Can You Change?

Is change possible? Several years ago, a Christian brother said to me, “People don’t really change.” This guy is not a pessimist, but he counsels people in life-threatening circumstances, most of whom fail to make necessary changes to alter their lives. I have to agree that the vast majority of people don’t really change, even Christians. But does that mean we can’t change. Certainly not! Change is possible, but we have to recognize that will power only gets us so far (thus, all the broken resolutions you and I have experienced).

We resumed our study of Romans 6 on Sunday, examining verses 8-14. One of the crucial points Paul tries to drive home is that believers can change because of our identification with Christ, having conquered sin and death. Paul says to “count [reckon] yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, NIV). The word “count” is a commercial term that essentially means “bank on it!”

In fact, as you read through the Apostle Paul’s letters, you find that a repeated expression regarding the believer’s position is “in Christ.” [1]  A favorite of mine is: And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6, NIV). Wow! Positionally, you are in the presence of God, unhindered by sin, sorrow, and separation. You are free to praise, pray and petition because the righteousness of Christ and your position in Him makes you suitable to be in the Holy of Holies.  This is a fixed and final position, as well (Ephesians 1:13-14).

While our position in Christ is fixed, our condition is changeable. Miles Stanford puts it this way:

Our condition is what we are in our Christian walk, in which we develop from infancy to maturity. Although our position remains immutable, our condition is variable… In most cases, a believer is more aware of his condition than of his position. This is the reason for so much failure and stagnation. If we are to grow and become fruitful, our faith must be anchored in the finished work of our position—in Christ… Faith in our position will bring growth in our condition. [2]

When I first read these words thirty-six years ago, they prompted me to draw more from my position in Christ to bring change in my condition. Even now, I don’t pretend to have it all together…there are things I still need to change. But, knowing that I am positioned in Christ has given me the confidence and power to change. Paul concludes this section with this command:

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:12-14, NIV). [3]

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[1] If you want to study the “in Christ” passages, here is a link to biblegateway.com for a search on the phrase “in Christ” in Paul’s letters. Not all speak of our position in Christ, but  many do. Find out what benefits your position in Christ can yield you in your present  condition.

[2] I would recommend The Complete Green Letters by Miles Stanford, which includes the book Principle of Position. The above excerpt comes from: Miles Stanford,  Principle of Position, http://withchrist.org/MJS/principle.htm

[3] As this passage speaks of offering the parts of your body to God as instruments of righteousness, Brian Goettsche makes the following suggestions:

  1. When you wake up each morning remind yourself that you have been set free in Christ.
  2. Every time you face a  temptation say to yourself, “I don’t have to give in!  I am no longer helpless.  God’s strength is sufficient for me to resist this temptation . . . if I give in, I am choosing to walk away from the Lord.”
  3. Every time you stumble . . .get back up!  Claim the victory and ask God to help you to tap into His power so you can experience His victory in your daily living.
  4. As you plan your calendar, spending, and leisure activities ask: “am I giving myself to serve sin or to serve righteousness?  Am I going God’s way or am I turning away from God’s way?”  Make deliberate choices for your life.
  5. To keep you from getting discouraged use your non-dominant hand and write on a card, “I am dead to sin, but alive to Christ”.  It won’t be pretty but it will remind you that the process of growing in Christ will take time but with practice, growth will happen.

2 thoughts on “Can You Change?

  1. Good post! I believe the Scriptures clearly point out that Christians can experience lasting change in their lives due to the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God in their lives. This does involve the daily transformative power we experience by the renewing of our minds,as depicted in Romans 12:2. I, as a Christian, need to not only believe in the power of Christ, but I also need to believe that this power is available to me daily as told in Ephesians 1:18 -23. If however, I rest on my position in Christ and yet do not obey the commands and precepts presented in scripture, or I do not claim the promises of God for purpose, meaning and direction in life, I will not experience the life transformation that God has for me. I will be a very inactive part of my church. I will not be the ambassador Christ has called me to be. To become progressively more what Christ has called me to be, I must submit to his Supremacy and rule. Let us pray Paul’s pray in Ephesians for us all.

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