Anger used to be the first emotional response to any situation in which I felt threatened. I didn’t like being told what to do, and I could never take constructive criticism gracefully. Poor self-worth and a lack of trust made relationships difficult. I was expecting that when I accepted Christ as my Savior, all that was going to change. I was going to be “a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The perception that magically after baptism our character defects and negative learned responses to life situations would somehow just disappear, is a dangerous and sometimes fatal misconception. Many new Christians (and some old ones) suffer a roller coaster type experience in their walk with Christ, which causes some to have a weak and joyless experience, or they may fall away from their faith and give up, because they think the Christian life is just too hard. I have walked away many times from my relationship with Christ. I could not live up to the standard “Be ye perfect for I Am perfect”. I was just not worthy. I couldn’t control my temper. I wore my emotions on the sleeve of my blouse. If I wasn’t ecstatic and flying high on cloud nine, then I was defeated and in deep depression. I would withdraw from social contact and beat myself up for being a lousy Christian.
I failed to understand what Paul was communicating in Romans 3:25 when he said, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (a substitute) through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” I had to learn that in professing my faith through baptism I had been forgiven and cleansed from the things I had done in my past life. But, that did not mean that all the baggage associated with those experiences had been removed simultaneously when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Paul expressed it this way in Romans 7:18-23; 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
In the Christian world I had experienced what is called “justification”, but justification is only the beginning of the adventure. Sanctification, another popular Christian word, describes the life long process whereby we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I always want the quick fix. But the fact of the matter is there is no quick fix. I needed to comprehend the meaning of Romans 12:1, 2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I had to learn (and I am still learning) to live by Galatians 2:20; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I have to continue to remind myself that it is not about my behavior or performance. I can never be perfect in and of myself. BUT! Colossians 1:27 states; To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: I have learned that following Christ is a choice that takes practice. Pastor Dan Gabbert, in his book Biblical Response Therapy, expresses it this way. “By faith in Jesus, we may put off the old sinful habit; and by His grace replace it with (put on) the new Christ-like habit – put off the old habit, put on the new, put off the old, put on the new. By faithful grace-empowered practice practice, practice, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the protection of the angels, Christ’s victorious habits will become our natural responses to life’s challenges!”
Yeah! It’s about faith in what God says He will do! Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” My responsibility? Trust in God’s word, to believe He is working in my life to save me. I need to cooperate with Him, to be a “doer “as well as a “hearer” of His word. Romans 12:21, tells me that I am to be an overcomer and it tells me how to do it. ”Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. And that is what God has been doing in my life all along.
He will do it for you too! Blessings.