Bad behaviour in adults is not an uncommon thing. Many adults, including Christians, often struggle with things like short tempers or anger outbursts without knowing how to address these bad behaviours.
One way of addressing this problem is by practicing the “Good In, Good Out” principle by filling our minds and hearts with that which is good and pure and worthy of praise (See If You Have Filled Your Mind With Junk, Here Is How To Clean It). However, this principle is not always enough and should also be accompanied with the “Putting Off, Putting On” principle as well.
Philippians 3:13 says, “… but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
You see, as we begin to purge the evil from our hearts, we must purposefully let the old sinful nature go. The flesh will try to hold onto it with all its might, and the responsibility lies with us to loosen it from ourselves and to strain forward by embracing who we are in Christ instead.
Ephesians 4:22-23 say, “Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; 23And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].”
Even though we were made righteous in God’s eyes when we became born again, putting off the old nature and renewing the mind is still a commandment from God under the New Testament covenant. It is not necessarily something that happens automatically for everybody. As I explained in “If You Have Filled Your Mind With Junk, Here Is How To Clean It“, even though I became a born again child of God, I still battled with some behaviour problems. As I started to replace the evil gunk that I had stored up in my heart with the Word of God, I gradually began to see a change.
However, when I embraced the “Putting Off, Putting On” principle, the good work that the Word started to do in me was immediately amplified.
It Starts With A Choice
We need to make a decision that we actually want to let go of all the evil. There are many people who fill themselves with God’s Word, but they still fail to be truly set free from their addictions or negative conduct. As long as there is still some desire for the evil that we previously embraced, it will continue to show up in our lives every now and then, preventing us from achieving the success in life that we otherwise could have obtained. When we make a decision to get rid of it once and for all, we can then strip ourselves of our former nature by telling it to go.
We have authority in the name of Jesus and everything that tries to set itself against God or His children must go when we command it to do so. Let’s look at practical steps together with some examples that will show us how to do this:
Identify Wrong Behaviour
Firstly, identify all the things hindering you from achieving success in the specific areas you desperately need it. At the top of my list was the emotional anger I inflicted on those closest to me. I was not honouring them as I should have and as a result, I experienced the Lord’s impeding hand instead of His favour.
Next was the way I treated others like beggars and destitute strangers, whom I deemed as unworthy from my own self-righteous perspective (also read What Does The Bible Say About Honour & Respect?). Your list can include anything that is a hindrance in your life.
Do you feel like you struggle with laziness, your temper (also read If You Struggle With Anger & Emotional Outbursts, Try This), lust (also read Deal With Lust & Sexual Sin Effectively), or even the ability to like a particular person?
Write it all down.
Secondly, identify all the emotions that accompany each item on your list. It is very important that you are totally honest with yourself. For example:
Example Problem #1: Anger
Feelings or emotions associated with this problem:
- Lack of empathy towards people in pain
- Feelings of anger and resentment towards those closest to me
- I feel I constantly need to defend myself, and that others are out to get me
- I feel I am better and more important than others
- An unexplained feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when I emotionally hurt those who love me
Example Problem #2: Uncontrollable Lust
Feelings or emotions associated with this problem:
- Burning with an insatiable desire
- Thinking about sex all day long
- A struggle to control my thoughts
- I derive comfort from sexual activities
Once those emotions and feelings have been identified, take them to God and discuss them with Him. Realise that you are wrong for feeling the way you do and for acting on those feelings. However, you don’t want to just be able to control those feelings. You actually want to get rid of them and replace them with godly feelings and emotions.
If we only learn to control those feelings, we are like the Incredible Hulk who needs to train himself not to switch and become the monster. It is only a matter of time before something triggers the monster again, revealing the true nature that has not been dealt with yet. We want to get down to the root of all the bad fruit, uproot them and replace them with good seeds that will ultimately bear good fruit instead.
It is therefore also a good idea to ask God to show you why you are experiencing certain emotions, or why you act in certain ways. More often than not, we can link a problem directly back to an experience in the past. This is where it is important to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you things that might not necessarily be obvious to you.
Write everything down that comes to mind.
As you look at your list, you might identify certain people you need to forgive. If you are not sure, ask God if there is anyone you need to forgive.
If you don’t feel like forgiving, then forgive anyways. As already mentioned, to get breakthrough starts with a choice. If you truly want to experience healing and deliverance, then you will need to forgive those who have hurt you, even when you don’t feel like it.
Get Truth About Your Emotions
Next, take each emotion or feeling and see what the Word says about it. To list a few examples, I can derive the following from the Bible regarding anger:
- Unrighteous anger is warned against (Ephesians 4:26; Psalm 37:8)
- Lack of sympathy is the opposite of compassion (Ephesians 4:32)
- Hurting others is rooted in selfishness and the opposite of having a desire to help or comfort (Galatians 6:2)
- Feeling superior to others is rooted in self-righteousness, while the Word commands us to deem ourselves lower than others and to serve instead (Luke 18:9-14)
I can also derive the following from the Bible regarding lust:
- By God’s standard, to look with lust is the same as committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28)
- Sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage, and only to be between a man and a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1; Matthew 19:4-5)
- The Bible gives stern warnings about sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
- We are commanded to “run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written].” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
When we see who we are supposed to be in Christ, we are in a position where we can begin to deal with the flesh. Since we have been given authority over the enemy and since we are the righteousness of God, Satan can no longer have any power over us if we resist him in Jesus’ name.
Command It To Go
So finally, take each feeling or emotion that sets itself against the Word of God and put it off by commanding it to go in Jesus name. Also, do the same for every root-cause of any bad fruit you have identified. Then, put on who you are in Christ and what the Word commands.
Prayers About Anger
For example, my prayers regarding anger might look like this:
- In the name of Jesus Christ I command all unrighteous anger that I have allowed in my life to go. I declare that Christ has delivered me from the power of darkness, and I choose life instead. Father, because of your grace and mercy, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ that you will give me the strength to overcome my unrighteous anger, and clothe me with who I am in Christ. In the place of my unrighteous anger, I now put on love, peace, compassion and joy, and I choose to allow these emotions in the place of any anger. Thank you Lord for changing me.
- In the name of Jesus Christ I command every desire I have to hurt other people to go. Those feelings and desires are from Satan, as he is a thief, a murderer and the father of lies. I declare that Christ has delivered me from the power of darkness, and I choose life instead. Father, because of your grace and mercy, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ that you will give me the strength to overcome my desires to hurt other people, and clothe me with who I am in Christ. I pray that you will uproot any evil roots that I have allowed, or that were planted by the enemy causing me to bear this bad fruit. In its place I ask for a deeply rooted understanding of your love and compassion, and that I will bear fruit that testifies of a Christ-like nature, which is pleasing to you. I now put on a Christ-like desire to help, comfort and care, and I declare in the name of Jesus Christ that I am a helper, a comforter and carer filled with compassion for other people. Thank you Lord for changing me.
Prayers About Sexual Sin
When it comes to lust or sexual sin, my prayers might look like this:
- Heavenly Father, I come before you in the name of Jesus Christ and I confess my sexual sin. Please forgive me for desiring that which is not pleasing in your sight. Forgive me for committing adultery, even if only in my heart. Your Word says no adulterer will enter the Kingdom of God, and I confess I am guilty. I ask that you will forgive me, not because I deserve it, but because Jesus paid the price for me so you don’t have to see me as an adulterer and so I can enter your Kingdom. At the same time, I ask that you will help me to turn my back on this sin. Even though I feel I cannot do it, your Word says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
I also confess that I have used sexual sin to seek comfort. I bring before you the pain and hurt that drove me to sexual sin. I ask that you will heal me from the pain, and that you will comfort me instead.
Heavenly Father, your Word also says that you will not let me be tempted beyond my ability to resist, and that you have provided a way out for me (1 Corinthians 10:13). In the name of Jesus Christ I now put off and behind me all sexual temptation, ungodly sexual desire, lust, pornographic images, and every other form of sexual sin that is not pleasing in your sight [be specific here].
With the authority I have been given I now command lust to go, in the name of Jesus Christ. I also forbid any demonic power or evil spirit to entice me with sexual thoughts or desires, not when I am awake, and not when I am asleep. I do not agree to it!
Lord, I ask that you will wash my mind, my body, my soul, and my spirit clean with your precious blood. I also ask that you will restore in me a healthy sexual desire that is pleasing in your sight.
If you are not married, you could also command the sexual desires that were awakened outside of marriage to go to sleep until you are married (see Deal With Lust & Sexual Sin Effectively).
Obviously these are only example prayers, and rather than just following a formula they should be prayed from the heart. John 15:26 says, “But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.” The Holy Spirit is your Helper. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any secrets and truths you might not be aware of, that need to be prayed about as well.
Constantly renew your mind with the Word of God. Identify areas where you are lacking and need to change. Then pray over them, and in authority put off the old by commanding it to go and put on the new by establishing it through the spoken Word.
It is important that these prayers are prayed out loud, filled with faith and authority, as explain in the next post Why The Words You Speak Matter.
EDIT: Bad behaviour like anger outbursts are usually just a symptom of an underlying hurt. I have since written an article on How To Deal With Trauma & Emotional Pain, Effectively, with which addresses the problem at a deeper level.