Real Change Is an Inside Job

I HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK—and I’m quite sure I won’t, if simply because I have so many other books I want to read that are waaaaay ahead of this one in line. And finding time even for those is a constant battle. I’m not even recommending anyone else read it—though of course, some may choose to do so.

But I’ve read a number of reviews and news reports of the book by A. J. Jacobs that’s currently at number 20 on the Amazon best-seller list and climbing. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is the authors’ chronicle of a year he spent trying to follow all the rules of the Bible as perfectly as possible. Not easy for even the most devout—much less an admittedly non-religious man.

Jacobs made lists of everything he should do, then devoted eight months to living by Old Testament rules and four months by the New Testament.

He gave it his best, trying to comply not only with the major moral requirements (tithing; avoiding lust, lying, coveting, and lying)—but also the “minor” items (he grew a ZZ-Top beard, did not mix wool and linen in his clothing, ate crickets, and tried his hand at the 10-string harp).

But he discovered what so many of us who consider ourselves believers have—that when it comes to moral behavior and meeting God’s requirements, success is limited when the approach is from the outside in.

The truth is, those of us with strong wills (and that doesn’t include all of us!) can in fact positively alter our outward behavior. We can to some extent avoid doing the bad and practice doing the good.

But we can’t change what’s inside us.

We can’t change our inner desires. The best we can achieve is doing what God asks because we think we should or must…because we have to…because we fear what may happen if we don’t. Unless God changes us, we’re rebels.

Only the new birth experience of John 3 can change us inside, so that we want to do what God asks.

Real change is an inside job.

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