What does the Bible say about breaking a bad habit? What Scriptural strategies are there for stopping unwanted behavior?
Here are 5 biblical tips to help you break a bad habit.
Admit That It Is a Bad Habit and That You Actually Need to Stop
There’s a difference between a sin and a bad habit. Sometimes they can be the same thing but not always. However, I believe the approach to stopping sin or a bad habit starts in the same way. You have to first admit this is bad and it needs to stop. Proverbs 28:13 states, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
One of the main reasons sins and bad habits persist in our lives is because we justify them in our minds, “Oh it’s okay to lust as long as I think of my future spouse.” “Oh it’s okay to watch 5 hours of YouTube videos every day as long as I don’t watch porn.” “Oh it’s okay to eat junk food as long as I thank God for the food he provides.”
You have to fully admit there is nothing positive to this bad habit if you want to stop. If you feel like you can justify this behavior, your sin nature will take that opportunity and keep you stuck.
Clearly Define the Negative Reasons You Need to Break This Bad Habit
One of the ways the Bible motivates Christians to stop sins and bad habits is by clearly defining the negative consequences, punishments, and disciplines that will occur if this behavior continues. As Galatians 6:7-8 states:
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
If you want to break a bad habit, list all the negative things that this bad habit is causing in your life and imagine what life would be like without these bad things in your life.
Clearly Define the Positive Reasons You Need to Break This Bad Habit
Notice that in Galatians 6:8, we are told that we reap what we sow in both negative and positive ways. So just as you must clearly define the negative reasons you should stop this bad habit, you must also fully define the positive reasons you should stop this behavior too.
Many people forget about the immense promises of rewards and blessings for those who obey God. God made us to be motivated by godly blessings, for as Jesus said when he was teaching us to reject sinful motives in Matthew 6:1-18, “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
You will only really overcome this bad habit when you know you will actually experience more personal satisfaction by letting this negative behavior go. Don’t try to just muscle through this with will power. Let the blessings of God motivate you to forsake sin and choose life.
List the People You Are Hurting By Doing This Bad Habit
The Bible not only warns us about the damage we do to ourselves through bad habits and sins. The Bible also warns us of how our good and bad choices negatively and positively affect the people around us too.
If you have a sinful sexual habit, this is impacting your future spouse. If you have a lazy habit, this is going to affect you when you are needing to provide for your children one day. If you have a bad habit of complaining, your negative words are pulling down the people around you rather than lifting them up. If you have a phone addiction, your family and friends are impacted by your absence.
Prayerfully Make a Spiritual and Practical Plan on How You Will Break This Bad Habit
There are many more biblical steps you can take when you are trying to break a bad habit. Essentially, however, they all fall into one of two categories: spiritual solutions and practical solutions. For example, in James 5:14 we are told to pray for healing but in 1 Timothy 5:23 we also see an example of using a natural remedy to help a physical ailment.
When you really study the Bible, it is clear that God expects Christians to use both spiritual and practical solutions. We must start with the spiritual and remember how desperately we need the Holy Spirit to fill us. We have to start with our hearts and our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But then we also need to come up with a practical solution too through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So if you want to break a bad habit, prayerfully make a spiritual and practical plan on how you will leave this negative behavior behind and replace it with more God-honoring behavior.