Charles Stanley - The Seven Habits of a Godly Life
Well, the title of this message is "The Seven Habits of a Godly Life". You should get every one of them down. Now, ask yourself the question, Are you a godly person? So, first of all, I want to define a couple of things; and, first of all, I want to define what a habit is. And a habit is a recurring, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition. That's what a habit is, something we do over and over and over again. The second definition is simply this. What is a godly life? So, what's godly? It's a life no longer seeking satisfaction through a sinful lifestyle, but is now surrendered to God and His will for your life. In other words, we would call that a sanctified life, not perfect; doesn't mean you never sin, but it means that your life is fully surrendered to Him.
So, I want to give you seven habits that every single believer ought to make as a part of their life and the first one is this. The habit, first habit, is a life of prayer. And you'll recall one of my favorite passages, very simple, in Mark, that first chapter when the disciples, they never quite got a hold of this. But the Scripture says in chapter one of Mark verse 35, "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there". Simon and his companions searched for Him; "They found Him, and said to Him, 'Everybody is looking for You.'" And so, that's sort of typical about the way people operate sometimes. Jesus is doing the most important thing in life and they don't quite get that. And then again, for example, in the fourth chapter of Luke, and the forty-second verse, "When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. And He said to them, 'I must preach the...'" Gospel and so forth.
Now, when we talk about a life of prayer, we're not talking about once in a while. We're talking about that every day you sense the need, the desire, and the joy, and the awesome power that comes through praying, talking to the Father. That is, it ought to be a habit, something that is recurring in your life. Not just when you get in trouble, when you get in need, but because you love God; because you're grateful for who He is and what He's doing in your life. And, for example, in the eleventh chapter of Luke, the disciples came to Jesus and said, Now, would You teach us to pray like John the Baptist teaches his disciples to pray? And so, they saw something absolutely different about Jesus praying. It wasn't some ritual that people usually would go through in those days, but they could sense that He was talking personally to the Heavenly Father.
So, when I look at these verses, and think about it, the truth is you can't live a godly life unless you have a prayer life. You're not, you can't. You live in a world, we all live in a world of temptation and trials and heartaches and burdens and sin. And everywhere you turn there it is. You cannot live a godly life, I didn't say a life without any sin, but a godly life, and we defined what that meant. You can't live a godly life unless you have a good prayer life; because the prayer life keeps you connected to Almighty God, sensitive to His will and His purpose and His plan for your life. You don't pray, you won't live a godly life. If you'll think about it, it's the most important activity of your life. You've got to have a life of prayer.
Secondly, the second habit is trust or faith, whichever word suits you best. And I love that hundred and third Psalm and the nineteenth verse. And the Bible says, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all". So, if you'll think about what that verse says; if God Almighty has established His throne in the heavens, and watch this, His sovereignty, that is His all-knowing supernatural, divine power rules over everything, then what does that do? That gives me an awesome foundation to believe Him. Knowing that He's in charge, it doesn't make any difference what happens, how it happens, through whom it happens, for whatever reason, I know that God is in control and I can trust Him for whatever He allows in life. And I think that's why that verse is so important, is because if you don't trust Him, if you don't trust Him, you're not going to pray.
And you have to ask yourself the question, Well, where is trust in your own spiritual life? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path". And I quote that verse to you very often because it is a basic verse. And, when you and I are trusting Him, what happens? It builds intimacy with Him. And intimacy means that I have a relationship with Him. I don't have to introduce myself to Him. And intimate relationship with a person means that you are close, not only to their heart but their thinking. The way they think, the way they feel, an intimate relationship is what every husband and wife ought to have all the days of their life. Intimate relationship with God is you and He talk together. He listens to you, you listen to Him. You obey Him, He guides you. There's an awesome sense of intimacy in a life that trusts God.
And if you want to know whether you're a trusting person or not, ask yourself this question, What am I worried about? If you can look around and say, I'm not worried about anything, because you're trusting Him. Whatever you're worried about is God's long, awesome finger saying, You're not trusting Me at this area of your life. A godly life is a life of trust.
Third, third habit in this awesome life is the habit of meditation in the Word of God. Now, I don't know how you describe how important this is, but the Scriptures are there and I want us to look at it for just a moment. And the Psalmist said in this sixty-third chapter in the sixth verse, listen, "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me".
Now, what does it mean to meditate? It means that I read it. It means that I think about it. I search my heart in the light of what God is saying. I ask Him whatever questions I have on my mind. I surrender whatever He brings to my mind. And meditating upon Him, here's what meditation does. Meditation is like looking into a mirror, but it is also looking beyond the mirror. That is, I see what God sees and then I see beyond that and I see Him. Your focus is on Him. And when you begin to focus on God, here's what happens. Worries drift away, concerns drift away, your mind is no longer contaminated with all kind of things that do not do you any good at all. Meditation is an absolutely essential part of living a godly life.
And where there's no meditation, you're not going to live a godly life. You can't. You think about when you get up in the morning how much of the world crowds itself into your thinking. You have to get dressed, of course, eat breakfast, and you've got to get in your car and drive down the expressway or somewhere and finally get to work and as soon as you do, it's chatter, chatter, chatter, chatter, chatter all the day. Oh, the keyboard's flying all the day and your mind is full. Then you've got to get back in your car; get back on the highway and dodge the traffic again all the way home. And when you get there you undress and sort of relax and then there's dinner. I can fill up your day and not even know you. Because that's what we do. And so, where is God? Where is God's private time with you? What leads to a godly life is a time of being alone with Him, longing for Him, meditating upon Him, thinking about Him. And then, there's a fourth habit, very important one, and the one you hear me say all the time, obey God.
And I want to go back to Deuteronomy twenty-seven, all the way back in the Old Testament, because he makes it so crystal clear in this twenty-seventh chapter and the tenth verse. God speaking through Moses to His people, here's what He said. He said, "You shall therefore obey the Lord your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today". And then down to chapter twenty-eight verse one, "Now, it shall be," listen to this, "if you diligently," you know what that means? Consistently, "diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you," listen, "set you high above all the nations of the earth". He was talking about Israel. But put yourself in that position.
When you and I obey God, we're walking on a higher level. Think about how the world lives. They live with all kinds of evil thoughts; and busy, busy, busy, no time for God. You have chosen to follow Jesus. And to follow Him means you live on a higher level. It doesn't mean that you're looking down on other people. It just means that you have chosen to live by a standard that's higher than the world's standard. It doesn't mean that we're better than somebody else; but it means our lifestyle is better than the lifestyle of the world.
So, ask yourself the question, Now, do I have a habit of really praying and trusting and meditating upon the Word of God? And would I be considered an obedient child of God? And how many times have you said it and you can say it as well as I can. The wise way to live is to obey God, then leave all the consequences and circumstances to God. That I will do that only if I'm have a life of prayer. Only if I'm trusting; only if I'm meditating upon Him, that's the only way I've got to do it. So, these are simple habits that make your life what God wants it to be. And listen, think about this. There's nothing that can keep you from obeying and walking in these seven habits, nothing, except a choice you make. You see, you have to choose some things. You have to choose to go with them or with God; have this or have God; walk this way or have God's way.
And so, the reason I said seven habits, because remember we said a habit is a recurring, often unconscious pattern of behavior that's acquired through frequent repetition. Something that you and I do continuously. Now, each thing I've mentioned so far you can do. The reason you do not do it is because you don't think it's important. Now, watch that. The reason we don't do things that are absolutely sacred, godly, awesome, life-changing, lifting habits is because we've decided to choose the world's way. And no matter who you are, how gifted you are, how much money you have or how wise you think you are, how much education you have, you cannot live a godly life, the best life, without practicing these seven habits.
Now, what is the fifth one? The fifth habit is dependence upon the Holy Spirit. And somebody says, Well, what does that mean? It means that I surrender my life, listen, to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. And remember what Jesus said to His disciples? He said, Sit down, wait in Jerusalem until you be endued, that is until the Holy Spirit comes into your life. And when He does, then you'll be ready to do what I have called you to do. So, I've given you some Scriptures here. Some of them are familiar to you; maybe some of them are not. But in Ephesians chapter five, you remember what the Scripture says in this particular passage. And let's look at verse eighteen.
The Scripture says, "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation," or waste, "but be filled with the Spirit". Now, if I took a quart-size jar and set it up here, and I had it half full of water, you would say, Well, it's only half full. It would only be full when it's up to the top brimming, complete. When he says, be, that Greek verb says, be ye being filled, which means it's a continuous thing. In the morning when you get up amidst your prayer or before you, when you're meditating before you even get out of the bed, you should say, Lord, I just want You to fill me with Your Spirit today.
Now, here's what that means. Jesus said to His disciples in Luke before you do what I call you to do, wait in the city of Jerusalem until you be endued, until the Holy Spirit is come upon you to indwell you for the simple reason you are not equipped to do what I've called you to do apart from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who will empower you. He will empower you, teach you how; give you guidance and direction to do what I've called you to do. Now, most people don't have any idea who the Holy Spirit is. You are as a follower of Jesus, as a believer of Christ, you trusted Him for your salvation. You are now already indwelt by the third Person of the Trinity, who is the Holy Spirit.
When you and I choose to disobey God, we choose to sin against the Holy Spirit who is within us, and whom God sent into our life to enable us to become to be, to do, to accomplish whatever He has in life. So, you're never alone. You're indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, who is there to enable you, help you, encourage you, strengthen you, heal you, you name it. He's there because we need God in our life, and He knew we would. Then of course, there is the sixth one, and that's giving to God and to others.
And in the sixth chapter of Luke, which is a very, very familiar chapter, you remember what he says, "Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure," He says, listen, "They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return". When I think about giving to God, my favorite example of that I was thinking about this last night. My first Sunday School teacher was this, naturally, I was probably three or four years old, somewhere there-a-bouts. They, cause I started school at five, which was too early. Never have caught up.
And then, but I went to Sunday School every Sunday and I remember all the chairs were different colors: green, red, yellow, blue and so forth. And then the Sunday School teacher was this, I don't know how tall she was but she looks like she's about ten feet tall to me, I was sitting down. She had black hair, sweet, wonderful lady. And they came round to take the offering. And I remember my mother would always give me a few pennies to drop in. I would, she would never let me go without having something to give. So, before I could count, my mother taught me to give to God.
So, when I got my first job, which was a paper route, I made four dollars a week. Well, I was grateful to God and I thought, I can't give God change, I gave Him a dollar, which was twenty-five percent. I never thought about that, I just thought what did God get? Then after that, I had a paper route and I made sixteen dollars a week; and so, I gave God more than a tithe on that. And then, all of my life, I've never just tithed, never. For the simple reason I learned very early in life, you cannot out-give God. And watch this, secondly, you can't even predict what you're going to need. And if you can't predict what you're going to need, how are you going to manage all of that? So, we give to God and trust Him to do exactly what He promised to do. And so, I gave you this simple example that many of you've heard before because it's one that so impressed my life.
So, you have to ask yourself the question, Is that going to be one of the habits in your life? And the Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver. So, if He loves a cheerful giver, what about those who are stingy? Who don't give God. I'll tell you. I'll tell you why God's not pleased; because here's what it says. I can do without Him. I'll handle it. I can manage. I don't need God to manage my money. Think about how foolish that is. Your money could burn up overnight. The situation could be that you'd lose it all overnight, you'd have nothing. But, listen to this carefully. You will never be in the situation where you don't have anything, because you have God living within you; and everything you need, God has promised to provide. An awesome habit in our life.
Then I would give you the seventh habit, and that is very important one. And that is the habit of forgiving other people. And the Scripture, one of the very clear Scriptures in Ephesians chapter four. And we've all read it many times before, but it's the truth and we read it again and again and again. And the Scripture says, listen, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, do not give the devil an opportunity". Very, very important passage. And then he says in verse thirty, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption". Then he says in verse thirty-one, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, and tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you".
It's not always easy, no. It's difficult sometimes to be forgiving to people who have done certain things to you. And I think one of the worst situations is when you've been betrayed. When you have trusted, really trusted somebody, done your best to help them in lots of ways, and then they betray you. They do what would be the last thing you'd think that they would do in your life, yet we have to be forgiving. Now, here are seven habits. Listen carefully. I could have done this in a lot of different ways, but I wanted you to see every verse and to get all seven habits down so that every single person in here fully understands the seven habits by which you live a godly life, a life that will be blessed over and over and over again in many, many different ways. But it's a choice you make.
And I would suggest that you make a choice right now. We're going to pray in a second. And in this prayer I'm going to pray that you'll be wise enough and say to God, Lord, I want these seven habits in my life, and I will begin today working them into my life. It's a working process into your life. Will you live up to all of them every day? No. But here's what you do. You ask God to forgive you. Show me why I tripped up on that one, Lord. And I just reaffirm my desire to be forgiving to others, or whatever it might be. Lord, I was too busy. This morning I got up and ran off. Forgive me for not stopping to meditate upon Your Word; to surrender my life to You, yield myself to You, made a mistake, God. I don't want to do that again.
You don't think God will correct you? Yes, He will. He will correct you. He will give you enough trouble one morning, after you get up and ignore Him that you won't forget it. And listen. You know what? It's because He loves us. Think about, there's a whole Bible full of truth. But I believe those seven habits absolutely will transform your life and lead you to be able to accomplish in life, more than your heart could ever desire. Now, if you're here this morning and you're not a Christian, you're not saved, you never trusted Jesus as your Savior, I understand this is probably beyond you, but let me say this. You'll never understand or be able to enjoy life at its best until you surrender your life to Christ. Because you can't ever lose surrendering to Jesus, never.
You say, Well, what do I have to do? You have to ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin, not because you deserve it, but because Jesus went to the cross, died on the cross, shed His blood for you, paid your sin-debt in full, the Bible says, and therefore when you ask God to forgive you, because of what He's done for you, He paid your debt. God forgives you and makes you a child of God. Then, you begin the practice of these seven habits. What an awesome life you have before you. And I trust that you'll do it.
Father, we love You and praise You and thank You for the Word of God from Genesis one, one to the last verse of the Revelation. And this morning we're praying that You'll give us wisdom to recognize that with these seven habits everything else will fall in place. That we will open a door to the best of Your blessings. And I pray for somebody here today who is unsaved, who've never trusted You as their Savior, that they would be willing to ask You to forgive them of their sins; believe that Jesus went to the cross and paid our sin debt in full. And by trusting His death at Calvary, the shedding of His blood, that confession and repentance brings forth salvation. And following salvation, we would develop these seven awesome life-transforming habits in our life. And Lord, I pray that for all of us today. And that somebody seated here who is not saved would be willing to ask You to forgive them and to cleanse their heart and surrender their life to You right now. And we thank You for it, in Jesus's name, amen.