Change - Part 1


God's Master Plan for Change

If you love someone you won’t try to change them. Love accepts people as they are, warts and all. Maybe you’ve heard that relationship advice before? But is it always true? Is acceptance of someone’s shortcomings really a demonstration of true love? God's love for us is a perfect love. And yet doesn’t love us for who we are. He loves us in spite of who we are. And because He loves us, He very much wants to change us.

You could say that the whole Bible story is about God's master plan to change lives. None of us are who we should be. Our lives are a very pale reflection of what God intended. Sin has taken its toll. We are all in need of a complete overhaul. That’s where God's master plan for change comes in. Before time began, God set His sights on loving and calling and restoring broken people. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is orchestrating every moment of every day so that everything we experience, if we are God's children, has been designed by Him to change us into the people He intended us to be – people whose lives look more and more like Jesus.

Made Possible by the Cross

God's great change project was made possible through the cross. The death of Jesus made real personal change not just a pipe dream, but an achievable reality. Titus 2:14 says that “Jesus Christ … gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” As Jesus atoned on the cross for our sin, paying its penalty and destroying its power, He opened up the possibility for change. That is why Jesus died. That possibility then becomes reality in the most incredible act of God's power and grace. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God unites people to Christ as they put their faith in him, so that they benefit from all that Christ achieved. God's simple purpose in doing this is so that “we may live a new life” (Rom. 6:4). The Bible calls this the new birth.

But God doesn’t stop there. Not only does God set his affection upon individuals in eternity past, not only does He unite them to Christ at the point of conversion in the present, but He also promises to see his change project all the way through to that point of completion in the future glory. Philippians 1:6 says that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God is in the business of changing lives. He never does half jobs. And He has a 100% success rate. Through Christ He destroys the penalty of sin and the power of sin so that one day we will be free from the presence of sin.

Some of the implications

The implications of this are huge. Firstly, it means that change is inevitable for God's children. God is transforming us into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). So I don’t have the option of stagnating on my journey to becoming more like Jesus. I must not be satisfied with mediocrity in my Christian life. If God's goal is perfection, then I should aim at nothing less. Secondly, it means that the key to bringing about change in my life and dealing with specific sins is found in the gospel. The gospel is our power and motivation to change. In the fight against sin we can do no better than preaching the gospel to ourselves again. Thirdly, it means that because God is not finished with me yet, I should not become overwhelmed by discouragement when change seems painfully slow. When persistent sin seems impossible to overcome and failure feels like a way of life, I need to remember God's commitment to present me spotless and pure on the final day. Because He loves me, that is His goal. And He will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Recommended reading: You Can Change – Tim Chester; How People Change – Tim Lane & Paul Tripp; Finally Alive – John Piper