“II Cor. 5:17 says that when a person is in Christ, he or she becomes a new creation; that old things pass away and everything becomes new. If that’s true, then why haven’t I changed, why do I still act so awful?”
I used to ask the same questions. When I received Jesus I expected old habits and patterns to change. But they didn’t. Part of me wanted to do what was right while another very strong and unrelenting part was pulling me in the opposite direction.
The Apostle Paul understood the problem. In Romans 7:15 he said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
Praise God, Paul did not leave us there feeling helpless and hopeless. There’s more to the story and it’s good. There is a way to be free of habits and the life patterns that are holding you hostage. The requirement for this freedom, quit trying and start resting. To understand that, you must first answer the question, what became new when you were born again?
1Thes. 5:23 says that we are made up of three parts, Spirit, Soul and Body. We all understand how the body works. It has five senses, more if you include things like hunger and they all keep us very aware of its’ every need and want. The real confusion comes in separating the Spirit and Soul. I was taught that the two were the same thing and could be used interchangeably. But, when I read Hebrews 4:12, it became obvious that was not the case.
As I studied I learned that the Soul is made up of the mind, will and emotions. It’s that part of you where you think, feel, make choices and spend most of your time. The Spirit is the part of you that is made new when you are born again. Within it your moral character resides. In fact, it’s perfect. I John 1:23 says that the newly created Spirit on the inside of you cannot sin. Wow! “
Now I feel even worse,” you say. “I try and I try, but I keep doing the same things over and over. Everyone tells me, live for Jesus and just stop doing the things you know are wrong. But it’s not working.” The frustration you’re feeling with old habits and behaviors is not unique. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s the result of the battle that is raging on the inside of you between the Spirit and the flesh. (The flesh is the combination of the Soul and Body)
Galatians 5:16-17 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
The answer: quit living for Jesus and start living in Him. Living for Jesus means depending on your own strength. Living in Him means depending on His strength. Jesus understood this. Although He was God in the flesh, He still depended on God the Father.
Jesus said this in John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” Jesus never trusted in His own strength. He was God, yes, but completely human, tempted in every way like us.
Hebrews tells us to enter into the rest. There, you will walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The things you desired but were unable to produce through your own strength will manifest effortlessly. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will become the rule instead of the exception in your life.
We love you,
Jim & Shirley