We live in a world of brokenness. We all want to change and become better people. Sometimes, it can feel like life is out of control and we can’t stop hurting ourselves and others around us. There is hope. Do you want to see real lasting change and growth in your life? Let’s consider what the Bible says.
10 Ways to Become a Better Person According to the Bible
What the Bible says how you change is very different from what is usually considered self-help or self-improvement. The Bible offers something much deeper and better.
1. Stop Trying to Change in Your Own Strength
How to change according to the Bible? The first step to becoming a better person according to the Bible is to stop trying to become better on your own. You’ve probably tried everything you know to how already.
If we could fix the world’s problems, we would have done it by now. We have more knowledge, education, communication, and resources than ever in history. How to be a good person according to the Bible? Acknowledge that you can’t do it on your own. You can’t change other people and you can’t change the nature of who you are.
Jesus points out that the more you try to save your own life, you will lose it. But if you lose it for His sake, you will find it.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?Matt. 16:24-26 (ESV)
A big idea in the Bible is that you cannot live the way God, as the Creator, has designed life to work. The main teaching of Christianity is that God, the Father in heaven, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross because we couldn’t measure up on our own.
Religion is trying your best to meet a certain standard. It’s trying to change on your own. It’s trying to get to heaven by being a good person. You simply cannot be good enough by your own works. Romans 3:23 (ESV) says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible tells us to stop trying to do that on our own.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matt. 11:28-30 (ESV)
Come to Jesus. Stop trying to change on your own and trust in God’s way.
2. Stop Asking God to Change You
Have you ever prayed something like: “God, please take my anger away!” (or whatever is bothering you)? Or have you ever asked: “God give me patience… And give it to me now!” How did it go?
Many people find themselves in an endless trap of guilt, shame, and frustration because they don’t see lasting change. It might seem counter-intuitive, but this doesn’t work because it’s not what the Bible teaches.
Even people who are well-meaning and try desperately to change don’t see real life change because they’re waiting for God to magically make their pain disappear. God wants to, but He does it another way according to the Bible. It’s a much better way!
|One of the reasons you don’t see change is because you’re praying and asking God to do something that He has clearly called you to do.|
Faith for a breakthrough in your life is not a shortcut. Faith is trusting that what Jesus did on the cross is your breakthrough. Don’t just look for the short-cut or the easy way out. Don’t look for a secret powerful prayer that will fix you. Start with what God has done for you. What He has done is very significant.
3. Trust in God’s Solution
The first step in God’s solution is to change your very nature from the inside out. He does this by restoring you to His original design, the way He intended life to work.
When we look at the world around us, we see that we live in a world of brokenness. We see it in the news: war, famine, sickness, jealousy, crime… We also see it in our own lives.
God created a perfect world without brokenness. He created a world without all those things that make our world terrible. But, we choose to go our own way and do our own thing. This is what the Bible calls sin, when we depart from God’s way. Sin is what leads us into brokenness.
When we realize that we’re in brokenness, we try to get out. We look for an escape by looking to relationships, careers, religion, or end up self-medicating to numb our pain.
The Good News is that God doesn’t leave us in our brokenness. Jesus comes into our brokenness, dies for our sins on the cross, and is raised to life again. The Bible says that you need to do two things: 1) turn from going your own way and 2) believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”Mark 1:15 (ESV)
To repent means to simply turn and see things from God’s perspective. To repent doesn’t mean to be just sorry for your sin. You can be sorry for the wrong reasons. You can be sorry that you got caught, or sorry that you hurt others.
To repent means to see things differently. You can feel sorry for years and never change. The Bible promises that repentance and faith in Jesus will result in a real change, a new life in Christ.
Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God offers you a free gift because Jesus paid the full price for it. It’s eternal life, it’s life to the full. Jesus says in John 10:10 that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
When you choose to make Jesus the Lord, or boss of your life, God forgives you of your sin and begins His restoration process in you.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.2 Cor. 5:17 (ESV)
There are many Bible verses about becoming a new person, but this one is probably the clearest.
God gives you a new identity. Like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, you become a new creation. Your sins are forgiven, your very nature changes, and you can begin to live a new life.
4. Count Your Old Self as Dead
This step is key to seeing lasting change. It’s so basic to the Bible, that people often forget it. The whole point about the Bible is faith in Christ’s work.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.Rom. 6:11 (ESV)
You have to trust that what Jesus did on the cross for you is real. Since you have a new identity, the next step is to count your old self as dead.
“Christ did not come to improve us. He did not come to make us better people. Nor does He want committed people, or devoted, or good, gentle, kind or wise people. He wants dead ones, that the life of Christ may shine through us (Gal. 2:16-21, Phil 3:9). He does not want to repair our righteousness. He wants to slay it, so that His righteousness may clothe us anew ( 1 Cor. 1:26-31, Gal. 2 and 3, 1 Cor. 15:47-58). We become better people not by healing our broken places so that we can function better, but by dying to self so that His righteousness may be expressed in and through us. He will then be that devotion, kindness, and gentleness in us that He wants us to be.”John Sandford, Restoring the Christian Family (Pg. 188) (link to book available on Amazon)
This is what water baptism means to the Christian. It’s a way of identifying with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-7).
Jesus gives the secret to live as God intends in Luke 9:23
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.Luke 9:23 (ESV)
This really is the core of what the Bible says about how to become a better person. It’s also the core of what it means to live a true, biblical, Christian life. To be a Christian is to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.
One of the ways you follow Jesus and take up your cross is by denying yourself and counting your old self as dead. The old things that used to motivate you and was your identity have been nailed on the cross with Jesus. The old things that used to ensnare you, bringing shame and condemnation, have been nailed on the cross with Jesus.
5. Put off the Old
Earlier, we looked at why we should not pray: “God, please take my anger away!” (or whatever is bothering you) God will not take away your anger. He calls you to do that in light of what Jesus has done.
What should you do instead of asking God to change you? The Bible instructs us to put off the old actions, thoughts, and motivations. This is something that God calls you to do. You cannot ask God to take away your negative actions.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Eph. 4:20-24 (ESV) [bold emphasis added]
Things you are to Put off and Put on in light of your new nature (Eph. 4:25-32)
|Things You Are to Put Off||Things You Are to Put On|
|Anger leading to sin||–|
|Stealing||Labor, work with hands, give to those in need|
|Corrupt words||Speak good for edification, impart grace|
|Grieve Holy Spirit||–|
|Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice||Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another|
|Fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting||Giving of thanks|
This can only work if you have a new identity in Christ. It’s very different than telling yourself something like: “stop sinning!” If you try to put off the old without a new identity through faith in Jesus Christ, it would not work. Since you are “new creation” in Christ, this is a vital step to seeing true life change.
God will not take away your choices and actions. He wants you to choose to follow Him because you have a new nature now. You are forgiven of your sin and the power of those things to control you anymore have been broken. This is why Jesus died on the cross.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.Rom. 6:6 (ESV)
You don’t need to wait for God to take away your negative emotions and behavior. He’s already dealt with the power of sin in your life. What you do now is count your old self as dead and put off the old habits. You can begin to live out your new identity and follow Jesus now.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Gal. 2:20 (ESV)
6. Be Renewed in Your Mind
Growth and maturity are not one time events. Your mind has to be regularly renewed. You’ll be tempted to return to your old habits and conduct.
You might start out with a lot of enthusiasm to change. Maybe the situation is too painful or the pressures of life are too intense. But eventually, you’ll need to remember how you decided to follow Jesus and allow Him to restore you.
Eph. 4:23 says to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” How do you renew your mind? You renew your minds by reading the Bible and committing to do what it says.
You can’t renew your mind on your own, but you can allow it to be renewed, to be brought back to that stage of being new and fresh again. As you expose your mind to the Word and truth, your mind becomes refreshed and renewed and works properly.
When your mind is renewed, you’ll remember why you wanted to change and become better in the first place. You’ll remember your new identity in Christ, as a new creation. You’ll remember that it’s not your will-power to change, but God putting a new nature in you.
We choose to see what we want to see. Even the most intelligent people see and perceive selectively. We need to let God’s Word renew our minds. Take time to read the Bible and put it into action.
God wants you to have a happy holiness. This is not a religious keeping of rules, but a relationship where you want to know Jesus and what a healthy and fulfilling life looks like in Him.
7. Put on the New Self
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.Eph. 5:1 (ESV)
What does the new self look like? It looks like what Gal. 5:22-23 calls the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Gal. 5:22-23 (ESV)
These are the results, or fruit, of your new identity in Christ. Jesus promises to always be with you by His Holy Spirit dwelling in you (John 14:16-18).
Stop praying: “God give me patience.” (Or whatever trait that you’re wanting more of in your life). Instead, pray: “God thank You for Your patience in me. I will obey Your Word. Holy Spirit, help me. Empower my heart to do it. Strengthen me.”
God has already given His Holy Spirit to dwell in you. You don’t need to ask for the fruit of the Spirit. It’s something you thank Him for and then commit to obey His Word. You can pray that God will strengthen you so that you will live by being rooted in His love for you (Eph. 3:16-21).
Related to this is what the book of Ephesians describes as putting on the whole armor of God. I wrote an article that explains what that means: Put on the Whole Armor of God – What it Means & How to Do It.
8. Bring Guilt, Shame & Condemnation to the Cross
Because you will stumble at some point (1 John 1:8-10). When you do, what will you do? Will you run to God or away from Him? Learn to run to God instead of away from God. This is the reason Jesus died on the cross, to pay for your sins so that you can be reconciled to God.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Rom. 8:1 (ESV)
What should you do when you stumble? Press reset and keep pursuing God. It’s not about feeling bad and trying to live a better life. Renew your mind and be reminded of what Jesus did for you and why you have the power to change now.
Your old self, your sin, your bad habits do not define who you are anymore. You’re not a sinner trying to live a better life anymore. You’re a child of God (John 1:12) who sometimes struggles with sin.
One interesting thing about the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) is that asking God to forgive us of our sin is in the middle of the prayer. If you have put your faith in Jesus, you don’t come to God as guilty sinners anymore.
The model of prayer that sometimes is taught where you start with confession of sin before you ask God to provide for you is backward compared to the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.
You don’t even have to have all your sins confessed before you can ask God for things you need. Jesus teaches us to ask for our daily bread even before we ask for forgiveness. You live out of your new identity in Christ. God simply provides for you because He cares for you.
The Bible says that there is an adversary, the Devil. “Devil” means false accuser, slanderer.
The Devil’s name actually means that his main job description is to convince you and God that you are no good. Learn to listen to what God says about your new identity now and don’t try to answer false accusations with your own righteousness.
Remember God doesn’t want you to try to improve your righteousness or right standing before Him. He wants to slay it. Your identity and right standing before God are a result of what Jesus has done, not based on your own works and ability.
9. Be Okay with the Process
Your identity as new creation in Christ is given in an instant, but the process of maturity is a long-game. Learning to live out of your new identity takes time. Parents need to nurture their children 100s of 1000s of instances before they are mature.
We want to skip the mess we might face in life, but it’s part of the journey. Maturity is a process and will take time.
|Milk —> Mess —> Maturity|
God delights in the process. Your love for Him is real. It might be immature, but it is genuine if you’re trusting in Christ. Your love will continue to mature.
10. Receive God’s Forgiveness & Forgive Others
Learn to let go and give it to God. Don’t hold on to grudges. Don’t let bitterness become like a root in your soul that poisons you from the inside.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;Heb. 12:15 (ESV)
Jesus said that if you don’t forgive others, you will not be able to receive God’s forgiveness (Matt. 6:12. Matt. 6:14-15). If you can’t forgive, you will not change. Forgive others because God forgave you.
Don’t judge others (Luke 6:37). When you judge others, you’ll be judged yourself. Don’t even judge yourself (1 Cor. 4:3). Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t let the pressure to change become overwhelming to you. Just keep saying “yes” to God and keep doing His will one day at a time.
It’s all by faith
It is all by faith, including your growth into becoming like Jesus. You cannot properly put off, be renewed in your mind, and put on without faith in Jesus’ finished work.
If you want to become a better person according to the Bible, it’s all by faith, by trusting in Christ. It’s all in trusting in Jesus’ finished work. Your new identity is in Him. True and lasting change is possible. Keep looking to Jesus.
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Heb. 12:2 (ESV)
|If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll love 25 Most Powerful Bible Verses: How to Apply Them to Your Life. In it, I share what I consider to be the most powerful bible verses. It’ll bring encouragement in your journey as you’re transformed by God’s power.|
If you want to begin to renew your mind and start studying the Bible for yourself, check out this article: The Easiest Way to Study the Bible. In it, I share a simple but powerful way you can use to let God’s Word dwell in you.