Is it possible to change? Is it possible to have victory over sin?
Biblical change can happen for any believer no matter what the sin. Thats encouraging!
But there is a catch.
The prerequisite for change is salvation. You must be born again. You must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, otherwise victory over sin is impossible. Apart from salvation, we have no power to stop sinning.
Why is that? Here are a couple supporting verses.
1 Corinthians 1:18
1 Corinthians 2:14
The bottom line is this. The word of God is what changes us, however, if you are not a Christian, you can’t understand the things of God, therefore you can’t change.
In Episode 14 we spoke about God’s grace. God’s grace is the means that changes us. But we can’t experience this grace unless we are born again. It’s God’s grace that saves us and it’s also God’s grace that changes us.
The format for biblical change is the truth of God with the love of God, then lives will be changed for the glory of God.Willie Partin
What is the pattern of biblical change?
According to Ephesians 4 he pattern for change is put off – renew – put on. Let’s take a look.
Ephesians 4:17-24 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
How do we put off the old man?
We must recognize why we sin. If we don’t even recognize we are sinning, then we won’t realize there is even a problem. There a couple reasons why we sin.
We sin by our unbelief. We chose to believe lies.
2 Colossians 2:8
In the book of Matthew, in chapter 24 we see that even the elect will be fooled by false prophets. In fact, this sin of unbelief goes back to the garden of eden when the serpent deceived Eve. She believed Satan’s lie over trusting and obeying God. Our root sin is unbelief and if we are all honest we all have bouts of unbelief. Just think about times in your life when you are angry, anxious, discouraged, depressed, or bitter. At some point you believed a lie. This is why addictions and besetting sins are so hard to overcome, because they are rooted in unbelief.
Another reason why we sin is because obey lusts and to obey lusts is Idolatry.
You might say, I don’t have idols. Ok. Let’s have a pop quiz. One simple question. Finish the following phrase, and finish the phrase honestly. I will be satisfied if ___________. Whatever you filled in the blank with might be indicative of an idol.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself so you can dig deeper to to uncover those idols.
- If only I had _________
- I will be satisfied if ________
- I must have _______
- I should be _______
Because we were born with a sin nature, we naturally have sinful desires. However, the difference here, is that a Christian has the Holy Spirit which gives us power to reject sin. This is why we couldn’t help but sin before we gave our life to Christ and it’s now the power we have to not sin.
Happiness is bound up in that thing, and when they don’t get satisfaction from that thing, sin happens.Willie Partin
Along with recognizing our sin is repenting of our sin. When we come to a realization that we sin, we must repent, confess our sin and be restored to our master.
We have a whole episode on repentance however, one thing I want to point out is that godly repentance is not the same thing as worldly sorrow. When you are truly heartbroken because you’ve offended God and you repent, that is godly repentance. When you are sorry you got caught, well, thats the way of the world.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11
When Paul was standing before Felix at Caesarea he was making his plea and giving his defense.
In the book of Matthew Jesus is describing the sin of Adultery as lust. Jesus then made a jaw dropping statement for the radical removal of the sin of lust.
Just to recap. To put off is to recognize your sin and repent.
How do you renew your mind?
The apostle Paul tells us in the book of Romans to renew our minds.
Repent means to change your mind, but in doing so, you must change from the old way of thinking to a new way of thinking. We must think like Christ, in fact we read in the book of Philippians about having the mind of Christ.
What do these verses say about the mind of Christ?
- It is possible to have the mind of Christ
- Jesus left the throne of heaven, lowered himself and became human. That was an act of humility, one of His many acts of humility. James 4 talks about how God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble
- Jesus, the God of heaven humbled himself to serve us.
- Jesus was obedient. We are to be obedient.
To summarize, it is possible to have the mind of Christ, and our mindset should be one of humility, servanthood, and obedience.
But how do we get to that point? Very simple. We read our bibles. We learn about Jesus. The bible is documents Jesus words and actions and we are to mimic that. The more we know Jesus through His word, the more we can be like him and have the mindset of Christ.
This requires us to read our bibles. To meditate on our bibles. Meditation isn’t some easter religion where you sit with your legs criss-crossed and you empty your mind. No. Mediation is something you already do daily.
Let me ask you this? At any point today was your mind focused on a problem, and issue, perhaps a fantasy? If the answer is yes, then you were meditating.
Meditating on God’s word simply means we are thinking about what we read and how we can apply what we read to our lives. Thats it!
- Psalm 1:1-2
- Psalm 119:11
- Psalm 119:148
Basically all of Psalm 119 talks about meditating and thinking on God’s word, God’s law, God’s precepts, God’s statutes and God’s commandments.
Where is your mind Christian? What do you spend your time pondering and thinking about?
Put on the new man
In the progress of renewing your mind, you are essentially replacing the lies you believe with God’s truth. Don’t miss this, because this is super important. When you have true godly repentance you are changing your mind, you are subjecting yourself to God and his truth. We must believe the truth. God’s truth is the only absolute truth we have and therefore what a comfort to know we have God and His truth that we can depend on. It’s the truth that will set you free.
Set you free from what you ask? Free from Sin. Check out vs 33-26
It says don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by what? Renewing your mind. The battle of sin starts in your mind. Lies are believed in the mind. Spiritual warfare happens in your mind and if you mind is set on things of the flesh then you will manifest your fleshly desires. The bible tells us to set our minds on things that are above.
Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
So if we are to replace the lies with truth, what are you replacing the lies with? More lies? What are you feeding your mind? Are you feeding it Facebook? Are you feeding it CNN or Foxnews? Are you feeding it YouTube? Maybe you are into watching motivational speakers. In fact some “pastors” sometimes appear to be more of a motivational speaker than a true pastor. What are you feeding yourself?
This next verse in Romans doesn’t just tell us not to feed the flesh, it tells not to even put ourselves in a position to feed the flesh.
Psalm 119 tells us plainly how to stop sinning.
Putting on the new man is subjecting yourself to God’s word and the teaching of God’s word. But the thing is, we can have all the Bible knowledge in the world and it doesn’t mean a thing unless we do something with that knowledge.
Putting on the new man is replacing the lies, but it’s also accountability. One reason many of us struggle with a besetting sin is because we don’t talk about it. We don’t share our struggles. Exposing sin and evil is one way to defeat it. I’m not talking about airing out all your dirty laundry, but if you are struggling with sin get help. When was the last time you shared a struggle with a brother or sister in the faith?