For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14, 16-19)
If you’ve tried to give up the false loves that lead to your addictive habit, you already know that change is hard. It can be so hard, in fact, that we often feel as if we will never make progress. The key to persevering is to have faith that God can change you.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians could be called his Prayer for Spiritual Strength. He knows that in order to be spiritually strong we must be empowered by God himself. The strength to change is not in us. Change is possible because God is in us. In Ephesians 2, Paul articulates the identity of the believer as the dwelling place of God (see v. 22). In Ephesians 3, he says that God’s Spirit is in you (see v. 16). Because we have God dwelling in us, we have the hope to grow and change. His power is at work in us (Eph. 3:20).
Paul’s prayer asks God to strengthen “with power” the “inner being,” so that believers will be rooted in, grounded in, and knowledgeable of the love of God. Knowing God’s love for us provides hope. It helps us to believe that he can do “far more abundantly than all that we ask” (Eph. 3:20). God’s love prompts us to believe that he will change us and that his power is at work within us. The question you must wrestle with is whether you have faith in this God.
Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe that he is at work in you? When you are discouraged by your progress, what do you focus on? Faith prompts you to believe that God is at work even when you don’t feel like it or see it. It prompts you to believe that God’s love is longer, higher, and deeper than your sin. It prompts you to” know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19)—that is, to know Christ’s love beyond the things we can see and understand. Faith is, as the author to the Hebrews says, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith believes even in the face of reasons to be skeptical.
Change is hard. But, even when it feels impossible, will you trust that God is at work? God is at work in you through his Spirit. Have no doubt about that.
What is your part in this fight? Your faith. It is the key to persevering in your fight to change your addictive habits.
Addictive Habits: Changing for Good by David R. Dunham