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The idea about changing from the inside out came from a recent article. My point in that piece is that the primary point of change is internal, and the by-product of heart transformation will be external change. It’s not that we don’t change our behaviors, but we need the right sequence for behavior change to happen. I said the following in that article.
Our goal is to be steadily morphing into the person of Christ. The word morph is not referring to an outward appearance of Christ but taking on the internal qualities of Christ. Becoming transformed into Christ is not so much a behavioral exercise as it is an inner change of the [soul’s] primary shaping influence.
Our First Impulse Is to Change Outward Behavior – The problem is that in our early days of salvation, we don’t understand how change happens. We work with what you know, what we can observe, and it’s the quickest path to “holiness,” so it seems. As new believers, we don’t know about the intricacies or idolatries of the heart. We most definitely don’t know how to identify those things to change them.
Former Life Is Dominating Influence – Because all we know is our “former manner of life” as a new believer, we continue to think in those old ways. We’ve only been a recent convert for a half-minute. It would be unrealistic to believe that we could process things like a mature Christian. What do we do? We act like we always have, but with a spiritual twist; it’s a mixture of our former manner of lives and our new creation in Christ. It’s like a quasi-sanctified version of our old selves, even though we are genuinely born a second time. We don’t know any better.
Babes in the Word Act Like Babes – Out of an authentic desire to change yourself, you can only do it with infantile thinking, which always means making external, behavioral changes. I have no problem with this on its face. The issue comes when we never progress past exterior modifications, and nobody comes along to teach us a better way of sanctification.
Placing Same Expectations on Others – The expected outflow of only knowing how to change outwardly is that you begin to press others for change. It makes sense. How many of us have demanded a change of others (and ourselves also), not knowing how to help them change from the inside out? We implement this method of change on all those in our sphere of influence, i.e., spouses, children, and friends.
How much better it would have been to lead yourself and others in identifying internal idolatries in a spirit of encouragement and grace while walking with them through those changes patiently.
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