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Not certain what the definition of "vice" might be, I turned to my trusted Webster's Dictionary. Basically, a vice is a habit, action or characteristic deemed "bad" for one reason or another. So who, or what determines what a "vice" is?

My take on it would be that a vice is an uncontrolled habitual action or attitude that is harmful to one's self and potentially offensive to others impacted by it. Is chocolate a vice? Probably not, unless a person cannot control how much he or she eats or when or where he eats it! If it causes health issues but a person cannot or will not control his consumption, it's probably a vice. Is eating anything a vice? Again, if one cannot or will not control how much is consumed, then it becomes harmful to that person and that person's vice may negatively impact others -- a spouse or loved one, for instance.

I've had vices I've needed to deal with. I used to smoke. I used to cuss. I used to drink too much. And those are just a few. I confronted those vices nearly 40 years ago and can say I have victory over them. You can, too.

How did I come to the conclusion that they were vices that I needed to confront? After trusting Jesus Christ to save me from myself and my separation from God caused by my sin, His Spirit both assured me of my salvation and safety in Him but also convicted me of behaviors that were harmful to me and my testimony of new life in Jesus.

I learned from the Apostle Paul that in Christ I am a "new creation"; the old has gone, the new has come (1 Corinthians 5:17). The same power of God that gave my Savior victory over the power of sin and death is the same power that saved me and works in my life to give me victory over my vices!

Truth be told, I doubt I could have conquered those vices, or others, by my own will or strength. They are formidable foes and many have fallen victim to them. Our spiritual enemy, the father of lies (John 8:44), would keep you captive to keep you weak and to compromise the testimony of God's struggling children.

Can you relate? Do you have vices -- hurts, hang-ups and habits -- you know are hurting you, your health, your wealth, your relationships with others, even your Christian testimony? Have you tried multiple times and failed to get control over your vices?

There is hope so long as you are willing to accept this: our sin, our vices, or weaknesses are all because of the fallen creation in which humanity has lived since Adam and Eve. Our choices in life are all too often selfish, self-serving and in denial of their destructive consequences. Confessing that behavior as sin against God your creator is the first step toward victory. When you confess that sincerely and desire that your life turns in a new direction, He gives you, by His grace, the faith to accept and trust that His Son, Jesus Christ, was given to die to pay God's righteous judgment for your sin. Trusting that, He gives you, again by His grace, His Holy Spirit to come into your life to begin the work of getting rid of the old so the new can come! Scripture says, "All this is from God" (2 Corinthians 5:18).

God wants you to have victory over the vices that control and enslave your life. I leave you with the words of a song by Homer Grimes based on Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Day by day, hour by hour, I am kept by His pow'r; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"

Mark Voll is pastor of the Village Bible Evangelical Free Church. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 01/31/2018

Print Headline: Vices and Victory

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