When you were a child you learned how to walk, talk, brush your hair, put on a shirt—how to do all of the things that you take for granted today. If you were tie your shoelaces right now, would you have to think about it? Or would your fingers move as though they had been programmed for just that task?
As we go through life we learn to do things automatically because we do them over and over again. Over time our body just knows how to do it—a process called muscle memory. As actions are repeated, your brain begins to automatically know what it needs to do, what muscles need to work, and—most importantly—how those muscles need to work in order to make it happen.
Coaches will tell you how hard it is to get athletes to unlearn a habitual motion that is stopping further growth in skills and performance. First they have to see and accept that they can’t go further without a habit change. Second, they have to be willing to struggle during the unlearning/relearning process. (Unlearning is much harder and takes more time than learning a habit from a clean slate.) Third, athletes need support and encouragement when they automatically revert to old habits when stressed.
In the same way, when we accept Christ into our hearts and dedicate ourselves to him, we have a lot of unlearning to do. There is no poof–all of your old self is gone and you will easily be this new person. We need to unlearn and relearn–and it’s a life-long process that demands a daily infusion of God’s word.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
Learning to live as Christ-followers is a progressive journey of God and man that moves us more and more toward conformity with the character of Christ. This inner healing cannot be achieved by following a formula devised by human thinking and skills. Instead, inner healing is Holy Spirit led, based on the Bible—the “living and active word of God” (Hebrews 4:12).
It’s a journey that demands persistence on our part, but we don’t travel alone. The Holy Spirit is always with us, whispering in our ear the words of God. And don’t forget other Christians who can act as mentors, friends, supporters, and fellow travelers on this journey.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)