Flowing Faith

How to Let Go of Bad Habits

| 13 Comments

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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  • Susan

    oh how i needed to read this very morning, blessings to you

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing, Susan. May God bless you and keep you in his grace!

  • ML Bucher

    In City of God, St.Augustine said that the only difference between the pagan and the Christian, for they both faced the same challenges – the only difference was how they handled it. The Christian brings God into it – and like you said, that is the only way we can break those bad habits -is through the Father! What a wonderful post to give myself a reality check! Thanks for sharing it!http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/ordinary-dreams-of-an-everyman/

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      Yes! That’s it! The Christian brings God into it and that makes a phenomenal difference. Through the Father we are able to overcome. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Blessings to you and yours!

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    Your post reminds me of something I heard once. A man spoke at our church and said that the same talents/passions satan used, God now used. But he had to make the choice to let them be used by God instead of satan.

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      That reminds me of Romans 12:1-2 (MSG): “So here’s what I want you to do,
      God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping,
      eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God
      as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you
      can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you
      fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.
      You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants
      from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you,
      always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best
      out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

      Thank you, TC, for commenting. I appreciate you! Abundant blessings!

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

        Good passage of scripture! Thanks for sharing.
        God bless.

  • neritia

    So incredibly happy to have stumbled upon this post!
    A timely reminder that without letting God into my mess – I cannot expect true change!

    Whenever I have invited God into my ugly, He’s always helped me…I’m not saying it was easy, but at least it wasn’t lonely!! `

    Great post! xoxo

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      Wonderful! But, yeah, it’s not easy and there are set backs along the way but by God’s grace change is possible! Thank you for sharing, Neritia! God bless you on your journey!

  • Hazel Moon

    I enjoyed your post and your ending prayer was powerful! I confessed that I have already broken my New Years Resolution, so I will remake it and with God’s help fulfil what I resolved to do.

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      Being unsuccessful can be a blessing. That way we experience our deep need for Jesus. Only by God’s grace we can. But his grace is indeed powerful! Thank you, Hazel, for sharing your struggles. That’s part of Christian living. Abundant blessings!

  • Joanne Norton

    Good explanation, as usual. Haven’t “seen” you for so long, b/c I get confused about how/where to enter the blog posts. But always think of you and know you are a very good “sharer” of the truth of the Lord. And the history of Augustine is always interesting and filled with the knowledge of how the Lord can break through the bad habits that many/most of us have at some point. AND, as I recall, one of the main changes was brought by his mother who was following him around and about and praying. That is an encouragement for those, such as me, who have our kids who, knowing the Lord or knowing OF the Lord, are walking in the wrong directions. Trusting HIM is what counts. Augustine was truly important. And his bad habits fell aside when his good habit of loving and serving the Lord took over.

    Again, thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.flowingfaith.com Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

      SO good to “see” you, Joanne! I’ve missed you. How are you doing?
      Thank you for you kind words. I so appreciate you.
      We truly need to be reminded of saints gone before us. How they struggled, how they messed up and were brought to God anyway. And how powerful prayer is because the Holy Spirit prays with us.
      I pray for you and yours. God is faithful. Blessings upon blessings!

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