|Posted by Terry Aaron, PhD on August 11, 2010 at 12:47 PM|
The "Put Off - Put On" Dynamic.
. Christians often fail to change because they try to change solely by breaking bad habits. However, change that lasts will not take place until one replaces the bad habit with a godly habit. Ephesians 4:22-24 explains this as the "Principle of Replacement." This process of change is described in the Bible by the terms Put-Off, Renew, and Put-On. Christians are to Put Off the old sinful way of life, renew their mind with Biblical truth, and Put On the new godly way of life.
The process of change is not complete by simply telling God or others our regret or asking forgiveness. It is not enough for a habitual thief to tell God he is sorry every time he steals. For true change to take place, the thief must now become a habitual laborer and gift giver (Ephesians 4:25). It is not enough to Put Off the old man; you must also Put On the new man for true and lasting change to take place (Ephesians 4:24).
God intends for Christians to pursue the Putting On of the biblical alternatives to whatever they are trying to Put Off. Concentrating on what needs to be Put On is necessary in overcoming sinful tendencies (Philippians 3:12-14; 4:8). These sinful tendencies, i.e., habits, are patterns of learned ways of living. Therefore, they must be unlearned and replaced with new biblical habits, patterns and tendencies (Hebrews 5:14; 1 Timothy 4:7; Philippians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 6:16-17). This change is a gradual process that takes place as one puts into practice the new biblical principles for living. In time, old sinful ways will begin to disappear.
The Process of Renewal
Ephesians 4:22-24 describes the biblical process of change. Christians must be "be Renewed in the spirit of your mind" (v.23). This speaks of an inner renewal. The "spirit of your mind" is the inner person - the core of our being: our motives, desires, attitudes and thoughts. It is that inner disposition of the heart which influences our outer behavior, actions, reactions, choices, decisions and words. (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:35; 15:19; 23:25-26; Luke 6:45.) The Scriptures teach that sin begins in the heart and works outward. A change in behavior begins with a change in the heart. It is the heart which rules our actions and behavior. How does this inner renewal take place?
The primary tool God uses is His Word contained the Bible. Personal transformation is the process by which the Spirit of God uses the Word of God and changes us to become like Christ. This is a lifelong process. We are being renewed by:
1. God's work of illumination in our heart (Ephesians 1:15-18).
2. We are renewed when we continually grasp and appropriate the truths of God's Word (John 17:17).
3. We are being renewed when our desires, motives, attitudes and thoughts become more Christ-like. Each time we choose to replace a sinful desire, motive, attitude or thought with a more biblical one, we are being renewed. This inner renewal will lead to Putting Off the old way of life and Putting On a new way of life that is pleasing to God.
This is a process that takes time and the exercise of our will in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:7; Romans 6:11-14, 16-19).
It is not easy to change sinful patterns and habits that have been practiced for years. A great struggle can be expected at first. However, as we persevere with a desire to please God, eventually the old ways will fade and become less and less dominant in our life.
Personal transformation will take place in our life when we identify specifically what it is that God wants us to change. We will not make much progress if we are general or vague. We must have a clear understanding of exactly what should be put off.
Here is a Put Off/Put On list with Scriptures that apply to each. Identify the Put-Offs: sinful habits, patterns and tendencies that God wants to change. Identify the Put-Ons: habits and patters that God wants you to be, do or become. Do not be overwhelmed if you find that you have many put-offs / put-ons to work on. Concentrate only on two or three at a time. Select a verse that describes the incorrect and incorrect behavior. Make the verse your "Stop Sign" and commit it to memory. In time, change will come and God will bless your for it. (James 1:21-25).
Terry Aaron, Ph.D.