In the last post we began discussing the central work of God— change. If we want to grow and change the first place we must look is to God. All change begins with God.
God’s plan for change begins when we are converted—when we hear truth and turn from self to God, repenting of our sin and placing our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. This divine transaction changed us instantly; we became a new creation. See: “The Gospel”
Where to begin: change begins at conversion
Do you know that your conversion is not the end of God’s work in you? It is just the beginning!
You were changed (converted), you are changing (the time in-between your conversion and your physical death), you will be changed (eternal perfection).
I need change: I am the problem
From the time we come to Christ until the time we go home to be with Him, God calls us to a life of constant growth and change. Why? Because remaining sin makes us people in need of radical personal change!
God takes sinful people and begins making them holy (which means to be set apart or distinct) and He works this change in our affections and thoughts and we begin to want less the things of this world and pleasures of the flesh and more to be satisfied in Christ.
This brings us back to the question we ended the previous post with:
“How do I change when I find it so hard to do so?!”
Change is for the glory of God
We need to change more than just our behavior. Focusing on behavioral change is deceptive and hollow, and ignores the need for Christ and His power to change first our heart and then the behavior. Take a moment to ponder a few questions before reading on…
What is your motive to change?
Do you clearly understand God’s process of change? What is it?
Do you understand what God is doing in this world?
Knowing the answers to these questions is very important.
God is not working for your comfort and ease. He does not exist to bring you happiness and security. He does not want you to have your best life now or make you healthy, wealthy, and happy. In fact, and this may be tough for some to swallow, but…
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU
Grasping this truth sets you free indeed. God is not here for you or me. We exist, we draw breath every day (thanks to Him) only to fulfill God’s purpose. What is His purpose?
God’s purpose is to bring glory to or display Himself:
IT IS ALL FOR GOD'S GLORY
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
God created the universe for His glory. We were created for His glory:
“Everyone who is called by My name [you], whom I have created [you] for My glory; whom I formed [you] and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (those converted)…that we…should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:4,12)
You and I were made so that we could bring glory to Him. This is why we are still here. He wants to bring glory to Himself and display Himself through you and me!
Change is not about me
Maybe you just said, “Well, I know that!” Do you?
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Paul tells us that when we eat, when we drink, and whatever we do we are to do it for His glory. That means every common behavior is to be conducted to the honor and glory of God (this includes our thoughts). We are to demonstrate who God is to others through our lives.
So we start here. Your life is not about you, it is about God. God does not exist to fulfill your purpose; you exist to fulfill His. God is not here for you; you are here for Him. God created you for His glory and He saved you for His glory.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you realize EVERY little mundane life opportunity (“whatever you do”) is an opportunity for God to display Himself through you?
Do you see Christ when you look at your life?
In other words, how you treat your wife when she is irritable, how you respond to your husband when he fails to lead spiritually, or how you show love to that “sandpaper” friend or co-worker, is an opportunity to display His glory…every event in your life equals an opportunity to change.
Do you think this way? Right behavior begins with right thinking. God wants to get you to the point where no matter what happens to you, no matter what someone does to you, no matter what trial or challenge you go through, you are committed to displaying His glory through your thoughts and response. We then can ask in the midst of life events…
“What are you teaching me, Lord, and how (through the Holy Spirit) do you want me to respond (change) for Your glory?”
The biblical God honoring change begins at the heart which is the root of behavior.
God is always at work to complete the process of change in you.
God changes you not to make you feel good or accomplish your own plan, but so you can accomplish His.
God’s change is for you to look like His Son. Your life from conversion to death is all about becoming like Jesus.
What area in your life is not like Christ? Where are you not glorifying God?
Do you drink too much?
Is your marriage full of conflict?
Do you tell “white lies?"
When is the last time you repented?
Are you stealing money at your job by viewing Facebook instead of working?
Are you completely honest with your spouse as to the purchases you make or do you hide them?
God wants to change your affections and thoughts through His Word. This is where lasting God-honoring change happens.
Why not memorize 1 Corinthians 10:31 today? Constantly renew your mind with this critical biblical truth. You exist to glorify God.
Begin writing down areas you know God is prompting you to change as well as things you need to start doing (confess and repent, seek someone's forgiveness, dig into God's Word everyday...).
Next post we will discuss more of the God-honoring path to change (Philippians 2:12-13). God wants us to be changing...He wants us to be changing to be more and more like His Son.
About the author
Karen McMahon is passionate about helping others apply biblical truth to every situation in life. She is the Director of Discipleship Counseling at First Evangelical Free church in Maplewood, Minnesota and a certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) She has a MA in Theology from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is completing her MA in Biblical Counseling from Faith Bible Seminary-Lafayette, IN. Karen loves Jesus Christ, her husband, their three children and their 12 year old yellow lab...and sushi too.