It’s remarkably hard to change. A recent article in The New Yorker shows that facts don’t change our minds. Studies show that many patients don’t change their lifestyle after suffering a heart attack or stroke.

So how can we change?

Paul Tripp, co-author of the book How People Change, has good news. “Not only can people change, they do,” he says. Here are a few insights into how people change.

Focus on the Heart

Change isn’t just a matter of new facts or behavioral changes. Rules and discipline aren’t enough. Real change requires a change of heart. The Bible identifies the heart as the control center of the person. It’s the motivational center of each person. The heart is the source of all of our thoughts and actions. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

To really change, we need God to give us a new heart, something that he’s promised to do (Ezekiel 36:26). God changes us to the core of our beings.

Don’t Change Alone

To really change, we need outside help. We need others to encourage us, support us, and hold us accountable. We need allies who are committed to us, and who will both support us and challenge us.

We also need God’s help. God promises the Holy Spirit, who remodels and refashions us.

We’re never left to change on our own efforts. We need others, and we need the Holy Spirit.

Identify and Deal With Roadblocks

What stops you from changing? We all have sinful tendencies that get in the way of change. While we’re all different, we tend to have a lot in common when it comes to these roadblocks. Pride and selfishness, for instance, are common to all of us.

It’s important to know what tends to hold us back. It’s also important to know how to handle these roadblocks. The Bible tells us to practice daily faith and repentance. We can:

  • identify areas where we’re likely to struggle
  • avoid things that strengthen our temptations
  • strengthen ourselves through new habits
  • motivate ourselves with the warnings and promises of the Bible

Build Habits

Habits like reading or listening to Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and worship help shape our hearts. They help us access God’s resources to create positive change in our lives.

For Further Reading

Change is difficult, but with God’s help, it is possible.

If you’re interested in exploring more on how to change, you may find the following books helpful: