Summary: Discover how God changes us and learn 5 principles to facilitate change in others
I received an email this week titled, "Advice to be passed onto your daughter." Since I have a daughter, I read carefully, hoping to learn something. The first advice was, "Don’t imagine you can change a man - unless he’s in diapers."
I’ve given counsel like that to wives. I generally say, "You can’t change your husband. You can only change yourself." Well, I’ve not told the whole truth. The whole truth is, "You can change your husband, but only after you have changed yourself."
Many of us change the person we are in response to whom we are with. Some people bring out the transparent and courteous me, while others bring out the defensive and rude me. If you’ve been bringing out the defensive and rude me and you want to change me into a transparent and courteous person, you’ll have to change yourself first. Because most of us change the person we are in response to whom we are with.
This morning, we will look at the most wonderful change anyone can experience, changing from a person who does not trust God into a person who trusts God with his life and future. We’ll see how God brings about that change. We can learn a great deal about how change is best facilitated as we look at how God does it in us.
The text is Ephesians 1:4-14. I introduced the book the first time we studied Ephesians. Let me read today’s passage for us. Paul wrote verses 4-14 in one long sentence. Depending on the translation of your Bible, the punctuation and verse breaks may be different.
Sometime ago, I was a youth worker at another church. The youth group I worked with had enough problems for a group twice its size. I got really upset at the kids one day. I gathered them into a room. I had them close their eyes, bow their heads and pray.
When we got done praying, we could sense a true change of heart in many of the kids. That day became a turning point for many of the kids to get serious with God.
God is in the business of changing people. Sometimes He brings about the change in response to our prayers. Almost always, He is already at work changing us without us knowing. This morning’s passage reveals five ways God changes us from people who did not trust Him into people who trust God with our lives and our future.
How does God do this? Let’s look together and discover the five principles to facilitate change.
The first way God facilitates change in us is that He credits us in advance with His desired outcome. Verse 4.
The Christian faith is wonderfully different from all other religious faiths. All other religious faiths require that we work up to a certain standard before we could be right with God. Paul, however, tells us that if trust God, God credits us in advance with the required holiness and righteousness, even before we live holy and righteous lives. This is a gift from God.
Romans 4:4-5 tells us, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
In other words, when God gives us credit in advance for being holy and blameless, He’s giving us a gift. And if we receive the gift of being holy and blameless in God’s sight, we can have confidence in our relationship with God. Not only that, we can have confidence in truly living a holy and blameless life.
We are like the students who are guaranteed all "As" in our report card. We don’t have to be afraid of failing. We can be confident to try our best.
Susan wrote in our 4th wedding anniversary, "Today, as I sat and watched you play with Esther, I feel so proud and blessed to have a wonderful husband like you. I’m the envy of all my friends."
I had to read that a few times, because I couldn’t believe she was talking about me. I know I’m not that kind of husband and father. And she knows it. What was she doing?
Instead of nagging me to be a more involved father, Susan was giving me credit in advance for the desired outcome. I’m becoming a better husband and father because Susan is applying the first principle to facilitate change: Credit the person in advance for the desired outcome.
The second way God facilitates change in us is that He loves us beyond what we deserve. Verses 5-6
God not only credits us with holiness and righteousness, but He goes way beyond that. He adopts those who trust in Jesus Christ into God’s family. And family is the place where you won’t be kicked out, because family is the place of unconditional love.