We know it is not possible for us to fix all our character defects on our own, but we can reverse the actions that reinforce our character defects. Letting go of character defects is never passive. Change within a man is a divine interaction between God’s grace and our choices. Like everything else we do in recovery, character change requires action. Changing our actions helps to interrupt habitual patterns of thinking, believing and feeling. Motion changes emotion!
When we realize that we are reacting with a character defect, addicted feeling or thought, we can choose to do the opposite of what our addicted instincts were inclined to do. If the old way of thinking, feeling and acting didn’t work in the past, we know from experience it won’t work now. So we try something different.
While we cannot change the past, we are never doomed to do the same thing time after time in the future. We can choose to do something different, avoiding the painful and destructive results that came from our addicted life. It will take some practice, but with a little commitment and a few failures along the way — which we shared with another person — the changes to thinking, feeling and acting can actually come quite quickly. Those of us who came from religious backgrounds will call this repentance, and that is exactly what it is. Grassroots, down and dirty, rubber meets the road, repentance. The simplest definition of repentance is to “change one’s mind.” It is an about-face. It is turning and going in the other way. Whatever you call it, it works.
And so I insist – and God backs me up on this – that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you! You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything – and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
Ephesians 4:19-23 MSG
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