“Be transformed by making your mind over.”—ROMANS 12:2.
1-3. (a) What changes may it be hard for us to make after our baptism? (b) When making progress is harder than we expected, what questions might we ask? (See opening pictures.)
FOR many years, Kevin gambled, smoked, drank too much, and took drugs. (See endnote.) Then he learned about Jehovah and wanted to be his friend. But to do so, he had to make big changes in his life. He was able to change by means of Jehovah’s help and the power of His Word, the Bible.—Hebrews 4:12.
2 After Kevin got baptized, he still had to make changes to his personality so that he could become a better Christian. (Ephesians 4:31, 32) For example, he used to get angry quickly. He was surprised when he found out how difficult it was to learn to control his temper. In fact, Kevin said that learning to control his temper was actually harder than it was to stop the bad things he was doing before he got baptized! But he was able to make changes by begging Jehovah to help him and by a thorough study of the Bible.
3 Before we got baptized, many of us had to make big changes in our lives so that we could live in the way the Bible says we should. But even now, we realize that there are smaller changes we need to make to become more like God and Christ. (Ephesians 5:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:21) For example, we might notice that we complain a lot or that we often gossip and say unkind things about others. Or at times we may be so afraid of what others might think or say that we do not do what is right. Perhaps we have been trying to change for many years but we still keep making the same mistakes. So we may wonder: ‘Why is it so difficult for me to make these smaller changes? What must I do to apply what the Bible says so that I can continue to improve my personality?’
YOU CAN PLEASE JEHOVAH
4. Why are we unable to please Jehovah in everything we do?
4 We love Jehovah, and we desire with all our heart to please him. But sadly, we cannot please him all the time, because we are imperfect. We often feel like the apostle Paul, who said: “I have the desire to do what is fine but not the ability to carry it out.”—Romans 7:18; James 3:2.
5. What changes did we make before we got baptized, but what weaknesses may we still struggle with?
5 Before we could be part of the congregation, we had to stop practicing things that Jehovah hates. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) But we are still imperfect. (Colossians 3:9, 10) So we continue to make mistakes even if we have been baptized for many years. From time to time, we may have wrong desires and feelings, or we may find it hard to control a weakness in our personality. In fact, we may have to fight the same weakness for many years.
6, 7. (a) What makes it possible for us to be Jehovah’s friends even though we are imperfect? (b) Why should we not hold back from asking Jehovah for forgiveness?
6 Even though we are imperfect, we can still have a friendship with Jehovah and serve him. Always remember how you first became Jehovah’s friend. He was the One who saw the good in you and wanted you to know him. (John 6:44) He also knew that you had faults and weaknesses and that you were going to make mistakes. But Jehovah still wanted you to be his friend.
7 Jehovah loved us so much that he gave us a precious gift. He sent his Son to earth so that Jesus could give his life as a ransom for our sins. (John 3:16) When we make a mistake, we can ask Jehovah for forgiveness. And because of the ransom, we can be sure that he will forgive us and that we will still be his friends. (Romans 7:24, 25; 1 John 2:1, 2) Remember, Jesus died for repentant sinners. So even if we feel that what we have done is very bad, we must never stop praying to Jehovah for forgiveness. If we did not ask him to forgive us, it would be like refusing to wash our hands when they are dirty. How grateful we are that Jehovah has made it possible for us to be his friends even though we are imperfect!—Read 1 Timothy 1:15.
If we want to draw closer to Jehovah, we must keep trying to imitate him and his Son
8. Why should we not ignore our weaknesses?
8 Of course, we cannot ignore our weaknesses or keep making excuses for them. Jehovah has told us what kind of people he wants his friends to be. (Psalm 15:1-5) So if we want to draw closer to him, we must keep trying to imitate him and his Son. We must also try to control our wrong desires, and we may even be able to get rid of some of them. No matter how long we have been baptized, we must keep improving our personality.—2 Corinthians 13:11.
9. How do we know that we can keep putting on the new personality?
9 The apostle Paul told Christians: “You were taught to put away the old personality that conforms to your former course of conduct and that is being corrupted according to its deceptive desires. And you should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude, and should put on the new personality that was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) This means that we need to keep on making the effort to change and “put on the new personality.” So no matter how long we have been serving Jehovah, we can always learn more about his qualities. And the Bible can help us to keep making changes in our personality to become more like him.
WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT?
10. What must we do to keep making changes with the help of the Bible, and what questions might we ask?
10 We all want to follow what the Bible says. But we need to work hard if we want to continue to change. Why do we need to make such an effort? Could not Jehovah just make it easy for us to do what is right?
11-13. Why does Jehovah expect us to put forth effort to overcome our weaknesses?
11 When we think of the universe and all that is in it, we have no doubt that Jehovah has the power to do anything. For example, he made the sun, which is extremely powerful. Every second, the sun produces a huge amount of light and heat, yet only a small amount of this energy is needed for life on earth to exist. (Psalm 74:16; Isaiah 40:26) Jehovah also gives power to his servants on earth when they need it. (Isaiah 40:29) Clearly, if Jehovah wanted to, he could make it very easy for us to fight our weaknesses and to stop having wrong desires. So why does he not do so?
12 Jehovah has given us free will. He allows us to choose for ourselves whether we will obey him or not. When we choose to obey him and work hard to do his will, we show that we love him and want to please him. Satan says that Jehovah has no right to rule. But when we obey Jehovah, we show that we want him to be our Ruler. And we can be sure that our loving Father values every effort we make to obey him. (Job 2:3-5; Proverbs 27:11) When we work hard to control our weaknesses even though it is not easy to do so, we are loyal to Jehovah and show that we want him to be our Ruler.
13 Jehovah tells us that we should work hard to imitate his qualities. (Colossians 3:12; read 2 Peter 1:5-7.) He also expects us to work hard to control what we think and what we feel. (Romans 8:5; 12:9) Whenever we have to work hard to make a change and we are successful, we feel especially happy.
LET GOD’S WORD KEEP ON CHANGING YOU
14, 15. What can we do to develop qualities that Jehovah loves? (See the box “The Bible and Prayer Changed Their Lives.”)
14 What must we do to develop the qualities that Jehovah loves? Instead of just deciding for ourselves what we need to change, we need to let God guide us. Romans 12:2 says: “Stop being molded by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, so that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So to find out what Jehovah wants, we need to rely on the help that he has provided. We must read the Bible daily, meditate on what we read, and pray to Jehovah to give us his holy spirit. (Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) In these ways, Jehovah can help us to understand what pleases him, and we can learn to think the way he does. As a result, what we think, say, and do will be more pleasing to Jehovah, and we will learn how to control our weaknesses. But even then, we will need to keep fighting them.—Proverbs 4:23.
15 In addition to reading the Bible every day, we need to study it with the help of our publications, such as The Watchtower and Awake! Many articles in these magazines teach us how we can imitate Jehovah’s qualities and how to fight our weaknesses. We may find certain articles or scriptures that are especially helpful to us. We can collect these scriptures and articles so that we can read them again from time to time.
16. Why should we not be discouraged if we are not able to make changes quickly?
16 It takes time to learn to imitate Jehovah’s qualities. So if you feel that you have not made as many changes as you would like to, be patient. At first, you may need to force yourself to do what the Bible says. But the more you think and behave the way Jehovah wants you to, the easier it will become for you to think the way he does and to do what is right.—Psalm 37:31; Proverbs 23:12; Galatians 5:16, 17.
THINK ABOUT OUR WONDERFUL FUTURE
17. If we are loyal to Jehovah, what delightful future can we look forward to?
17 We look forward to the time when we will be perfect and serve Jehovah forever. At that time, we will not need to fight any weaknesses, and it will be much easier for us to imitate Jehovah. But even now we are able to worship Jehovah because he has given us the gift of the ransom. Although we are imperfect, we can please him if we continue to work hard to make changes and follow what he teaches us in the Bible.
18, 19. How can we be sure that the Bible has power to continue changing our life?
18 Kevin did all he could to learn to control his anger. He meditated on what he read in the Bible and tried hard to make changes in his life. He also followed the advice that fellow Christians gave him. Although it took a few years for Kevin to improve, in time he was able to serve as a ministerial servant. And for the last 20 years, he has been serving as an elder. But even now, he knows that he needs to continue fighting his weaknesses.
19 Like Kevin, we can keep improving our personality. If we do, we will continue to draw closer to Jehovah. (Psalm 25:14) And when we do all we can to make changes to please him, he will help us to succeed. We can be sure that with the help of the Bible, we can keep making changes in our lives.—Psalm 34:8.
 (paragraph 1) The name has been changed.