Old Habits Die Hard

Have you ever wanted to break a bad habit, but struggled doing so? It is amazing how easy it is to start something and how hard it can be to stop it. Many times it goes directly to our motives for doing it or wanting to stop it. Is it a genuine desire to stop or do we want to stop because we know we should? The same can be said for the beliefs that we hold. Sometimes we will learn something from a trusted teacher, friend, or family member and we will have a hard time letting it go, even in the face of knowing it isn’t correct. We see this happen in the early church as well. There were some Jewish people who became disciples of Jesus. However, they had a difficult time letting go of their past. We read it in Acts 15:5, “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.'”

It hadn’t been that many years since Jesus’ earthly ministry, yet we see early struggles emerging in the early church. Jesus had set them free from the Law, because He fulfilled the Law (see Mt. 5:17), yet they wanted to run back to the familiar. This is the same pull we feel as we are trying to make changes in our lives as well. For the Jewish people here, the Law of Moses was deeply revered. While you and I may not understand the pull it had over them, we need to understand that they grew up with the Law. For their entire lives they were taught that a person who is loved by God is someone who follows the Law. Now, here is a former religious leader in Paul coming in and saying that we are saved by grace, not because of the Law. While their head was able to hear it, their hearts struggled to let go of the only belief system they had ever known. This is at least the second time that there was a potential split brewing in the early church. Yet, we see the Holy Spirit work through the leaders in Jerusalem to come together, and in unity find the truth. Once again we see the power of humility and dependence on the Holy Spirit to guide the church in truth.

The lesson for us in this text is a dependence upon the Holy Spirit to guide our daily walk, and the need to study the Bible. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to guide the child of God for the glory of God. Before we commit to a belief or a system of beliefs, we need to be intentional about praying, and studying what the Bible says about the topic. This is also a good time to remember that Proverbs 11 says that there is “safety in a multitude of counselors.” As you get alone with the Bible, and pray for wisdom and understanding, it is then good to go and talk with other believers about what you are learning. God can use other believers to either show that you are on the right track or that you have erred in understanding. This is another reason why discipleship matters so much for a Christian. Too many Christians are trying to figure it out on their own, and unfortunately Satan can come in and really mess things up in our minds and with our beliefs. This is also another reason why we should be faithful in our church attendance. The more systems of accountability and exposing ourselves to genuine Bible teaching, the better off we will be in the long run. Who do you have in your life that can speak into your life to encourage you where needed or to challenge you when necessary? Who are you learning the Bible from, and are you sharing what you are learning with others? These are all marks of a maturing Christian. Yes, old habits die hard, but God can make sure they die if you will trust Him and follow Him.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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