“Fixing” Behavior Problems
After coming into Christ all of us are given a new nature that comes with new desires. Deep down we all want to stop behaving like our “old man,” but all too often we go about it the wrong way.
When it comes to aligning one’s behavior with their new identity, there is nothing more crucial for a believer than the renewing of the mind. Transformation of a person’s behavior from that of a sinner to that of a saint is hinged on this one thing.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
It is because of this very truth that is expressed in Romans 12:2 that I believe the mind is the gateway to the rest of the soul – the will and the emotions.
The moment that someone accepts the gift of grace that Jesus Christ has extended to all mankind, they step out of first Adam and into Last Adam, who is in fact Jesus Himself. At that very instant of switching family lines, that person becomes (and forever remains) a saint, regardless of how “saintly” their actions are.
First Adam chose sin and in doing so became a sinner. Unfortunately for you and me, his choice had a tremendous and tragic impact for the rest of mankind. It was by this, Adam’s one act of disobedience, that sin entered the world. Adams choice to disobey was sin. He chose to sin and he would be the last person to have the choice of becoming a sinner. The bible is very clear that because Adam sinned, every person born into the human race is born a sinner (Romans 5:14-21). In other words, it takes zero sins to make a sinner. We are simply born that way.
Last Adam on the other hand, who was Jesus, chose to obey and by His one act of obedience He made a way for us to step out of our sinful condition and into a saintly condition. It was by Adam’s one act of disobedience that we all became sinners and it was by Jesus’ one act of obedience, death on the cross, that we all are given the option to step into sainthood (Phil 2:8, 1 Peter 2:24).
Being a saint has nothing to do with behavior. It doesn’t even have to do with our desires or emotions. Being a saint is contingent on one thing and one thing alone: receiving the gift of grace from Christ Jesus. The work of Jesus, and our acceptance of that work, is what makes us saints- nothing more and nothing less.
Consider this distinction: being a saint and acting like a saint are two totally different things. I can be a sinner at my core and act like a saint. Likewise, I can be a saint at my very core and act very much like a sinner. In other words you can’t always judge a book by its cover. But you know what? God doesn’t, so why should we?
God distinguishes between saints and sinners in one simple way; those who have the spirit of His son living within them and those that do not. He never considers outward behavior or appearances to determine one’s spiritual condition.
So, why did I just go to such great lengths to distinguish between being a sinner and being a saint when I am supposed to be writing about renewing the mind? Because to my convincing, this is where mind renewal begins. Mind renewal begins with you and I accepting that we are no longer sinners but are without a shadow of a doubt saints!
Sainthood is our new condition and “God’s Children” is our new identity. I’ve mentioned the following quote in a previous post but I think it is very applicable right here.
“Too many Christians spend so much of their life trying to become something that they already are. You see, who you are, is not what you do and what you do is not who you are. But who you believe you are will influence what you do. When we come into Christ, who we are is completely and permanently changed. We are given a new, pure and incorruptible spirit, and that is how God relates to us.”
Sainthood is not achieved by our behavior or any other part of us. It is achieved by the incredibly perfect and complete work of Jesus on our behalf. Learning to align our behavior with our new, pure, and incorruptible identity comes by mind renewal. And mind renewal begins when we accept who we really are in Christ Jesus.