I have experienced or witnesses many things in ministry that have had an impact on my faith: healings, prophetic words, and awesome worship. In fact, I can honestly say that I have witnessed all nine of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Ghost listed by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12. But for me, by far, the most exciting thing about ministry is when the life of someone is truly and forever changed. When God saves a lost soul, when they repent of their sin, are baptized in the name of Jesus, and filled with the Holy Ghost! I have recently witnessed this take place in the life of someone very close to me, and I’m telling you, I am still walking on clouds this morning as I write this. I serve a God of transformation!
However, I am also concerned this morning. Lately, in the church, it seems that we have adopted some terminology of the world that implies that people don’t really change. Phrases like, “Oh he’s a controller.” Or, “She’s a pleaser,” and one of the most common, “They are co-dependent,” and let’s not forget, “We’re a dysfunctional family.”
I am not saying that these are not legitimate conditions, they do exist, I’m saying that we have been treating them like impenetrable walls that the gospel has no power over. We have been using them as excuses to tolerate situations that need to change.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;”
It is the power! What kind of power?
2 Peter 1:3
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”
Divine power for everything we need for life and godliness!
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”
Jesus said he was anointed to preach and that preaching would have an effect – lives caught in hopeless situations would be changed. The gospel is the power of God to make changes! You hold that power and so do I, so then why are so many in the church living unchanged lives?
First, they do not recognize the need to change. The watering down of the Word, weak preaching, the lack of standards of holiness in many churches has lead people into the captivity of a deceived mind. They have been led captive through philosophies based on human tradition rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
I am not okay, you’re not okay! We need to be transformed! We need to daily die to our flesh, so that we can be alive in Christ -we need transformation! Being transformed takes time, a lifetime in fact. We need to be constantly growing through relationship with God advancing on our knees, here a little, there a little; line upon line. I am talking about honest relationship here, not rhyming off dead repetition.
This is not about becoming more and more worthy, as though by our efforts we win God’s favor. It is not about becoming more and more righteous, or about comparing ourselves to others. It is about getting as close to Jesus as I can and having that closeness rub off on me.
I have learned a few things in this life, and recently I have come to understand that change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Are you one of those people who refuse to see the need for change? Are you critical of every new idea? Are you negative about everything, about how the world, or the church or the leadership is going? Do you see yourself as a victim? You need to wake up to the need for change because God has empowered you to do it!
The second reason people don’t change is simply because they don’t want to. Once you see the need to change, then you need to want to change. I mean REALLY want it! Why? The simple reason is that it is way easier not to change. You are the way you are because it’s the easiest way for you to be. The fallen nature of man resists positive change of any kind. If you don’t believe me just try suggesting a change in the order of service at your next church service, but be prepared to run for cover!
Have you ever prayed half-heartedly for something? Half-hearted prayers do not result in change.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
What is an effective prayer? A prayer that is in line with God’s will, a prayer that is offered in faith.
I want you to notice the fervent part. It speaks of urgency doesn’t it? It speaks of desire, of really wanting this thing done.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The diligent seekers are rewarded. Have you not noticed that when you get serious with God things happen? Think about the things you really prayed through, the things you woke up in the night to pray about, the things you fasted about; these are the things that get done.
How do you get to that place of really wanting change? I think you must spend time on it, thinking, meditating, write it down. Envision how your life will be different once you’ve changed, think about the future if you don’t do it.
Once you have recognized the need to change, and you have decided that you really want to change, then you take the step to really change:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
And once you have allowed the Holy Ghost to begin your transformation, once faith has taken root in your life, you must fight the fight of faith to keep it. “Keeping the change” has a whole new meaning in this instance! Friends listen to me! Here, is the sad truth, if you take a break, if you lie to yourself and say just a little won’t matter, you will go right back to your vomit.
This is the fight of faith! You have an enemy who does not want God to be glorified by the changes in you. He does not rest; he will continue to yell lies at you.
2 Corinthians 10:5
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
I know that God can change you, because He changed me, and I have seen Him change so many others. There are no chains that He cannot break! There are no addictions that He cannot deliver you from! There is no sin that He will not forgive. God loves you, and He’s waiting for you to surrender to the power that saves.