House Call

Overcoming Unsavory Habits

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel
Overcoming Unsavory Habits

I was recently baptized and joined the church. I gave up smoking, drinking, and some other unsavory practices, but glimmers of my past life still haunt me and threaten my newfound interest in health and well-being. I don’t want to be a hypocrite; how can I conquer these habits once and for all?

We congratulate you on your choice to become a disciple of Christ and for taking the plunge, joining the church, and taking steps to leave behind destructive habits. It is not uncommon for the temptations to go back to past habits to linger. Paul calls them the “old man” that we are encouraged to starve (see Rom. 6:6-10, 7:14-20; Gal. 4:19; Col. 3:9, 10; Eph. 4:20-24).

Here are practical biblical and scientific strategies to help you conquer these habits—remembering that we are saved by grace through faith, not by good habits, even though God desires us to be free from destructive habits.

1. Rely on God’s Strength: Turn to God in prayer daily, asking for His strength to overcome temptation and break free from the hold of past habits. Paul had to “die daily,” and so do all of us.

2. Renew Your Mind: Replace negative thought patterns with biblical truths. Memorize and meditate on Scriptures that affirm your identity in Christ and His power to transform your life. (See Rom. 12:2.)

3. Find Support in Your Church Family: Connect with fellow believers who can provide encouragement, accountability, and prayer support. Join a small group or seek out a mentor who can walk alongside you in your journey.

4. Practice Self-control and Discipline: Set boundaries, avoid triggers, and fill your time with wholesome activities that reinforce your new lifestyle. First Corinthians 9:27 says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (ESV). Self-control is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22).

5. Celebrate Victories and Learn From Setbacks: Acknowledge and celebrate every victory, no matter how small, as a testament to God’s faithfulness and your progress. Learn from setbacks without allowing guilt or shame to discourage you, and rely on God’s grace for forgiveness and renewal. (See Phil. 3:13, 14.)

6. Serve Others and Focus on God’s Purpose for Your Life: Engage in acts of compassion, volunteerism, and ministry, allowing God to use your experiences to bring hope and healing to others. First Peter 4:10 encourages, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (ESV). Conquering destructive habits is a journey, not usually a one-time event. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). As you seek to learn more about recovery ministries, please visit

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.