The New Habits of The New Self
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
On this, the last Sunday of 1999, we should prepare our minds to welcome the New Year and spend it well. Regardless of whether this year has been a success or a failure, we must let if flow into the sea of oblivion, forgetting it and letting it go.
So, let’s receive God’s grace, listening to and reflecting upon His words under today’s title, “The New Habits of The New Self.”
Today’s scripture tells us, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”(Ephesians 4:22-24). This means that we should cast off the old decaying habits of our old self, and put on a new self instead, with the holiness and righteousness of truth. So, cast off your old habits, cast off your old self, and put on new habits!
1. Put On The New Self
The Bible tells us to take off the old self, full of sin, as we would remove old clothing, and to put on the new self, as we would put on new garments. The truth of the Bible teaches us that people cannot be saved by trying to train their minds and cultivate themselves through education, since this is like trying to repair old, patched clothing. People can be saved only if they repent and cast off their sins and their old self, which were leading them to eternal destruction, and believe in Jesus, accepting Him and receiving new life through Him, by putting Him on like a new, seamless garment.
So we should realize that we are sinners, repent and believe in Jesus as the Savior of our lives. When we believe in Jesus Christ, and confess this aloud, we will receive a new life, and become a new self. (John 1:12, 3:16, 6:47, Romans 10:10 etc.) The word of God is like a seed, containing life. When we believe in and accept the words of God, they fall on fertile soil and new life can grow. When the seed falls along the path it is like a person for whom the Word of God goes in one ear and out the other, without him believing. Therefore, one day the birds - demons - come down and snatch the seeds. Physically, man’s body is born the same way. Even though today might be the first time you have ever attended church, if you realize that you are a sinner, repent and believe in and accept Jesus, then you can receive new life, even today, and leave this church a new self.
2. Cast Off Old Habits
If you believe in Jesus and become a new self, you should cast off your old habits - the desires of the flesh, the devil’s temptations in your past, by repenting them.
Chestnuts absorb nutrients very well, become ripe, open their shells and fall from them. Like a chestnut, when we truly accept the words of God, and receive God’s holy grace from Heaven, our old, past, decaying habits will fall away.
The old habits follow the devil’s temptation, and literally decay and destroy humans.
So, after you come to believe in Jesus and accept Him, you should savor God’s words and grace, repent your sins, cast away your old habits, and cut them completely. Standing at the end of the year, we should now make, and pray for the decision to cast off our old, evil smelling and decaying habits. Someone who has believed in Jesus for several years might still retain his bad habits, like a dog returning to its vomit. We should not retain the bad habits of our past, but cast away such habits as drinking, fighting, gambling, lying etc., and welcome the New Year as a new self.
There are many people who, because of one bad habit, could not receive God’s blessing and thus did not become a noble article, worthy of kings, but instead became an ignoble article, meant for a dog. Can’t a determined and resolved person gain success in the world?
The famous general, Kim Yoo-Shin, loved wine and women in his youth. One day his mother said tearfully, “How will you achieve your great vision? You want to reign over the nation and the entire world!” He stopped right there, and made the decision never to go to a drinking house or a comfort house again. But, one day, returning home after a victorious battle, he was sleeping on his horse, and the intelligent horse stopped in front of a comfort house. At that moment the general opened his eyes and fell from the horse, reproaching it in a loud voice, “Why did you bring me here?” He withdrew his long sword, cut off the head of his beloved horse, and continued home, on foot.
I once heard the story of a pastor who was an excellent and intelligent preacher, but who had some difficulty controlling his speech. Because of this problem, his church members excluded him. One day, to correct his speech problem, he went to a small church, located on an island. He stayed on the island for three years, and constantly kept a chestnut sized stone in his mouth. Finally, he was able to change his speaking habits, and become a wonderful pastor who and was welcomed by everyone.
Whether we enjoy success or suffer failure, or receive God’s blessing or not depends upon our habits. With the old year, we should cast off our old self with regard to our former way of life, which is being corrupted by the devil’s temptation; be made new in the attitude of our minds, and become a new self.
3. Have The New Habits of the New Self
If we believe in Jesus and are saved, and become a new self, we should have new habits as that new self. Galatians 5:24, says: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the simple nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In the spirit of these words, we must crucify our old habits and live in the new self.
1) We Should Have the New Habit of Attending Every Worship Service
We should not be the kind of Christian who is tempted to skip church services when, for example, his friends invite him to go mountain climbing, hunting or fishing - we must attend every church worship service. We must display the style of a faithful Christian, to whom no one would dare suggest or even mention missing worship service. Even if the world boxing title fight is being televised, we must have the strength to stand up, turn off the television, and go to church; when we miss worship service for some other favored event, we will never be faithful Christians.
One day a week should be set aside as a day of sacrifice to the Lord - the Lord's Day. If you do this, God will bless and give peace to your family and country. Isaiah 58:13-14 reads, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way, and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” After Jesus' resurrection, the Sabbath day became the Lord's Day. Psalms 84:4 tells us, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” Even the sparrows and swallows feel envy when they built their nests on the Lord's house. 84:10 tells us, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, then dwell in the tents of the wicked,” envying God's sanctuary. In keeping his promise to such faithful people, even though they walk in the valley of the shadow of death, and meet sorrow and distress, God, in His time, will lead them to the comfort of the still waters and shed on them the grace of His rain. Yes, God really will.
Let's attend worship service eagerly! Of course we should attend Sunday morning worship service, but we should also attend the Sunday evening worship service, instead of spending our time in front of the television. In the days of Jesus Christ, the religion had become so rotten and corrupted. Yet even Jesus Himself followed the decrees and went to temple regularly.
2) We Should Have the New Habit of Returning To God His Own
The most basic and important thing we can return to God is a precise tithe - ten percent of our income. In fact, those who do not bring their ten percent offerings, but bring other offerings, are not acting correctly. Dr. Billy Graham said, while preaching the Gospel, “The greatest sin among Americans today is the theft of God's possessions. When we do not bring our ten percent offerings to God, we do not fulfill our debts to Him, but refuse them instead. The ten percent already belong to God. (Leviticus 27:30) If we do not bring God our ten percent offerings, we are not truly offering to God.” Even though he had never given offerings, but stole instead, the robber crucified to the right of Jesus was saved through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Of course then we could say that we can receive salvation and eternal life without our ten percent offerings, but I tell you, those who do not bring their ten percent offerings to God can never be real Christians and receive His true blessing.
Richard Wurmbrand, called a “living martyr”, received extreme suffering at the hands of the communists while imprisoned. Nevertheless, from his food ration, a loaf of hard bread per week, and a bowl of filthy soup per day, he gave a portion to the weaker inmates, as his ten percent offering to God.
The inventor of Mentholatum, Albert Hyde, invented his patent medicine after deciding to bring ten percent offerings to God. He earned buckets of money through his product, giving so much of his earnings back to God, that he finally became known as the Christian who had offered the most money to God. He contributed millions of dollars to the YMCA, was able to cover his worldwide business expenses through his Japanese profits alone, and at his death, with 87, had donated 150 million dollars – at today’s value – 15 billion dollars for mission work!
William Colgate, blessed later in life through his ten percent offerings, was so poor at 16 that he left his home to seek his fortune. He met an old captain, whom he knew and told the captain that he intended to go to New York, but that his only skills were soap and candle making. The captain listened and knelt down to pray intently. He then told Colgate, “Some day, a famous soap maker will come out of New York. It might be you, or someone else. Be a good man and devote yourself to Christ. Return God’s share of the earnings. Sell your soap honestly, without cheating the customers. Then you will certainly be prosperous and rich.” Keeping these words in mind, Colgate began to attend church, and regularly offer exact tithes. When he earned one dollar, he offered ten cents. Gradually he advanced, becoming first a full time worker, then a partner, an owner and finally the president of a company in the soap business. He began with ten percent offerings, but increased over time to 50%, until finally, he gave every penny of his offerings to God! He brought God hundreds of millions of dollars!
J.D. Rockefeller began his fortune by earning money helping his mother. The first time he received his weekly salary of $1.50 his mother told him that he must separate ten percent to offer to God, in order to be prosperous. Rockefeller listened to his mother and offered ten percent of his earnings to God. How rich did he become! One day he asked the newspapers to educate children about ten percent offerings. “The children must be faithful stewards of God.” Even though we can acquire wealth without tithing, without God’s guarantee, we can one day lose our possessions; they cannot be passed as blessing from generation to generation.
In addition to these men, there are uncountable witnesses throughout the entire world to the power of ten percent offerings.
In the Bible there is only one mention of being able to test God. All other references state that testing God is a terrible sin. That single verse is Malachi 3:10: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
When we are hesitant in bringing our ten percent offerings to God, God cannot willingly bless us. Therefore, we should have the good habit of regularly bringing God an offering, which exactly amounts to ten percent of whatever we have received - income, gifts, acquisitions etc.
The habit of offering tithes is the habit of receiving God’s blessing.
3) Have the Habit of Conversing With God
Conversing is speaking with someone. We should have the daily habit of speaking with God at a time and place especially reserved for Him. We should read at least two chapters of the Bible, listening to God’s voice through His message.
In the same way that we seek food for our body, we should have the habit of eating God’s word – spiritual food! Prayer must be the key, which opens the day, and closes it again at night. Place nothing before prayer! Let’s solve our problems through prayer! Daniel had the habit of praying three times a day, even though he risked his life to do so. Because of this, he was always granted success.