Have you ever felt caught up in the same old behavioral pattern where you don’t like the outcome but can’t seem to change your thoughts and actions? I certainly have! Today, I’ll answer the question “How do I renew myself spiritually?” and share my personal story. I am renewed.
Conformity to the World
The world tells us that anger is an innocent emotion, that drinking is fun and relaxing, that adultery is acceptable and not a big deal at all, and that debt is just a way of life. But we as Christians have a map for our journey on earth. It’s called the Bible – the sacred book on ancient wisdom. It provides a GPS for how to get to where we need to end up, which is with Jesus in heaven for eternity.
READ: Who is Jesus?
I’ve struggled with anger, adultery, alcoholism, and addictions. I’ve spent money carelessly instead of being a good steward of God’s money. I’ve accumulated a lot of financial debt. I’ve given my body away to many men, even those with wives, children, and families.
READ: My Sex Addiction Story
Not only am I closely familiar with the feelings of anger but also I know first-hand what it’s like to rage uncontrollably. My life has not been perfect. There are many things I’ve done that I wish I could undo. My faith led me to a new lifestyle: celibate, peaceful, and joyful.
READ: What Is Faith?
I believe that the Bible is God-breathed word, and everything in it is absolutely true. Every day, I spend time in the word. God uses the same scriptures to speak to me about different life circumstances.
The Bible says that anger is foolish (Ecclesiastes 7:9) and it leads to strife (Proverbs 15:18). The word of God guides us to be of sober mind (1 Peter 5:8-9). It says getting drunk leads to debauchery, aka indulgence in sensual pleasure (Ephesians 5:18). The teachings of Jesus Christ demand that we flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). It tells us we must control our bodies and passions (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
The sacred book of ancient wisdom guides us to stay away from debt because the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). When you’re a slave, you have a master, aka money is the master in the case of debt being slavery. The word of God gives us direction in Matthew 6:24 saying “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
For many years, I was believing the worldly lies about money, sex, my body, my attitude, mind, character, and my overall life.
I remember being five years old when my mom began to tell me that the purpose of my life was to be a mother and a wife and that the best way to get a man was by becoming a real woman.
READ: Narcissistic Mother
A “real woman,” from my mom’s perspective, was the one who could clean, cook, and please a man sexually. At about five, I started getting “lessons” from my mom: hard-core porn movies and books. I was about five when I had my first alcoholic drink, served to me at home by my family. At ten, my cousins and I were already drinking pure alcohol from the pharmacy. Around that time, I started smoking, as well, all thanks to the teachings of my family members. I was conforming to the world.
My nature, aka my genes from the history of my family’s lifestyle, gave me an inheritance of alcoholism, adultery, addictions, and anger. My nurture, aka my home environment growing up, enticed me to rage in anger, drink a lot of alcohol, sleep around, smoke, fight violently, and become addicted. I expand on my family life in a blog post called Narcissistic Mother-Daughter Relationship. I did what my mom bullied me into doing. I was conforming to the world.
Smoking, drinking, and having sex with other women’s husbands were mostly the activities I witnessed all the women in my family do on a daily basis right there in our small Soviet four-bedroom condo where we all lived together in misery and suffering. Add some cooking and cleaning there and you’ll get a picture of what the meaning of being a “real woman” was in my world from the experiences growing up.
I became a sex addict with some serious alcohol issues. I was angry and violent. One night, in my early 20s, I was even locked up in jail for getting into a fight with a security guard at a hospital. I was worldly: angry, violent, addicted, and lost. I had no direction.
The truth is this: I didn’t know how my behaviors were affected by my identity and how the outcomes of my actions affected my future. I was so confused. And I lived for the approval of the world, aka people. I was conforming to the world.
Growing up, I witnessed how borrowing money was a go-to way of living for my mom. Money was always scarce. My mom was always borrowing from people. And I’ve learned that debt was totally normal. As a young adult in America, I was conforming to the world and accumulated a ton of debt. The worldly lies were dominating my headspace until I discovered the truth.
Being Transformed by the Truth
In 2014, I met Jesus. During our personal encounter, I was captivated immediately. I started growing in faith. To help you witness my path, I wrote a helpful blog post called “My Testimony.“
I gave my life to Christ, and the renewing of my mind had begun. From becoming celibate and ditching the alcohol to discovering my identity as a daughter of God and changing my lifestyle completely – through every step of my journey, God continued to renew my mind every moment of every day.
God also gave me a total money makeover, thanks to Dave Ramsey. I went through his Financial Peace University and learned that debt is a form of self-exposed confinement when we make ourselves slaves. God began working on renewing my mind regarding every aspect of my Christian life. And He hasn’t stopped ever since.
The Bible talks about the process of spiritual, mental, and lifestyle transformation:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.Romans 12:2
Remembering who I am, whose I am, why I’m here, and where I’m going, I was able to develop new habits. My sexual addiction was replaced with self-control. My anger was replaced with patience. My anxiety that led to a desire for alcohol was replaced with faithfulness, which led to a burning desire for God and the birth of this Christian ministry, Online Discipleship For Women. My compulsive shopping addiction was replaced with contentment and trust in the Lord to provide for my needs without debt. God has worked on me and in me.
He slowly transformed my heart and mind.
Experiencing Renewal of Heart and Mind
Every day I wake up grateful for being new. I have a new heart of flesh in place of my old heart of stone. God gave me a new mind, the mind of Christ. I’m able to make better decisions using the new behaviors I developed based on God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in me, so now there’s the fruit of the Spirit in my life.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
When I feel tempted to drink alcohol or shop compulsively to comfort my anxieties or act out on my sexual desires and lust, I remember who I am in Christ and the new ways of living that have been given to me by God through the Holy Spirit in me.
The difference between my old life and a new life is illustrated by the ITCEBO model I created to help you see how the behaviors of righteousness lead to a God-glorifying life and how the behaviors of the Flesh lead to sin and perish. Click on the image to enlarge.
Experiencing the benefits of the renewed heart and mind results in building new habits, transforming your lifestyle, optimizing your health, reprioritizing your values, reevaluating your relationships, and becoming a better version of yourself following the purpose of your life.
Let me answer some frequently asked questions.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Being renewed means receiving a new identity (what God says about you), a new spirt (the Holy Spirit), a new heart (the heart of flesh instead of the heart of stone), a new mind (the mind of Christ), a new lifestyle of self-control, and a new fruit of your living (love, joy, peace, etc). This means putting away your old ways and honoring God in a way you think, act, treat people, work, and worship your creator.
It’s important to renew your mind so that, while living in the world, you don’t risk becoming of the world. The Bible teaches us that the way to heaven is narrow and each of us must run their own race and finish. To not get distracted with drugs, gossip, sex, shopping, etc, you must renew your mind and stay focused on God.
If you accepted Jesus as your lord and savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in your body. You get new Spirit, mind, heart, and identity.
To renew yourself spiritually, start by understanding and embracing who you are in Christ. That will allow you to stop craving the approval and acceptance of others. You will know that you are worthy, loved, accepted, and approved of already by God almighty. Your new identity renewal will result in your spiritual transformation. You will change, so everything will also change.
Read the next chapter.
The Fruit of the Renewed Mind
Renewing your mind leads to fruitful living. As I’m continuing to renew my mind, my heart is also being renewed. By the amazing grace of our loving God, I’m able to have more fruit in my life, just like Galatians 5:22-23 explains: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The new habits of the fruit need to be developed with intentionality. It takes time. The more we seek to honor God, the more we practice abiding in Christ, and the more fruit there will be in our behavior.
Can you relate to my story?
Do you have unhealthy habits, addictions, or worldly lies that guide your decision-making today? You can be set free right now by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you. You can renew your mind and get a new heart from God. You can have the joy of the Lord and His peace that passes all understanding.
You can have a fruitful life! Do you believe this? If you’re ready, memorize my Biblical affirmation below and begin practicing it daily to renew your mind and lifestyle.
I Am Renewed
"I Am Renewed" #52Devotionals I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I received new Spirit and a new heart with it. With the Holy Spirit dwelling in my body, I'm creating habits to nine fruits exhibit. Click to tweet
What God-honoring habits do you want to create in your life? Have you accepted your identity in Christ to receive a new spirit, a new heart, and a new mind? Let me know in the comments below.
If this devotional was helpful, download all #52Devotionals now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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