Just recently I had a conversation with a friend who doesn’t believe that people change. He also made the statement that people who believe that people change are naive. Do people change?
I don’t want to spend my life in something that really has no power to produce real change. I want to see a difference in the lives of the people I work with. How does this change take place? I definitely do not have all the answers but here are some things that I have learned in my short time in the ministry.
1. Confession – It all starts here with a declaration of guilt. There must be a confession. That word “confess” means to acknowledge, profess, and admit.
In Romans 10:9 the Bible says – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
There can be no genuine change in a person unless there is a first a genuine confession of the Lord Jesus.
2. Conviction – Secondly there must be a deep conviction concerning the Word of God. One of the Baptist distinctives is the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice.
For real continual change to take place in a person there must be a conviction concerning the Word of God…that it is in fact THE WORD OF GOD!
I Thess 2:13 – “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
When I think of the work in South Africa, I think of some people that have received the Word from me as a white man’s religion. They see the Bible as the white man’s book. But there are those that have received it as the Word of God and there has been a great change that has taken place in their lives. How deep of a conviction about the Bible being the Word of God?
3. Commitment – Then there must be a single focus in the life of the individual and that is “to know Him.” We, as preachers, disciplers, and Christians generally tend to focus on “the fruit of the tree” rather than on the “health of the roots.”
We look to see if he/she is faithful to church, tithing, and being bold about his faith. While these things can be signs of a healthy walk with God, they can also be very deceiving.
Even some of the best preachers have fallen. They had the so called fruits but their roots were withering away.
Paul, probably the greatest Christian ever, told us his goal in Philippians 3:10 – “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
Get your eyes off of the outside and get concerned with whether or not he/she knows Him, because He is the one that will bring about change in their life, not you. One of my mentors has always said if you teach a person to fly close enough to the sun all the bad things will melt away. Our problem is we want to stick the blow torch to people and do all the artificial removing ourselves, though on the inside they are rotting away.
4. Crucifixion – When we get saved we become saints in the eyes of God. Positionally we are justified but we are progressively suppose to become more and more like Jesus Christ.
Our Spirit has been given life, our soul is being transformed and our body will be transformed when we see Him. The old man has been put to death but the flesh is still alive. In other words there is still a need for change even after salvation has taken place.
We are to be conformed to His image.
In Romans 8:29 the Bible says – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
We are eternally saved but there is still this problem of the flesh which encourages us to sinful behavior. God not only took care of our sins but He also gave us a solution for who we are as sinners. The solution is the cross.
Watchman Nee says “the blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin.” The cross is the solution.
We are “in Christ” now and that makes a world of difference. (I Cor 15:22)
Paul said in Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
You and I have been crucified with Christ. When He was crucified we died with Him. Romans 6:6 – “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
The old man is crucified, he is dead. Which means that we are free from the bondage of sin. From here on it is a matter of “substantiating” God’s facts. God says that the man you used to be is dead. Now you just have to believe, or reckon that according to Romans 6:11.
Do you know that your “old man” has been crucified? Then count it to be so. When the flesh rises up and entices you, tell it “that is not who I am anymore, that person died with Christ!”
5. Companionship – It also takes companionship or mentoring. These changes do not happen overnight for most of us and they don’t just happen by coincidence. People invest in people. I have had many people invest phone calls, bible studies, messages, money, and a lot of rebukes over the years to help encourage me to move in the right direction.
Jesus chose His disciples to be with Him. Mark 3:14 says “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him,…”
Christians are born again. That means that they are babes in Christ. They need nurturing, parenting, and guidance in the Christian life. This helps bring about change. It is a process just like your child growing up into a man or woman is a process. We must be patient, yet determined to helping people grow up in Christ.
We are called to follow Christ’s example. He chose twelve to be with Him. Who has God brought across your path? Then invest your life into theirs by being “with them.” Call them, encourage them, teach them, and lead them.
6. Completion – Phil 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
As you work with people remember you are to be a means for the real catalyst (the Holy Spirit) to work in the lives of people and change them. We do not change people. If we change people it will be fake, cause misery, and most likely will not last. But if we are used of Him to help people change then there can be real genuine change in people’s lives.
Don’t get discouraged when people fall or seem to take steps backwards. Remember it is a life process. “Be confident,” and know that God is going to finish what He started in them and that they will be conformed to the image of His Son!