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Good Habits and Bad Habits
People say that a habit is second nature. Everyone has their own nature. However, it is their habits that have a huge effect on them.
We all have good and bad habits. Good habits are helpful for our life of faith, but bad habits are obstacles to the gospel. That is why God has taught us that we should get rid of our old bad habits and replace them with good habits so that we can be born again and enter the kingdom of heaven. Through the Bible, let us think about good and bad habits and get rid of all our bad habits to be born again.
A habit of disobeying God’s word
3,500 years ago, the Israelites came out of Egypt and headed toward Canaan. Among them were those who had a habit of grumbling. As the desert journey grew longer, they were so hungry, thirsty and exhausted that they kept grumbling against God, and many others began to align themselves with them. Even after God gave them enough water and food, they continued to grumble, saying they were tired of the same food. Finally, most of the Israelites fell in the desert because they had a habit of complaining during their 40-year journey through the desert.
Through what happened to them, God clearly shows us what kind of habit we should have while walking in the desert of faith toward the spiritual Canaan.
Jer 22:21 “I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me.”
Although they were secure under God’s protection, they said they would not listen to God. Then God said it had been their habit not to obey Him from their youth. Could they receive God’s grace and mercy? Ultimately, they could never receive God’s blessing.
From a spiritual point of view, this earth is a prison where sinners from heaven gather. If they try to enjoy their life to the fullest and get everything they want, then it is not a self-reflective attitude that sinners must have in prison. We cannot go back to our heavenly home if we have the habit of grumbling and complaining because circumstances are not favorable to us.
Let us reflect on ourselves to see whether or not we’ve been trying to justify our disobedience to God with thoughts such as, ‘It’s okay to do this,” “He also did that, but nothing happened.’ When we do something wrong, we feel guilty at first. However, if we keep doing wrong and it becomes a habit, we become unhesitant in doing wrong and fail to recognize our sin. We must immediately get rid of the habit of grumbling and disobeying God.
The habit of despising God and the habit of honoring God
The Bible clearly shows us how important our habits are in our life of faith, through contrasting characters who lived in the same era.
1 Sa 2:12–17 Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” If the man said to him, “Let the fat be burned up first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would then answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt.
Eli, a judge in Israel, had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Although they were from the priest’s family, they were wicked men who despised God. They disregarded God’s sacrificial regulations and unhesitatingly committed the evil act of taking the sacrifices before they were offered to God.
As they continued to do wicked things, God decided to punish them. They ended up dying a miserable death on the battlefield, just as God had said. When Eli heard the news of his sons’ death, he fell backward off his chair, broke his neck and died (1 Sa 2:27–36; 4:11–18).
When they were growing up, they paid no attention to God’s words. Eventually, it became their habit to despise God and commit evil deeds, which provoked God’s wrath. On the contrary, Samuel had always lived a God-honoring life since his childhood.
1 Sa 2:18 But Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod.
The habit, which Samuel had ever since he was a little child, was totally different from that of Hophni and Phinehas. When Samuel was growing up, he developed a good habit of always serving God and respecting God’s law. He succeeded Eli as the judge of Israel, and God gave him a mission to anoint Saul and David to be kings of Israel. While Hophni and Phinehas were destroyed because they had the wicked habit of despising God, Samuel was blessed to live a life always accompanied by God because he had the good habit of honoring God.
Saul’s habit of disobedience
Saul, the first king of Israel, brought destruction on himself due to his habit of disobedience to God’s word. Before he ascended to the throne, he humbled himself; he was small in his own eyes. However, after he became king, he grew arrogant and had a bad habit of paying more attention to man’s words than God’s words.
1 Sa 15:2–13 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘. . . Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ” . . . He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
God commanded Saul, “Attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them.” It seemed like Saul was destroying the Amalekites, but he did not obey God’s command completely. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and spared the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs, and destroyed only the despised and weak.
God regretted that He had made Saul king, and pointed out his disobedience through Samuel. Saul made excuses for his disobedience, saying that he had spared the best of the sheep and cattle in order to sacrifice them to God. For this he was severely reprimanded by Samuel.
1 Sa 15:22–23 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
At first, Saul had pure faith in God. However, as he was given great power, he started thinking complacently that he didn’t need God’s help anymore. He gradually became accustomed to disobeying God’s word and did not even fear God.
1 Ch 10:13–14 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
As a result of Saul’s disobedience, God’s grace left him. He lost all his sons in the battle against the Philistines, and he also faced a miserable end on the battlefield All this misfortune came from his habit of disobedience to God’s word.
The habit of those whom God is with
David, who was anointed by Samuel to be the second king of Israel, had a good habit of always putting God at the center of his heart. So he was acknowledged by God as a man after His own heart.
Ps 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
Through this verse alone, we can see David’s heart toward God. Since he fully realized that he was nothing without God, he put God first in his life. He also recognized that the rise and fall of a nation depended on God, and he had a habit of putting God first in everything he did.
David loved God more than anyone else, as clearly shown in the Bible. When he moved the ark of the covenant of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David, he rejoiced and danced with all his might like a child (2 Sa 6:12–15). He also planned to build a temple for God, being grieved that he lived in a beautiful palace while the ark of God remained in a tent. This pleased God, and God gave him a blessed promise that the temple would be completed through his son Solomon, saying, “I have been with you wherever you have gone . . . Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth” (2 Sa 7:1–17).
Now let’s see what the Bible says about those who will be saved in the last days.
Rev 14:4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
We need to pay attention to what kind of habit God’s people have, as those who are redeemed from the earth as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. They follow God thankfully wherever He leads them—whether He leads them on stony, thorny paths or leads them to a place where the sun is scorching hot. This complete obedience is based on 100% faith and trust in God. We need to reaffirm our determination to follow God’s word joyfully with faith and obedience.
We must be born again to enter heaven
Let us see what good habits we must have, through the words of the Bible which God has given us as the most fundamental guide.
1 Ti 6:3–8 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Not agreeing to God’s instructions means not taking God’s words absolutely. Those who do not pay attention to God’s words become arrogant in heart and love quarreling; their wicked thoughts gradually dominate their souls and they end up being robbed of the truth. As they become accustomed to paying no attention to God’s word, they encounter unfortunate things in their lives and leave God in the end.
That is why we must study God’s word and reflect on ourselves every day. From now on, let us examine ourselves to see if we have God-pleasing habits. If we have any bad habits, we need to get rid of them all and fill ourselves with God’s word.
So Jesus has taught us that we cannot see the kingdom of God unless we are born again (Jn 3:3). In other words, we cannot enter heaven unless we break our old bad habits and develop good habits that the people of heaven must have.
Eph 4:15–5:1 Instead, speaking the truth in love . . . You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness . . . “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children . . .
The Bible teaches us to speak the truth in love, and urges us to put off our former way of life—our old self—and put on the new self according to God’s teaching. It also explains what good habits we must have, and tells us to be imitators of God who is our perfect example. We should keep this teaching in mind and repeatedly put it into practice, so we can form good habits.
Although Saul, Hophni and Phinehas were chosen by God, they became accustomed to their bad habits, which caused them to drift away from God. Let us always reflect on ourselves to see if we have any bad habits and develop a good habit of following God wherever He leads us. I earnestly ask all of you, people of Zion, to live such a beautiful life and proceed toward the kingdom of heaven.