Why Is Behavior So Hard to Change?

Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Why is that? Why do we have so much trouble getting our bodies to do what our spirit desires? When I know my life would be so much better if I could just change my behavior in a certain area, why is it so hard?

Behavior follows thoughts. It’s impossible to live in a way that isn’t in line with your thought life. What you think about set the trajectory of your life. This is why there are so many passages of Scripture that command us to set our thoughts on godly things.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

The Steering Wheel of Your Life

Your thought life is the steering wheel of your life. It’s impossible to let your thoughts run in one direction and steer your behavior in a different direction.

The problem is we live in a world where spiritual realities are invisible. We can see temporal things but the most important realities—spiritual laws, faith, unbelief, divine rewards, angels, demons, God, even our own hearts—all invisible.

You get up in the morning and spend 15 minutes alone with God, you pray, fill your mind with spiritual truths from God’s Word, then go out into the world where a godless culture bombards you with a secular mindset for the next 23 hours. Even if you manage to punctuate those hours with prayer, still, those prayers last for seconds, maybe minutes, but not hours.

How to Focus on God the Rest of the Day

How can you set your mind on things above for longer stretches?

The primary way—the way Jesus was most fond of and that he taught us to use—is sermons. Jesus devoted his time to preaching (Matthew 4:23). It was the reason he came into this world (Mark 1:38). He taught his disciples to do the same (Mark 3:14).

A good sermon can keep your mind on things above for an hour or longer. Sometimes a lot longer if it’s an especially memorable message.

But sermons aren’t the only way to fix your thoughts on spiritual things. What if there were a way to set not only your thoughts, but also your affections—emotions, attitudes, desires, and imagination—on spiritual realities for hours, days, or weeks?

The Role of Christian Fiction

That was my goal when I set out to write the Walk with the Wind novel series. I spent years studying the art of storytelling, learning everything I could to accomplish this one purpose: to craft a story that would take abstract gospel truths and dramatize them in a such a way as to imprint them on the reader’s soul.

Most of the time, learning God’s Word is hard work. But when conveyed in a story—a story that transports you into another world to the point where you forget you’re even reading—that can press biblical truths into your heart in ways that can last a lifetime.

This is what the world does with their entertainment every day. They take worldly, godless ideas and make them seem wise and beautiful and attractive in the way they portray them in movies, novels, and other modes of storytelling.

How many times has a skilled TV screenwriter made you root for a murderer or drug dealer with their storytelling Jedi mind tricks? What if someone used those same techniques to help you love the things Scripture says are beautiful? I believe that is the role all Christian fiction should serve.

What Do You Think?

I would love your opinion. Was that goal accomplished in Escape from Paradise and At War with the Wind: the Fight for Abigail? And what other books have achieved that purpose in your heart?