“Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you!” (2 Corinthians 7:11a NLT)
Yesterday’s post ended with a question: “Is there hope for our addictive behavior that we say we want to change, but inwardly desire to hold onto?” And the short answer is: “Yes and No!”
What does that mean? It means it largely depends on how badly you want to change and what you’re willing to do to prove it to yourself. We want God to do all the work. We expect God to forgive, cleanse, fill, empower, and enable us to be a completely new person, yet we also want to hang on to our old life of sin – including our addictive behaviors. If your dream and foremost desire is to love and serve Jesus, it’s not going to happen, unless and until you release your wrong motives and desires.
A.W. Tozer wrote: “Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys.” Being sorry for getting caught is not the same as godly sorrow that deeply desires to allow God to change us from the inside out.
A lot of people want the Jesus who saves but reject the Jesus who is Lord. Sorry, but that’s not His promise. If there’s going to be hope for a future free of slavery to sin, we’ve got to lay our lives bare before the King of kings and Lord of lords and desire Him more than our proverbial “toys,” whether that is a literal material possession or a habit we secretly harbor in our heart.
Jesus is a Gentleman and will not go where He’s not invited. The only way He’ll change our heart is if we give Him access. Eugene Peterson wrote: “If our future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, it declutters our lives.”
Often the most effective way to initiate change in our lives is to change our focus. I often say: “What you think about comes about.” If all you can think about is your next fix, whether that’s a literal drug, worry, sex, pornography, alcohol, money, juicy tidbit of gossip, or whatever – right behavior follows right thinking. And I’m not talking about behavior modification. I’m talking about heart and mind transformation.
There are things you must do and things only God can do. The most profound and life altering thing you can do is confess and repent. To confess is essentially to agree with God’s estimation of something. For example, His assessment is that your sin is separating you from Him and must be dealt with. He is able and willing to offer forgiveness and cleansing, but you need to ask/confess.
Repentance is your willingness and determination to turn from your sins and allow Him to create in you a clean and attentive heart. So many today have the attitude that sin isn’t a big deal. God’s grace will cover me when I mess up, so life is good. Sin from which you have no intention of turning is unrepentant sin and God’s grace will not cover that.
God’s plan is for you to be holy. Hebrews 12:14 says: “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” Then in verse 15: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.”
The blood of Jesus alone cleanses us and purifies our hearts and minds, but it’s a partnership. Not only between us and God, but between us and other believers. The walk of faith is not and will never be a solo venture. We become part of the Body of Christ when we’re born again and our hope in Jesus is fleshed out in our hope of transformation in Christ that largely takes place in community.
Decluttering our hearts is a “family of God” concern. If you’re trying to “fly solo,” and expecting to walk in newness of life, you’re only fooling yourself. Deliverance and transformation of life and character happen in community with other like-minded brothers and sisters. We really do need each other.
Blessings, Ed 😊