Yesterday we concluded with a question. “How do we begin to live right for God?”
Practically: If I’m a thief how do I stop stealing? If I’m angry how do I calm down? If I lie every time I open my big yap how do I quit it?What if I’m a fornicator?A nag? Abusive? Frustrating? Lazy? A slave-driver? In short, how do I go about changing all the negative ca-ca that is in my life?
Some people would tell you that true change will only come by trying really, really hard. It’s the old Franklin philosophy, “God helps those who help themselves”.
Others will tell you. “You can’t do anything. It’s all God’s work. Just wait and one day you will magically be ‘poofed’ into goodness.”
So which is it? Neither answer is completely correct. They are both extremes; And extremes usually hold a smidgen of the truth and a whole lot of hot air.
Let’s skip out on the book of Ephesians for a post and turn to another of Paul’s writings, Galatians. The church at Galatia was a church Ben F. would have liked, a real work hard kind of church. They believed that salvation could only be achieved by accepting Jesus and then DOING everything the Jewish law required.
Paul writes, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? …. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? ” Gal 3:1-3 NLT
Paul indicates that not only is forgiveness of sins God’s work, so is making a person perfect. Does that mean we sit around and wait for God to ‘poof’ us? No! Just as God has a work in helping us to live for Him, the Christian has a part to play as well.
Paul continues to the Galatians, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. ” Gal: 5:16 NLT
To the church in Rome he writes the same thing another way, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ” Romans 12:1,2 NLT
If we are to stand in victory, our part is to trust God and give ourselves to Him. God’s part is to work the change.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!