Our ordinary method of dealing with ingrained sin is to launch a frontal attack. We rely on will power and determination. Whatever the issue may be for us – anger, bitterness, pride, lust, fear – we determine never to do it again, we pray against it, fight against it and set our will against it….The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over our sin by the strength of our will alone, we are worshipping the will….When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside.
Fighting an addiction with your own strength is like picking the rotten fruit off a bad tree. Picking the bad fruit may get rid of the odor, but it will not kill the tree itself. You must uproot the tree to kill the bad fruit. To truly break an addiction, you must uproot both the belief systems that are planted in your heart and the resulting sinful habits that first seeded the addiction.
February 19, 2020
Human will-power alone is not enough. Will-power is excellent and we should always be using it; but it is not enough. A desire to live a good life is not enough. Obviously we should all have that desire, but it will not guarantee success. So let me put it thus: Hold on to your principles of morality and ethics, use your willpower to the limit, pay great heed to every noble, uplifting desire that is in you; but realize that these things alone are not enough, that they will never bring you to the desired place. We have to realize that all our best is totally inadequate, that a spiritual battle must be fought in a spiritual manner.
For years, maybe, you have tried fruitlessly to exercise control over yourself, and perhaps this is still your experience; but when once you see the truth you will recognize that you are indeed powerless to do anything, but that in setting you aside altogether God has done it all. Such discovery brings human striving and self effort to an end.
Souls are not made sweet by taking [ill tempers] out, but by putting something in – a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This can only eradicate what is wrong, renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man. Will-power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. Therefore “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
If you want to do something good, do it; and if you cannot do it, then resolve to do it, and you will have achieved the resolution even if you do not fulfill the action itself. Thus a habit, whether good or bad, can gradually and spontaneously be overcome. If this were not the case, no criminals would ever be saved, whereas in fact not only have they been saved, but many have become conspicuous for their excellence. Think what a great gulf separates the criminal from the saint; yet resolution finally overcame habit.