START WITH REPENTANCE
Consider the change Saul the persecutor of the Christians, went through to become Paul, the champion of the Christian faith. Therefore, he is qualified to give us teaching on the matter of godly change. We know it starts with repentance. We also know that genuine repentance leads to forgiveness and the putting right of matters. Let us look at a portion of Scripture extracted from a letter written by Paul to the Ephesians where previously we know there was a very strong culture of occultism. We can read about that in Acts 19 verse 19. In this section below Paul gets right into the dynamics of change that is not superficial but Biblical and lasting.
Ephesians 4:17 – 19 says
“So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds. Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the wilful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature]. In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].”
TEACHING THAT CHRIS IS THE TRUTH
Up to this point, we have a very accurate description of the lifestyle of a drug addict who is totally given over to a hedonistic lifestyle. Then there is an encounter with Christ in the next verse. Notice the teaching about Christ that takes place. It leads to the realization that He is Truth.
Ephesians 4:20 – 21 tells us
“But you did not so learn Christ! Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him]”
THROW OUT THE OLD NATURE
This teaching about Christ leads to repentance and a throwing off of an old way of living – it means one is stripped of your old nature.
Ephesians 4:22 tells us about renewal:
“Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion.”
A RENEWED MIND REPLACES DELUSIONS
Delusions are false belief systems which are now replaced by a renewed mind, a new person who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Someone who thinks and acts totally opposite to what he/she was before. A sinful rebellious and lying nature becomes a godly, pure and truthful nature. The one is crucified with Christ and a new one is born out of the resurrection.
More about renewal in Ephesians 4:23 – 29
“Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude] and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbour, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such[speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favour) to those who hear it.”
A 180 DEGREE TURNAROUND
The thief does not just stop stealing, no he works with his own hands and earns his own income of which a portion he puts back into good works. An addict must not just stop using drugs; he/she must change and study the Word so that they can help others. This is a 180-degree turnaround against the drug culture and way of thinking and living.
DR KRIGE AND HOUSE REGENERATION
This adapted content was extracted from Regeneration Versus Rehabilitation, authored by Dr Ado Krige, the Founding Director of House Regeneration, a South African drug rehabilitation centre offering a comprehensive discipleship training program. By applying principles of Biblical Therapy, using the Scriptures to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness, House Regeneration counsellors show anyone who has suffered from addiction how to fully understand why they do what they do and how to bring their belief systems in line with the Word of God.