“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
First, admit you are without inner strength to change your life, which has become unmanageable. Admit to self-destructive behavior.
“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” (Rom. 7:18, 19).
Basic Christian theology teaches the depravity of the human heart, and the totality inability of a person to save themself. It is a mark of maturity to admit that a Saviour is needed.
Second, believe, by faith, that God can arrest the sinful impulses of the soul lest spiritual insanity continue. Spiritual insanity is when an individual continues the same behavior, and expects different results.
“Of them the proverbs are true: A dog returns to its vomit, and a sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud” (2 Peter 2:22).
The author of Proverbs said that
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”(Prov. 23:7).
Third, by the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit come to Christ and present afresh your will, and the totality of your life to the care of the Lord. Jesus said.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
There is something to be said about acts of rededication. Give God your heart once more. Repent and return to your first love. Give God your past, your present, your future, your will, your body, your soul, and spirit again, for only with God is heart change possible. The lips that will cry,
“I can’t, God can, please Lord, help me,”
will pray a prayer that heaven might yet hear and answer. And if God is pleased to answer such a prayer offered in sincerity then the Christian will walk again on the road of righteousness, and move back towards spiritual maturity.
Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself—and the emphasis is upon yourself.
Fourth, become accountable to someone.
James 5:16a Therefore confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you may be healed.”
Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden. We need to run to God, not away from Him.
One of the ways we can run to God is to avail ourselves of instruments of His grace. In grace God has given to His people Shepherds, to use one biblical term, for the perfecting of the saints (Eph. 4:11). To use another biblical term God has given to the Church Watchmen (Ezek. 33:1-8). It is the duty of the Under shepherd of Souls to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). Therefore, let ministers of the gospel who are competent to counsel help. Become accountable to someone.
Fifth, be ready for cross work. By this we mean become entirely ready to have God remove all the defects of character, no matter what the cost.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
Thomas a’ Kempis in the “The Imitation of Christ.” Reminds believers that holiness of life “consists in the cross, and it all lies in dying; and there is no other way to life and true peace within. “
A. W. Tozer notes, “The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective” (The Pursuit of God).
As Christians we are afraid of the Cross-and rightly so. While the cross is a painful process, it is not as painful as what sin does to our lives. So become ready for cross work.
Sixth, as the cross work begins pray for mercy while confessing all known sin. Seek humbly for God’s forgiveness with hope in His promises.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
To confess wrongdoing can be emotionally stressful. Nevertheless, emotional pain is an instrument used by the Holy Spirit to produce holiness in the heart.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12).
God uses pain to change us, for God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness.
“Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67).
Seventh, become willing to make restitution, and seek reconciliation with others as much as possible. Rarely are our sins without far reaching effects. It is the nature of sin to involve others. Lucifer led an angelic revolt, and then persuaded Eve to join in the angelic revolt. Eve in turn gave to Adam the forbidden fruit and he did eat. Zacchaeus was a covetous man who stole from people. But after his conversion he wanted to do right by those he had wronged.
Luke 19:8-10 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
In the process of confession, and reconciliation, the heart is released from isolation, fear, guilt, shame, and loneliness.
In the process of confession there is cessation of blaming others.
By confessing there is an acceptance of personal responsibility for attitude and actions, parents, relatives, friends, teachers, or God should never be blamed for who and what the soul has become.
Be willing to face the damage sin has caused others. Look with sorrow on those whom you have lied to, cheated, stolen from, were envious, or jealous of, had inappropriate sexual relations with, and any other hurt you have caused.
Eighth, set a guard upon the heart by means of constant self-examination.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Continue to take inventory of your life in order to keep a clear conscience. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart daily.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
Ninth, begin to seek first the kingdom of heaven. Cultivate a relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for the knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
We seek first the kingdom of heaven through prayer. Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God. Be still and know God (Psalm 46:10).
Tenth, remember that the key to spiritual recovery and freedom from sin is the Savior. Jesus has come to set the captive free.
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:16-19).
Just as the prodigal son was restored to his rightful place in the family, the Lord Jesus is willing to set captives free from secret sin and shame, and restore them to fellowship. And it all begins with a movement towards maturity. Of the prodigal son we read,
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:17-20).
Personally, I want to be kissed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A final note. In time you will want to help others find their own exodus from bondage but in a spirit of meekness.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
It is in dying to self that we are born anew.
It is by not loving the world or the things that are in the world that we find a life that lasts for “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”