Grace For The Journey
Becoming a Christian requires change. We must remove old habits and develop new ones. Today’ blog will look at three Biblical principles we can learn and live by that will lead to real, substantial, and God-glorifying change. God’s Word is the best source of guidance for living as we ought.
Have you ever had difficulty trying to change a habit? Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to continue acting as we have acted in the past. Like a river flowing through a canyon, the longer a habit continues, the more deeply it becomes ingrained, and the harder it is to change. This is true of all habits, good or bad.
The Bible shows us in Ephesians 4:22-24 that major changes must occur when we are converted to serve God. Old practices and attitudes must be replaced by new ones. Christians must learn good habits like Bible study, prayer, love, faith, patience, attending times of worship and fellowship, giving, teaching others, etc. We must also eliminate bad habits like foul language, uncontrolled temper, gambling, drugs, smoking, drinking, gossip, lying, pornography, sexual promiscuity, etc.
Knowing what changes to make is not enough.
We also need to know how to make them.
Change does not come easily. The Bible provides all the truth and guidance and the Holy Spirit provides all the power we need to live as God wants us to.
Over the next four blogs, I want us to look at twelve (12) specific, practical truths the Bible teaches us about to show us how to change to become what God wants.
Principle 1: Change Your Purpose in Life
Before a person becomes willing to act, he/she must be motivated. A sound sleeper is more likely to get up in the middle of the night if he becomes aware that the house is on fire than if he just remembers he did not brush his teeth! Christians have some of the strongest possible motives for changing. Consider some:
Love and Dedication to God
- The Bible teaches us in Romans 12:1,2 that Christians are transformed (changed) by renewing our minds (cf. Ephesians 4:23). To live differently, we must think differently. We must not seek to be like the world but to use our minds and bodies for God’s glory and service.
The Bible tells us that the Macedonian believers practiced generous giving because they first gave themselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5). Changing our conduct becomes much easier when we are totally dedicated to God’s glory and advancing His mission. (See also Ecclesiastes 12:13; Matthew 6:33; 16:24.)
- The Bible teaches us in 1 John 5:3; 4:19,9 what motivates us to obey God – Our love for Him. What motivates us to love Him? The fact that He loved us. How do we know He loved us? Because He gave His Son to die to save us Romans 5:8).
Love is one of the strongest forces in existence. It can move a woman to rescue her children from a burning building or a man to lift an automobile that has crushed a loved one. If you are having difficulty changing yourself, you need to learn to appreciate God for Who He is and appropriate God’s Word into our lives. (See 1 John 2:15-17; Matthew 10:34-37; 22:37-40; John 14:15; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
Imitation of Christ
The desire to be like someone we admire is another powerful motivation. Sports heroes inspire young people in athletics. Washington and Lincoln are models for patriotic citizens. So godly people like Abraham, Noah, Ruth, and Mary motivate us to serve God. But the greatest example of all is that of Jesus.
- The Bible teaches us in Matthew 10:24,25 that a disciple seeks to be like his master. Christians are disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26). We should follow His steps because He left us a sinless example (1 Peter 2:21,22).
As we face each decision in life, we need to turn to Jesus, look to His Word, and live in obedience and for His glory. (See Galatians 2:20; Matthew 16:24; Colossians 3:10).
Desire for Eternal Life, Not Eternal Punishment
- The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 9:25 that athletes control their habits so they can win a temporary, earthly honor. Christians have an even stronger motive. We seek the crown of eternal life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). We should set our minds on our eternal reward, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-6; 2 Peter 1:10,11; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12).
Lack of motivation is a major reason people do not change to please God. They do not have sufficient desire to change. Instead they want to please themselves or their friends and family. Often they are too concerned with the things of this life. Until our motives are right, little else will help us. But, when our most important purpose in life is that are we determined that surrender to the Lord and live to honor and glorify Him, then we will find the power and means to make the necessary changes.
When we lack the motivation to change, let us think about why we should love God, think about the importance of obeying and following Christ, and think about our eternal destiny.
Principle 2: Believe You Can Change with God’s Help.
- The Bible teaches in Proverbs 4:23 that we are to keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. The way you act is determined by your attitudes and intentions. People and circumstances may influence you, but you do not have to give in. You do what you decide to do (cf. Matthew 15:18,19; 12:34-37).
- The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God will not allow temptations that are beyond our ability to bear. He will always make a way of escape. “God is faithful.” He will always keep this promise. It follows that you can break any bad habit and develop any good habit according to God’s will.
- The Bible teaches in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This includes changing to please Him. If we trust our own strength, we will fail. Satan can defeat us. If we use Christ’s strength we will succeed, because Satan can never defeat Him. Perhaps you have failed in the past because you have trusted your own power instead of using Christ’s.
Sometimes we think, “I just can’t change. It’s too late. Besides, I’m only human.” When we do this, we are not just belittling themselves; we are denying God’s Word (Philippians 4:13, 19). We will fail simply because we will give up instead of persisting to depend upon and use God’s power.
- The Bible teaches in Psalm 37:5 that if we commit ourselves to the Lord and trust Him, He will accomplish His will for us. No matter how strong a temptation you face, no matter how long you have practiced a sin, if God says to change, you can change. (See also Joshua 1:5-9; Ephesians 6:10-18; 3:20,21; 2 Corinthians 9:8.)
Principle 3: Study the Bible about Your Habit.
- The Bible teaches in Joshua 1:8 that to succeed in God’s work we need to meditate on God’s Word. As a part of this discipline, you could list the pertinent Bible passages about each habit you need to change. You could also list reasons why you should change. Then, meditate on these verses daily, filling your mind with their truth. (Cf. Psalm 1:2; 119:11).
- The Bible teaches in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 that we are to frequently remind ourselves of these verses. Write them and place them where they will remind you and have its truth regularly before you: on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator door, on your table at mealtime, on the TV knob.
- The Bible teaches in Matthew 4:1-11 that Jesus overcame temptation by quoting Scripture. But this worked only because He knew the Scripture. Memorize verses about your habit so that, when you are tempted, they will come to mind and strengthen you. Quote them to yourself and to those who tempt you. (See also Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Hebrews 4:12).
By using the means God provides, you can change to be what He wants. He gives motivation, guidance, and encouragement. All that is left is for you to determine to follow His will and then diligently act on that decision. He provides the tools. You must use them. What choice will you make?
Tomorrow we will look at three more Biblical principles we can learn and live by that will lead to real, substantial, and God-glorifying change.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”