Journaling changed my life, and it can change yours too. Journaling is a powerful way to grow in holiness because it allows us to think carefully through the thoughts, beliefs, motives, affections, desires, commitments and intentions of our heart. Using these 4 practical journaling prompts you can destroy the particular sin that plagues you and change your life through journaling. Before I explain these four journaling prompts in more detail, let me point out that these prompts alone will not help you overcome sin. If you genuinely want to overcome your sin, these will be a powerful tool, and the Holy Spirit will work in you as you honestly answer them. But if you don’t commit to putting off your sin, it will stubbornly remain with you. That said, if you have a particular sin in your life and you are serious about overcoming it, then after you’ve fallen into that sin, answer these four questions in your journal after you’ve fallen into it.
If you don’t commit to putting off your sin, it will stubbornly remain with youFor each question write 1-2 paragraphs. Make sure you answer all the questions every time, even if there is similarity between this time and last time. I encourage you to do this 3-4 times each week over a period of a couple of weeks. As you do so, you’ll grow in your understanding of what motivates your sin, what God thinks about your sin, how you are to act so that you can walk with the Holy Spirit rather than with the flesh when circumstances arise in which you are tempted to sin.
What happened?The first two questions will be hard to answer honestly because our heart is deceitful, and often we simply don’t want to see what is really going on in our heart. Sin is ugly, but when it is our own sin, it seems even uglier. We tend to think of ourselves as better than we really are, so facing our flesh can be disconcerting, discouraging and difficult. But it is also very necessary. The first question requires that you recount the circumstances as they unfolded and how they presented the opportunity for temptation. If you brought about the occasion for temptation, explain what motivated you to enter into that circumstance. What were you looking for or what were your desires.
What did you do?As you answer this question, you’re moving from the circumstances to your own heart, so it is important to be as specific as you can. What were you thinking, expecting and believing? What did you find desirable, and how did your affections draw you? How did your thoughts interact with your desires? How did the events unfold from there? In what way did you act on your desires? What was the commitment of your heart? Did your response escalate the situation? If so how? Confront your heart and expose it on paper to clarify your patterns of sin. This is an important step to defeating sin.
Confront your heart and expose it on paper to clarify your patterns of sin. This is an important step to defeating sin.The more information you can record, the easier it will be to track patterns as you repeat this exercise and the faster you’ll be able to apply the word of God in the midst of the circumstances to that you can walk with the Holy Spirit rather than with the flesh.
What does the Bible say?At this point we move from the situation to consider what God says. Specifically, the goal here is to select just one verse that applies to this sin. It could relate to putting yourself into the circumstances for temptation, or the motives and thoughts of one who falls into this sin or it may describe the sin itself from the Lord’s perspective. For example, one verse that I was struck by as I was working to put off anger was Proverbs 25:28, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” This verse didn’t address what God told me about the sin itself, but it told me a lot about myself and the quality of my character. Select a different verse that is relevant to your sin and these circumstances each time. Don’t reuse the same verse. The goal is to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, and the more broadly you see what God says throughout scripture, the more richly the Holy Spirit can work in you.[shareable]The more broadly you see what God says throughout scripture, the more richly the Holy Spirit can work in you.[/shareable] If you’re struggling to find a different verse each time, consider reading through a chapter of Proverbs each day. The Proverbs contain lots of short, pithy and general truths in a small amount of space, making it easy to stumble upon multiple verses relevant to the thoughts and motives of your heart. When you find a verse that is relevant, write down both the reference (where to locate it in the Bible) as well as how it illuminates the situation, defines the problem, exposes your motives and points to solutions. Write no less than a paragraph. Let the writing help you to think through how to apply this verse.
What would you do differently if you were to do it over?For this question, you will use your sanctified imagination to put yourself in the same situation again, knowing what the scripture says about your heart and the situation so that you can consider how you can apply that verse. Be specific. How would you change your thoughts and beliefs? What would you do with those desires? How would you act differently? As you reflect on sin with scripture in mind you want to consider how you can please the Lord in this situation (2 Cor 5:9).
As you reflect on sin with scripture in mind you want to consider how you can please the Lord in this situation.Over a 2-3 week period, you’ll start to recognize patterns in your sin. Specifically, you’ll begin to see beliefs or motives that drive you to act in a certain way. But more importantly, you’ll see how the Lord regards those beliefs and motives. By replaying the situation repeatedly, you’ll begin to see how you can make small but significant changes in your attitude, beliefs, and actions that will enable you to let the Holy Spirit lead you in holiness. These 4 practical journaling prompts will help you to destroy sin by exposing the everyday circumstances and your response to the truth of the word of God. This provides biblical truth that the Holy Spirit will use to will and to work in you for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13), and the result will be increasing holiness.
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