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Breaking a Bad Moral Habit

By Dr. Brian Allison

  1. Realize and admit that you have a bad moral habit. This realization and admission often require brutal honest self-examination.
  2. Feel the guilt, shame and grief of having the bad moral habit. The experience requires dwelling on and considering the negative character of the habit, as well as its damaging consequences.
  3. Evidence a desire and commitment to break the bad moral habit. (Usually a desire to change emerges from a sense of desperation or of guilt and its concomitants). Clearly, one must assume personal responsibility.
  4. Confess the sinfulness or inappropriateness of the bad moral habit, and mentally disown (i.e., repudiate any further connection or identification with it).
  5. Understand the underlying dynamics of the bad moral habit (e.g. what gives the habit its power; what is the personal ‘pay off’ from practicing it; what possible emotional pain may the practice of it be concealing or quelling; etc.).
  6. Determine God’s evaluation (through the Scriptures) of the bad moral habit, and thus understand why it is morally and spiritually necessary and expedient to break the bad moral habit.
  7. Determine the right or Biblical way to think about or view that particular area in your life.
  8. Surrender the bad moral habit to God. This decision is an act of consecration.
  9. There must be a deliberate, self-conscious abstinence from the bad moral habit (i.e., a ‘putting off’):
    1. immediately reject and disown the intrusive thoughts and aroused desires relative to the bad moral habit. Refuse to dwell on provocative images or thoughts which arouse and encourage desire/passion. With respect to obsessional thoughts, simply turn a blind eye’ to them; acknowledge their presence, but refuse attentive focus
    2. establish accountability and support (i.e., become answerable to someone and seek his or her encouragement)
    3. set up consequences for reversion or slippage (e.g. donate $50.00 to a worthy cause if there is bingeing)
    4. establish disciplinary measures (e.g. monitor and restrict T.V. programs)
    5. avoid the situations which instigate, incite, or aggravate the bad moral habit
    6. train the will (i.e., practice deliberately choosing or doing the right thing)
  10. Cultivate wholesome, substitutionary practices (i.e., a ‘putting on’) (e.g. instead of reading pornography, read in areas of interest).
  11. Understand that Jesus Christ ought to be your primary desire and treasure; your chief delight and pleasure; your fullness of joy. Cultivate a deep heart’s desire for Him and passionately pursue Him.
  12. Continually pray for help and deliverance.

© Brian Allison, 2010