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How people change..

I remember the first time I was told "that's just who I am, deal with it". This person had some serious character flaws, but they had resolved that they could not change. I've seen marriages lost in hope because one spouse believed the other couldn't change. I've seen people lose all hope as they struggle in sin, believing they could never overcome it. Maybe one of the biggest lies we believe in the modern era is that people don't or can't change.

As some of you may know, I spend time in the world of "biblical counseling". This is the world of change. Change comes not from our own strength but from the power of the word of God that can reach the deepest parts of our souls. But also, from the power of the Gospel that comes with a promise of change, the Holy Spirit.

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The Christian life could be described as the life of someone continually changing! Someone who is consistently being transformed into the image of Christ, the perfect man.

So how do we change...? The goal of this article is not to be comprehensive. Each situation is different, and I would never hope to explain all the ways the bible describes how we change in this short blog. Yet let me share with you just a few principles that have helped me and many others to change based on a great book entitled "How People Change" by Paul Tripp.

  1. Believe in the power of the Spirit to do the work of change.

    1. We must start with not assuming we will always be the way we are, no matter how deeply engrained our sin is. We don't always have to be angry, we don't always have to lust, we don't always have to feel apathy and no joy. The same Spirit and power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. If we believe we cannot change, we either believe the Spirit is not in us, or He is incapable.

  2. Believe the Gospel is more than just how we enter the Kingdom, but how we stay in the Kingdom.

    1. If we are honest, we don't think much about the Gospel in daily life unless an opportunity to evangelize comes up. Yet may I suggest to you that we need the Gospel every day, moment by momcement, and not just at the moment of salvation. Why? Because we are still sinners. Though we have been forgiven, we still sin (1 John 1:8). When we sin, we need to remember the power of the Gospel that saved us not because of anything we did to earn it. We rest in our forgiveness purchased on the cross that removes any need to feel guilt of shame. I need the Gospel every day, as it is the hope of the world, but also the hope of my soul.

  3. What ultimately needs to change is not what is around you, but what is within you.

    1. It's so easy. So easy to see all the outside circumstances as our true problem. We hope that our behavior changes, those around us, our self-perception, our thinking, and the circumstances of life. While many of those things may need to change, what needs to change more is you. This is a humbling reality, but what is going on in our heart is much more important to change than our circumstances. You and I cannot control or always change our circumstances. Yet we can begin to learn how to react and adapt in Godly ways through the power of the Spirit working within us to bring us to the fullness of Christ. The ultimate reason we sin is not because of what happened around us, but what happened within us. (Luke 6:45) Change can happen when we humbly accept this.

      1. **Caveat, this does not mean there are not very real outside circumstances that make life incredibly difficult and may even need to change immediately. This is just to say that as we pursue change, our ULTIMATE but not ONLY need is heart change.

  4. Clarify your destination.

    1. What we believe shapes how we act. We are driven by our desires. Our desires are often driven by our innermost goals. What is your end destination? What are you living for? Is the end goal of your life simply just happiness? Or is it holiness and fellowship with the God who made you? The answer to that question is really crucial in the topic of change. One of the easiest ways to begin the process of change is to change your destination. If we can let the Spirit help comfort our desires and goals to His desires and goals, it will drastically impact how we live our day to day. As Christians we are called to no longer live for ourselves (this includes out happiness) but for Christ (2 Cor. 5:14-15). You desired destination in this life of security and happiness is failing. It can't ever happen. But your ultimate destination in Christ of eternal security and freedom from sin is as secure as the ground you stand on. Live for that!

  5. Change is a community project.

    1. Lastly, change will likely not happen alone. Not only will you need the help of the Triune God, but of His people, the church. So many times I have tried to fight sin or change in isolation. In my own strength. Not realizing that the Lord has given me the body of Christ for my benefit and as the way in which he often works in his people. I am not sufficient. I am not all knowing. I am not even that good at truly seeing myself for who I am. Trying to change in isolation is like trying to drive somewhere you have never been without a GPS. You may get lucky and find it, but you most likely will be lost and frustrated. I need others to help point out my sin, hold me accountable, and remind me of the Gospel of grace I so desperately need. Do you have people in your life that can help you change here at Lakeside? If not, what steps might you take to begin to find that? Could it be that your struggle to change stems from always trying to do it alone?

There are many other wonderful principles in scripture and in this book. Yet I will leave it here and encourage you to take tip number 5 more practically. If this only spurred you to want to go deeper, use the body of Christ! Reach out to your Fellowship Group, your pastors, or me! Change is possible because God is who he is.

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