Change is inevitable, but it is not always pleasant. But perhaps even less pleasant than unexpected change is the lack of change when it is desired and needed – particularly change in ourselves and in our spiritual development. The questions are common: How Can I Change? When Will I Change?
C.J. Mahaney & Robin Boisvert have written a helpful little book that addresses these very questions. Here is an excperpt from the Foreword:
“In a day when quick solutions to longstanding problems are too easily offered, we wish to recommend the old paths, having found them tried and true. There is no short course to Christian maturity. There is no cross-less way to follow Christ, no instant secret to the Christian life. But like distance running, if the way of the cross is not easy, neither is it complicated. God presents us with a pathway that is narrow yet straight. He makes his ways plain to those who are sincerely interested in following him, and he will show himself strong on behalf of all whose hearts are fully his.
Although our vigorous effort is required, all growth is by his grace. With that wonderful truth as our starting block, let us press on toward the mark, each confident that ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:6).”
Thanks to Sovereign Grace Ministrires, this little book is available in .pdf for FREE. Click on the Chapter Titles to read or download:
- Caught in the Gap Trap
- Where It All Begins
- United With Christ
- The Battle Against Sin
- Tools of the Trade – Part 1
- Tools of the Trade – Part 2
- Living for That Final Day
- Appendix A – Different Roads to Holiness
- Appendix B – The Old Man and the Flesh
5 thoughts on “I Want Change”
The issue then Dennis is this. When Change doesn’t happen in our lives does that mean (even though we have given the effort) God’s Grace isn’t working within us ?
What is the answer to unfullfiled desire to walk closer to God and it doesn’t happen ? Or seems so ?
Change is not automatic. While our growth comes by grace, unlike justification (i.e. “salvation” or “conversion”), sanctification (progress in Grace) requires that we cooperate with God by availing oursleves in the Means of Grace and Disciplines of Grace.
When change does not occur, at least to any satisfactory degree, it may be an indication that the person is not aware how to cooperate; it could be that the persons focus is scattered among any number of “Christian fascinations” (such as End Times, Church Growth, Apologetics, etc) rather than the gospel. Or it may be an indication that the person is not genuinely converted.
So if people are “genuien” in their desire to walk closer to God and make efforts to do so and do not notice any significant change in life style or how they relate to God or vice versa then your saying they may not in fact be converted or just not focused on the Gospel or may not even understand the Gospel ?
So then when does change occure and can it be expected that the believer will see significant change in terms of experiencing Gods Love by Loving God more & People in ways that encourages and upholds & serves others ? I would answer yes to that question. Change starts at conversion and as God works thru His Holy Spirit in our lives. So then I wonder why it is so many people in the Church behave no differently than the culture around them ?
Sometimes they even become proud of their “spirituality”, Doctrin, standing in the Church and harsh & critical of others who are not like them. I would also say these types may not be converted .
The key then, I believe can be measured in how we Love God and people and whats done about it. Do we show Mercy and Love, are we gracious and warm and ready to humbly serve.
If thats the case, then we should be of all people doing more……by being focused and Gospel centered in serving our community. If we are Gospel centered and serving, doesn’t change in our lives happen in us as well as those around us ? Like getting our focus off us and on to God and others. What do you think ?
I think that it is safe to say that many who claim to be Christians are not genuinely converted. Jesus says as much in Matthew 7.21-23. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207.21-23&version=NIV. In this passage people have obviously made efforts to do things for God, but apparently they have not come to God through Jesus by faith in what he has done for them. I suspect many of these people would claim that “changes” had taken place in their lives. In fact, the list of deeds – impressive indeed, and not contradicted – would seem to be expression of some of the changes.
Now, do I know who such people are? No. I am only saying that when speaking in general terms that lack of genuine conversion is a possibility.
As far as loving God, and loving others, 1 John 4.19 tells us that we love because we have first been loved. So it seems fair to say that genuine love for God is in relationship with how we understand the Gospel. There is a difference between loving God and wanting to get God to love us by doing things for him (i.e. “in his name”). One is a response to the Gospel, the other is, at best, a functional unbelief of the Gospel.
Further, I would also suggest that if one loves God there would be a hunger to grow in our theological understanding. Granted, some are sound in doctrine and dead spiritually. But can we really claim to love someone if we are not interested in learning more about that person? This applies to our courtships & marriages; to our relationship with God; and to our mission – our relationships with our neighbors.
I agree that genuine faith expresses itself through love-propelled actions (Galatians 5.6). But according to Matthew 7 above, many also do actions – those same actions – without necessarily loving God, apparently because they do not understand the Gospel.
Scripture teaches that genuine, Spirit-led, change is a gift of grace that comes with our availing ourselves, feeding our spirit, through Disciplines of Grace. Jerry Bridges has written profoundly about this (as have a few others) and anything I try to summarize here would be wholly inadequate.
All of us are deficient in our understanding of the Gospel, none of us have an exhaustive grasp. And Scripture does reveal that there is a difference between believer and un-believer. But Scripture also seems to show that many believers function more like unbelievers precisely becasue they are not “in line” with – do not functionally appropriate – the gospel. (See Galatians 2, particularly v. 11-14) Can I tell the difference between the unconverted and the believer who is “not in line” with the Gospel? Again, No. Or not necessarily. But there is a difference.
Finally, just so we don’t get too far off my original intent for this post, let me bring this back to the reason I wrote it: to offer a solid resource that helps explain the basis and source of genuine Biblical change, for those who desire it. This source is certainly not the final word on the subject, but it is worthwile read for anyone wanting to grow.
Thanks Dennis…Lots of wisdom in your words.