An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks

Galatians 2:  20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

A saying I have often heard and one that makes me wince each time I hear it, especially coming from Christians, is that “An old dog can’t learn new tricks”.  The adage is often used to excuse why someone is unable to change their behavior.  “I’m a grumpy middle-aged man, and I can’t change”. “I’m a moody lady; I’ve always been this way and certainly can’t change at my age.”  “Yes, I’m opinionated, and I don’t really care if I rub people the wrong way.  It’s who I am.”

When a non-Christian says this, I believe they are often wrong and through great effort, maybe even counseling, they are able to change, at least to an extent.  But when a Christian says these things, I believe it is a sin and an affront to what Christ did on the cross.  If we truly believe that we cannot change ungodly behavior then we have not understood the sanctifying power of the cross.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in the sixth chapter he describes what some of the people of the church of Corinth were before they accepted Christ in their hearts: sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers etc.; but what does Paul go on to say?  11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

“But I was born with a predisposition to do those things.”  “But I had a rotten upbringing and I have baggage from that time.”  “But that behavior was modeled out for me, and it is all I know.”  No!  “But you were washed, you were sanctified”!  Unlike the world, who must painstakingly muster up all their effort to attempt to change, you are filled with the supernatural.  Oswald Chambers said: “The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh.”  Sanctification is “Christ in you….” (Colossians 1:27).

Even at a human level as an athlete, how often have you heard someone say, “that’s impossible”?  Running a sub-4-minute mile was once thought to be impossible.  Xtreme sport enthusiasts see tricks being performed on bikes, motocross, even snowmobiles that were once thought impossible.  How much more so, with the power of the living Christ living in us, can remarkable change not happen in our lives?  But rather than a trick, Christ in us changes us and the sanctifying power of Christ allows the fruits of the spirit to grow in us in greater measures.  We should be seeing the ongoing ripening fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).

But Christ will not be at work in you if you turn to worldly myths, if you accept lies based on human wisdom.  Your truths must come from the Word of God, the holy Bible.  Whenever your mind becomes filled with lies of the enemy, attack them head on with the truth of scripture.  And one of the main truths you should be prepared to declare is: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me!” (Galatians 2:20a).

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