You can’t!!! Do yourself a favor; quit trying! And stop acquiescing to other’s attempts at controlling what you “do?” or “don’t?” do! Yes, I’m referring to all authority figures in your life. There is no one in your life (including yourself) that has the power to change your behavior or even your (quote-unquote) “want to?”!
Christianity (Authentic or the fake Political Christendom) is not behavior modification.
Even if they were compatible; behavior modification does not change behavior-it only gives the behavioral theorists’ something to do-keep bureaucratic statistics. However they manipulate the stats; have they/you checked with the individuals who are yet struggling that they pronounced changed? I have and it’s rather troubling!
Helping people control their fleshly appetites through human effort and adherence to rules is not only thankless but a never-ending task. Religious leaders tend to employ any strategy that promises even a measure of success, whether it is guilt, shame, condemnation, or threats in God’s name as viable options.
Let’s look at what God’s Word has to say about behavioral modification:
- God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench puts them in their place. But, set in their ways, they won’t change; they pay him no mind. Psalm 55:19, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- So why does this people go backwards, and just keep on going – backwards! They stubbornly hold on to their illusions, refusing to change direction.” Jeremiah 8:5, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- “I threw you to the four winds and let the winds scatter you like leaves. I made sure you’ll lose everything, since nothing makes you change.” Jeremiah 15:7, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- So do something about it! Change the way you’re living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God. Maybe God will reconsider the disaster he has threatened. Jeremiah 26:13, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- “John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.“ Matthew 21:32, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- “Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?'”Ezekiel 33:11, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- “Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, this most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe.” Joel 2:13, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
- Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave – too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off? Luke 8:37, Msg (And yet He still did not reject them!)
Modifying one’s Christian behavior from any position or effort not based on truth is futile. Many have been taught to “walk in the Spirit and you (we) will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh?” (Gal. 5:16) with personal behavior as the measure.
Yet, walking in the Spirit is more a matter of believing the truth about our identity in Christ and living that out by faith, rather than striving to behave better, giving altar confessions, renewing our discipline, making New Year resolutions, and committing to feeling really, really bad when we fail.
Neither will people’s behavior change by quoting (or memorizing) scripture, and condemnation will never change anyone. Memorizing and meditating on scripture is a very good discipline: but, it will not modify behavior. We must be dedicated to bringing real change not the counterfeit that religion offers!
Okay, what does result in the power to change?
1. A faith born out of romance! Jesus desires for us, a faith born out of romance; not will-power!
We can never will ourselves into change. It is a gift of Divine Love, only received by a faith born and experienced in the intimate exchange between two lovers-you and Jesus! You will never exhaust the vast ocean of His love. You will forever be discovering greater lengths, widths, depths, and heights of His love.
- For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19, NKJV
Our intimate romance with Jesus is ever deepening and strengthening our inner man; and it is kindled by a continuous fresh revelation of Calvary’s Cross!
Willpower is the language of the law, and it never brings permanent change, only more condemnation and separation; love is the language of (a changing-powerful) grace and it ignites (a) faith that leads to romance; nothing beats falling in love with the One who first loved us! “ ~ Francois Du Toit, parentheses added
2. The incredible power that is released in believing the Gospel of Grace for yourself!
- For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16, NKJV
“(But) if you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” St. Augustine (354 AD)
Grace through faith seems too good to be true! Oh, but it is true! It takes grace to receive grace and its incredible embrace! As mentioned before; grace is kindled by an ever deepening knowledge of Calvary’s Cross!
- Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? 2 The servant grew up before God – a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. 3 He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. 4 But the fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. 5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
- 6 We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 7 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. 8 Justice miscarried, and he was led off – and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. 9 They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. 10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it – life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him. 11 Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. 12 Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly – the best of everything, the highest honors – Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many; he took up the cause of all the black sheep. Isaiah 53, Msg
In light of the Passion of Christ, I am definitely Hyper Grace and you might as well throw Hyper Love in there for good measure! And it is not a theological position; it is a lifestyle of Grace through faith in every moment and every experience of my life! “His power (great grace) is made evident in my weakness!” Hyper grace, huh?
- (From Dictionary.com (hyper): word-forming element meaning “over, above, beyond, exceedingly, to excess,” from Greek hyper (prep. and adv.) “Over, beyond, overmuch, above measure,” from PIE super- “over”.
- From the Bible – “Where sin increased, grace *abounded* all the more.” Romans 5:20
- From The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon – to abound beyond measure, abound exceedingly to overflow, to enjoy abundantly NAS Word Usage – Total: 3 abounded all, abounded all the more, overflowing)
Steve McVey wrote:
- “To those who call me a “hyper grace teacher,” thank you. I gladly accept the “insult” and am honored to stand together with many others who carry that charge, just like early believers at Antioch gladly owned the word, “Christian” when it was hurled against them as an insult. I just wish the critics would take the time to learn what it means…”Hyper grace?” Over and beyond? Exceeding? Super much? Over the top? Yes, I’ll take it. In fact, I pray to understand more of it.
- “To suggest that teachers of grace are saying that sin doesn’t matter is either inexcusably ignorant of our teaching or shamefully dishonest. Sadly, when I read and hear these charges, I can smell the fear in the stagnant air around the critics. Fear that people will go wild if they embrace grace is a failure to recognize that to embrace authentic grace is to be *consciously* embraced by Jesus Himself and that, my friends, never leads to a bad place.”
“So, if your present revelation of Grace is not too good to be true then it is not truly GRACE! Grace is scandalous and too good to be true!?”
3. A Biblical hope? How can we have an authentic Biblical hope concerning our genuine desire to change obsessive and destructive behaviors, negative attitudes, and ultimately our lifestyle? The following scriptures illumine the Grace that unleashes change!
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV
- For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord?Jeremiah 29: 11-14a, NKJV
- “I’ve come to change everything, turn everything right side up – how I long for it to be finished!?” Luke 12:50 Msg
- Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change. Romans 2:4, Msg
- (He is always) working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth,? 2 Timothy 2:25, Msg
- But since it didn’t get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law (and lasting change). Hebrews 7:12, Msg
- God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. 2 Peter 3:9, Msg
- For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12, NIV
- “I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism – a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit – will change you from the inside out.” Mark 1:8, Msg
And the following scriptures will encourage us even when we struggle and fall. “A righteous man will fall down seven times, but he will get back up!?” Romans 7 & 8 provide powerful evidence that will give us the impetus to keep on keeping on!
- What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. 16 So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for me and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. 17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me join in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7: 15-25, Msg
- With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. 3 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. 4 And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. 5 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God! 6 Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Romans 8: 1-6, Msg
When you embrace these truths, the truth will embrace you right where you are in your faith journey! And In the world we now inhabit, we will experience a communion with God that doesn’t depend on your next experience with Him. Nor does it depend on blessings from Him. To really live is to release the life of Christ through yours. Release Him in any and all circumstances, no matter what you feel. Relate as He relates; giving when no one gives back, loving when no one returns love, forgiving when you wrongly judge others as undeserving of forgiveness, suffering in the place of those who should suffer.
The following scripture reveals our great hope for change like no other!
- I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, KJV
In the process of changing from Glory to Glory!