Saturday, September 14, 2019

Behavior modification vs God's transformation

Image result for black woman with bibleWhen I was in the world, there were many times when I tried to "get myself together." I tried to stop clubbing, stop cursing, and stop having sex. I tried to start going to church more, watching sermons, and reading my bible. Sadly, it never lasted and I was right back to my old life. I tried to change my behavior when the problem was my sinful heart. Praise God in 2012, the Lord miraculously saved me and radically transformed my life. I've been very vocal about faith and throughout the years and people who knew me in the world would always ask me how did I change my life around. Many of us
 think that Christianity is simply changed behavior, morality, steps, and following formulas. I pray that this blog shatters the false notion of behavior modification and brings light to the freedom, supernatural work of God, and life transformation of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

"Jesus didn't come into the world to make bad men good. He came into the world to make dead men alive" -Leonard Ravenhill

                             The Problem

1  1.  Sinful by nature

Because of the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, we are all born into sin. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. It's not that there comes a moment in our life when we decide to welcome sin into our heart. Sin is an uninvited inheritance from birth. {Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.} No one has to teach a child to lie or be selfish; rather, sinful behavior comes naturally. Because of our sin nature we are rebellious, hostile,  at enmity with God, and by nature children of wrath.(Romans 8:7, Ephesians 2:3).

2. The root is our heart

The problem is the human heart. Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Our lifestyle is a reflection of what's in our heart. So no matter how much we try to change our behavior, our heart remains the same. Can you imagine having problems with your car and you take it to a mechanic? The mechanic only washes your car and never looks at the engine to see what's wrong. Sure, the car looks good on the outside but the problem is on the inside. This is the same with us! If we want to deal with sin, we must aim at the right target. That target is not merely bad behavior but the sinful desires of the heart that produce the behavior. This is the very reason why Jess rebuked the Pharisees. They focused on the outside but ignored the inside. Matthew 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

 3. Better morals and Better behavior isn’t the solution

The solution to the immorality of our culture isn't better morality. The solution to the sin in our own lives isn't changed behavior. It is the life transforming truth of the gospel. For many of us, we know that our life isn't pleasing to God. Our natural instinct is to try to change our behavior. This type of living only leads to bondage, frustration and eventually returning back to our old life. It breaks my heart that there are many people who are caught up in churches and ministries that teach behavior modification, formulas, and legalism instead of the gospel. Many of these people are frustrated feeling like they can never "measure up" to the Christian standard because they're seeking to change their behavior without first being transformed by Christ. For my moral friend who may feel like this doesn't apply to you because you are already a "good" person. If we're trusting in our good behavior and good works rather than Christ, we fall in the same category. No matter how many good things we are doing in our strength, those who are in the flesh and are not born again cannot please God. Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

                   The Solution

         1.The gospel 

God is holy, perfect, just and no sin can dwell in His presence(Psalm 5:4, Habakkuk 1:13). Because of our sin, we stand under God's wrath and deserve judgment. Out of God's grace, love, mercy and kindness He had a plan to send the Lord Jesus Christ in the world to become the sacrifice for our sin.(1 John 2:2, Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 9:12). For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone(Ephesians 2:8-9). Not by changing our behavior, trying to be a good person, or by following rules. God has promised for those who repent and believe on Christ alone, they will be justified, forgiven, reconciled, adopted, and have eternal life.  Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.  

 2. New birth

In our first birth we are born into sin, this is why Jesus says that we must be born again. Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”John 3:3. The new birth is a spiritual awakening that takes us out of a state of spiritual death into a state of spiritual life. In the new birth God gives us a new heart, new desires, new affections, and seals us with His Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:26 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. The new birth is literally the greatest miracle that can ever happen. God takes sinful, rebellious, hostile people who were once His enemies and makes us His children. Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by death of his Son, much more new that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.  There is no such thing as a boring testimony. If the Lord has saved you it is a miracle and we ought to praise God for it!! 

  3. Transformation

God doesn’t save a person and allows them to live the same ol’ empty, sinful, and worldly life that they once did. He makes us a new creation. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17.  If God's seed abides in us we WILL bear His fruit. (John 15, 1 John 3:9) If God has changed our heart and made us a new creation, it will be evident. What happens on the inside will manifest on the outside. I’m not talking about sinless perfection but a new direction. Imagine you driving somewhere only to find out that you’re going the wrong way. You would have to completely make a u-turn to get to your destination. This is the same with the Christian life, God completely changes the direction of our life because we now have a new destination. 

Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm insinuating that we will become perfect once we become Christians. When God saves us, He doesn't completely eradicate our sinful nature(1 John 1:8). Christians can fail and give in to the flesh but they will be broken over sin and repent. We still have a flesh that we must die to and wage war with daily(Luke 9:23, Romans 8:13). This is why we must continue to renew our mind in God's word so that we will be transformed(Romans 12:2).  Praise God that we have the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. Titus 2:11-15  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

We don't need changed behavior, we need a changed heart. Only the God who created us has the power to change our sinful heart. My dear sisters and brothers, I plead with you to give up all hope in trying to clean up your life up and trying to be a better person. This is also for the moralist and self-righteous. Those who think that they are righteous based off of their own good behavior. Nothing that we do will ever justify us or make us acceptable to a holy God. Christ has already lived the life that we could never live and died the death that we deserved so that we can be acceptable to God. Christ came to seek and save the lost. He is mighty to save. Come to Him now and seek Him while he may be found. He is our only hope in this dark world! Acts 4:12 And there is salvation is no one else. for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

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