It Can be Done!
via Biblical Insights, Vol. 7, No. 3, March 2007
Some people will not change. At times, we feel like we are running against a brick wall as we attempt to encourage folks to reject falsehood, embrace the gospel and turn from sin. Many continue on their merry way not realizing or even caring that they traverse a broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). If only they could see...the wrath of God is not something with which to trifle (Colossians 3:6; Nahum 1:2-8).
Some, however, do change. While many may resist it, some have the necessary faith to make great changes in their lives. Like the Thessalonians, they do an about-face as they turn from vain things to serve a living and true God (I Thessalonians 1:8).
For example, do you know anyone who at one time drank heavily but now refuses to drink? I do. Do you know anyone who used drugs but now is clean? I do. Anyone can cease and desist from a sinful course with sufficient desire and a willingness to look for help in the right places...even the worst of sinners -- even homosexuals, even adulterers, even addicts to pornography.
Simon the Pharisee was appalled that Jesus would all the sinner to touch Him (Lk. 7:36-50). He said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him." This sort of woman -- and her sins were indeed many -- loved much and was forgiven much. She changed.
Saul of Tarsus is the classic example of the potential for change. Formerly a blasphemer and persecutor, transformed to an outstanding apostle and selfless servant, "...an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (I Timothy 1:12-16). Even those with missteps in the journey, like John Mark, can recover. Though Paul is hesitant to travel with Mark again (Acts 15:38), he had obviously demonstrated his growth when the apostle later requested of Timothy, "Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service" (II Timothy 4:11).
The call of the gospel is unto transformation, a radical
change in a person's life. This merciful opportunity and life-changing process begins in the mind (Romans 12:2). The believer changes masters or rulers (Colossians 1:13,14) and begins to grow in the
likeness of the Teacher. Fruit is born..."...thirty,
sixty, and a hundred fold" (Mark 4:20).
The ingredients for change are no secret. At the top of
the list is an honest and good heart -- a heart ready to embrace God's Will (Luke 8:15). No real growth is possible without
it. Additional essentials follow:
1) discernment -- knowing precisely the goal for which I must aim and where I am in relation to the goal;
2) dependence -- realizing God as the source of power and assistance;
3) desire -- change connot occur unless you really want it; and
4) determination -- persevering in the pursuit no matter what.
In the realms of athletic competition or business opportunities, people demonstrate the ability to do great things -- when they want something bad enough. They overcome great odds and obstacles seemingly stacked against them. So, how badly do you want it? Is there a certain sin with which you struggle? Are you crippled by anxiety and a lack of trust in God? Do you find yourself too ready to murmur while failing to count your blessings? Do you neglect thanksgiving? Is joy elusive?
The inspired writers admonish change with the words, "Lay aside..."
"...lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12).
"...lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit ... laying aside falsehood, speak truth every one of you" (Ephesians 4:22,25).
"...consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed...put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth" (Colossians 3:5,8)
"...lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Hebrews 12:1).
"...putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness" (James 1:21).
"...putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" (I Peter 2:1).
Christians are continually about change...for the better. Like newborn babes, they thrive on the pure milk of the word and grow in respect to salvation, having tasted the kindness of the Lord (I Peter 2:2,3). The growing Christian gains more victories over temptation, experiences greater fervency in worship and more constancy in prayer. A character that more resembles Christ is an ongoing passion and pursuit.
Change is possible, if we will to do so and ...enlist God's assistance. God's involvement is indispensable. Growth cannot occur without Him. More like the Master...you can be!