How Do I Change?
Matthew 5:29,30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
If I do not have the relationship with God that I want or if I find myself enslaved to drugs, anger, food, or lust, I have to, at some point, realize that I am the problem. The fault does not lie in the world or other people. My problem is me. My own destructive flesh nature is that which separates the person I am from the person I want to be.
So how do I change? I have come to the point where I realize my addiction to anger, lust or approval is destructive, but I cannot stop indulging in it. I have prayed and prayed again for God to change me but He has not. It must be his fault then, right? Does he want me to be stuck in this behavior?
God absolutely allows me to live in need of him and He allows me to remain in the defects of the flesh, but it is absolutely not his will that I live enslaved to destructive behavior. There is a vast difference between the life where my need drives me to God everyday and the life where my defect drives me to destructive behavior everyday.
It is for my desperate need that Jesus provides this violent solution. He does not insist that I just let go and let God. He insists that I have a radical role in how I change. Change is painful and if I have not been able to do it, it is because I have just not wanted it badly enough. Jesus asks, How badly do I want God? How badly do I want to be free from my addiction? He is offering the answer. Will I accept it?
Jesus simply says that I am to do whatever it takes to cut out that which is causing my destruction. Am I willing to go to treatment, leave a job, cut off destructive relationships or give up certain activities? Frankly, I do not want to do anything. I just want the magical fix. God, just fix me without any disruption to my life… To this, Jesus says no. I have a role in this process and if I am not willing to change anything, He will not change me.
Does God then leave me alone to fix myself? Absolutely not. It is because of Jesus’ death that I have this new spirit life in me. The goal of my radical change is not just to cut out the destructive behavior. The goal is to pursue God in me. I leave self so I can know God.
This is where God meets man: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). If all I have is my destructive behavior, I have to realize that I am not doing my part in leaving self and drawing near to God. He will always do his part of drawing desperately close to me, if I will but make room for him.
I can cling to my destructive defects, insisting they are my right. This is a choice God allows. I cannot complain then however, that God will not fix me. If I do not have God, it is because I have not been willing to actually pursue him. If all I have is my destruction, it is because I have not been willing to change.