“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”—Romans 12:2 (NIV).
Do you believe people can change? Before you answer that question, let’s consider some examples of characters in scripture who were used by God, even though they were not perfect.
In the Old Testament, we learn that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Was Noah perfect? No. But God chose to save Noah and his family from the flood of destruction. Everyone and everything else were destroyed.
Another Old Testament example is the story of Abraham and his wife, Sarah. To save his own hide, Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister. Later, after laughing at God when He said she would give birth to a son in her old age, Sarah became impatient and took matters into her own hands. She encouraged her husband to sleep with another woman to fulfill the promise. Even though the couple’s lives were distinguished with disbelief and disobedience, God remained faithful to His promise.
A Powerful Spiritual Transformation
One of the most well-known transformation stories appears in the New Testament. Paul, formerly known as Saul, was a persecutor of Christians. In Acts 9, Saul approached the high priest, asking him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, “so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
As Saul nears Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashes around him. Falling to the ground, he hears a voice asking, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”
When Saul replies, asking who the Lord is, Jesus replies, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Transformed by God’s Grace
Paul never doubted the revelation of Jesus Christ. He knew the Christ He met on the road to Damascus was not Christ in the flesh—it was the Risen Christ. The Risen Christ was the Jesus who had been crucified and buried, only to rise three days later. The Savior of our world.
In Galatians 1:13, Paul describes his life before being transformed by God’s amazing grace. “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.”
Obsessed with his transformed life, Paul became a critic of religion that is self-serving and doesn’t lead to mature and truly life changing. In Galatians 2:20, he writes, “I live no longer, not I; but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Key to Permanent Change
If you believe God’s Holy Word about transformation, do you now believe people can change? I do. However, we can’t make change permanent without embracing this truth—a truth that can change your life.
The truth is we can try to change ourselves. We can be a believer from childhood—I was. But until I accepted the fact that only God’s power can transform our innate characteristics, my change wasn’t lasting.
Lasting change requires us to answer the knock on the door of our heart. It’s Jesus rapping quietly. He’s trying to get our attention.
Opening the Door to Transformation
In the beginning of my walk with the Lord, I struggled. Conforming to the pattern of this world presented a problem for me. But spending time with Him in prayer, reading my Bible, and becoming involved in my church led to spiritual growth.
So many things vie for our attention. We struggle to balance our lives. But it’s only through surrendering to Christ that we can find the necessary answers needed for a transformed life.
We can rest assured God desires to help us on our journey. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s blessed assurance!
After a 30-year teaching career, Carol Round found redirection as a Christian columnist, author and inspirational speaker. She is the author of nine books, all available at Amazon.com. (See her website at www.carolaround.com for more information.) When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her seven grandchildren, working in her yard, volunteering, shooting photos, hiking, going on mission trips and playing with her spoiled rotten dog, Harley.