If you feel yourself infected by a sinful habit of mind, body, or spirit, you are probably eager to be healed of that habit and have your life transformed. If so, your desire shows that your conscience is still alive and that the Holy Spirit is working inside you to will what God wills. What you are feeling is a godly restlessness—a dissatisfaction with the things of this world and a yearning for the things that are from above.
The Soul Prescription process is designed to help you achieve the spiritual health you desire. Before we get to the prescription for your soul, however, we want to present another key idea: you not only need to be cleansed of your sin, but at the same time you need to be filled with holiness.
We may get rid of a compulsive thought, attitude, or behavior temporarily, perhaps through an exertion of willpower or by some type of therapy. That’s good as far as it goes. Yet if we do not cooperate with God to supply a new thought, attitude, or behavior to take its place, the sin is likely to come back into our lives with a vengeance.¹ What a sad outcome! As Peter said, “When people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before” (2 Peter 2:20). They are worse off than before because they have fallen more deeply into a sin habit.
In the past, have you had trouble making your resolutions to quit sinning stick? Maybe it is because you concentrated on the negative part of the equation (eliminating sin) and forgot about the positive part (adding holiness). Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, has rightly said, “We cannot say no to temptation without saying yes to something far better.”
It is like defeating cancer: doctors not only want to destroy the cancerous cells but also boost the body’s ability to replenish healthy cells. We need to tear down sin habits in our lives and replace them with virtue habits.
If we leave a vacancy in our spiritual lives, it will be filled with something. Either the same sin will return (perhaps grown more powerful) or another will come in to take its place. If you quit getting drunk, for example, you might start overeating. Instead of that kind of setback, let’s allow holy qualities to flow in and fill the space vacated by a sinful practice. That is the biblical way.