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How Do I Change?

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By Debra Gregory

How did I get here?
Today my church had us do an exercise on repenting for our sins. Sins? What an ugly word and it brings up such negative “religious” connotations. I thought, “Well, I live a good life, and I try to not curse or smoke or all the other things that “religion” says I shouldn’t do. As I sat there, I began to pray and allow the Lord to groom my spirit. I asked God to show me the attitudes, actions, and thoughts that were hurting me or causing separation between us, things that kept me from enjoying the fullness of what He has provided for me. I had no idea all that I needed to repent of! I will ask God to continue to bring to my attention any sins so I can have right standing between Him and me. God is good, and so faithful.

Our sins can be anything from what we might consider small— like eating a cookie when we know we shouldn’t, gossiping, not willing to forgive someone who has wronged us—to something big like having an adulteress affair or being addicted to drugs—you fill in the blank. I realized again today that God is not so upset about my sin because of how it affects Him but because of how it destroys my life. God loves us so much and knows that sin is Satan’s entry door to our lives to bring destruction, pain and death. Sin demands a high price, and it can cause us to stay long in a place we do not want to be; it will cost us far more than we will ever want to pay.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22)

Jesus loves us so much, even more than I love my own children (and that is a lot!!) He wants the very best for each of them. So is the heart of God toward you, who is your “Papa.” God wants the very best for you. Sin destroys and it causes a part of us to die. God doesn’t want death in our lives, anymore than we want death or pain to come to those we love. The enemy of our souls, who is a thief, wants to destroy and steal everything good in our lives. Jesus died so that we might have life and have it abundantly! John 10:10 tells us:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Not only does sin destroy and bring death but it also separates our hearts from our “Papa God” and causes us to shrink back from the One who gives us true love, who wants the very best for us and wants to help us. Yes, God loves you and wants to help you to live in the abundance of His love. It is not God that shrinks back from us because of our sin, but we shrink from Him when our hearts are dominated with sin, rebellion, judgment, lust, lying, believing a lie…etc, etc, etc! The wages of sin, where death begins, starts with the dullness of hearing and our not willing to believe the truth, a searing of our conscience. One sin unchecked then leads to two sins unchecked and so forth, and pretty soon we are so far away and so insensitive to sin that we do not have the ability to see or be sensitive to right and wrong, resulting in more death to our hearts.

Sin leads our thinking to be hazy, confused, our lives open and vulnerable to the enemy, exactly what the enemy designed it to do, separating us from the One who truly loves us. The enemy is like a lion that separates a weak gazelle from the herd. In the same way, sin weakens and separates us, making us easy prey. To preserve or sooth our conscience we begin to lie to ourselves, deny the truth, and justify our wrongdoing or the lack of right doing. This then sets into stone spiritual apathy, the beginning of being “lukewarm.” This is exactly what the enemy of our souls designed the process of sin to do, rendering us inactive for our Savior, blaming God for our choices and powerless to say no to Satan’s temptations and our fleshly nature.

This is exactly where God in His great love does not want us. And if we let this condition persist, it is a slippery slope that is hard to stop and we will find ourselves in places hard to get out of. Addictive, entrenched patterns to whatever we originally gave in to. The danger of “lukewarm” is based on the word that says:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelations 3:15-16)

Every addiction known to man starts with just one little choice at a time… one peek at pornography, one toke on the joint, one sniff of cocaine or crank, one little lie, one extra helping at the table, giving into having sex outside of marriage etc. What we have failed to understand is that “one” time sets us up for weakness in our resolve to stand firm in what we once believed, each new compromised choice now leads to another “one more” compromised choice. The next choice to sin is easier than the time before until we no longer have the will power to say no; we are weakened by our choice, a prisoner to our unhealthy choices. We surrendered our will to the “one little” enticement, which now becomes our dungeon where we sit chained to sin. Whatever our temptation is, it is backed by the power of the enemy of our soul, whether it be hiding the candy bar wrapper, the choice to “hang out” with the wrong crowd, the choice to send an email to the guy in the office when your husband isn’t looking…But know this: it is our choice, our own choosing. It is our thoughts and our actions that got us here. We alone are responsible.

James 1:13-14 says: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

Each time we give in to the temptation we surrender a part of who we are over to the enemy of our soul. Don’t you think it would be better to make a choice that takes you closer to God who loves you than the devil who hates you and wants to destroy you?

What is the solution?

It is very simple and yet very hard to do once we are trapped, enslaved. We return to God the same way we left Him; One choice at a time. The first choice is to recognize that Jesus loves you just the way you are, to turn, to surrender your heart and choices to Him.

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Jesus doesn’t condone your lifestyle of sin but He does love you. Your sin cost Him a great price. The price He paid was His life. His price bought your freedom, freedom from sin, small or great, it doesn’t matter. Jesus paid the price to save you from that which would destroy you and hurt you.

Take responsibility for your choices
The second choice to make is based out of 1 John 1:5-9. We start by acknowledging our sin and rebellion and taking responsibility for our wrong. We do not deny our wrongdoing but confess it before the heavenly Father asking Jesus forgiveness.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:5-10)

We must own up to our choices, to our sin! The good news is He forgives us and cleans us up! A spiritual bath feels so wonderful and refreshing to our hearts and soul!

Change your direction
The third important choice is to turn or return! Make a choice to walk in another direction, toward your Lord and away from the sin that entangles you.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (I Peter 2:24-25)

And according to 2 Timothy 2:19:

“Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Don’t isolate—seek community
Fourth is to recognize that you cannot do this alone, the enemy is too strong and will be after you like a flea on a dog wanting to suck your precious blood and destroy your new resolve! You have given up precious territory to him and he does not surrender it easily. This is where you must have people in your life you can be accountable to and can help support you in prayer.

James 5:16 says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

You will need a community—find a good church and get involved with other godly women who are making good choices in their lives.

Change your thinking
Fifth, in order to keep your walk and healing, control of your thinking process is a must. Yes, you can control your thinking process! When the enemy of your soul brings those unhealthy thoughts to your mind, you can choose to send them away just like you would a UPS package that you didn’t order! Don’t sign for the lies! God did not create you to be victim to your own wrong thinking or the wrong thinking of others. Have you heard the saying “Change your thinking; change your life” or “As a man thinks, so is he”? These are foundational truths and to the degree you change your thinking, will be to the degree you will be successful in experiencing the change you and God desire.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

This will be a challenge at first, but the more you train your mind/thinking, the easier it becomes.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of your Creator.” (Colossians 3:2-10)


Renew your mind

Sixth, is to renew your mind with the word of God, get into it, study it, pray the Psalms.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Roman 12:1-2)

If you can line up your thinking with what is listed here you can have the freedom you so desire. This requires discipline and consistency until you form new habits. Don’t give up when things get confusing or difficult; instead keep your focus, keep making right decisions, one decision at a time!

Change your words
Seventh is important, and I will give you a big hint in assuring yourself a huge victory. Watch the words you say! Along with your new thinking it must be paired with correct speech or you will weaken your valuable choices by what you are saying. It is important that your speech matches your thinking and your thinking matches your speech. Your speech is a very strong clue to what you have been thinking.

Some speech is just merely old habit patterns that need to be corrected; other talk is a direct signal to you to know that you need to adjust your thinking and belief system. Be patient! Don’t give up! It takes twenty-one days to form a new habit. Make it your goal to form new habits in your thinking and speech. Be determined to have the life of freedom from sin and no longer to be entrapped and enslaved by bad habits and choices. Choose freedom! Choose to act upon the words of God. It is important to hear the word of God, to study the word of God, as that builds your faith. Acting upon the word of God in this booklet can actually change your life!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:6-10)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21
)

Believe God is good and is for you!
Remember that God is good and He loves you and wants the very best for you. Trust Him. Don’t buy the lie that God doesn’t care; don’t blame God for the evil in the world or for your wrong choices. Instead, let your focus be on God who loves you, choose to believe and confess He is good!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Choose Life
Remember the “choice” is yours, one choice at a time, choose wisely…. Choose Life!

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)


My prayer for you:

Dear Heavenly Father, draw the readers of this little book to yourself and to your Son, Jesus. Lord, help each person now to own their sin and confess it to you, to cry out for the forgiveness that you died to give them. I ask, Jesus, that you reveal the Father to them. Holy Spirit, teach them, comfort and guide them to truth. Father, send out your warring angels to fight on their behalf against the enemy of their souls. Strengthen their resolve to want a better life and to believe and trust You for it. I ask Jesus to help each person to choose discipline, and grant them a desire to build correct beneficial habits, one choice at a time. Dear Lord, please bring your healing to the destruction that sin has ravished in their hearts, minds and bodies. Lord, help them not to accept the lies of the devil but instead send those lies away and replace these lies with your truth, your word. Give each person a deep longing and desire for you and your word and wrap them in Your arms of Love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

©2009 Debra Gregory. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Bio:
Debra Gregory’s story is one of leaning on the Everlasting Arms despite many difficult life challenges. By God’s grace she is a survivor and has become a powerful woman of faith. Whether speaking at women’s events or in her writing, she radiates God’s love and grace as she encourages women in their walk of faith.

For copies of this booklet contact: Debra Gregory at
deodesigns@comcast.net