How To Say No To a Stubborn Habit (subtitled Even When You Feel Like Saying Yes) by Erwin Lutzer has been republished under the title Winning the Inner War: How To Say No to a Stubborn Habit. My copy was published in 1994: I don’t know if anything has changed other than the name.
It could just as easily be titled How To Overcome Sin and Resist Temptation, because that is basically what it is about. One of the most compelling chapters is the first one: “Why So Much Temptation?” Lutzer discusses that troubling question reasonably and plausibly. Other chapters include “The Freedom of Living at the Cross,” “The Power of the Holy Spirit,” “The Renewing of Your Mind,” “Living With Your Feelings,” “The Taming Your Will.”
I have read this book through at least once before: I think I probably have more than that. I have been making a few notes from it for myself at my other blog, I Corinthians 10:31, which was originally started to chronicle my weight loss (I wanted that separate from this one because I had seen other bloggers’ blogs start talking about dieting and weight loss and having that end up the only thing they blogged about. I don’t kniw, maybe you need to be that obsessive to be successful. But I just wanted to keep that journey separate from this blog, though I do mention it from time to time). After the first seven pounds, though, I got off track and never got back on. That is one reason I wanted to go through this book again.
One of my biggest problems is dealing with feelings. Though I know we live by faith, not by feelings, a part of me still felt that, when I prayed for grace in dealing with this or any other “besetting sin,” a part of the answer would come by way of changing my feelings and desires. But often we must obey in spite of our feelings, and they will catch up later.
I enjoy Lutzer’s style. He is very reasonable, logical, and readable, with very clear and compelling illustrations. For instance, in illustrating the concept of reckoning ourselves “dead to sin” (confusing because we don’t feel very dead to it), he likens it to living in an apartment under new management. The old landlord may come around and demand payment, but we don’t owe him anything any more. Or, in illustrating how, when we decide we are going to get rid of a bad habit or resist a certain temptation and then can’t think about anything else, he writes to try not to think about the number 8. All of a sudden that’s all you can think about! But if you think of the number 1,000, divide it by 5, multiply it by 10, etc., then your mind is off of 8. So also it is not enough for us just to try to remove this one habit or sin in our lives: we have to replace it, preferably with Scripture, prayer, praise, singing a hymn, etc.
And though Lutzer is very firm in instructing about what must be done, he doesn’t rant and rave and wag a finger in your face. He gives simple and clear (though not easy) instructions based on God’s Word and derives hope from the same Source.
Erwin Lutzer is the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago and has a radio program called Running to Win. I hear part of his program if I have the radio on after I drop my youngest off at school, and this is the only book of his I have ever read, so I don’t know if I might have any disagreements with his stand on anything, but I agree with everything in this particular book. It is quite edifying and I would recommend it highly.