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Can You Have Habitual Joy?

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The way to true happiness starts with a choice.

You’ve undoubtedly heard that “We’re all creatures of habit.” What about you? Are you experiencing joy from positive, healthy habits that bring happiness? Or, are you trapped by vicious negative habits and destructive behaviors that rob you of a joy-filled life?

Do you want to change? There is hope! God has given you free moral agency—you have the power to choose to change!

Historian Will Durant memorably summed up the philosopher Aristotle’s view of character: “Virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” (The Story of Philosophy, vol. 7, p. 87). Are your habits virtuous? American statesman Benjamin Franklin suggested an ongoing overhaul: “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout” (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1738).

The Choice We All Have

Yes, character is a free moral choice, as it has been from the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, Eve knew that God had warned her not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “lest you die” (Genesis 3:2–3). Yet Eve accepted the serpent’s lie that she would not die if she ate from the forbidden tree’s fruit (Genesis 3:4–6). She chose to eat from the forbidden fruit, and thereby sinned. She exercised her free moral agency, her human freedom to choose—but in a way that brought suffering, not joy. Sadly, Adam followed his wife’s lead, and humanity, under Satan’s sway, has followed the path of habitual sin for nearly 6,000 years of human existence.

In our modern world, some habitually abuse alcohol; others are trapped in the subculture of drugs; others are chained to cancer-causing cigarettes. Still others dabble in the shadowy world of the occult, often unaware of its seductive entrapments.

There are, however, other bad habits that may not come to mind as easily as those just listed, as they may not seem “as bad”—gossiping, telling “little white lies,” cutting corners in the workplace, or putting your good ahead of others’, to name just a few. The key to really overcoming these bad habits, these obstacles to a more joyous life, lies in a decision to want to change—that desire must come first!

The Help We All Need

Even with all human effort mustered against bad habits, mankind would still be unable to achieve Franklin’s hope of becoming “good throughout.” However, through fervent prayer to the Creator God, beseeching Him for His help, and using our free moral agency with the help of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of that Spirit—including joy (Galatians 5:22)—can be ours habitually.

All bad habits, when fully understood, flow from the transgression of some aspect of God’s law, which is summarized by the Ten Commandments. Jesus Christ spoke to this point when He said, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

If God is calling you to an understanding of His truth, you can have the power to break the habits that transgress the clear teachings of the Bible. God created you with free moral agency. This means that you have the ability to choose to turn to God and start seeking the power to overcome that can only come from Him. And you need not do it alone—once you repent and are properly baptized, you will receive the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

To learn more, read What Is a True Christian? and The Ten Commandments at TomorrowsWorld.org, or order your very own free copies. As you replace bad habits with good ones, you can indeed have habitual joy in your life—and your loving, all-powerful Creator is there to help!

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