Focus Scripture: Proverbs 5:22-23
From studying the brain, scientists have found that repeated thoughts actually create physical grooves in the brain. When we practice a skill, learn a sport or study facts, a little trench is carved into our brain tissue. This is one reason why it is hard to break a habit. A habit is truly physical. One must make a new brain groove to break a habit.
Repeated thoughts become not just brain grooves, but deeds and repeated deeds become concrete routines. This natural functioning condition of the brain helps us to learn in the best-case scenario. It is the way we learn to play an instrument, ride a bike, or drive. In a worst-case scenario these thoughts become ditches of self-doubt, phobias, obsessive thoughts, vices, misdeeds and sin.
When scripture talks about the "cords of their sins" holding people, or when we are described as slaves to our sin, scripture is speaking about the grooves sin has cut into our brain. (The Bible knows so much about us, even written centuries before neuroscience could tell us why!)
It can be very difficult to change bad habits or to change a long-standing pattern of sin. This is why it is important to be aware of what we are watching, saying, thinking, and even doing. We want to create grooves in our brains that will lead naturally to health and happiness rather than to making the same mistakes again and again.
Every time we do something that is not good for us, every time we sin in a certain way, every time we eat foods we know are bad for us, we deepen the grooves that will make it easier to repeat that negative behavior. To change, we need to create new grooves--grooves of positive behavior. And that takes discipline. That is why Proverbs says "for lack of discipline they will die."
There are several things that help us change bad habits. First is desire to change--in church-language, we need to repent. Then we need to build new habits. Change the triggers and patterns that lead to the bad habits. If we always order pancakes and bacon and cheesy potatoes and eggs at a certain restaurant, start eating at a different restaurant and intentionally order healthier food. A key is to change whatever triggers the behavior we want to change, and then substitute a new action. Over time, we will have new grooves leading us to healthier behavior.