Summary: You cannot change yourself, BUT GOD CAN
The Old Man Is Dead (Eph 4:22-32)
Some time ago, a person I worked with came up to me and said, “if I didn’t know you, I would be terrified to meet you on the street”. If my coworker only knew half of what I’d been, He would never even talk to me. God took the most vile, evil, misguided person in the world and transformed Me into someone who was able show compassion and love. The old man was full of hate and violence, but God changed me. Whatever you are and no mater where you are, God’s love can reach you
Lead in: Just like God changed me, every Christian is in the process of being changed, more and more, into the nature of Jesus Christ .
NCV 22 You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. 23 But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, 24 to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.
25 So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body. 26 When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. 27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. 28 Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should earn an honest living for themselves. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor.
29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. 30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God’s proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes. 31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. 32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
A person who seeks to change himself spiritually is a person who believes that if he can just do more good deeds, learn more about God, or accomplish more for God's kingdom, he will be a “better” person. This approach inevitably results in anxiety, frustration, discouragement, feelings of failure, and perhaps even depression.
The encouraging news of the Bible is that you cannot change yourself spiritually, but God is in the process of changing you! The Bible tells us that we are being transformed in two ways:
1. We are being transformed by the renewal of our minds.
2. We are being conformed into the image of Christ.
In each case, the Holy Spirit is the “agent of the change” that occurs within us. We have a part to play, but the Holy Spirit is the One who causes the change to take place within us.
You will not be the person in the future that you are today if you submit yourself to God's transformation process. You are going to be more like Jesus. And that's good news!
Changed in Attitude
The Changing of your mind is a Change from the way the world thinks to the way God thinks.
The two points of view—God's and man's—are nearly always opposite.
A. Let me give you just a few examples:
1. The world tells you to get even with your enemies. God says to leave vengeance up to him and to love your enemies, do good to them, and pray for them (Matt. 5:43–44, Rom. 12:19–21).
2. The world tells you to fight for your rights and defend yourself at all costs. God says to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38–39).
3. The world tells you that hard work and education will result in success. God says that faith and learning to listen to His voice and obey Him are what bring a person to success (Heb. 11).
As Christians, we are called to think like God thinks, and then, with of our renewed minds, to act as Jesus would act if He walked in our shoes on the earth today. A difference in thinking results in a difference in living.
B. The Word Renews Our Thinking
1. We get a renewed mind through a habit of reading God's Word frequently and regularly. Ephesians 5:26 refers to a cleansing by the “washing of water by the word.” The more we read God's Word and trust the Holy Spirit to quicken what we read to our spirits, the more the Word acts to cleanse our thoughts so that we think the pure thoughts of Christ.