Let the Spirit change your way of thinking. Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)
"God waits for you to act first. Don't wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings."
Throughout the Bible we see an important truth illustrated over and over: the Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith.
When Joshua was faced with an impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God's power.
God waits for you to act first. Don't wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.
The Bible compares spiritual growth to a seed, a building, and a child growing up. Each metaphor requires active participation: seeds must be planted and cultivated, buildings must be built - they don't just appear - and children must eat and exercise to grow.
While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth. At least eight times in the New Testament we are told to "make every effort" in our growth toward becoming like Jesus. (Luke 13:24 NIV; Romans 14:19 NIV; Ephesians 4:3 NIV; 2 Timothy 2:15 NCV; Hebrews 4:11 NIV; Hebrews 12:14 NIV; 2 Peter 3:14 NIV)
You don't just sit around and wait for it to happen.
Paul explains in Ephesians 4:22-24 our three responsibilities in becoming like Christ.
- First, we must choose to let go of old ways of acting. "Everything . . . connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it!" (Ephesians 4:22 MSG)
- Second, we must change the way we think. "Let the Spirit change your way of thinking." (Ephesians 4:23 CEV) The Bible says we are "transformed" by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2) The Greek word for transformed, metamorphosis (used in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18), is used today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It is a beautiful picture of what happens to us spiritually when we allow God to direct our thoughts: we are changed from the inside out, we become more beautiful, and we are set free to soar to new heights.
- Third, we must put on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, "Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)