How can we change—discard those unwanted habits, replacing them with productive ones? My previous post describes the foundation for change—salvation through faith. Faith includes a cognitive element—believing the facts regarding Jesus, and a volitional element—committing our lives to Him. Change requires this foundation.
Change also necessitates a superstructure. We tend not to think of fixing a house before we build it. First we must construct a house on the foundation. You can’t keep the weather out if the roof has not yet been built, or you can’t keep the heat in if the windows are not in place.
Our spiritual superstructure is constructed through discipleship.
Jesus connected the foundation with the superstructure in the Great Commission.
“Going, therefore, disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)
This passage inseparably links evangelism with “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,” i.e. discipleship.
Discipleship includes teaching information. The new believer must understands the essence of his new faith. Notice the statement of Christ, however, emphasizes “observing,” literally “keeping,” His teachings. Ultimately discipleship entails helping the new believer construct a new lifestyle.
Some believers fail in their attempts to change because they have never been discipled—the superstructure of their spiritual lives has never been built. They have a foundation surrounded by piles of building materials, and they wonder why despite their best efforts they keep getting frostbitten.
For example, some new believers persist in cohabitation or pornography and wonder why they can’t fix their relationships, emotions, finances, and other aspects of their lives.
Fixing the house first requires building the house.