bible often points out that the urges of the physical body, if followed, will lead us to failure.
How can we, as Christians, overcome our physical weaknesses and be the men and women God expects? The bible, obviously, is concerned with moral behavior, but if we can’t control ourselves in regard to sin, then how can we ever control our bodies in all things? In other words, if we don’t try to control sinful behavior should we expect to be successful at say maintaining a healthy diet. In more other words, if by putting the kingdom [spiritual things] first we have God’s guaranteed help in lesser matters, then we should first work on overcoming immoral activity so that God will aid us in everything. [Mat. 6:33]
Jesus said that out of the heart proceeds (thus precedes) our actions. We do as we think. So first, we must control and guard our thinking. We must be thinking about things above so that we will be able to bring every thought into captivity to obey Christ. We can’t allow fantasies, that will get us into trouble, to dwell in our thoughts. We need to actively try to think about things that are good. “Whatever things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things” [Phil. 4:8].
Next, after getting control of immoral behavior we have to start doing good things. There is an old saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” I think this is part of what James said. “Be doers of the Word and not only hearers.” Be a doer because doing eventually becomes habit. We have to be active in doing what is good throughout our lives. Action produces change and so good action produces good change. Our faith should have an impact in the world around us. Jesus spoke about this a lot. We are to be salt and light. Needed and good.
Don’t forget to pray! Through prayer we should ask God not to subject us to be put to the test/tempted, but to rescue us from evil, or the evil one. How often in my life could I have avoided problems if I had just asked? It is so simple to do, but we often forget.
I must resolve that whatever God does not want in my life, I must get rid of, and I must resolve that whatever God wants me to do, I must do. As it is written, “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people. It is training us to say “NO” to [renounce] irreligious and worldly desires and to live sensibly, justly and devoutly in this present age” [Titus 2:11,12].
I think that if we expect to overcome impulsive behavior, OCD’s and self-destructive habits we must first try to conquer sin. Many people will try and fail to control their behavior because they are without the strength and help that comes from God. But WE must remember “With God all things are possible.” AMEN