Ez.18:7 “He does not commit robbery but gives food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked”
It is not enough that we stop doing what is wrong. We must replace that with something that is right. If a person stops lying, it means he will begin to tell the truth. The evidence that he is no longer a liar is that he now tells the truth. If you stop stealing, the Holy Spirit fills that void and turns you into a giving person. A gossiping person stops gossiping by praising others. A critical spirit is overrun by a beautiful, constructive spirit. A husband can stop nagging his wife, but only be half-way there. He completes that move of grace by now pursuing his wife with kind and gracious words. Having once felt torn-down by his angry words, she finds herself built-up by his kind and proud expressions of praise. To be satisfied with restraint can leave a marriage peaceful, but cold. I have yet to meet a wife who does not melt under the tender and kind way her husband speaks to her and about her. I have yet to meet a man who does not cherish when his wife brags about him, especially in public.
Whenever the Bible tells us to replace something sinful with something righteous, the words that are used are active not passive words. In Colossians 3 Paul tells us to put to death those things that belong to our sinful nature (verse 5.) His admonition, however, to stop sinning includes an exhortation to replace it with what comes from the Holy Spirit. Don’t be satisfied that you have managed to suppress those old tendencies. The process is complete when the vacuum left is filled with righteous behavior. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (verse 12) Try to be compassionate without doing something compassionate. You can’t! Try to be kind without doing something kind. You can’t! Try to be gentle without it showing up in some tangible way. You can’t! Try to be patient where others don’t notice it. You can’t! The void left in your life by the death of sin is beautifully replaced by the sort of activity that can only be explained by, not just the indwelling, but the movement of the Holy Spirit free now to work in us and through us. Don’t be content that you have stopped doing some things. Replace them now with righteous behavior. You will love the outcome, and so will others.