Old Habits Die Hard

“The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV

Isn’t it amazing that Scriptures more than 2,000 years old can still speak to us today? Perhaps it’s because, in spite of differences in language and culture and the vast difference in time, humans are humans. It’s also true that God has told us “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us” (Romans 15:4). And that means even those things written in the Old Testament. I guess I didn’t have that truth in mind, though, as I began to study Daniel. I saw the book as a lot of prophecy, and I’m not really into prophecy. But I knew that the Old Testament was part of God’s Word, to us—to me. So I began studying Daniel, though without much expectation of  finding teaching that was relevant for me.

Boy, was I wrong! If you’ve read my last three posts, you’ve seen that God drew me in, convicting and teaching me right from the start. As I continued studying the book of Daniel, not just reading it but entering the events told there, I discovered a little bit of myself in King Nebuchadnezzar. You see, King Nebuchadnezzar had trouble with old habits. Take a look.

King Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream that greatly troubled him, and he wanted to untangle what it meant. So, he sought help. But where did he look? He went to those he’d always called on: the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans.

But they couldn’t help him. They couldn’t tell him his dream or its meaning. His old habit didn’t help him.

He’d forgotten there was a new way, a better way—four men from Judah, men “showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand” (Daniel 1:4, ESV). Four men who were given three years of training. Four men God had gifted with “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Daniel 1:17, ESV). Four men the king had found to be far superior to his own advisors:

“At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah…In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom

Daniel 1:18-20, ESV

He’d found these four men to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom, and yet in time of trouble he fell back into his old habit of where to go for advice.

What about you? Do old habits die hard with you? When you’re troubled, confused, in need of guidance, where do you turn?

  • To yourself, as I too often do?
  • To your spouse? Or to a parent?
  • To friends?
  • To popular opinion?
  • Somewhere else?
Questions. So many questions.

Instead of turning to those, no matter how reliable they may be or seem to be, why not turn first to the One you know is ten times better—turn to the One who, in fact, has no equal, the One who knows the truth about who He is, about who you are, about what is best for you. He’ll show you those truths in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.

Father, forgive me for times I forget about you and instead return to my old ways of thinking and living. Guard me from old habits of thought and help me as I seek to build that new habit of turning first to you when I need guidance, encouragement, forgiveness, and more. Remind me that in Christ I am a new creation.

  • Spend some time prayerfully thinking about yourself.
    *Are there some old habits you still return to?
    *What are they?
    *When are you most likely to fall back on these habits?
    *What would be the new way, God’s way, for you to handle each of these?
    *Can you find and memorize a Bible verse that will help you avoid this old habit and
    choose God’s way?
  • As you pray over these things, know that–
    *Jesus is praying for you. (John 17)
    *The Holy Spirit is praying on your behalf. (Romans 8:26-27)
    *I am praying for you.
  • And remember:

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