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January 16, 2018, 12:00 AM

What Motivates Your Habits

“The chains of habit are to light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Warren Buffet

   Habits are powerful patterns of thought that affect both the shape and health of the brain. More importantly, habits reveal our spiritual condition. It is possible for all sinful and emotionally debilitating habits to be broken. Now, don’t let some of the scientific terminology scare you from reading. It’s important to understand that science is catching up with principles that God placed into action thousands of years ago with words that everyone can easily understand. Dr. Caroline Leaf wrote, in her outstanding book, The Switched on Brain (2013), “This scientific power of our mind to modify the brain is called epigenetics, and spiritually it is as a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). The way the brain changes as a result of the mental activity is scientifically called neuroplasticity. And spiritually, it is the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1) (p.56).

   This is absolutely wonderful to me! Through obedience to the Word of God (Bible) and becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), the former habits of our mind can be brought into captivity and our minds are transformed with new habits of a Christ centered mind. It has been proven that the human brain can rewire itself as one Harvard study documented, “…the formation of habits affects the physical properties of the brain. For instance, a subset of neurons in the brain called mirror neurons, fire when an action takes place actions take place and when the same action is observed in others" (Humor, Laughter, and Those Aha Moments. 2010, Spring).

   Basically, what one sees and listens to produces a desire in the brain of the observer to act out (mirror) what they see and hear. This begins a transformation of their minds for good or evil. Just as laughter often produces laughter in the physical mind, the ‘mirror neurons’ of the spiritual mind respond accordingly. The Christian strives to imitate Spiritual habits that Jesus Christ left for us to follow and create new ones that coincide with Biblical principles (1 Pet. 2:21). Consequently, the spiritual motivation for the change of habits only occurs through repentance and submission of the human spirit to Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9).

   Conversely, carnal motivation leads to the pride of self will or addictive-like habits. For instance, a person might stop the habit of smoking because they do not want to die and yet, they continue cursing.  The motive behind the changed activity is not to please God (spiritual formation) but to live longer and accomplish more of what the self-will desires. The ability of some to ‘kick a habit’ often compels them to be prideful of their accomplishments and to become contemptuous of others who cannot or will not change similar habits or addictions.

   People that become addicted to drugs, pornography, gambling, and such like are according to Duhigg, C. (2011), “Moving from ‘wanting’ to an obsessive craving can cause people to act in self-destructive ways even if it jeopardizes personal reputations, family relationships, and financial security" (p.50). This is the condition of the world and even some that claim to be Christians.

   The psalmist David begged God to test him so that his heart and thoughts would be known (Ps. 139:23), and Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). The testing of the heart-soul-mind by the Word of God and the Spirit of God reveals the spiritual motive of the thoughts and habits performed by the body.

   In summary, habits reflect the spiritual imaginations and thoughts of each person.  This is called the ability to be self-determinate and according to Wilson Ed.D., N.J. (2003), “Choosing to start, or accept, the process of bringing spiritual form out of one’s potential is an act of the will and requires courage-courage to act, to decide, to choose, to emerge” (p.79). “Jesus said unto him, If thou can believe, all things are possible to them that believe” (Mark 9:23). These words were spoken to a terrified father that was tired of spiritual habits of the mind that controlled his child. The mental condition of the boy was such that he could not speak or hear and was controlled by the demonic spirit. But the words of Jesus were stronger than the mental instability caused by spiritual darkness.  

   Once a person has been born again and begins to choose to change self-destructive habits of the mind and spirit through the power of God that works in them, all expectations of what was initially asked or thought can be exceeded(Ephesians 3:20). Therefore, all past failures, emotional baggage, and sinful nature means nothing to God. What matters most to Him is that we will allow Him to transform us by receiving the Holy Ghost and allowing our minds to be transformed by His Word, the ministry, and personal devotion to Jesus Christ. And that, is exciting!

References

Duhigg, C. (2011). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. New York, New York: Random House.

Humor, Laughter, and Those Aha Moments. (2010, Spring). On The Brain, 16(2), 1-3. Retrieved from https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf

Leaf, Dr., C. (2013). Switch On Your Brain. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Wilson Ed.D., N.J. (2003). Ultimate Leadership Volume 1: The Defining Moment. Sacramento, California: Reach Worldwid, Inc.



Comments

02-04-2018 at 3:38 PM
Brent Crosswhite
Great words! One man said the mind is like a wild horse that has to be restrained by the will that is in cooperation with the Spirit. Thanks, Bro. Savala!
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