Grace For The Journey
Thursday of last week we began a four-part study on how the Gospel leads us to change our lives, or more specifically, the principles we can learn and live by that will lead to real, substantial, and God-glorifying change. We began with the realization that . . .
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. On Thursday we looked at the first three principles: (1) Change Your Purpose In Line; (2) Believe You Can Change With Gods Help; and (3) Study The Bible about Your Habit. On Friday we look at three more principles: (4) Repent of your sin; (5) Develop a Plan of Action; and (6) Pray Regularly. Over the next two days, we will look at six (6) more specific, practical truths the Bible teaches us about that will lead to real, substantial, and God-glorifying change. God’s Word is the best source of guidance for living as we ought.
For today, let’s look at principles 7 – 9:
Principle 7: Seek Help from Other Christians.
James 5:16 – Christians should confess their faults to one another so they can pray for one another. We should bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). If our sins have harmed specific individuals, we should apologize to them (Matt. 5:23,24).
When we are fighting an especially difficult habit, it may help to choose one or two special counselors to talk with regularly. They can give us Bible passages and good advice about how to change. They can encourage us. It may motivate us just to know that others are aware of our problem. And they can surely pray for us.
Public church meetings are especially designed to give encouragement (Heb. 10:24,25; 3:12,13; Eph. 4:15,16). We need to attend regularly for many reasons, but especially we need encouragement as we try to become what God wants us to be.
Principle 8: Diligently Practice What is Right.
1 Corinthians 15:58 – Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work. Abundant, steadfast work is needed.
We have discussed several steps to prepare us to change, but none of them can substitute for hard work and dedicated effort. All the good attitudes in the world will not get the job done until we follow through with action. God does not promise change will be easy, but He promises it is possible if we work diligently according to His word.
James 1:22-25 – Be doers of the word, not just hearers. Habits are formed by repeated action. We learn to ride a bicycle by forcing ourselves to practice, even when it feels unnatural and uncomfortable. But repetition produces a habit that then feels natural and enjoyable.
So we change to serve God only when we compel ourselves to do what we know is right and repeat it until it becomes “second nature.” (See also Rom. 6:1-23; Matt. 7:21; Luke 6:46.)
Principle 9: Substitute Good Habits for Bad Ones.
Ephesians 4:22-32 – Do not just put off the old man. Put on the new man. Note the examples: Speak truth instead of falsehood (v25), work and give to others instead of stealing (v28), speak good instead of evil (v29), show kindness and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness (v31,32).
Matthew 12:43-45 – A demon left a man but later found the man’s life still empty. He moved back in bringing seven other demons with him! Jesus applied this to Israel, but it is a general principle.
“Nature hates a vacuum.” Remove the air from a bottle, and it will try to get back in. Fill the bottle with something substantial, and the air stays out. So your life cannot stay a spiritual void. It will fill with good or evil. Replace bad habits with good and the bad is less likely to return.
For example, suppose you determine to watch less TV, so you turn it off, but sit in front of it with nothing else to do. Soon you will turn it on again. But if you become actively involved in family activities, Bible study, etc., soon you will replace it with other habits.
For every bad habit you “put off,” find some useful activity to “put on” in its place.
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.”