Choice 5: Making Changes


Series: Life's Healing Choices

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

Because God loves you, God wants to change you. In this lesson, we’ll look at what a character defect is, and why it is so darn hard for us to get rid of them. And we’ll learn how to cooperate with God in His process of changing us.

At the end of the message, we’ll hear from a member of Gospel City Church, Kyle, as he shares some of his story with us.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

Due to a technical issue, the first 45 seconds of this message have a low quality of audio. But after those first 45 seconds, things will improve and we'll be back to our normally high standard of audio. Enjoy the message.

One day, if you can imagine this scene unfolding in your life, you're just gonna be trying to live your best life. And one day you get a mild headache. You don't make much of it because why wouldn't people get headaches all the time? So you shrug it off, you continue on with whatever you were doing, but a couple of days later the headache comes back. This time you think maybe it was a dehydrator. So you just drink a little extra water that they little more than you normally would. A few days after that, the headache comes again. But now you begin to get them every day. Try doing it as those best you can, because you can and tie along telling yourself that maybe it's just because you've got a lot loving on. Maybe it's the stress of life taking this whole one but a few days pastor and not only has the frequency of the headaches increased, but now the intensity of them has gone up as well.

Now, Tylenol does virtually nothing to help with the pain. The time comes when he finally came in and decided to visit your doctor. He asks you some questions, sends you to get some tests and when he gets the test result back test results back a week later, he calls you into his office to meet with him. I have some good news and some bad news, he says. What do you want first? Hit me with the bad news first, doc. Well, the test results have revealed that you have a lump on your brain. The good news is that we can treat it, we can remove it completely from you and when we do, your headaches will cease. We're not out of the woods yet though. I need you to make some changes in your life over the next several weeks, even months, to get you ready for this surgery. You'll need to get on some special medication that will be provided for you, which will have some mild side effects. You'll need to take some time off work and you'll need to be available to attend a lot of different appointments that will help us get ready for your surgery. Okay


Now, this kind of situation would be scary for anyone if you found yourselves in it, but it wouldn't be a situation without hope. In this made up scenario, there's a plain path to healing laid out for you. But what if you weren't that pleased with the path that was laid out for you? What if you weren't too pleased with the good news that you got? What if you didn't like the plan? What if you heard all that the doctor had to say and then responded with something like okay, I hear you, Doc. That sounds like it COVID be a pretty good plan for most people, but I don't think you understand the kind of situation I'm in right now. I can't afford to take any time off of work. We're slammed right now as it is. And on top of that, I'm on my way to getting a promotion that I've been working on for years. And then in a month, we're going away on a family vacation. And when we get back, we have some friends visiting us from out of town and they're going to be staying with us. And to be honest, I'm not a big fan of taking any pills that might give me some mild side effects.

So with all that said, I just don't have the time, the energy, or the willingness to stop work and implement this plan that you've laid out for me. And I just don't see any way around it. You pause for a moment, but you're not done. After a few seconds of collecting your thoughts, you say this. So here's a question for you, doc. What would happen if let's just say I don't follow the instructions you've laid out for me? What if I just did nothing instead and kept on living my life the exact same way as I always have? And you could see the puzzled look come over the doctor's face. In all his years of practicing medicine, he had never encountered a response like this from a patient who was facing the situation they were. He says to you, well, what if you did nothing? Well, let's see. For starters, your headaches wouldn't go away. And over time, they will only increase in frequency and intensity. And as time continues to pass, you'll start to develop new symptoms in your body. New pain and new discomfort will start popping up in other places. And eventually you'll get so sick that you can't go to work or go on vacation even if you wanted to.

If you choose to do nothing about your situation, you will get so sick that you will eventually die. Okay, so in this made up scenario, there are two options on the table for you. Option one, make the changes in your life that the doctor has ordered and then get well. Option two, don't make the changes. Get even more sick and die. Now what option would you choose if you were actually in a situation like that where you had those two options laid out before you? Now, don't answer out loud because the answer you want to give may come back to bite you. We think the answer is obvious, but sadly, it's not. I say that because when we come face to face with a similar fork in the road in our life, sometimes, oftentimes we don't take the doctor's orders. As we've been hearing all throughout this series. All of us, without exception, have hurts, hangups and habits that plague our lives. Let's call them spiritual headaches. And if left unchecked, our spiritual headaches don't get better. Over time, they get worse. And eventually we get so sick of our spiritual headaches that we bring them to the great Physician.

We bring them to Jesus and he shines a light on our life so that we can see our problems for what they are, and he prescribes for us a pathway to healing. This pathway to healing is found in the choices that we're hearing about in this series and in the action steps found at the end of every one of your message outlines. We need to give time and energy to walking up this pathway. Time and energy that could be given to other things. We need to do this even though this pathway to healing is not without hardships, sacrifices, inconveniences, and side effects. Because what other option do we have not doing what's required of us? So the question is not what would you do if you were in a situation like the one I shared earlier? The question is, what will you do because you are in a situation like that. Now, if you've already worked through choices one through four, you are now ready for choice number five, which is also known as the transformation choice. Choice five is all about making changes, and you can see it right on your outline in gray.

The choice is I'm going to choose to voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects. I don't need to tell you math wizards out there that choice five comes right after choice four and right before choice six. It's sandwiched right between choices four and six. In choice four, we spent time identifying the hurts, hang ups and habits that are in our life, and we stepped out of generalization and into specifics. We wrote stuff down. This helps us to see the nature of our problems. Choice four is really a recon mission where we identify the things in our life that need change. In choice six next week, we're going to begin actually doing something about the issues in our life that the Lord has shown us are there. But choice five this week is all about getting ourselves ready for choice six. In light of what has come to the surface. In choice four, we make the choice to be willing to do whatever God wants us to do next about our hurts, hang ups and habits. In making choice number five, we choose to be willing to do whatever the doctor orders.

In the beatitude that's paired with this choice, Jesus says, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and righteousness is doing the right thing. How do we know what the right thing is in any given situation? Well, his doing whatever God requires of us in that situation. And how do we know what God requires of us? Well, he doesn't make us guess. Thank you, Jesus. God tells us in his word, the Bible, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for doing those things that God requires. And one of the things that he requires is change. And that change begins with your submission to his ways and his power. Will the changes be easy? Will they happen overnight? Of course not. But the promise of this beatitude is that when your greatest desire is to do what God requires, you'll be blessed. You will be happy. And if you are a Christian, if you're a Christian, you know God has already forgiven you. Now he wants to change you. He saved you just the way you were when he found you. But he loves you too much to leave you the way you were when he found you.

Because God loves you. Because God loves you. He wants to change you. In this lesson, we're going to learn how to cooperate with God in his process of changing us. But first, we're going to take a look at a phrase that is well known in the recovery community. It's a phrase that's used to describe our tendency to do the wrong thing. It's a phrase that you can see right there in choice number five on your outline. It's the phrase character defects. We're going to look we're going to look at just what exactly character defects are and why it's so darn hard for us to get rid of them. So what is a character defect? Before we answer this question, I need to tell you upfront that I'm not a big fan of this phrase. You might be thinking, well, then why are you using it? You're the one preaching it. You're the one who made these nifty little outlines for us. You could have used whatever phrase you wanted. Why did you choose to use the phrase character defects if you don't like it? Well, I'm keeping character defects in here because, like I said, it's a phrase that is prevalent in the recovery community and is used in places like Celebrate Recovery and in the book Life's Healing Choices.

I'm keeping it because there are a lot of people who can relate to it, and it's technically not an incorrect word for what we're describing. By definition, a character defect is a character flaw or any type of imperfection in the way a person thinks our behaves. Although it's technically correct as a term for what it's being used for, I still don't like it for a couple of reasons. The phrase character defect has the potential for it to be misinterpreted as something that's wrong with me, but it's not really my fault. If you order something online and then Amazon delivers a broken package to your doorstep, you're like, look at this. It's broken. It has a defect. That defect wasn't your fault. Maybe it was nobody's fault. Maybe it was just an accident. And then you return it. And that's just the way that life goes sometimes. It's not really anybody's fault. It's more of an inconvenience than anything. And we can fall into that incorrect way of thinking about the hurts, hangups and habits that are in our life. That's just the way I am. Sure I'm not perfect, but who is? We all have something a little defective with us, don't we?

Or as Lady Gaga would say the things in my life aren't my fault because I was born this way. That's what I think a lot of people mean when they use the phrase character defects as a way to describe attitudes or patterns in their life that they don't like. If we use the phrase like that, we may end up justifying in things in our life that we shouldn't. Here's another reason I don't like the term. Why do we feel the need to use a different term for something that the Bible already has a perfectly good word for? The Bible has a perfectly good word for character defects. It's called sin. And now I know there are people out there who don't like that word for various reasons. I bet there are more people in the world today who dislike the word sin more than I dislike the phrase character defects. I'll put money on it. So because they don't like the word sin they try to change something that's to a little less offensive in their minds. Some people offer to help God out by being his PR representatives here on earth. In essence, they say to God polls show that people don't like that sin word very much and that's affecting our popularity.

Maybe we should go with something a little less in your face. How about character defects? We don't need to apologize for anything God says to us in his word. What we have to apologize for is trying to water down his word for fear of how some people might respond to it. I get it. Talking about sin can make people feel uncomfortable. But we don't have to feel uncomfortable talking about sin at all. Why not? Because, remember how much sin did Jesus pay for on the cross? All of it. We can talk freely about sin because there is a total and complete vaccine for the spiritual disease of sin. A vaccine that has a 1000% efficacy. The vaccine for sin is the blood of Jesus. So if a character defect is really just sin and it is, this begs the next question what is sin? I pulled this definition of sin from Bible It says this sin is a riddle, a mystery, a reality that eludes definition and comprehension. Perhaps we most often think of sin as wrong, loving or transgression of God's law. Sin includes a failure to do what is right, the opposite of righteousness.

But sin also offends people. It is violence and lovelessness toward other people and ultimately rebellion against God well known preacher today. John Piper says this about sin sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. And the bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is such a heart. A heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not treasure God over all other persons and all other things. Or, as I once tried to express it in the message years ago, what is sin? Sin is the glory of God? Not honored the holiness of God? Not reverenced the greatness of God? Not admired the power of God? Not praised the truth of God not sought the wisdom of God? Not esteemed the beauty of God not treasured the goodness of God? Not savored the faithfulness of God? Not trusted the promises of God, not believed the commandments of God, not obeyed the justice of God? Not respected the wrath of God, not feared the grace of God, not cherished the presence of God? Not prized the person of God?

Not loved that his sin now growing in your knowledge of what sin is, will dramatically affect the way you understand what your hurts, habits and hangups really are. The hurt people cause us is sin. When people hurt us, they are sinning against both us and God. When people hurt us or when we hurt others, an act of rebellion against God is taking place. God commands us to do good to one another. And when his desire for how people should be treated as defied, that causes pain and everyone involved. People treat other people the opposite way. God is calling them to. They sin against God when they sin against us. We sin against God when we sin against each other. That's what all of our hurts are. In a nutshell, they are a byproduct of sin. And when we're sinned against when we are hurt, we often believe it or not, sin in response. And this is the beginning of our hang ups. We don't naturally respond the way God calls us to when someone hurts us. We usually respond according to what we think or feel is best right in that moment. And our thinking is not naturally in line with God's thinking.

We try to cope with the fallout of our hurts in unhealthy and sinful ways. We lash out, we repay evil for evil. We hide. We run to things of this world, things that God says are out of bounds to medicate ourselves, to numb our hurts. And sin can even be seen in our attempts to use even good things to heal our hurts. Things that God says are good can become bad when we go to them for help instead of going to God for help. Good things become sinful things when we elevate good things in our lives over the ultimate thing in our life, which is God. Exchanging God for anything good or bad, is sin. These initial responses to our hurts can turn into a hangup or a snare in our life. You develop your hangups because you repeat negative choices. And if left unaddressed, your sinful hangups, they don't stay as hangups for long. Because if you choose to do something long enough, that hangup becomes a habit. And once it becomes a habit, you're stuck. When a person makes the choice to take that first drink, she never thinks that addiction will eventually follow.

But after a series of choices to continue to abuse alcohol, the habit or addiction begins to own that person's life. Sin always asks for an inch. It takes a mile from you instead. And then we find ourselves trapped, powerless, over a pattern in our life. That gas is compulsively, doing things that God tells us not to do. We're sinning over and over again. That's what a habit is. That's what sin is. So can you see how sin is at the roots of everyone's hurts, hangups and habits? So let's just call it character defect, what it is. Better yet, let's just call it what the Bible calls it. So write this down on your outline. Character defects are sinful actions, tendencies or patterns that we choose to do in our life. And if you followed the Lord for any amount of time, you have probably come to the place where you've wanted him to remove your character defects, right? Remove your sinful patterns from your life. And if that's you, you've probably asked yourself, even ask God this question why is it so hard to get rid of these? Why does it take so long to get rid of our character defects?

Why is it so hard to change the sinful patterns in our lives? There's five main reasons. Number one, because we've had them for so long. It's human nature to want to hold on to what's familiar, even when that familiar thing is causing us pain. Most of us have had our hang ups and habits for a long time. They have may have taken years to develop. Many were developed in childhood. Many are painful and self defeating. But we hold on to them because they're familiar. They're comfortable. Like an old pair of shoes that should have been thrown out years ago. Our favorite shoes may have big holes in the bottom. They allow our feet to get wet. But we hang on to them because we're used to them. We feel comfortable in them. Since we've had them for so long, we have a hard time letting them go. Number two, because we confuse our sin with our identity, we often confuse our identity with our sinful patterns. We say, that's just the way I am. And we identify ourselves by our sinful tendencies. When we say things like it's just like me to be a workaholic, or overweight or anxious or passive.

It's just like me to be fearful or lose my temper or to lust. Our words and our thoughts become self fulfilling prophecies. If you say I'm always nervous when I get on planes, what do you think his going to happen the next time you get on a plane? I'll tell you what's going to happen. Nostradamus you're going to get nervous. Sometimes we so closely identify ourselves by our sin I wonder if anyone know who no sir, homes is by the way. Sometimes we so closely identify ourselves by our sin that we worry if I let go of this sinful pattern in my life, will I still be me? This has been a part of me for so long. Who will I be if I ask God to remove it? In the small group time at celebrate recovery meetings when someone shares, they introduce themselves by saying hi, I'm Bob, a believer who struggles with anger. Or I'm Nancy, a believer who struggles with overeating. Notice that their identity is in their belief in Christ. They don't say hi, I'm Jim and I'm an alcoholic. Or. Hi, I'm Sophie, and I'm a drug addict. Or Hi, I'm Carl and I'm just a piece of crap.

They don't do that. Their hurts, hang ups and habits do not define them and we need to start doing the same thing in church. Although Christians still sin, we need to stop identifying ourselves as sinners. We need to start identifying ourselves as we truly are, as who God says we are. Children of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people that belong to God, saints, ambassadors for Christ, citizens of heaven, adopted, washed, cleansed, redeemed. We used to be sinners. That was our identity. That is until Christ saved us. Now we're born again disciples of Jesus Christ who sometimes make sinful decisions. But those sinful decisions don't identify us anymore. Praise God they don't. Our identity is rooted in Jesus. Now we all need to be sure that we don't allow our sinful patterns to become our identity. Here's your next feeling it is so hard to change the sinful patterns in our lives because every sinful pattern has a payoff. Every one of them does. We have a hard time letting go of our sinful tendencies because each one has a very real payoff. The payoff may be temporary relief from pain. It may be attention or control.

But if a negative behavior is repeated, you can be sure there is a payoff. The payoff may be self destructive, but it brings some sort of perceived benefit. A mom who's struggling with her anger might politely say to her children, kids come to dinner. When they don't come, she asks them again. When they still don't come, she yells kids come down to dinner or you're going to get me mad. And you know what happens then? Then they come unconsciously. The kids have set up their mother to yell and get mad and mom has figured out that yelling works. There's a payoff number four because Satan discourages our efforts to change. Satan constantly tries to fill our minds with negative thoughts. He is the accuser. He whispers in your ear, this will never work. You can't do it. You'll never change. Some of you have been going through this series and thinking, this is good stuff. I'd really like to get rid of this habit. I'd like to stop hating that person. I'd like to stop hurting from that past experience out in those schoolyard. I'd love to change. Then one of the messages is over and Satan starts in on you.

Who do you think you are? You think you're going to change? Forget it. Other people, maybe they can change. But you not. You. You're stuck. It's hopeless. Don't even think about it. And worse than that, he says, if you change this about yourself, who will you be? If you change, you'll self destruct, something bad will happen to you. The Bible says that Satan is a liar. John, chapter eight, verse 44. There is no truth in him speaking of Satan. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature because he is a liar and the father of lies. But counteracting Satan's lies is the truth that sets us free. Jesus said john, chapter eight, verse 32 you'll know the truth and the truth will set you free. As you grow in God's truth and voluntarily submit to the changes that he has in store for you, you will discover the blessing and happiness of doing what God requires. Here's number five, and it's your next fillin on your outline. It is so hard to change the sinful patterns in our lives because we don't want to make one or more of the choices, whether it's due to not wanting to give up your comfort, your identity, or the payoff you've been utilizing, or you're believing the enemy's lies.

If you don't choose to make even one of the choices you hear about in in verses, you will find yourself rowing upstream without a paddle when it comes to experiencing the healing that God is calling you towards. If you make most of the choices you learn about in life's, healing choices, but there's just one that you refuse to make, you will find the removal of your character defects, your sinful patterns to be impossible. If you refuse to follow any of the doctor's orders, you will remain sick with your spiritual headaches. The good news his this as soon as you are ready to change your mind, which is the word repentance, but change your mind and move forward down the pathway to healing, you will find that Jesus has been waiting for you there the whole time, and he is ready to help you make that next choice, whichever one it is. So how do we cooperate with God's change process? Well, I have too many favorite passages in the Bible to count, but this next one is definitely one of them. Listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say about personal transformation. Romans, chapter twelve, verses one to two.

He says therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God. Personal transformation comes by the renewal of our mind. I love this verses so much. It tells us that we can actually become different people. We can be transformed in a good way. We can actually be transformed in such a way that we'll begin to find ourselves wanting different things in our life that we used to want in our life. Our desires will change and our minds will change too. Our minds will actually think differently than they used to. We will be transformed to the point whose we will know what God's will for our life. Is it's possible to have your mind change when it comes to how you think of your hurts, your hang ups, your habits, your self, your God, His Word, his ways? God is going to transform you by renewing your mind.

And this transformational renewal of the mind happens by having your mind washed by the Word of God. The Bible FYI this renewal of the mind has taken place throughout this series. Up until this point. We are being exposed to what God has to say about our life and our problems and the solution to our problems. And we are gradually changing the way we all think about it. God will show you what he wants you to do in His Word. He gives you the power to do what he's calling you to do. Then all that's left for us is to trust God by choosing to act on what he tells us to do. The following seven very practical focus points will show you how to cooperate with God as he works to change you and get you headed in the right direction. Here's the first one. It's going to be the next. Fill in on your outline. Focus on changing one defect at a time. You may have 30 different things you know, need changing, but the wisdom of Proverbs tells us in chapter 17, verse 24, wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool's eyes roam to the ends of the earth.

Another translation reads like this an intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions. Trying to tackle all 30 problems in your life at once is like those little bugs that fly around in all directions, never making any real progress, but stirring up a lot of commotion. Ask God to help you focus on changing one sinful pattern in your life at a time. Otherwise you will feel overwhelmed and discouraged, and you won't be able to change anything at all. Focus on one specific change at a time, such as your anger, your anxiety, your workaholism dishonesty, or tendency to control people in action. Number one at the end of your message outline, you'll look through your moral inventory from choice number four and ask God which item on the list is causing the most damage in your life today. That's probably those one you need to pay attention to first. And God can help you and will help you focus on one defect at a time. Number two focus on victory one day at a time. God didn't promise to give us all the groceries we need for an entire year so we can stuff our fridge and then forget about them.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he didn't say, Give us today our monthly bread. He didn't tell them to ask for one week, one month, or the rest of their lives. What did he say? He said, Give us today our daily bread. Perhaps for a couple of reasons. First, God wants us to lean on Him day by day. And second, he knows we can't handle looking forward to a whole lifetime in one chunk. We need it broken down. We can't think about living an entire lifetime of victory, but we can focus on victory one day at a time. It's like the old saying how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You take a lifetime problem remembering that you didn't get it overnight, and you break it down into bite sized pieces. You seek victory one day at a time. God gives you enough strength to change for one day. He takes care of you one day at a time as you put your trust in Him. We know this. We live in a world of instant everything. Mashed potatoes, coffee, microwave popcorn, information. And you know what we want? Spiritual.

Instant spiritual maturity too. Today we are a total mess. And tomorrow we want to be Billy Graham. Right? That's what's coming. I'll deal with my defects. Billy Graham tomorrow doesn't happen that way. There's another old saying life by the yard is hard, but by the inch it's a cinch. You grow by inches. You experience victory day by day, jesus tells us. Therefore, don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Don't be anxious about tomorrow. Jesus says God will take care of you today. He'll take care of you tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Don't set a deadline for yourself. Just work on it one day at a time. You might be working on some sinful patterns for the rest of your life. Ask God to help you. Just for today, lord. Just for this day. I want to be patient and not get angry. Just for today. Protect me from going to those Internet sites. Just for today. Help me think pure thoughts instead of lustful ones. Just for today. I want to be positive instead of negative. Ask God to help you just for today and take it a little bit at a time. His

His keeps you from making rash vows like, I promise never to do it again. From here to eternity. Such promises only doom you to failure. Remember, one day at a time. Bite size pieces each night. Thank God for whatever change or victory he has worked in your life, no matter how big or small. Number three this is going to be the next feeling on your outline. Focus on God's power, not your willpower. Focus on God's power, not your willpower. Can you remember your New Year's resolutions? If you happen to have made any? Even if you can remember them, have you followed through and actually done them? Probably not. Because studies show that within six weeks, approximately 80% of us will break our New Year's resolutions. You already know that willpower isn't enough. If your own willpower worked, you would have already changed by now. The truth is, your self will can't help you change because you don't have the power to do it. In fact, depending on our own strength will actually block your recovery. It's like trying to turn a big boat by your own willpower when it set on autopilot to go the opposite way.

Your struggle and you try, but in the end, you're defeated, because you just get worn out with the effort of fighting those strong opposing forces. As soon as you get tired, as soon as you let up just a little, the autopilot will pull you right back on the course you've always been on. God's Word gives us some profound insight. Jeremiah, chapter 13, verse 23. Can the Kushite change his skin or a leopard his spots? If so, you might be able to do what is good, you who are instructed in evil. Another translation puts it this way can a leopard take away his spots? Nor can you, who are so used to doing evil, now start being good? Forget it. You'll never change by your own willpower. But here's the good news. Philippians 413 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Willpower doesn't work. You have to trust God's power, not your own. He can help you change your character defects if you submit to him and pray lord, I know I can't change on my own power, but I'm trusting you to change me. Number four focus on the good things, not the bad.

The Bible says in Philippians, chapter four, verse eight, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there's any moral excellence, and if there's anything praiseworthy, dwell on these things. What you focus on is what you move toward. What you focus on dominates your life. If you say, I'm not going to think about sex, I'm not going to think about sex, I'm not going to think about sex, guess what? You're going to think about sex. And so what's the answer? You change the mental channel of your mind. If you're watching an inappropriate show on TV, you don't just sit there and just keep saying, I'm not going to watch this. I'm not going to watch this. I'm not going to watch this. No. You pick up the remote control and you change the channel. This is where the power of God's Word comes in. Do you know that there are hundreds, even thousands of promises in the Bible? These promises are the perfect channel to change to. When you get these promises into your mind, you can change your channel by learning to memorize scripture.

If you memorize if you did this okay, big if memorized one verse a week. By the end of the year, you'd have 52 verses memorized. You'd have 52 verses that will renew your mind and transform you. And when you have the Word of God stored in your mind, you can change the channel on any negative thoughts the enemy or others give you. Do you know that every time you think of thought, positive or negative, it sends an electrical impulse across your brain? And that impulse creates a path. Every time you think the same thought, the path gets deeper and reinforces that brain pattern. Some of us have negative ruts in our minds because we've thought the same negative things over and over and over. But we can also create posting pathways in our minds. Every time we think about a scriptural truth, we reinforce that positive brain pattern. The only way to replace the negative ruts is to think God's word over and over. As you focus on what you can be and what God wants you to be, you'll move in the right direction because whatever has your attention has you. Number five, write this down.

Focus on doing good, not feeling good. This is a huge part to what faith is doing something because you know it's right, not because you feel like it. If you wait until you feel like changing, you never will. The enemy will make sure you never feel like it. But if you'll go ahead and do the right thing, your feelings will eventually catch up with you. It's always easier to act your way into a good feeling than to feel your way into a good action. If you don't feel loving toward your spouse by faith, begin act loving and the feelings will come. If you wait until you feel like it, you may have to wait a long time. The old phrase fake it till you make it does apply here. Do the right thing even though you don't feel like it, do it because it's just the right thing to do. Eventually, your feelings will catch up. Any time you try to change a major part of your life a sinful pattern, a flaw, personality trait, or weakness it will not feel good at the start. Just a heads up. In fact, it's actually going to probably feel awkward, maybe even bad, for a while.

Why? Because it won't feel normal. Sometimes we're so used to feeling abnormal that normal doesn't feel good. Let's say you're a workaholic and you decide to do the right thing whether you feel like it or not. So you go home at five and you don't take your work home with you. The first time you try this, it feels really weird. The first time you try to relax, you find that you don't know how to relax because you've worked so hard for so long. If you're an overeater, a drinker or a smoker, the first time you try to break your habit, you feel weird because there's nothing in your mouth. It'll feel funny for a little while. It might not even feel right. But if you do the right thing over and over, eventually your feelings will catch up with your behavior. And as we focus on doing what's right, we must draw on the power of the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed in all believers. Scripture makes a powerful promise about our reliance on the Holy Spirit. Galatians, chapter five, verse 16 says I say, then walk by the Spirit. And you certainly you will certainly not carry out the desires of the flesh.

Which means if you're guided by the Spirit, you'll be in no danger of yielding to self indulgence. The guiding of the Holy Spirit works in direct opposition to self indulgence. He will help us to do what's right, regardless of how we feel about it in the moment. Number six focus on people who help, not hinder you. The Bible says one. Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 33 do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals. Don't be fooled. Bad friends will ruin good habits. In other words, if you don't want to get stung, stay away from the beast. If you know what type of people tempt you, just stay away from them. If you're struggling with drinking, don't say, I think I'm just going to go down to the bar with a friend, but I'm just going to eat some peanuts. That's it. Bad idea. If you're struggling with gossip, don't hang out with a friend who talks behind people's backs all of the time. Don't spend the majority of your time around people who mess you up. On the other hand, you need to hang around people who will help you make positive changes in your life.

Home groups. Sorry. Ecclesiastes, chapter four, verse nine to twelve, says this two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift them up. But pity the one who falls with another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm. But how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. There's power in numbers. If you fall, you'll need the kind of friends who can help you up. Final one. Number seven. Write this down on your outline. Focus on progress, not perfection. Some of you may be thinking I've been listening to these messages in this series for a while now and I don't see a whose lot of change yet. Don't worry about it. It's progress we're after, not perfection. Life change is a process. Remember the Christian life is that initial one time decision to follow Jesus, followed by the process of us becoming more and more like him. And that process of becoming more like Jesus lasts a lifetime. To the Philippians, the apostle Paul said with total confidence, I'm sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

If you've turned the change process over to God and have resolved to cooperate the best you can with the plan that he's laid out for you, god will work change in you through the power of His Holy Spirit. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that God will only love you once you reach a certain stage. God loves you at each and every stage of your recovery and growth. God will never love you more than he does at this very second and he will never love you any less than he does right now. A father does not expect his seven year old to act like a 17 year old. The seven year old still makes messes and acts like a child. But the Father is pleased with and loves his seven year old son. God is pleased with whatever growth and progress that you have made. Just as a parent thrills at his or her baby's first steps, your Heavenly Father thrills at each and every step of your growth no matter how small. It's the direction of your heart that pleases him. As you say, God, I ask you to remove my sinful patterns from my life.

So in this lesson we've talked a lot about character defects. What they are, why it takes so long to get rid of them and how we can cooperate with God to change them. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, so let's just pause and take a breath. We're not trying to fix everything at once. Remember the question, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That's how you're going to face your character defects, one defect at a time. So those best place to start right now we're going to do this right now. We're going to start by praying about it. You can pray as you bow your heads and close your eyes and you can use your own words. Or if you resonate with what I'm going to pray, please just share this prayer with me and make it your own. So let's pray. Dear God, thank you for your forgiveness. I'm now ready and willing to submit to any changes you want to make in my life. By Your grace, I'm ready to face it and deal with the sinful tendencies in my life one by one. I have defects that have hurt me and defects that have hurt others.

I live with some of these sinful patterns for so long that they have become a part of who I am. I've tried by my own power to fight against my tendency to sin and have failed over and over. I now ask, by Your power and the power of Your Holy Spirit, you transform my mind, my heart, and my actions. I need Your help in knowing where to start. I cannot handle all my defects at once. I can only face them one at a time. Show me, Lord, where I should begin. Help me. As I look over my inventory list, which character defect is the most damaging to my life? Where do I need to start? I'm ready and willing to follow Your lead. Amen. Amen. Amen. With that, turning to my favorite part of the message, I'm going to invite my friend Kyle up, another one of our members here at Gospel City, and he's going to share a little bit of his story with us. Thanks for doing this, bro.

My pleasure.

So, in today's message, we heard all about the transformation choice, the choice about making changes. Every one of us, if we're honest, has patterns we know are destructive. Would you be willing to share with us a specific area of your life that you came to recognize was destructive and needed transformation?

Absolutely. So many of you who know my story will know that God saved me out of a criminal lifestyle with drug addiction and crime. And all my life, I've struggled with addiction in various forms, but primarily I've struggled with addiction to pornography and addiction to drugs. And I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. I think I was around seven years old. And I was excited by what I saw, and I was instantly hooked. And that would set me on the trajectory of seeking to satisfy the sinful desire of sexual lust for the rest of my life and would become the greatest vice in my life. And then I would eventually experiment with drugs at age 14 and pursue unhealthy relationships and get addicted to drugs, addicted to relationships. And as I look back, I just realized that I've always been pursuing a certain experience. I've always been pursuing the maximum amount of pleasure. And the lust for pleasure would become my primary coping mechanism to try to escape reality and self-medicate from all the pain in my life. So fast forward until I became a Christian and God saved me. He set me free from all kinds of sin.

But I continued to struggle with pornography addiction, and I wasn't super open about that in all my life. I've developed a pattern of lying and hiding and running from my problems. And so those patterns continued on into my walk with the Lord. And I continued like you shared in your message. I just continued to try to manage it in my own strength, but while I kept it in the dark, it would just grow and grow and grow. And then one day, miraculously, God provided me with an incredible, beautiful wife. And I was really expecting my marriage to heal me from my lust problem, and it didn't. But it appeared for a little while like it had. But when those temptations came back and showed their ugly faces again, I didn't tell anybody about it. And I started to dabble again. And then that habit became a full-blown addiction again and it nearly destroyed my life. It caused devastation in my marriage. And for me, again, because the drugs and the pornography for me were so interconnected, because I was always posting his experience, I would get to a certain point with the porn, it just wasn't doing it for me anymore.

And then it would lead me to the drug abuse. And so that happened on two occasions while I was married, while I was serving here at church. And just in my shame and in fear of the judgment of people and in fear of being rejected and unloved and in my pride and not trusting in God and not relying on his own strength, I continued in that cycle, which only fed my addiction. And yeah, and I ended up just really hurting everyone around me. I hurt my family, my church family, especially my wife. I betrayed her trust and I hurt her deeply.

Often we try to change ourselves before coming to a point of recognizing our own efforts alone don't have the power necessary to produce change in the deepest parts of our hearts and minds. So what brought you to a point of asking for and embracing God's power and his plan for transformation?

Pain and lots of it. That's been a common theme in this series. And it's true. I was just sick of causing myself pain, sick of causing everyone around me pain. Because when I tried to do it my own way, I would just try to suppress the truth. I would try to suppress my addiction, and I would just try to pretend that it wasn't there. And again, lying about it, hiding it, keeping it in the dark where it just only grew and grew and grew. I would just pretend like it wasn't there and just hope that one day it would just be gone. But that never happened because only Jesus can heal me from my addiction. Only Jesus could heal me from my problem in my heart. And so when I finally got to a place of pain-induced willingness, that's when I surrendered to God and I took responsibility for my actions I took responsibility for my sin, for my rebellion against God and the way that I was hurting everyone around me. And then God led me to genuine repentance. He produced a Godly sorrow in me that led to a genuine repentance. And genuine repentance for me was very specific.

I knew for years that God was calling me to obey this one simple command. In James chapter five, verse 16, it says, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. And I was ignoring that one verse for years, our of fear, out of shame, and out of pride. I was ignoring the one thing that God was calling me to do. And should I have trusted Him to do it? He promised freedom. And so that's what I did. When I finally came to the end of myself, I confessed my sin to Him. I confessed it to everyone that was affected by it. And God really started to as. I brought that into the light and it lost its power, God started to heal my heart, heal my mind, and heal my marriage.

That's awesome. Praise God.


Like the pain-induced willingness, our favorite, I guess. In what ways do you now partner with God in his plan and process for change in your life? What does this look like in your life?

Psalm 119, verses nine to eleven says, how can a young man keep his way pure by guarding it according to your word? With all my heart I seek you. Let me not wander from your commandments. I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. So the word of God, his instrumental in my process of change, and it has to be instrumental the very foundation in all of the processes of our change. And so part of that for me is just seeking to strengthen my relationship with God every single day through prayer, through daily devotions, through corporate worship, through Bible studies, through small groups, through prayer groups, getting around the people of God and being authentic in community, being known by my brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, I've implemented thorough accountability in my life. Today I'm not afraid to be honest. Today I'm not afraid to share openly about my sins or what I'm struggling with. And so I confess my sins regularly. Now, I continue to obey that verse. I confess my sins regularly to God and to those that are closest to me, to whom I'm accountable, like my wife and my elders, BJU and Jeff.
God is just so good and his ways are just so much better than my own.

Amen. Amen. What would he say to someone who is afraid to submit to God's transformation plan for their lives? Why is it good?

Because God is good and you can trust Jesus. I mean, he proved his love by dying for our sins in our place. And through his life, his death, his resurrection on our behalf, he frees us from the power of sin. He frees us from the penalty of sin. He covers and removes our shame and our guilt, and he fills us with his power to now walk in the freedom that he purchased for us. So we have two choices. We can either choose to be a slave of sin, or we can choose to be a slave of Christ. But there's no other option. So you can choose to continue to live in the misery and in the death and in the darkness and bondage of sin and addiction like I have. And please, just learn from my mistakes. It's not worth it. Let me spare you all of the unnecessary pain and suffering that you don't have to go through. Trust Jesus. His way, his perfect. His plan is perfect. Become a member of the church, be own in community. Let your walls down, and confess your sins to God and to a trusted brother or sister in Christ.

And he promises that if you do that consistently and you continue to apply the word of God and the biblical principles in your life, he will set you free. For who the Sonn sets free is free indeed.

Amen. Amen. That's awesome. Thanks, Kyle, for coming up and sharing with us.

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