When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit begins to live inside him. (John 14:16-17) The Bible tells us that the power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us because God’s Spirit lives in us. (Romans 8:11) This fact has huge implications for Christians who have struggled to make a behavior change in their life.
I suspect most people, whether they are Believers in Christ or not, rely primarily on their own strength – their own willpower – to make changes in their lives. I did that for many, many years. In weight management classes that I taught in a hospital setting several years ago, I urged participants to develop stronger “willpower.” Now, when I am working with Believers, I urge them to do the opposite. I urge them to rely less on their own abilities and strength and to rely more on the Holy Spirit. For most, this is a new concept. Maybe it’s also a foreign concept for you as well.
Our Old Nature Vs Our New Nature
Our human nature, our sinful nature, wants to do all it can to be in control and mange our behavior. But, the more we try to change behavior on our own, the more we are leaving God out of the picture and this leads to defeat, whereas leaning on God’s Spirit who lives in us leads to life. (Romans 8:13) The apostle Paul reminds us that when we are weak, we are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) In this verse, he’s indicating that when he acknowledges his own weakness and depends on God, that is when he is truly strong. Further along in Romans 8:26, Paul tells us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
We must be intentional about being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, being obedient to what we sense him telling us and being dependent on him. Again, for most, this will be out of our comfort zone because we think we need to be in charge and strong in our own might.
If you’ve made countless unsuccessful attempts at changing an unhealthy habit, I urge you to get on your knees and cry out to God and admit your dependency on him. Confess that you’ve left him out of the picture and that you’re now ready to lean more heavily on him – on the Holy Spirit – then you ever have before. As you do this, my prayer for you is Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
And then, after you’ve changed your behavior, remember to give God the glory for how his Spirit empowered you to make the change!
Questions to Reflect On
How many times have you been unsuccessful in changing an unhealthy habit, without relying on the Holy Spirit?
Are you ready to be dependent on God’s Holy Spirit to help you make a change in your life?
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