Our battle against sinful habits starts in the mind, where the devil strikes at our confidence in God. Our behavior cannot be changed unless our minds are renewed. Pastor Lutzer helps us overcome sinful or anxious thoughts through God’s promises in his Word. God is on our side in the transformation of our character.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” Thanks so much for joining us in this last session on “How to Break a Stubborn Habit.” At the beginning of these episodes I emphasized that I wrote a book that has that title. It’s been a blessing to many and what we’ve decided to do is to simply touch some of the highlights, some of the points that are made to help us to understand that God is on our side in the transformation of character.
Well, today we come to the last, and in many respects the most important, and that has to do with the transformation of the mind. You’re probably acquainted with Romans 12, where the Apostle Paul says that. He says, “Do not be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of the mind.” My friend, you cannot change your behavior, you cannot change your ways unless your mind is renewed and it is renewed by the word of God.
Let’s do an experiment. I want you to think of the number eight. Are you thinking of the number eight right now? I assume you are. I’m going to ask you to stop thinking of the number eight. How are you doing? Have you stopped thinking about it? Very difficult to do. I can get you to stop thinking of the number eight almost immediately! Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think of two character traits of your mother. Think about that now and if you think about that for a couple of seconds, you’ll soon forget about number eight.
Jesus told a very interesting parable about a man who had some demons, the demons left, his house was empty, the demons returned and if I remember correctly they even brought others with them. An empty mind is exactly the toolshed of the devil. What you and I must do is to fill our minds with Scripture, and gird our minds with Scripture, in such a way that when we are tempted, we have the Scripture at our fingertips.
And even when we aren’t being tempted, to quote scripture, to read scripture, to ask God to illuminate our minds regarding scripture. That will put in place certain safeguards so that we don’t have to keep falling into the same temptation again and again and again.
The renewing of the mind. You and I must think differently, and the way we think differently has to do with our confidence in the word of God.
I’m going to end this series with a very personal story. When I was attending university, I was supposed to pass an exam in French. Now, I didn’t like French and the professor had a way of making you feel very small because you’d go into his office; he would take down a book, a book that was in French, he’d give it to you and say: Translate!
Well, the first time I took it I failed. The second time I was so afraid. I was really, I don’t know if the word exists or not, but discombobulated (we used to use that word). As I was driving to the university I was overcome by anxiety and fear and I began to quote verses. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And then I’d go over to Philippians. “Be anxious for nothing” (You know that passage of scripture.) And I kept quoting those verses and the anxiety did not leave until I got to the university. Suddenly the anxiety just left me and I was at total peace. I went into the professor’s office he pulled down a journal, a French Journal, handed it to me, and I flunked it cold.
I remember going back to the church that I was pastor of (This was before I became the pastor of Moody Church) and my secretary said, “What in the world got into you? You’re in such a good mood.” I said, “You know, I have just flunked French twice in a row.”
Now, just in case you’re wondering, I did pass it the third time but here’s the point: When you are filled with anxiety and filled with temptation, what you do is you keep quoting the word of God. You let God burn those words into your mind. Satan is going to want to snatch them from you, but you keep with the word of God, the promises of God, and you insist on those promises and eventually Satan flees and you say to yourself, “God is just as good as his word.”
This is the last word that I’m giving you on “How to Break a Stubborn Habit.” I hope that you take time to go back from the beginning, subscribe, like, follow us, because this ministry of “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer” is intended to help you on your spiritual journey and as for today, well, you just go with God.