Long-Lasting Change
Matthew 15:16-20

We were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.

When we were consumed with addictive/compulsive behaviors, we considered the behaviors to be "the problem." When we are sober and not acting out our compulsions, we realize that "the problem" goes much deeper. We used to think, If I could only change my behavior, everything would be fine. Now that we're in recovery, and the behavior may be under control, it's time to look to the state of our innermost being to get to the heart of the problem.

Early in his life King David prayed, "Declare me innocent" (Psalm 26:1), focusing on his deeds. Later in life, he was able to pray on a deeper level, "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

Jesus explained the true source of our problem: "But the words you speak come from the heart-that's what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander" (Matthew 15:18-19). We needn't worry, though. God is in the business of heart transplants. He promised Israel, "I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God" (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

Being entirely ready means that we want God to go deeper than dealing with our destructive behaviors. We want him to change our motives and create a new, clean heart within us.

Who we are deep down matters more to God than who we may appear to be on the surface.