Listen to today’s devo!

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matt. 7:18)

Expanded Passage: Matthew 7:13-18

Willpower doesn’t work. You can ask anyone who has tried it as an antidote to smoking, the impetus for weight loss, a bridle for the tongue, or a check against a raging temper. You simply cannot change your character by tightly controlling your behavior. Many have tried and failed. It simply does not work.

Willpower doesn’t work because it can’t work. Oh, it can do some things. Willpower can temporarily constrain an impulse. It might help you pass up one donut. But mastering your will can never change your love for Krispy Kreme, therefore it cannot be your answer to weight loss—or any other life change.

Real change comes from within. Behavior emanates from the heart. Make the heart pure, and the actions will be pure as well. They have to be. A heart of love will not produce selfish actions because it cannot. And a heart of envy, greed, lust, or pride cannot produce a loving, selfless, pure life. Bad root, bad fruit. Good root, good fruit. It’s that simple.

Sanctification, then, is not an exercise in changing behavior but in changing the heart. The Holy Spirit’s primary aim is not to strengthen your will so you fight the urge to sin. The Spirit seeks to fill your heart with love for God so that it overflows in acts of mercy, justice, and righteousness.

Imagine what it would be like to love God wholeheartedly.

Lawrence W. Wilson lives in rural Indiana where he enjoys cycling, yard work, and reading a wide assortment of books. He is a freelance writer and editor, and coauthor of The Long Road Home (WPH).

© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.