“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Recently I ran into a woman I had not seen for several weeks. I hardly recognized her. Her hair, usually blonde, had turned completely white. The transformation was dramatic; she looked like a different person. All it took was 40 minutes and some bleach!
If only spiritual transformation were that easy. Just read a book, see a counselor, attend a conference, make a fresh commitment, resolve to be different, shed a few tears at an altar, memorize a few verses…and, presto, out comes a mature, godly Christian.
To the contrary, the experience of many believers looks like this:
After all the struggle and the effort, we tend to want a “quick fix” – a book, a conference, a counselor, an encounter, a miraculous deliverance, a program – something that will be effective and preferably pain-free. We want God (or someone else) to do something to us for a once-for-all victory so that we won’t have to keep wrestling with the same old issues.
In my own walk with God, I have discovered some helpful principles about how spiritual change takes place.
Occasionally God does grant instantaneous victory, but more often He leads us through a process that requires obedience, faith, discipline and time. God is committed to winning the hearts, developing the hearts and developing the character of His people.
Deep within God’s children is a desire to please Him. That desire is nurtured by prayer (acknowledging our dependence on Him) and by meditation on Christ, the object of our desire. As I read the Scripture and gaze on the Lord Jesus, I long to be like Him – humble, holy, compassionate, surrendered to the will of God, sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. When our desire to be holy is greater than our willingness to stay where we are, we have taken a big step toward spiritual transformation.
Discipline for the purpose of godliness is not the same as self effort. Rather, it means consciously cooperating with the Holy Spirit – yielding to Him so that He can conform us to the image of Christ. The problem is, we want the outcome without the process. We want victory without the warfare.
Praying and hoping for spiritual change is futile if we sit glued to a television set or neglect the means that God has provided for our growth in grace. Bible study, meditation, worship, prayer, fasting, accountability and obedience are disciplines that produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This article was taken from DECISION magazine, May, 2001; ©2001 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, used by permission. All rights reserved.