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Do you know who your biggest enemy is? It probably isn’t who you think it is. It’s not the world around you, and it’s not Satan. Your biggest enemy is you. Why? Because you get to choose how you respond to Satan and the world me!

The battle inside us can destroy our ministries or professional lives if we let it. Paul says this of himself, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15 NKJV). Those who are honest will agree with that statement.

Seven weapons of self-destruction that ruin more lives than anything else are shame, runaway thoughts, compulsions, fear, hopelessness, bitterness, and insecurity.

Ministry or working in the business and professional communities don’t exempt us from these self-destructive behaviors.

But the answer isn’t found in our culture or in a book. It is only found in a person—Jesus Christ. Romans 7-8 gives us seven habits that will help set us free from these self-destructive tendencies.

Let’s make this personal. I MUST:

1. Remind me daily of what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Even being a Christian doesn’t mean we act like one. Instead, we’re filled with shame, runaway thoughts, and compulsions. We’re not living like we’re genuinely set free.

Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (NKJV). Paul isn’t saying we’ll never sin once we become Christians.

However, he does tell us God will not judge us when we sin because Jesus took our judgment on Himself when He died on the cross. There is now no need to live in shame. Jesus Christ already paid for the cause of our guilt and shame.

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to give me better thoughts.

God will answer this prayer. He wants to give you better thoughts. Paul writes in Romans 8:5: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, [set their mind on] things of the Spirit.” (NKJV).

There are two choices we have with how we think about ourselves. We can think about our lives the way we usually do—or we can choose to think about it how God does. I call this the principle of replacement. Don’t resist negative thoughts if you’re serious about changing your thoughts. It’s not just resisting negative thoughts but replacing them with positive thoughts from the Holy Spirit.

3. Realize that I have a new capacity just to say “no.”

Before you became a Christian, all you had was willpower. But willpower doesn’t last. Now you have something that does last—the Holy Spirit. We need to learn how to use His power. Galatians 5:16 says, “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (NLT) When you let the Holy Spirit guide and empower your life, you won’t live by your sinful nature. You’ll still have the same urges, temptations, and impulses, but you’ll have the power now to say no to them.

4. Turn my thoughts to God when I’m afraid.

Recognizing we have a Heavenly Father stronger than anything threatening us challenges our fears. Romans 8:15,16 tells us, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (NKJV).

Whatever you fear is not out of God’s control. Just like an earthly parent who loves to comfort their fearful children, God the Father is there, waiting for you to call and lean on Him whenever fear holds you back. After all, when you’re thoughts are on God, you can’t think so much about your worries.

5. View the long-term rather than the short-term.

Rick Warren wrote about a study he read that showed how long-term thinking often leads to a more successful life. As a Christian, this is vital. Our long-term thinking isn’t 30 or more years down the line. We’re thinking zillions of years ahead. We call it eternity.

Long-term thinking should be like this: “and [since we are His] children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:17,18 NKJV).

The Christian life isn’t easy. Your life in ministry or the business and professional world isn’t easy, either. If you just see what it is today, you’ll get overwhelmed. That’s why the Bible tells us to think about eternity, where our suffering will be less painful than the glory of worshiping Jesus forever.

6. Remind me that God is good while being large and in charge while being near and dear!

The pain and suffering around us are just part of living in a damaged world. This damage is described by Paul Romans 8:20: “For the creation was subjected to futility…” (NKJV). The Bible says this kind of brokenness leads to pain in our lives.

But Romans 8 also tells us four important truths to remember as we experience pain.

  • The Holy Spirit is praying for us (Romans 8:26,27).
  • God will use our pain for His good and our gain (Romans 8:28).
  • God wants us to succeed and thrive (Romans 8:31).
  • God will give us what we need, not just what we want (Romans 8:31,32).
7. Trust that God will never stop loving me.

Paul realized this, and it anchored his ministry. He writes, “There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39 GNT). We may lose many things in this life—our loved ones, reputation, money, and so on—but we’ll never lose the love of God. He will never let go of us, no matter how tough life gets. Even if we want to let go of him, he will not let go of us. We can depend upon that truth.

God has given us everything we need to overcome our self-destructive behaviors.
Whatever you’re struggling with today doesn’t have to devour you. Let God strengthen you through these seven habits.

Written by Stan Ponz
Dr. Stan Ponz is founder and president of Make It Clear Ministries (a national ministry that began in 1973 to help people take the Gospel and the Word of God into every person's world!). Stan also serves as President of Clarity Christian College. and is married to his high school sweetheart Carol, who led him to the Lord in 1966.