"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
I don't know about you but I struggle at times trying to get things right. It is not as though I'm a blatant sinner who intentionally sets out to do wrong or cause harm. I am more of an "unconscious" sinner who messes up because I don't take the time to stop and think of the consequences my actions will have on myself or others. Perhaps you've experienced something like this once or twice in your life.
But what does "getting it right" really mean? Do we need to be perfect in all of our actions? Should we never be spontaneous? Must we carefully map out everything we say or do to ensure it will be well received? The fact of the matter is we will never get it right all the time. And even God knows that.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. Romans 3:23-24
You see God loves sinners. Moses was a murderer. David committed adultery. Noah had a drinking problem. Paul had anger issues. Rahab was a prostitute. God did not hate any of these individuals. In fact, God utilized them to demonstrate His glory. God doesn’t hate sinners. God hates sin.
Therefore, since we are natural sinners do we simply accept the fact that we are inadequate when it comes to following the teachings of Christ? Not quite. As Christians we are called upon to undergo continuous transformation in our lives that lead us away from worldly values and move us to be focused on spiritual values.
As a Christian counselor I work with individuals who are struggling to make significant changes in their lives. In many cases these people believe they are incapable of changing since they have tried and failed numerous times in the past. But real change is not the result of “white knuckling” it and hoping for the best. Change is possible when we approach it from the right direction.
Let’s look at some of the important steps involved in the change progress.
1. We should make every effort to continuously evaluate ourselves through self-reflection, which will enable us to be honest with ourselves and God about our sinful nature.
2. We need to understand the true nature of repentance, which goes beyond simply asking forgiveness of our sins. We must make sincere efforts to change our sinful way of life as we continue grow spiritually.
3. Understanding our past is sometimes the key to understanding what troubles us in the present. Many individuals were negatively impacted by both internal and external influences during their childhood and youth. It can be beneficial to go back and “connect the dots” to see if past wounds play a role in our faulty thinking today.
4. We must become more cognitive of our thinking therefore allowing us to manage our racing thoughts before they get out of control. This is a critical step and requires discipline and practice.
5. The will is strong. Therefore we must continue to build a strong emotional attachment with the Holy Spirit by continuously removing worldly distractions from our minds and allowing ourselves to focus on the events surrounding us at the moment. This allows us to respond to all situations with the power of the Holy Spirit rather than succumbing to our natural reactive tendencies, which are driven by selfish desires.
Finally, we must understand that changing our long-rooted negative thinking, feelings and behaviors is a process. And during this process we are going to experience success and failure. This is called “imperfect progress” – in which we are moving in the right direction but may experience setbacks. Getting it right all the time may not be easy, but by attempting to "live in the moment" and building a strong attachment with the Holy Spirit we can increase our odds dramatically.