I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saw, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That phrase is little more than an excuse for refusing to make whatever changes are necessary to one’s beliefs or behaviors. And make no mistake, the life of the Christian believer is a life of continual change. As the Scripture says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So there you have it, on the authority of sacred Scripture: Old dogs can learn new tricks when the Teacher is our Lord Jesus Christ. The first step to making positive change in your life is to recognize that a change is actually necessary, whether it is a change in a belief or a behavior or both. Be warned! Sinful pride will do everything in its power to convince you that you are fine just the way you are. To be convinced that you need to change is to acknowledge that something is wrong or deficient; sinful pride will always rise up in hot denial against that admission.
Once you identify that a change is necessary, the second step is to be willing to put in the effort to make the desired change. That effort must always begin on your knees. Take your desired change to the throne of grace. All change begins and ends with God, which is why you must spend time in communion with Him, and that communion must include time in His Word. Come to the Scriptures and read expectantly, trusting that God will reveal the path you must travel in order to reach your new destination.
Finally, you must be willing to walk the path God has shown you, regardless of the cost or circumstance. God has promised to strengthen your resolve so that you will be empowered to do what is necessary to change. But you must be willing to play your part! The process of learning “new tricks” requires your active participation. The gift of God’s grace is available to us without conditions, but we must receive it and respond to it by taking action.
The apostle Paul declared that “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). Paul knew that he had to play a role in his sanctification. Yes, he exulted that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), but he knew that he still must do. In the very same epistle to the Philippians, he wrote that “I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Philippians 3:14). Change is possible, and it will be accomplished by the power of Christ, but we must participate in it.
Remember, change is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian, because the Gospel changes everything, including you!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!