Lasting Change: Building Below the Surface (part 4)
The greatest danger in seeking to change for the better is believing that it’s simply a matter of “trying harder”.
5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NLT
We’re in a series called, Lasting Change: Building Below the Surface. We talked about integrity in week one. We talked about looking down deep in your heart below the waterline. And then we looked at motivation and we said motivations come, not out of guilt; that’s very short term, but out of the fear of the Lord and the reality of accountability that we’ll be judged and also the promise, and the reward that God is going to reward us. And then we moved on and we looked at the tongue. We said that our tongue gives evidence to what’s really in our heart and if we can ever control our tongue, it’s the only way that we’ll ever change from the inside out.
We are going to take a slight detour from James 3 and deal with something that I think many of us may be falling into. We all know there is something we want to change about us and we have resolved to “try harder.” While trying harder may appear to be a noble gesture it is not the direction we should take to effect lasting change. I want to give you some very basic 101 kind of biblical advice and guidance.
Many times we will work harder instead of smarter and we overlook the simplicity of the gospel message. We overlook the relationship that Christ wants to be in with us and take on so much of our own personal management as though we could affect lasting change. Some of you since last week’s sermon have been paying attention to what is coming out of your mouth and now you are depressed and paranoid.
With that in mind we need to stop and do a review of what it means to be a Christfollower. We are going to look at two basic relationships that authentic followers will find in Christ.
Back to the Basics:
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT
• Change is a work of the Spirit.
• Change is a by-product of a personal, accurate and deepening relationship with God.
• Change occurs from the inside out. The goal of change is Christ-like character.
• Change is a progressive on-going process.
A Biblical Theology of Change:
• It Begins at Spiritual Birth: “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5 (NIV)
• The Gospel – The Good News: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
• Justification: A legal declaration of our standing before God. He takes away our sin legally. He imputes the righteousness of Christ. It is a point in time.
• It is by grace we are saved, though faith.
“Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. . .”1 Peter 2:2 NLT
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 NIV
Progressive Sanctification: A continuous process of becoming more and more righteous or holy, in daily experience.
• What do we do when we blow it? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
How do we become more holy?
The body of Christ
Personal Time with God
Conviction and Empowering
Practice of Spiritual Disciplines