Habit is neutral which means it has the ability to be positive or negative. One definition of habit is, “An acquired manner of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” It is a way of acting through repetition. Secondly, it implies a doing unconsciously and often compulsively. A habit is also a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. One thing to take into consideration is that it is linked to one's mental disposition. This is important in relation to repentance which we'll address later. Another critical factor to keep in mind is a habit is also an automatic reaction to a specific situation.
On the positive side, habits reduce stress levels in relation to routine. They eliminate the constant need to make decisions about certain actions in day to day living. For example, when to get up, how to dress or how to brush our teeth. Have you ever driven home from work and not remember how you got home? Habit got you there, but it also elevated the stress of having to navigate your way home. Have you ever felt stress in relation to finding a place to which you've never been? In a sense, habit reduces the fear of the unknown.
People tend to form habits around things that bring comfort or pleasure. With that comes the unconscious response or reaction to specific situations. They become the go to mode of behavior when they're stressed out. Where do you think the term “comfort food” came from. Here is a negative characteristic of habit: people rely on habits to find peace. This is a weapon the flesh uses against the Spirit. It is a major contributor to doing things you don't want to do anymore, and failing to do those things you desire for that matter.
For some people, the reason they can go a length of time without doing their pet sin, so to speak, and then fall back into it expectantly is they fail to see the value they place on it. Their mode of thinking has not chanced, therefore, it is still their default behavior. Repentance means to change one's mind or way of thinking. Until they change the way they think, the behavior will lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce.
The Cross broke the power of sin which means those unwanted habits can be eliminated. God's grace has empowered us to walk victoriously, in fact, the victory is already won (see Romans 8:37). It is a question of deciding who or what you will follow because now you have the power to choose through Jesus Christ. Know emphatically, you already have the victory in the Lord. Now it is time to believe it.
What you believe is a game changer. If you believe you will never break or change a habit, you will keep repeating it. If you believe what God says, you will be free. Jesus said,
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36). Now lets apply that belief in some practical ways.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, decide to Whom you will yield yourself to serve. Submit yourself to the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Our way of thinking needs to change and that change requires the renewing or renovating of our mind. Yes, that does include reading your Bible. Make a decision as to where you find comfort. Are you going to receive comfort from the Holy Spirit or from the things of the flesh?
If you choose the flesh, you will find more stress and guilt as the result. It can be a vicious cycle. You know, habit. The enemy and the old nature will always uses guilt to needle you. It is the unholy counterfeit of conviction, which drives you away from God. Remember, conviction leads you to God. Using comfort food as an example, the moment a person overeats in order to relieve stress, guilt jumps all over him or her. With guilt, comes more stress because it robs you of peace.
On the other hand, if you choose the Spirit, you also choose peace. Decide to respond to stress, disappointment, grief and the like by going to the Lord. Do not center on the mountain; center on Him. Put your faith in God and command the mountain to be cast into the sea (see Mark 11:22-26). If your soul wrestles with this concept, speak to it. We find an example of this in Psalm 43:5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Tell your soul to submit to the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself why you are fearful or cast down, then take it to the Lord. Command your soul to trust in Him. Emotions follow obedience, therefore, don't trust what your emotions tell you. Trust what God says. Decide ahead of time, how you will respond to given situations and your habits will change. In other words, do not plan to react in the negative. For example, “If such and such happens, I am going to explode.”
Finally, do not play the “what if” game. This may sound like a contradiction to the last few sentences. What this means is do not try to create imaginary scenarios that probably will not happen. You can work yourself up over nothing, which is a bad habit. Rather, just know by virtues of life, things happen. Don't waste your time trying to imagine what could happen. Remember, the Lord knows what will happen in your future and He made provision for it already. Rest in Him, for He is our Peace and ultimate Comfort.