How to Let Go of Bad Habits

How to Let Go of Bad Habits

Conversion of Augustine of Hippo. How to leave bad habits behind.
Do you know how to let go of bad habits? From my own experience I know that self-help does not work, right? So what to do? Are we doomed?

I was contemplating it and Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) came into my mind. He was famous for his bad habits before his radical conversion. According to Augustine his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him in a sing-song voice, “Take up and read”. Hence he went and picked up the book of Apostle he had been reading and read the first passage on which his eyes lit:

Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14, ESV)

Augustine wrote in his Confessions about the experience this way “I neither wished nor needed to read further. At once, with the last words of this sentence, it was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All the shadows of doubt were dispelled.”

Augustine turned around his life, left his bad habits behind and devoted himself entirely to serving God. How did he do that? Only by putting on Christ. What does that mean?

The same way than you put on some clothes in the morning you need to put on Christ each day. Don’t rush through the door without wearing Christ. The only way we can live righteously is to be IN Christ. On our own we are doomed.

Self-control does not work, we need Christ. Sometimes we want to be bad and we don’t even want any help. Only if we do put on Christ and let the Holy Spirit rule in our hearts, we can leave bad habits behind. Because we can open our hearts for God’s alternative ways to handle our wants and needs. So next time when you are tempted, pray that God will show you a way to handle the situation and give you strength to choose the alternative route. Try it! You will be positively surprised!

One more thing. Don’t write passion and desire off. They, too, are God’s gifts. Just bring them to God and let him redirect them. That’s what Augustine did, too. He put his passion into work with the Lord. He reattached his desires to objects worthy of his heart’s desire. That’s what we are called to do, too. We are called to dump our bad habits at the foot of the cross and pick up some new worthy habits and goals. When we wear Christ, we are empowered to move on with our lives. Thanks be to God!

 

Gracious God,
We are helpless to help ourselves.
We are clueless when it comes to bad habits.
You are our only hope!
We want to put on Christ!
Help us!
Redirect our desires.
Give us some worthy goals.
Empower us to leave the bad habits behind.
Fill us with your grace and peace.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How has God helped you to leave some bad habits behind?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you put on Christ and walk in victory!

Image “Conversion of Augustine of Hippo (Tolle Lege). St Augustine Reading the Epistle of St Paul” courtesy of Benozzo Gozzoli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Linking up today with Heart & Home, Unite the Bloggersphere, Habits Blog Carnival and

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