By Dr. David Jeremiah, Crosswalk.com
Have you fallen into bad spiritual habits?
God has equipped His children with everything they need to live victoriously, but many Christians miss out by falling into habits that disconnect them from God’s power, perspective, and presence.
The first step to overcoming any obstacle is to identify it. Give yourself a check-up and prepare to transform your spiritual walk by recognizing three common enemies of spiritual growth.
Habit #1: Laziness in Doing the Right Thing
When we fall into the habit of laziness, we can fail to do what’s right. Which is actually just as bad as doing what’s wrong.
Jesus told a story about a wealthy businessman who entrusted three employees with managing vast sums of money while he was away. The amount of money assigned to each employee was determined by his capabilities. One man received roughly $2.5 million; another man received about $1 million, and another man received approximately $500,000. When the boss returned from his trip, he settled accounts with each employee.
Two of the employees doubled their money, and each received the same praise from the boss, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23)
The third employee neither gained nor lost money. He didn’t take any money for himself, and he gave an honest accounting when his employer returned. This man buried the money and dug it up when his employer returned. The boss was not impressed. He called the employee “wicked and lazy” and turned the money over to one of his other employees (Matthew 25:26-28).
It might be tempting to focus on the different amounts given to the different employees, but that is not the point of this parable. Even the unprofitable employee was entrusted with an awful lot of money while his boss was gone. The employer’s only concern was how well each person managed what he had been given.
His two “good and faithful” employees received substantially different amounts of money, yet he commended them equally for their gains. Meanwhile, his “wicked and lazy” assessment of the third employee was based on a lack of effort—the employee didn’t even deposit his money in a bank to earn interest.
This story illustrates our responsibility to take care of the Lord’s business he has entrusted to us in varying amounts. One day, He will return and conduct an accounting of every resource He has given us—our wealth, our spiritual gifts, our reputation, our abilities, our health, our time, our learning. Every resource we possess belongs to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20).
As in Jesus’ story, it doesn’t matter how many resources we receive; what matters is how faithful we are with what we’ve been given.
Habit #2: Sticking with Your Same Old Ways
This “habit of habits” is a lack of response to Christ’s forgiveness by refusing to give up your old ways.
In John 8:2-12, a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus by a group of religious leaders who were trying to trap Him. They tried to create a no-win situation that would either put Jesus at odds with the laws of Rome or the Law of God. As the men pressed Him to judge the woman, Jesus stated that whoever was “without sin” should be the first one to condemn her. Realizing their trap had failed, the men left one by one.
When the religious leaders had left, Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.”
Now there’s a detail here we need to understand. Earlier in the story, the men had called Jesus “Teacher,” but this woman called Him “Lord.” That might not seem important, but 1 Corinthians 12:3 says that no one can call Jesus Lord, “except by the Holy Spirit.”
So before this conversation, something had to have happened in the woman’s heart that caused her to understand to Whom she was speaking. That change of heart prompted Jesus’ response, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Please do not miss the importance of this lesson: Jesus did not tolerate her sin; He forgave her because she was repentant.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 we learn, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Only God can evaluate repentance. He examines our heart and gauges our sincerity before our actions have time to catch up with our words.
Once we accept His forgiveness, it becomes our job to go and live a life that honors the One who has given us so much.
Repentance is not a one-time activity. Temptation exists all around us, so we must make a habit of searching our heart for sin and turning from it. First John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Take it to the Lord. Once you’ve been washed clean by Jesus, replace your sinful habits with virtuous habits.
Habit #3: ‘Acting’ Like a Christian
This habit of ignorance, or simply ‘acting’ like a Christian is not enough. We live in a world where outward conformity to religion is sometimes substituted for the genuine work of the Holy Spirit.
It is possible to look like a Christian, to act like a Christian, to talk like a Christian, to sing like a Christian, and not to be a Christian. Some people spend a lot of time surrounded by Christians without knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The requirements of the Christian life are simple to understand but hard to live out.
Studying the Bible is one of the best ways to know what is expected of us as Christians. Jesus gave us a starting point when He said the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). From there, it becomes our job to plumb the depths of every book, every chapter, and every verse of Scripture. Then armed with that knowledge, we must examine our heart and test our devotion.
Another key to walking with God is the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (NLT).
One test of genuine faith is what I call the automatic sin alarm system. Do you have one of those? It’s also known as a conscience, and it is powered by the Holy Spirit.
If the Spirit is in your heart, He is going to make it very difficult for you to be comfortable with anything that violates God’s Law.
How to Conquer these Habits and Walk with God:
Do not settle for ignorance. Study your Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit as you commit your entire being to knowing the will of God.
Loving God involves a lifestyle of obedience. God expects His vineyard—His Church—to be an accepting, prayerful, forgiving, devoted, loving fellowship that’s built around Jesus Christ. When it becomes something else, we’re in danger of the same judgment as the vinedressers.
There is a song that describes “The Wonderful Cross” on which Christ died. It says, “Love so amazing, so divine / Demands my soul, my life, my all.”1
Jesus gave His life for you, but does He have your all? What are you holding back from Him?
Accept His amazing gift today and serve Him with everything you’ve got.
This article is taken from David Jeremiah’s blog post 8 Habits that Are Destroying Your Walk with God.You can read the full article here.
1Chris Tomlin, “The Wonderful Cross,” The Noise We Make, Sparrow Records, 2001, CD.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/IvanBastien
Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than fifty books.