I used to wonder why it was so hard to change my behavior. Even knowing Jesus, this was difficult to do. I remember praying and praying for God to help me be better at things, or rather, at NOT DOING THEM. But it was like Paul said:
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (Rom 7: 14-17)
I knew my behavior was sinful (many behaviors, in many ways), but anything I tried did. Not. Ever. Work.
what’s going on inside of me
I despise my own behavior
this only serves to confirm my suspicion
that I’m still a man in need of a savior -DC Talk
And I would wonder why God would never change my behavior, no matter how earnestly I entreated Him. It wasn’t until the past year or so, after much healing, and much prayer, that I realized why:
God does not change behavior, he changes hearts.
I needed to change my heart. Or rather, I needed Jesus to change it from within.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
It was this realization that just….shattered me. I could apply it to so many parts of my life, so many struggles. Even now I think about it.
Struggling with lust, or pornography, or acting sexually? Don’t just ask God to change your behavior, ask him to change your heart, to reach into it and find that Love that transcends all other types of love, and all substitutes for it. It’s been my experience–and part of my struggle–that my own struggles with these things were simply that. A search for something to fill the void–the sucking chest wound–the perceived absence of love had created in my life.
I had to ask God to fill that dark vacuum with light. With Love.
Or my struggles with my eating, or diet (which remain). Why is that so damn hard to change?
Because, even though I know better, what I’ve been praying for is for God to change my behavior. To take away desire. To take away my tendency to do what I don’t want to do instead of what I do.
Not to find what is lacking in my heart that causes me to eat like a Roman at a banquet, and replace it with a desire for Him.
Not to find that part within me that causes me to want to please everyone and replace it with a desire to please Him.
Not to find that place within me I retreat to when it gets hard, and dark, and cold, and to speak truth to me there.
Not to find the real me, the ME God wants me to become within the person I am right now.
I want to be that person, and I want to do those things, and I want to struggle less with certain things, and I want to see God everywhere, because he IS everywhere. But to do that, I also need to to this:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:4)
I needed to trust in the Lord with all my heart.
I needed to trust the Lord with all my heart, every part of it.
I needed to be changed from the inside out.
And once I did that, I began to feel the desires of my heart become the desires of His.
And then I began to change.
Not with a “poof,” and a puff of smoke.
With a struggle. I still struggle. I struggle every day.
But something about having a strong back to help carry my burdens, and sins, to carry my yoke upon His own shoulders makes all the difference.
When I am able to give Him my burdens, then I the knowledge that I am a new creation actually reaches my heart.