The life of discipleship is different, and it requires us to change. And part of the joy of following Jesus is that we want to change. But the change is not automatic. We can actually fight against the change in how we walk, and to our great peril we can win.
(I’m talking here, of course, not of the change that God works in our heart, but the change that is necessary as we walk the path on the other side of the gate.)
But I think people need to know that the change is not automatic. So how can we prepare the new believer for the changes that are coming?
At the gate, the mastery and tyranny of sin was broken. Satan no longer holds absolute sway over your life. But sin is still present and it still exercises a strong influence over you. Think of sin as a foreign entity. It doesn’t belong in your body, but there it is. And it is active and aggressive. It wants to destroy you. It must be how a person with cancer feels. The cancer doesn’t belong there, but it is there, and it is trying to destroy. But the only chemotherapy available for sin is the working of the Holy Spirit.
Sin has lots of help. Over the years of living on easy street, you developed habits of the heart. You established patterns of how to think and how to behave and how to react. Those habits have to be broken. It does not happen automatically or instantly. They are broken over time as you continue to put one foot in front of the other in your walk. But it is a process; life is a journey.
And you have a new enemy: Satan. He did not like you defecting to the enemy’s camp. He does not play fair, he will do anything he can to get you back, and he is powerful. He is also defeated, but he wants to drag as many people to hell with him as he possibly can, and he will never give up. Evil is patient and relentless.
The change is not automatic, or instantaneous.
To make matters worst, you need to realize that you can’t change on your own. Before you became a follower of Jesus, were you able to tame the tongue? No way. Can’t be done. It will betray your heart, and out of the evil in your heart will come lies and deceit, slander and gossip.
After you have gone through the gate, you still do not have the power to fix problems on your own. It was Benjamin Franklin, not the Bible, who said that “God helps those who help themselves” (Poor Richard’s Almanac). It is not within your ability to truly change the habits of your heart.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this were not true. How great would it be to wake up one morning and say, “Today, I will have conquered anger. Never again will it plague me. Be gone!” Wow. If you could package and sell that, life would become interesting. (Not necessarily better, just interesting.) Self-help books. TV appearances. Perhaps your own cologne.
But you can’t. The key to change is the next blog post, and it is a process that does not draw the best out of your heart but the best out of God’s heart.
But think about it. What do you think the key to change is?