The Strength of Sinful Habits

“Habits have long roots. Sin, once allowed to nestle in your bosom, will not be turned out at your bidding. Custom becomes second nature, and its chains are threefold not easily broken. Well says the prophet, ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). Habits are like stones rolling downhill–the further they roll, the faster and ungovernable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak, when it is a sapling–a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is full-grown tree. A child can wade over the Thames at its fountainhead–the largest ship in the world can float over it when it gets near the sea. So it is with habits: the older the stronger–the longer they have held possession, the harder they will be to cast out. They growth with our growth, and strengthen with our strength. Custom is the nurse of sin. Every fresh act of sin lessens fear and remorse, hardens our hearts, blunts the edge of our conscience, and increases our evil inclination.”

– J.C. Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men, p. 12

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