Confident? Reality? Fatalistic? Lazy? An excuse? How would you describe the claims: “They will never change” or “I can not change”?
Whether the words trickle forth as a seemingly despairing self-confession or a mumbled pessimistic comment labeling others, some people appear to be determined to believe that what is will always be. To be sure, transformation can be daunting./1 Admittedly, some people may never grow into all that the Lord wants them to be. But there is really good news … no, it is not good news, it is great news.
People are not forced to remain imprisoned forever in destructive, foolish, immature or ungodly behavior patterns. God has made it possible for people to be transformed from the inside out.
Changed Status (Guilty to Innocent)
The story of God working through Christ is the story of God’s efforts to radically alter people. Offered as an undeserved gift, God has created a way for the guilty to legitimately be declared righteous, holy and blameless!/2 No longer should dark memories of their previous deeds haunt their lives and drag their sense of self-worth through the mud. The person in the mirror can not only be respectable and honorable, but also free from any accusation! This is great news.
How has God made this possible? With Jesus’ death on the cross, Christ took upon himself our sinfulness in order that we might receive his righteousness./3 Those who rely upon Jesus and his blood are set free from their guilt./4 The gospel calls people to rely upon Jesus by being buried in water that the old self might die with Christ. Then a new man is raised up with Christ to the new life made possible by God through Christ./5
Changed Behavior, Values & Beliefs (Darkness to Light)
God does not want human transformation to stop with a changed status. God expects the whole person of those whom He has redeemed to likewise be changed./6 How can this happen? If we listen to Scripture and were to organize some general steps, they would be:
1) Change from darkness to light in what you think, value, pursue and do
Disciples of Jesus are expected to learn from Christ the values and behaviors which characterize a spiritually healthy life./7 As those who have died in baptism to their former lifestyle, they are to seek to please the Lord who now reigns over their life./8 Disciples are expected to adopt the new beliefs and values associated with Christ. These will create new agendas, new dreams, and a new standard of behavior.
2) Deliberately strive to grow into putting the new mindset into action
God’s people are expected to put the new lifestyle into practice; it is not an optional extra./9 While forgiveness is available for sin, this can never become an excuse to hamstring a genuine effort to grow.
Do People Change? People Do!
The status and behavior of self-centered greedy individuals, swindling business dealers, those imprisoned in various kinds of sexual immorality and perversions, gossipers, thieves as well as those condemned by every other form of ungodliness have been transformed in the name of the Lord Jesus./10 People can change. This truth brings a revitalizing freshness filled with hope for a stagnant world mired in harmful routines.
God has made real transformation possible. God can change our status. The question is whether we are willing to put forth the effort to learn of Christ to start the lifestyle change from the inside out. Each of us needs to ask the question, “how is my way of living life different from the image of Christ?” Having created a specific list of new thoughts, motivations and behaviors which need to be adopted, God calls us to act. The Christian life is about continued growth and transformation./11
1/ Jeremiah 5:3; Proverbs 27:22
2/ Colossians 1:21-22
3/ 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18
4/ Romans 3:24-26; Ephesians 1:7-8
5/ Romans 6:1-23; Colossians 2:11-13
6/ 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Ephesians 5:8-11
7 Ephesians 4:21-24; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:9-10
8/ Ephesians 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-12
9/ Ephesians 4:1; 5:1; Philippians 1:27; 3:16
10/ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
11/ 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:5-7; Romans 8:29
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