My sport psychology teacher told our class a couple weeks ago, “people may change their behavior for a time, but in the end they’ll always go back to who they really are. Real change isn’t possible.”
What a depressing thought. If that were true then there is no hope or reason for living. Thieves couldn’t stop stealing, drug addicts could never break the habit and prostitutes wouldn’t stop answering to their pimp. They might stop for a time but then they’d fall right back into the addiction, habits and patterns eventually no matter how badly they want to.
The thing is, there is hope. Lives can be altered not just for a brief moment but also for eternity. Change, real life-change is possible.
It’s where the change comes from that makes the difference. My teacher was right about one thing: we might make behavior modifications and change the way we live our lives, you know, clean things up. We promise God we’ll do better, we’ll stop partying, stop cussing, stop sleeping around, stop doing whatever it is we feel guilty about, but in the end, if left to our own, we’ll go right back to the way we’ve always done things.
We might look clean for a little while, we read our Bible more, go to church, try the whole talking-to-God thing, but it’s never enough.
God has to make the change. And the good news is that He specializes in life changes.
When we get frustrated enough with our lives and the depressing cycle of sin and the emptiness it always brings all we have to do is turn to God. Repent and believe is the Lord’s cry for each of us. All we have to do is look at the bloody and beautiful cross to see His Son’s agonizing death and realize the extent of His plea for our souls. He wants our hearts. He wants to make them new.
“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.” –Ezekiel 36:26-27
When we repent of our sins and believe what God said He takes our hearts of stone that were hardened from birth to His truths, His love and His presence, and replaces it with a living, breathing heart of flesh. He makes what is dead to Him and softens it where we can now experience His life and relentless love and when that happens everything changes.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17
So, I respectfully disagree with my teacher. Change is possible. Lives can be forever transformed and hope is always present. All we have to do is repent and believe; God does the changing.
“O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” –Psalm 130:7-8