Can change come from ourselves or must it come from God?
Jeremiah 13:1 - 27
NKJV - 1 Thus the LORD said to me: "Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water. 2 So I got a sash according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist.
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There is a big difference in "change of habit" and "change of heart." The question you ask is a great one and very intriguing. I do believe that there are many people that have been able to change their habits through self improvement seminars, AA or NA, rehab and some have just had an epiphany. Change of habit is difficult but not impossible. The real question here is a question of righteousness. When Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6, he was in awe of a Holy and Righteous God and immediately saw his state as being that of an unclean man in the midst of an unclean people. Our problem is that we have already committed crimes against God and continue to miss the mark, and that is a daily thing. Paul made it clear that we must "die daily." Jesus paid the price for our crimes against God. It was a pure and holy sacrifice that demonstrated the wonderful love of our Savior. He did it while we were yet sinners full of uncleanness. Our goodness is like a filthy rag before God and we must run to Jesus for salvation. We have been commanded to repent and place our trust in the Savior and rely on His goodness. When we do God has promised to give us a new heart with new desires, it's called being born again. Remember what David cried out to God in Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Change of heart comes from God. Hope that helps, God bless.
I don't believe you can do it on your own, but only through Christ. Read Romans 12:1-2: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:1-2 NLTSB) Also, 1John 4:4 says that...greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Both of these references teaches us that Christ has to be in us first, before we can change or even want to change our ways. Romans says to "give our bodies to God" first, then you can be transformed. Transformed comes from the word metamorphosis, which is taking on the form of a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly by wrapping himself in a cocoon. This really illustrative to mean that we have to change from within first. Then our outward appearance will change, similarly to the butterfly. Even our name will change to "Christian" as the caterpillar's name changes to "butterfly". Now the butterfly sees life from all angles instead of from the ground. Such is us, once we accept Christ, we see and do things differently, and now reading the bible makes sense, whereas before it seemed confusing, contradicting, unimaginable, and boring. It's the number one book sold in the U.S. every year; must be a reason for that.
By ‘our ways’, it means how we think, what we say and how we interact with others i.e. how we live. The Bible is clear that pre-conversion, we are sinners and do not seek God nor his ways. Post conversion, we should work out our salvation (sanctification). The bible commands us to be ‘holy and perfect’. Humanly speaking, this impossible. Holiness is an intrinsic quality of God. Who can be like him and have perfect standards in the way we live? I am still working out my answer to this important question as it is the key to living the Christian life. In order to answer it correctly, we must first be able to define the ‘I am’ in us - pre and post conversion. We know that salvation is by grace through faith – it is a gift from God and not by our works. We obtain this in Christ. Once converted, Eph 1: 3-13 states clearly how we can be holy and blameless and obtain all the blessings we have in Christ. Sanctification is only possible in Christ! Other bible verses on ‘who am I in Christ’ are available here - http://www.openbible.info/topics/who_am_i_in_christ. I am developing my understanding on this in relation to our sense of reality. Reality is a function of our consciousness. (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d4ugppcRUE. I disagree with Peter Russell’s religious beliefs). You live the life according to what you believe is real. If our consciousness is limited only to perceiving the realities of the world, then our behavior and pursuits will be that of the flesh because our ‘I am’ is devoid of God. But if you believe God is real, you live a very different life. Our consciousness must be changed in Christ to perceive new realities – that there is eternal life and a spiritual realm. This change in consciousness in Christ to perceive new spiritual realities will change our ‘I am’. In Christ, we are a new creation http://www.gotquestions.org/QOTW.htm. It is a miracle. Only God can do it for us because only God (the Holy Spirit) can open up our mind spiritually to know the truth. It has nothing to do with intelligence. It is God’s gift to believers. As Christians it is our responsibility to get to know the kind of God we believe in – the great ‘I am’. Not what you like to believe in but what God says he is in the Bible - OT & NT. If we believe God’s intrinsic quality is holiness, he acts righteously and his standards are perfect – then we will understand his wrath and love in the correct perspective. Our intent and attitudes will change. We live differently. This instruction to transform is in Rom 12:2. ‘Do not be conformed to this world,1 but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ But living life in our ‘present’ body is a challenge, even for the Apostle Paul (Rom 7). So unless we abide in Christ (thru reading of his word and prayer) and continue to fellowship with Christians, we will find this a great struggle. In summary, living our Christian life is our responsibility but the power to live it is with God. Just as conversion is a gift and a miraculous event, sanctification is the same and requires that we abide in Christ and Christ in us. What I am trying to espouse is to reconcile biblical teachings into our realities. Right understanding leads to right beliefs, which in turn leads to right living. As I said, this answer is still work in progress. I hope to get challenges and feedback to improve.
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