Hi friends. It’s been awhile but we still are journeying through The 30-30 Series Thanks for pausing for a moment to think with me.
#18 The “power to change” is this:
Heart change does not start with us.
In my post a
week ago few months ago I admitted I had developed a swearing problem and a heart that felt wrecked beyond despair. I wrote:
“I have seen parts to my soul I did not know existed until this year and my heart is weary. I would cry when reading this quote if I wasn’t already so cried out from this week. I have never given up before and really when I read this I want to swear at it and and say.. here’s the towel.. I am throwing it in.. I give up. Everything I once believed.. I don’t know if I can stomach it any more. Restoration is what my heart wants more than anything in relationships. Forgiveness has to work. I’ve seen it work before to horrible situations. I know it’s possible. But the part of me that has loved so much this year I have come to hate… thinks.. F- it. It’s not possible any more. I hate that word. So so much….”
The hole of despair was deep that week. Sorrow, anger and despair has ebbed and flowed a lot in me in the months past. I am better at the moment. I’m even feeling happy. Healing is always an ongoing process. Heart change is an ongoing process. Today fear flogged my heart. A seeming unsuspecting train of fears began to surface and hit me like the Polar Express’s silent visit. Where did that come from? The F-word one month. Fear the next. Difficulties in forgiveness another.
I know I am not alone in heart troubles, sins, patterns, addictions, or attitudes that we all would like to change.
I talked about “How people change” in #17 in this series. I proposed that the hope of change was promised by God in ancient times. He promised he would take our hearts of stone and give us soft hearts that would want to please him. His method of this heart change was to provide 1.) a way of being forgiven and brought into relationship with God, 2.) a way to honour his holiness and justice as rightful ruler of humanity, 3.) and the capacity for the human heart to actually be changed.
I have heard it said that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” In the same wise book of Proverbs: “above all else, guard your heart (from sin) for from it flow the streams of life.” The wise writer is challenging us that much of what is wrong with us actually begins in our hearts. Bad starts within us.
My proposal to you on the power to change begins here:
1.) People change by looking to God for change.
God promised in ancient times to the people of Israel that he would take their hearts of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh: ie a heart that would be soft towards God and desiring change. How often is part of our problem that we don’t even want to change or see the problem?
2.) People don’t change by looking to themselves.
Are you kidding me? You think you can change yourself? Good luck.
3.) People change by coming to an end to our resources and the thought that we can fix ourselves.
Stop. Just admit it. You are stuck. Broken. Sinful.
I am fearful.
4.) People don’t experience lasting change by willing it, thinking it, actualizing it, or getting in touch with any mythical powers within themselves.
All of that “Secret” mumbo jumbo that Oprah talks about is a myth. You might change for a bit but it won’t last. Often people switch one addiction for another (alcohol abuse for pride for example.) The self actualization movement has no power to bring lasting change in anyone’s life. You don’t have any mysterious powers within you to fix yourself. You only have the power to get yourself into a deeper mess. You are a large part of the problem.
#18 The “power to change” is this:
Heart change does not start with us. It begins and ends with God’s Holy Spirit.
God knows the human heart. He made us. He sees everything. He knows everything. He knows how stuck we are. He knows we disappoint ourselves, one another, and that we disobey him. God is so wise that he took it upon himself to change the wilderness of the human heart. Heart change is Trinitarian. It means that God our perfect Father, sent Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, to come and be a substitute, to keep God’s laws we always break, to live the perfect human life we could never live, and to die as a punishment for us.
What’s all this Christian talk mean to change?
1.) Change is available to anyone.
2.) It comes from trusting in Jesus Christ’s perfect life, satisfying death and his conquering resurrection as a payment for your sins.
3.) God then gives anyone who has put their trust in Jesus, his Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity to live the life we cannot live on our own strength.
4.) Change comes by turning away from sin, and trusting continually in the death and resurrection of Jesus for me and then relying on God’s Spirit (not MINE) to change me.
5.) The power source is this: The power available to change is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus was raised from the dead by God’s Holy Spirit. Saving and changing humanity is the full work of God, not us. The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is now given to us to help us live a different life, a life that becomes more and more like the life of Jesus Christ.
So why do you still struggle Christy?
I struggle because I am still here in this broken and sinful and fallen world. I am forgiven by God because I am trusting in Jesus. I am clean. I am going to heaven. But I am still in a world where disobedience to God exists. As long as I sin, or other people sin, I will experience the pain and shame of a heart that is a wreck with the sins I have done and the ones that others have done. The hope of the Christian life is not that I will be perfect in this life, or protected from others’ sins towards me, but that God’s Holy Spirit is living within me because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross and that He will be changing me slowly until I see God face to face.
On the days when I am at the end of my rope? I cry out to God for mercy and help. I turn to Jesus to ask for an experience of his grace and forgiveness. I remember that Jesus suffered and understands. I dig into God’s Word. I look back on the resurrection and remember that the power that rose Jesus from the dead is the power I have available to change. It is all God. I confess sin to God and then ask, wait and depend on God’s Spirit to change me, not on myself. The power to change comes from him.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of hthe Spirit of life ihas set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For jGod has done what the law,kweakened by the flesh, lcould not do. mBy sending his own Son nin the likeness of sinful flesh and ofor sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that pthe righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,qwho walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 Forrthose who live according to the flesh set their minds on sthe things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds ontthe things of the Spirit. 6 For to set uthe mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is vhostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; windeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact xthe Spirit of God dwells in you. yAnyone who does not have zthe Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
11 If the Spirit of ahim who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies bthrough his Spirit who dwells in you.