Updated: Feb 23, 2022
In the main article, Sin, a Realistic View (Part 1/3), I typed out some of the more technical aspects of bad behavior, behavior that helps separate us form our spiritual future. This article is a continuation.
Why I wrote these articles about sin
I’ve spent too many days wrapped in this skin, being unforgiving of my own mistakes. My internal attitude that I was disposable, it seems to be contagious and I believe I’ve figured out the mechanics of how it spreads. So for me, that automatically means sharing so that others can break both the chains that keep them from forgiving themselves, and those that restrain us from forgiving others.
Of course bad information is largely at fault, information that goes against the system God built. The system I’m referring to is that which I mentioned in the last article, that which engages empathy, forgiveness, compassion and inclusiveness.
Too many humans walk, talk and act in judgement of others; so much so that they purposefully damage those others they can’t approve of. God and Christ are very clear; we do not have the right to judge and punish other people. In fact, after over 1,200 hours of education and 25+ years of working with children and families; I can safely say, you don’t destroy people to solve social disfunction, you destroy bad behavior. The only way to do that is to educate, to combat the bad information with the good.
This set of articles is designed for just that, education, to help others see that we’re all forgivable in God’s eyes. It’s also charged with the task of helping others understand how and why.
I do not use stock images. You can find the photo above in my personal fine-art portfolio.
How I’m getting over my own challenges with sin
Notice I didn’t say “How I got over my own challenges with sin”? That’s because I’m not done. I still have work to do and it's not easy work, at that.
I mentioned before that each sin I break lends toward a brighter and clearer connection to God. That’s one of the ways I break poor behavior; by reminding myself about the rewards of doing it.
I know from past experience that there’s always a great deal of positivity in changing my words and actions. I’m trying to follow the example of Jesus, to overcome the world. But to overcome the world, I have to overcome myself first. I don't do this through personal power, I do this by accepting help from the Holy Trinity. Sin is the internal opposition placed on the path to God. It may be presented by the devil and his followers, but the responsibility of controlling its temptation rests in the lives of those who want to follow Christ. It's the responsibility of choice, to open up to the Holy Ghost and accept his way of working around temptation.
Can anyone break patterns of sin?
Yes. Anyone, even the reader who's thinking, "Not me, you don't know what I've done!". This is one of the things that Christ died for, so that we would have a chance to live without the chains, without the consequences of not allowing ourselves to grow spiritually. And when Jesus gave up his human body, by a length of extreme torture and humiliation, he left with us the Holy Spirit, a spiritual body of wisdom that we can draw from when we're ready to. This wisdom includes the help we need to break bad habits and addictions, to break sin and change our own behaviors.
How can a person stop sin?
Let me be clear before I get into the human logic; the best way to break sin is to ask God for help, to show us what we're doing wrong, where the root of the problem comes from and how to fix it. As humans, our reach and understanding of the heart is nowhere near what God knows and understands. So basically, call on your Father and leave it to the expert. That said, for the purpose of identifying and preventing more pitfalls, I think it's important for us to understand the mechanism of sin; the psychology of how it works.
The temptations come on because of preprogrammed rewards. Habits (sins) have 3 basic parts:
This is the moment or trigger that sets up the desire to engage in a habit, a sin. In my experience it’s usually something like stress, a sensory cue, or a memory; but I’m sure there are other types of cues. And here’s where it potentially gets a bit foggy; the devil and his followers always play a part.
I’m not putting any responsibility on the devil for my need to stop poor behavior, but I am putting much of the blame on him for the cues and pathways being everywhere we look. He deems it his job to suck people into behaviors that disconnect us from God; step by step, moment by moment.
So when we start to be aware of the first steps of breaking habits, the cues; we should be aware that they come from internal sources, external sources and, very importantly, from the enemy. And know this, the devil started with intricate knowledge of how God’s system works. After that, he had thousands of years to hone his craft against it. So you can safely bet, he’s unbelievably good at attempting to sway us from the path home.
You can also bet that the ways he entices are seriously intricate and deep. In no way am I telling you to go investigate. Follow the tree of life, not the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It’s not our job to win a war that Jesus already won. What I’m telling you is simply this; never underestimate the enemy, and never forget, he plays a part in all that’s wrong with our internal and external lives.
This is the behavior itself. It’s carried out by each individual. Because of the system of forming and reforming neural pathways, comfort is generally only found through the repetition of bad habits (or any habits really). And the triggers mentioned above, they don’t just stop after the first step. They continue to work as our actions unfold, spurning poor habits throughout the routine and the next stage, which is...
This is, of course, the ultimate goal; the cookie falling out of the slot once the button is pushed. Unfortunately, the thought of taking the reward of a bad habit away is daunting. It’s where people often say “forget THIS!” and head back to step one. Fortunately the Holy Trinity gives us an answer to the issue of taking away reward… replacement.
I promise this, wait, scratch that… God promises this, and I can back it up through experience; for every reward that’s taken away by removing a sin from your life, multiple rewards will be put in it’s place. Also, the rewards that God hands out are much more positive, consequence free and resilient than anything given by anything or anyone else.
I do not use stock images. You can find the photo above in my personal fine-art portfolio.
Basically, removing sin in our lives takes work. But, the really good news here is that you don't have to get it perfect to start claiming those rewards. Prayer, relationships and life in general; it all gets instantly better with each step we take away from sin.
As I said before, the first step is willingness and prayer; asking God to guide you through the process and help break the sin. You have to come to a realization that the sin does more harm than good and the rewards for breaking it are greater than the sacrifice. Just being open to change is the first switch to be flipped.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Matthew 5:6 KJV
From there, the tools are already present and they are:
Consistent reading of the King James Bible (New KJV for cross reference).
Quality time with God. I say this many times; when you let God overwhelm you, nothing else can. It doesn't mean you won't have hardship, sadness or doubt. It just means that spending time with God fills the tank with the right kind of fuel. So spend time watching a sunset or examining a tree, lots of time. With enough of it, the rest of the world WILL melt away long enough to give you moments to connect to God and Christ.
Pastoral counseling if needed (non-Christian counseling can help some, but, from my own experience with many of them, Biblical Christian Counseling is the fastest way by far (counseling from someone who understands that the Bible is the manual to life and spiritual warfare exists. It's hugely important to work with someone who understands the enemy and their opposition.)
Self reminder. Always remembering what bad comes from sin and where it will eventually lead us, away from God. Always remembering the good that comes from breaking sin.
Practice, practice, practice. You're not going to be perfect at it right away. Give it time and never give up. It's taken me years to break some sin, but it works if you stick with it.
Forgiveness of self and of others. When you carry ill feelings and don't forgive others for what they've done to you, that feeds the sin and it lives on strongly. Also, the devil has this ridiculous, but highly favored trick; one moment he's telling us how it's okay to sin. Then, once the sin is committed, he belittles us for doing it. ("do it, do it. Ohhhh look what you did"). Therefore it's important for the entire system of forgiveness to work that we forgive ourselves too. Otherwise we focus on our failures and push our potential successes to the side.
I’ve spoken before, both in the documentary and in my writing, about how we can verify the existence of God, for ourselves, through experimentation and actual data. Dropping sins, one by one; it's a good example of that practice. I didn’t just learn about the rewards of breaking sinful habits and addictions. I learned that, when others told me that there are benefits to avoiding contaminates thrown out by evil; they were right.
In my own mind, heart and spirit; by taking progressive steps in breaking sins away from my behavior, I've done something that absolutely blows me away. I took what was an abstract concept of improving my life by avoiding sin, took it right out of the pages of the Bible and off of the lips of other ministers. I drew and colored it right into my reality. And now, as tangibly as I see my hands typing on a keyboard, I see my life getting better as a direct result of those sins falling away.
Sin, a Realistic View (Part 1/3) This is the first, main article. The feeling of holding more personal control is immense. The knowledge that you made the choice to stop before your consequences forced you, that’s hugely liberating. The feeling of being more connected to God, we’ll that’s not only the goal, it’s a gift that can move a person beyond words, beyond human made reward and beyond the chains that we wear without knowledge or consent. Sin, a Realistic View (Resources, Supporters only Part 3/3) The following are resources that can help the reader reenforce the concepts covered in the last two articles. I’ve personally, fully read all of these articles and watched all videos. I can get behind what each of them say.
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