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If I'm Being Renewed Day by Day, Why Do I Feel Stuck in My Old Ways?

Jennifer Waddle

iBelieve Contributor
Published Apr 14, 2024
If I'm Being Renewed Day by Day, Why Do I Feel Stuck in My Old Ways?

When we fix our eyes on the love of Christ—the widest, longest, highest, and deepest love ever to exist—we’ll stop relying on our own strength and rest fully in His mighty power that renews us day by day.

It’s easy to lose heart when our best intentions and efforts fall flat. We get discouraged when we don’t see instant results, which often leads us back to our old ways. Whether it be unhealthy eating, overspending, or binge-watching television, old habits have a way of making us feel stuck, don’t they?

As I read Paul’s words in his second letter to the Corinthians, I feel a tug of war in my heart when he says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). This back-and-forth struggle comes from my desire to break free from hard-pressing, perplexing, and defeating behaviors that keep me stuck.

Then I read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

These light and momentary troubles that Paul mentions surely include the battle between our inner convictions and outward behaviors, don't they? Yet, even in the midst of this discouraging battle, he says, “We do not lose heart.” 

I believe Paul’s words, don’t you? So why are we being renewed day by day but still stuck in our old ways? 

Here are a few things to consider:

We Have Two Enemies

We all know who the real enemy is. One of Satan’s grand agendas is to keep us stuck in old thought patterns, habits, and beliefs. However, there’s another enemy at work in us—our flesh. Not only is our flesh with us 24/7, but it’s relentless in wanting what it wants when it wants. Am I right?

I picture my human nature as my inner brat, always wanting her way and throwing a big fit when she doesn’t get it. Her favorite word to yell at the top of her lungs is “No,” but she’s quick to pout when God tells her “no.” She rarely obeys the first time, always pushes her way to the front of the line, and sometimes slams doors just to get attention. Oh, our brattish inner enemy!

Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” 

In reading this, I wonder, what are we to do with this contrary flesh that continually wars against the Holy Spirit? Are we doomed to failure because we have two enemies in relentless pursuit?

Thank the Lord who does not leave us in this helpless state! He gives us the solution in 1 John 4:4, which says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

I don’t know about you, but every time I read that passage, I can’t help but smile from ear to ear. We are from God. We have overcome. Greater is He who lives in us than he who is in the world. We might feel stuck in our old ways, but we are victorious in the One who has overcome.

We Are Relying on the Wrong Strength

Once we recognize our flesh as a BIG part of the problem, we’ll be less likely to rely on our flesh for the strength to overcome. For example, one of my ongoing struggles is wanting to escape the hard things in life. As I mentioned, I sometimes turn to food and other things to help me cope instead of turning to God.

My old ways keep me stuck in the idea that food, alcohol, or sleep is more comforting than the comfort God provides. However, those habits might bring temporary gratification, but they’ll never bring lasting comfort and peace. God is our strength in times of need. He hears us when we call. 

Ephesians 3:16-19 is a powerful prayer to strengthen us in the days ahead. Paul says, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

"All the fullness of God"…this is the strength needed to get un-stuck from our old ways. Only by the power of His Spirit are we able to live in the renewal He brings. When we fix our eyes on the love of Christ—the widest, longest, highest, and deepest love ever to exist—we’ll stop relying on our own strength and rest fully in His mighty power that renews us day by day.

We Are Not Our Own

Before I even wrote the first sentence of this article, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 came to mind. It says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”

Although I’ve heard this passage many times in my 30+ years of following Christ, I’ve always felt a bit of hesitation or resistance. I think it’s because my old ways have convinced me it’s impossible to be “all in” for God. I find myself thinking, “Lord, if You really are renewing me day by day, why is it so difficult to honor You with my whole self?”

But God… in His infinite mercy, He reminds me of the sufficiency of His grace in every one of my weaknesses. Each new day, His tender-loving mercies meet me once again, whispering, “You are not your own.” 

Getting un-stuck from our old ways begins with receiving God’s grace anew. Our strength training doesn’t start at the gym—it starts with Him. Our enemies don’t stand a chance when God is in the house. This is how we leave our old ways behind and step into the newness of life found in Christ.

The truth is that our bodies will grow old, give out, and eventually return to the dust from which they were formed. Our inner selves, however, will continually be renewed, day by day, until we meet our Savior face-to-face. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

Here are more helpful resources for your journey:

The Renewal of Your Mind

How Are God’s Mercies New Every Morning?

Navigating Spiritual Deserts and Finding Renewal

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStar_Studio

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.