Being a sinful person is one step from victory. Noticing the temptation we laugh at it. The heart usually follows.
Not to make light of an incredibly serious and life-threatening thing for all of us, but dealing with the temptations that lead to sin is often made easier than we think when we develop the habit of defiantly laughing at its pathetic power rather than give into it.
We’ll obviously need to know that we have to develop a habit for this if it’s going to work effectively over the longer term. And we need know that these laughing bouts are ours alone, so it doesn’t appear that to others that we’re laughing for no apparent reason.
The Interconnectedness of the Mind and Heart
Here we appreciate that both the mind and heart influence and impact on each other. In temptation it works both ways. The heart feels something as a desire and colludes with the mind to ‘act on’ thoughts that are then produced in the mind, perhaps a plan, and this to bring about more of that feeling the heart likes. Likewise, the mind can influence the heart.
So, if we’re able to control our minds—which is easier, actually, than controlling our hearts—we will be able to guard against much troubling sin. At the end of the day, however, training our hearts also is a key character-building exercise for growth for us.
The entrenchment of certain behaviours happens because neural pathways have been developed in the mind. This means the brain finds it easier to think certain ways, for the habit was designed in the first place to make it easier for us to not think manually so much. Habits, therefore, are mechanising thought to make life easier for us.
Where we get into trouble is when the bad habit is installed. Take pornography or overeating, for instance. An acted-on impulse—the temptation—has seen us engage in and then repeat the sin, enough perhaps that we have created for ourselves a hard-to-break habit.
It is not impossible, nonetheless, to break this habit, but we will need to set about re-training our minds, so we think differently, creating new neural pathways. Like any road construction project, however, it’s going to take a little time before the highway’s built and can be used with good effect. We need to be patient, especially regarding relapse.
This is not as hard as it sounds. But it does require a tenacious desire and a preparedness to not give up.
Breaking the Bad Habit
Simplistically, then, we can see that where there is a strong desire to do what is required—whatever it takes—including very much so “telling on” the sin in the company of trusted others—and we include the tenacity to not give up, besides relapses—which are not the end of our world—we can and will eventually restore ourselves beyond this sin.
But not without God’s grace. Grace is what allows this process to occur in the first place.
Eventually, perhaps, we can see a time when we simply have a little chuckle with ourselves as we see the enemy’s deceit in full flight and then we simply sidestep it as if it’s a distraction.
Even better when it becomes routine to us. And it will with persistence.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.