Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Secret of Replacement (How Can We REALLY Change?)

("The Secret of Replacement" is an excerpt from my book The Real Life Home School Mom, which you can download for free from the sidebar of my blog at

The Secret of Replacement
by Virginia Knowles

Perhaps the path to your life goals is hindered by destructive personal habits. Trying to break them seems to be a lost cause. How many New Year's Resolutions are dead and gone by the end of January? Sometimes concentrating on the distressing patterns in our lives only digs them further in. This dilemma reminds me of the poor man in Luke 11:26 who had a demon leave him, only to come back with seven worse evil spirits. His heart had been swept clean, but the Holy Spirit had not been invited to fill the empty spot. True repentance and reform require that we turn away from the bad thing and toward the high ideal. The good shall prevail over the bad. This is firmly established in Scripture:

♥ “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
♥ “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me ... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1a, 3b
♥ “... you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9b, 10
♥ “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'” 1 Peter 1:13‑16

The obvious foundation for this is the Lordship of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. In addition, there are specific wise choices we can make to counteract the foolish ones. Proverbs is full of them:

♥ “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1
♥ “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23
♥ “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
♥ “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

As Francis de Sales noted in the 17th century, “As to these smaller temptations… as it is impossible to be altogether freed from them, the best defense that we can make is not to give ourselves much trouble about them; for although they may tease us, yet they can never hurt us, so long as we continue firmly resolved to dedicate ourselves in earnest to the service of God…. Content yourself with quietly removing them, not by contending or disputing with them, but by performing some actions of a contrary nature to the temptation, especially acts of the love of God… This grand remedy is so terrible to the enemy of our souls, that as soon as he perceives that his temptation incites us to form acts of divine love he ceases to tempt us… He who would wish to contend with them in particular would give himself much trouble to little or no purpose.” (Quoted by Gary Thomas on page 76-77 of Seeking the Face of God, published by Harvest House.)

What are the life areas in which you long to improve? What are the habits you want to banish? Let's replace our hit list with our hot list!

The Hit List The Hot List

Retaliation and Alienation >> Blessing and Reconciliation
Complaints and Depression >> Gratitude and Cheerfulness
Accusation and Nagging >> Encouragement and Affirmation
Rudeness and Harshness >> Courtesy and Kindness
Gossip and Slander >> Prayer and Protection
Habitual Messiness >> Systematic Tidiness
Distraction and Slothfulness >> Daily Routine and Diligent Work
Junk Food (Body and Soul) >> Wholesome Nourishment
Ugliness >> Beauty

These are not passive changes. They require positive action. They demand that you go out of your way and take extra effort at doing good things that don't come naturally.

♥ “I won't eat that extra piece of chocolate cake. I'll have a banana and a glass of milk.”
♥ “I won't give my husband the silent treatment because he was rude to me. Instead, I will figure out why he was upset, pray for him, make a list of his good qualities, and fix his lunch for tomorrow.”
♥ “I won't watch soap operas. I will listen to worship music while I fold the laundry.”
♥ "I won't tear out my hair over teaching double digit addition. I will demonstrate with hands-on materials.”
♥ “I won't nag the children about our messy school room anymore. We are going to clean it up, get rid of the junk, buy organizing supplies, put the papers in notebooks, and schedule a tidy time every day.”

If you have tried and failed, tried and failed, this may seem like a hopeless effort. Keep your mind fixed on the fact that the changes are possible and that they are important. They will only come about if you encourage yourself to keep trying, no matter how many times you fail. And then, wonder of wonders, some day it will click! Eventually your new hard-won habits will even become natural and you will wonder what all the fuss was about. Isn't God good? To God alone be the glory, for the great things he has done!

1 comment:

  1. Great encouragement here, Virginia, especially in the last paragraph. I definitely rank as one of those who has "tried and failed, tried and failed [until it all seems] like a hopeless effort." Mostly, I think, because I have such an idolatry problem with "control" that I tend to approach even spiritual disciplines with an "am I doing this exactly right and on schedule--and am I seeing results on schedule?" attitude. And to swing back and forth between trying to assume God's share of the responsibility in addition to my own, and demanding He do it all without requiring pain or effort on my part.

    On your master Hit/Hot List, I took special note of Complaints and Depression >> Gratitude and Cheerfulness; and I'd add Worry and Fretting >> Faith and Peace / Impatience and Hurry >> Patience and Trust.


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