The month of September in our church is dedicated to holiness.
…because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy”, 1 Peter 1:16
Let’s be frank in answering the question: “Do I always fulfil this commandment?”
If not always, then why, what hinders me from it?
Today I would like to talk with you about how we can fix this shortcoming, overcome our weaknesses
and develop Christ’s character in ourselves.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ”
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.“
Mostly it is our habits that define the patterns of our behavior. Often we have the wrong understanding of positive and negative habits. Bad habits are not only conspicuous sins, but also, as they may seem at first, harmless things. For example, idleness, desire to luxuriate in bed, incapability to live according to a schedule, empty and idle phone conversations. It is unacceptable for a Christian to envy others, mock at people, treat others with sarcasm, gossip, avoid taking responsibly, live a purposeless life, or waste time in front of a TV or with friends, who do not build you up. We must praise God in everything we do. A good habit, for example, is to have a monthly prayer retreat in solitude; in addition to that, to have a stable relationship with God through regular prayers and reading of the Scripture. It is also very important to read books related to your calling; educate yourself on different spheres of life, spend time with people who motivate and inspire you to achieve high goals. It is important to strive to please God in everything; read biographies of great people, systematically read useful literature, books, and magazines. It is highly important to take care of your nutrition and health.
All habits, both positive and negative, develop through 5 sense organs: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Through these senses we get certain thoughts, thoughts create emotions, emotions in their turn produce certain actions. Regularly repeated actions become habits.
We are a product of our thinking, which defines corresponding actions. Therefore it is very
important to place your thoughts under your control!
Beware of your thoughts – they become feelings.
Beware of your feelings – they become actions.
Beware of your actions – they become habits.
Beware of your habits – they form your character.
Beware of your character – for it will define your destiny.
5 sense organs -> thoughts -> feelings -> emotions -> actions -> habits -> character
As we can see, there is a certain order and if we keep to it, we can develop the necessary habits. Habits define our behavior and form our character. One can say that we are products of our habits. Popular wisdom says: if you sow a habit, you will reap a character, if you sow a character – you will reap a destiny. Everything that we do regularly defines our nature. If we are bearers of God we will value people and treat them nicely, meet their needs, support them by what we say and do. But if you allow yourself to be irritated, offended, to cheat, then you live by the flesh and have a sinful nature. And “they who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). We start doing what we think about and our reactions to words or situations will correspond with what we meditate on.
So how do we get rid of bad habits and form good ones? How do we overcome our weaknesses? Dear friends, it is important to understand that habits and weaknesses will not disappear on their own. Sometimes God helps us in a supernatural way to free us from an addiction after we have accepted Him into our hearts. But this time of God’s grace lasts for only up to one year; i.e. after that period comes the time to work on your own and beware of what you listen to, smell, and taste. This will define the thoughts you produce. If someone watches pornographic films, pictures, they will be filled with lustful thoughts; if someone makes friends with people who love sin, they will be infected with the sin and will not even notice how they will move into enmity with God. As it is said in Proverbs 23:7, ”for as he thinks in his heart, so is he”. Thoughts produce feelings, feelings – actions, actions produce habits, and habits produce character.
In order to form good habits one needs to take the following steps.
1. Choose the good thing that you are going to focus and base your life on.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.
You need to surround yourself with good, virtuous examples, positive things, or information. At the same time, you need to minimize, or exclude completely, the things that stir up weaknesses, and further development of bad habits.
2. Define the good habits you want to develop in yourself. For example, a habit to read, do good deeds, be grateful, smile more often, practice more prayer and solitude with God.
3. Start repeating the good actions you have defined for yourself. You can even carry them out according to a schedule. For example, if I want to develop kindness in my character, then I will do something nice every day to people around me, show mercy and compassion. For instance, on Monday I will visit my elderly neighbor, on Tuesday – an orphan, etc. If I want to raise my spiritual level, I will take three days a month to have solitude with God, read the Bible every day, pray systematically. For example, recently I conducted an experiment with food and sweets: I was developing a habit not to eat after 6 pm. To make the task easier I first took a 3 week fast. It made the transition to the new regime smoother.
In order to form a habit, you need to repeat a certain action for at least 21 days or even up to 2-3 months. After we have been repeating certain actions for at least 21 days, it becomes easier and easier to do them. They become a part of our everyday life. This method has been scientifically proven, and also confirmed by the practical results of many people.
4. After our actions become a system, they start bringing us satisfaction: this is like going 80% of the way. For example, I used to dislike salads, but after I included them in my diet, they became tasty to me, and I got used to them. As you can see, consistency brings forth the desire for a good habit.
5. When you automatically and with pleasure do what you have decided to develop in yourself, it becomes a habit.
Here are some simple rules for forming good habits.
1) Exclude, minimize things that influence me in a bad way;
2) Change my thoughts, control what I think about. If my thoughts are positive, then my feelings will be healthy; if my feelings are healthy, then my actions will be likewise. And when my actions are positive, then they will become comfortable, easy and desirable for me. This way I can develop healthy habits and my life will be filled with harmony. Remember that it is easier to overcome bad habits today than tomorrow. And it is never too late to become the person that you want to be.
You need to decide what good values you want to build your character upon, and then focus on them. Then meditate on those values, imagine the desirable result. After that your feelings, perception and actions will change, and a habit will be developed. As a result, your character will be different. And a person’s character is their nature. What your character is, that is what your behavior is. I would recommend that you study the program on personal development by Benjamin Franklin, who achieved great results by using it.
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you to think on how you want to change, who you want to be, and then work on yourself and your holiness. Let happiness, righteousness and an active stance become your normal behavior. Let us change the world by perfecting ourselves and bring God’s values to people around us!
For a more thorough study of this topic we recommend you read the following books:
“The Great Power of Holiness”, “Value and Importance of Character”, “Victory over Temptations, Lust, and Sin”, “Art of Self-Management”, “Vices – Destroyers of Soul”, “How to hold Your Focus”, “Enemy to Yourself” (by Pastor Sunday Adelaja); self-perfection and self-management system by Benjamin Franklin
May the Lord bless you and your family!
With love and prayers for you,
Senior Pastor of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations Church
Translated by Ekaterina Popova
Edited by Kizito Leacock