FROM PERSECUTOR TO CHAMPION
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.
BIBLICAL CHANGE IS LASTING
In this section below Paul gets right into the dynamics of change that is not superficial but Biblical and lasting.
Ephesians 4:17 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.
Ephesians 4:18 says:
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 willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].
Ephesians 4:19 says:
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].
STRIPPED OF YOUR OLD WAYS
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 says:
But you did not so learn Christ!
Ephesians 4:21 says:
Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him]
This teaching about Christ leads to repentance and a throwing off of an old way of living, it means one is stripped off of your old nature.
Ephesians 4:22 says:
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.
REBORN OUT OF THE RESURRECTION
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.
Ephesians 4:23 says:
And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],
Ephesians 4:24 says:
And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:25 says:
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.
Ephesians 4:26 says:
When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.
Ephesians 4:27 says:
Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].
Ephesians 4:28 says:
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.
Ephesians 4:29 says:
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 favor) to those who hear it.
WE NEED TO HELP OTHERS
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.
IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
A lifestyle is the end product of a series of activities we have acquired through practice. It is not much effort to learn bad habits. They seem to just grow onto us with no real self-disciplined effort but nevertheless take time to become settled. Breaking bad habits takes a lot of willpower and concerted effort. Learning new good constructive habits requires a lot of dedicated consequential hard work. In the short term, there are no or very few noticeable benefits. However, if you stick to it you earn the rewards eventually. The fact of the matter is that bad habits come easy and naturally, good habits require hard work, the former is fleshly and carnal and caters for our sinful nature the latter is spiritual. The natural man cannot do the things of the spirit in his own power, he needs spiritual help. That is why we depend on the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus.
DR KRIGE AND HOUSE REGENERATION
This adapted content was extracted from A Biblical Approach to Psychotherapy 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.