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The Habits of Holiness
Scripture: Romans 6:19; 1 Timothy 4:7; Joshua 1:8; ...
Track 8 of in the series
Running time: 57 minutes, 52 seconds.
Life would be so much different if we didnt sin as much. Our lives would be changed and our ministries would be more powerful because of our habit not to sin. Personally, this is a concept that is difficult for me to fully grasp, however, as we grow everyday in Christ, this should be something every Christian should experience.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Habits of Holiness

In our last lesson we dealt with the topic of holiness in our bodies. Taking control of our bodies and our appetites is true holiness. But keeping our natural appetites and desires under control is a difficult task and requires discipline. Even though we now live in the Kingdom of God, our physical bodies are vessels of the present age and naturally crave the desires and wants of the present age that is evil and controlled by Satan. We are in a war with ourselves as we pursue a holy life for God.

Knowing God’s Word helps us to fight the desires that are harmful to us. God talks to our heart and changes our wants through His Word. The Holy Spirit helps us to remember what God wants and builds a desire within us to be like Him. Knowing God’s Word is crucial and developing a disciplined life in studying God’s Word is also crucial. Because without knowing God’s Word, it will be impossible to do the things God wants.

We are going to study today how to make holiness a habit. For most Christians, holiness seems to be an impossible situation, sin has control. But wouldn’t it be great if we could get to a point in our lives where sin is diminishing everyday and the habit of sinning is replaced by the habit of holiness?

Think for a moment what your life would be like if by habit, you lived a life of holiness and not a life of sin. How would your daily life be changed? What do you think it would be like?

Can someone give me the definition for slavery? When we think of slavery, what comes to mind? In our spiritual lives, what does slavery represent?

Romans 6:19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

This morning we will deal with the fact that we can be slaves to righteousness. Developing a habit to be holy is something the Christian doesn’t think much about nor do we hear much said about it in church. Why do you think this is true? But it is something that God wants us to have in our lives. Life would be so much different if we didn’t sin as much. Our lives would be changed and our ministries would be more powerful because of our habit not to sin. Personally, this is a concept that is difficult for me to fully grasp, however, as we grow everyday in Christ, this should be something every Christian should experience.

True or False: The more we sin, the more we are inclined to sin.

Every sin we commit reinforces the habit of sinning and makes it easier to sin. We have talked about guarding our minds and our emotions, since these are the channels through which the various compelling forces reach our wills. We must realize this fact and guard ourselves from those forces. And we have to do the same with our kids. There are forces out there that are very powerful lurking for the hearts of our kids.

What are the ways evil is now looking to capture the hearts and minds of our children and us?

What can we do to protect ourselves from these influences? How do we stop the influences that attack our kids when they are not in our presence such as school?

Someone describe for me what a habit is? Prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings. Habits are the thought and emotions patterns engraved in our minds.

These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences on our actions – in fact, perhaps more so. Every lust is a depraved habit or disposition continually inclining our hearts to do evil.

Look back at Romans 6:19, Paul wrote that when we were unbelievers, we gave ourselves to developing habits of unholiness. He called it “ever-increasing wickedness”. Every time we sinned, every time we lusted, coveted, hated, cheated, or lied – we were developing habits of ever-increasing wickedness. These repeated acts of unrighteousness became habits that made us, in fact, slaves to sin. We find ourselves unable to break the grip sin has on us.

But Paul tells us a neat fact that can be real in each of our lives, He also says in Romans 6:19 that we are to give ourselves over to developing habits of holiness. He makes it sound as though it is something we can do similar to what we did before we were Christians, giving ourselves over to sin. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? Paul tells us to put off our old selves of sinful habits and put on the new self with its character and habits of holiness.

Paul makes this sound as though we are changing our clothes. We do it every day and we often times do it without thinking about it. Changing our clothes is like a habit. We can probably do it in the dark and we can do it blind folded. But how do we do this when we are dealing with our sinful habits? Is it that easy?

We have studied this before and the answer is always the same. To change a habit requires hard work and a changing of the mind and will. Habits can be hard to break, but they can be broken if you want to stop doing something bad enough. It doesn’t just happen. You have to do something to combat the habit.

1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

As we studied in past lessons, we are to train ourselves in godliness. To do this requires a structured disciplined lifestyle. We are to put off our sinful habits, put to death our sinful deeds. Breaking sinful habits must be done in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and dependence on Him. We just can’t do it by our own determination or our own human resolve. Our sinful nature is too strong and Satan knows how to use it against us. But there are practical principles we can follow to train ourselves in godliness. If we follow these, a different lifestyle is guaranteed and the Holy Spirit can use it to help us be successful in our growth in holiness:

The First Principle: Habits are developed and reinforced by frequent repetition.

Can someone tell me the definition of “habit”? “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition. This is the principle underlying the fact that the more we sin the more we are inclined to sin. But the converse is true also. The more we say no to sin, the more we are inclined to say no.

What are some of the things you do to help yourself when trying to say no to your desires when they wants to do something you don’t want to do? How do you say no?

In dependence on the Holy Spirit, we must systematically work at acquiring the habit of saying no to the sins that so easily entangle us. We all know what these sins are in our lives. These are the sins we are really good at. These are the ones that we can do so easily without having to think about doing them. They just happen. But we need to acquire the habit of saying no and with the help of God; He can strengthen you through the Holy Spirit to follow through with your desire.

One helpful way in developing positive habits is to develop the habit of thinking thoughts that are pure, true and good. What goes through your mind in a day? Percentage wise, how much of it is positive and how much of it is negative and unholy? The best way to combat this is scripture memory, prayer and meditation. When an evil thought comes to your mind, start working on your scripture memory or just start praying a praise song to God and get away from focusing on yourself. It is hard to think evil when praising God. But these will only become habits with frequent repetition.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV) Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

The Second Principle: Never let an exception occur. When we allow exception we are reinforcing old habits, or worse, failing to reinforce the new one.

How many of you have had bouts of “just this one time” syndrome? What is dangerous about this type of thinking? It is a trap put out there by our own thinking. Our old self is looking for the escape. It tries to convince us that one more sin is okay knowing that one more sin reinforces the habit. It is impossible to quit smoking when the smoker continues to have that one last cigarette every night before going to bed.

True or False: I am willing to pay the price of saying no to my desires.

We can’t fall for the trap and lie that one more sin today, and tomorrow will be different. Deep inside we know that tomorrow will be even more difficult to say no, but we don’t want to dwell on this fact.

The Third Principle: Diligence in all areas is required to insure success in one area. The Christian must develop a sincere and diligent effort in all areas of obedience. If he doesn’t, it will be impossible to be successful in getting rid of the one difficult sin from his life. Giving in to one particular sin weakens our wills in every other aspect of our lives. If one is willing to say yes to this sin, it is just as easy to yes to that sin.

True or False: Small sins are sometimes necessary…White lies.

Satan knew this when he tempted Adam and Eve. All he needed was to get the snowball rolling. Instead of getting Adams and Eve to disobey on the big things, he started them on the smaller thing. Once he got them to agree on one area of disobedience, it would not be hard to keep them sinning in other areas.

Satan might not be able to get us to murder someone or to steal from our neighbor, but he can work on us to sin in other areas that seem harmless. What would some harmless sin be that seems small to us but can continue our habit of sinful living?

The Huge Black Bear
Suppose that on a solo outing you set up camp. Exploring the surrounding area, you stumble onto a deep pit. At the bottom, lying half dead, is a huge black bear, too weak to even lift his head. His sad look says, "Please, get me something to drink." Feeling sorry, you run to your campsite and get a bucket of water and a rope. You gently lower the bucket where the bear can drink from it. The next morning, checking on your wild friend, you find him standing but still very weak. So you run back to the campsite, fetch some food and lower it to him. That night you hear noises outside your tent. The next morning you discover that all your food has been eaten. You immediately check on the pit and find it empty. That night, under cover of darkness, the bear you fed comes back—and devours you. What is the moral? The only way to control our appetite to sin, is to starve it to death. Each time we feed it with sinful thoughts we strengthen it, making it that much more difficult to resist the next time.

Genesis 4:7 (NIV) If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

The Fourth Principle: Don’t be discouraged by failure.

True or False: Failing means you are a failure.

What is the difference between failing and being a failure? We become a failure when we give up - when we stop trying. But as long as we are working on those sinful habits, regardless how many times we fail; we have not become a failure, and can expect to see progress. This is the key, what God wants to see is progress.

How many of you when you get a new toy for the kids or a new toy for yourself, try to get to get it to work on your own first? And when it doesn’t work or the parts don’t go together correctly, what is your next step? We read the instructions.

Why is it we don’t read the instructions first when it comes to our spiritual lives?