Do you ever get discouraged when you work on a New Year’s resolution? It’s easy to give up because we feel like we’ll never change. We’re not the only ones who struggle with this.
If we look at the letters Paul wrote to believers in the Bible, we can see that they struggled with the same sins we do. They weren’t changed in an instant the minute they became believers.
Let’s take a look at Paul’s advice to them and see if we can find something to help us in our own struggles with transformation.
Bible Study: God’s View of Your Goal
1. Read Ephesians 1:1. Who is Paul writing to?
2. We can find out what they were struggling with by looking at what Paul was telling them to do and not do. Read Ephesians 4:1, 17-19. Describe their struggle.
3. Read Ephesians 4:22-24. What did Paul tell them to do if they wanted to break free from their former manner of life?
4. What comes between the old self and the new self? (Ephesians 4:23)
Transformed by Truth
Paul tells us the old self is walking around in the futility of his mind, darkened in his understanding of life. He’s not seeing life from a biblical perspective.
That’s basically what we’re doing in the area of our New Year’s resolution. We’re stuck in our old-self behavior because we’re not seeing life from God’s perspective.
If we want to reach our goals, we need to throw off the lies that are fueling our old behavior and put on the truth that will set us free. In other words, renew our minds. Let’s see what this looks like on a practical level.
An Exercise for Your Goal
Think of your own new year’s resolution or something you’re trying to change in your life. What did you learn from your family about this area of your life? What did you learn through your social interactions in school? What do you learn through commercials on television? What are you currently telling yourself?
These are your “old self” thoughts.
Make a chart like the one I have below, and put those thoughts in the my view column.
When you’ve finished, evaluate each thought according to Scripture (this is the renewing of the mind part) and write down God’s view in the God’s view column.
An Example: Perfectionism
Here’s a chart I filled out for one of my own new year’s resolutions which is to break free from perfectionism.
|I need to be perfect.||You will never be perfect. You’re a sinner. Fortunately, I’ve saved you by grace. I love you even though you’re not perfect!!|
|If I’m not perfect, people will condemn me.||Here’s the sad truth, Barb: you can’t live life without being condemned. I was condemned, and I was perfect, which shoots down your theory. If you’ve sinned against someone, ask for forgiveness. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Oh, and by the way, I don’t condemn you – and I’m the King of the Universe!|
|It is terrible if people condemn me.||It’s sad, but not terrible. If you want to love well, you need to be willing to be condemned. And I want you to love well.|
|I need to live up to their expectations so that won’t happen.||Thou shalt have no other gods before me, Barb. Don’t worry about what they think. Worry about what I think! Seek first the kingdom of God. And always remember: I LOVE you even when everyone else out there is condemning you. Even when you are condemning yourself.|
Why You Won’t Change if You Don’t Renew Your Mind
Do you see why we need to renew our minds if we want to change? Just look at my chart. If I keep thinking I have to be perfect to be acceptable, then of course I’m going to keep trying to be perfect – because I want to be acceptable!
If on the other hand I move over to the right side of the chart – God’s side – I’ll no longer feel like I have to be perfect. That will free me up to move out of my self-centeredness and into a sacrificial love for others.
I’ll get over to the right side of the chart by renewing my mind over and over again until I see life from His perspective first time around.
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Karen Foster says
Your chart is a practical way to compare our thoughts with God’s mind. Isn’t it wonderful we have access to God’s Word so we can cling to truth instead of the lies we swallow and live by.
I don’t know what I’d do without it. :) He sets the captives free in so many different ways.
Loren Pinilis says
I like this. Paul’s letters were written because the recipients had to be reminded – over and over again – about the truth. So we can take heart.
Yes, we can. And much better to take heart than to beat ourselves up!
Really powerful post. I struggle with perfectionism too. You really spoke volumes to me!
I really like this part, “I was condemned and I was perfect, which shoots down your theory”
So true and so liberating!
You also struck a cord about how if I worry about what others think of me I am making them a god. WOW! That hurt, I’m guilty of that and God is worthy of more than what I offer when I worry about what others think.
Thank you so much for this post. Great job!
Thanks, TC. God is chipping away at my perfectionism and people pleasing. Making this chart really helped plus I made another one a couple of days later and that helped even more. I would sure love to break completely free of perfectionism and people pleasing this year and develop the habit of just being happy with doing what God wants me to do and not worrying about what others think. I’m hoping this will be the year that happens. Last year was certainly a year filled with opportunities for Him to work on me in this area of my life!