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So, friend, have you stopped (insert bad habit here) yet? January 5, 2010

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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It’s an old joke I’m sure has been around a long time. Ask someone you know, out loud, in the presence of other friends, the following: So, (insert friend’s name here), have you stopped (insert bad habit here) yet? One old standby is, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Others would be, “Have you stopped visiting those porn sites yet?” or “have you left that ‘other woman’ yet?” or “did you return that stolen property yet?” etc. It’s funny but sad.

It’s funny because the person you ask sputters, “But I haven’t started… but I don’t…” It’s funny because they have to deny something bad you’ve accused them of doing, guessing in reality that they don’t do that. It’s sad because everyone has bad habits they should drop like a hot rock. Some people would have to confess one of the above, and some to something as bad as the above. We grade sin. We think, well at least I just told a lie, it’s not like I killed someone. At least I just looked at the other woman, it’s not like I committed adultery. Humans judge sin on a sliding scale, but God doesn’t. God’s standard is perfection, holiness, which means if you’ve broken one command it’s the same as breaking them all (James 2:10). All sin makes us fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

In the New Year, as in new years past, people swear off bad habits and promise themselves they’ll lose weight, quit biting their nails, get in shape, finish projects, meet goals, and so on. I think most people do this, and a few actually realize their goals.

I tried resolving to quit a bad habit in the new year and by January 2, I was back in my old way. How do you quit something you’ve habituated? James wrote, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7),” but his brother Jesus said, (Matthew 12:) 43″When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

I am not saying that a demon can possess a Christ-follower, but I am saying that the evil you have gotten comfortable with can make you uncomfortable if you try to get rid of it. Like a camel by a tent, if you allow the nose to remain, the rest will follow.

Thankfully, Proverbs 24:16 says “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” This is to say that falling is bad, but the righteous man gets up to try again. Here’s to getting up again, finding success shoving the stupid camel nose out of the tent. Happy New Year. Keep trying. Keep praying. Never give up!

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