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Monday, July 13, 2015

Remembering That God Grows Me One Step At a Time

In review of Ephesians 4:22-24 it says, “So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to — the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

Bottom Line:
We are to rid ourselves of our former way of life, one that was being destroyed by lust and deception. Instead we are to be made new by letting the Spirit renew our thoughts, then we are to put on a new self, created to be like God which will reveal itself in a life that is upright and holy.

What this means to me:
I am being told to throw off my old sinful nature and former way of life, which was corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, I am to let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. Then I a m to put on my new nature, one created to be like God, that is truly righteous and holy.

Although God could instantly transform me, he has chosen to develop me slowly. What I’m learning is that Jesus was deliberate in developing his disciples, just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land “little by little,” so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed (Deuteronomy 7:22). God prefers to work in incremental steps. There are several reasons for this approach:

I’m a slow learner. I often have to relearn a lesson a bunch of times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and I think, “Not again! I’ve already learned that!” But God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly I can forget the lessons God teaches me and how soon I revert to my old patterns of behavior. I need repeated exposure.

I have a lot to unlearn. Since most of my problems, and my bad habits, didn’t develop overnight, it’s unrealistic for me to expect them go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. The Bible calls it “taking off the old self” and “putting on the new self” (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:7-10, 14).

Growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. I fear these losses, even if my old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.

Good habits take time to develop. I must remember that my character is the sum total of my habits. I can’t claim to be kind unless I am habitually kind. My habits define my character.
There is only one way to develop the habits of Christ-like character: I must practice them, and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW).

In summary, I am to get rid of my old deceitful self. I am to be made new daily by putting on a new self created in God’s likeness. The results of this will be a life that is upright and holy in what I do. Today I thank you God for the reminder that I need to not be in a default mode and follow my old habits, but rather I am to refresh myself with the Spirit and to use his help to be more like you and lead a life that results in being different than the norm. Also thank you for the reminder that it’s not an overnight process but one that will likely take place slowly for the rest of my life. In hindsight, I was recently on vacation for the last week and during that time, I did not keep up with my weekday quiet times. I can see where I need these daily times with God to help keep me on track as I had an encounter yesterday that I was not too proud of afterwards. It turned ugly and defensive and did not have me reflecting a life that was upright and holy. Furthermore I was not a good representative for him. I need to make sure that I schedule in my weekday quiet times regardless of whether I’m on vacation or not. I need to keep close in order to help my old ways from sneaking in.