God uses a two-step process to change us. The first step is explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The initial turning point is when we commit our lives to Christ. We are not the same anymore; a new life has begun. This is why the Bible calls that step being “born again.” Being born again doesn’t mean we are reincarnated; it simply means we get a chance to start over. It is not turning over a new leaf, but getting a new life, a fresh start. It is a new beginning with a big difference. We now have a new nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit. A set of “spiritual batteries” is included to provide the power! That makes all the difference in the world.
Being born again, like being born the first time, is only the beginning. It is followed by a lifelong process described in Romans 12:2. J. B. Phillips paraphrases the verse this way: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
In the next chapter, we will examine more specifically how God helps us change and the tools he uses. Then we will take a close look at how he changes us by producing in us the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22 – 23. Each chapter will be devoted to one of these character qualities. When the Holy Spirit controls your life, he will produce in you nine positive characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
How many of the people you work with or live with exhibit these qualities? How many of the people you work with or live with would say these qualities describe you? The sad fact is that rather than loving others, we often are unloving. Rather than living joyously, we feel defeated, depressed, and discouraged. Rather than experiencing peace, we feel uptight and pressured. Rather than being patient, we are frustrated and irritated. Instead of showing kindness, it’s every man for himself. Instead of modeling goodness, we often feel there is nothing good about ourselves. Instead of being faithful, we neglect our commitments. We are more likely to respond to others in anger or resentment than in gentleness. And instead of practicing self-control, we watch our lives falling apart.
These are the contrasts between letting the power of God work in our lives and relying on our own power. We must remember, however, that the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we work up. It’s something that God produces in us when we fully trust him with our lives.
DON’T PUT IT OFF
Only one thing will keep you from changing and becoming the person you and God want you to be. It’s not the devil. It’s not other people. It’s not circumstances. It’s procrastination.
I meet many people who are getting ready to live but never do. “I’m aiming to change,” they tell me. And I want to reply, “That’s good, but when are you going to pull the trigger?”
Procrastination is fatal. One of these days I’m going to go to the dentist. One of these days I’m going to have that surgery I need. One of these days I’m going to spend more time with the family … get serious about being a Christian … become active in church … go after that dream. One of these days I’m going to get into shape. One of these days! More often than not, that day never comes.
Rick Warren, God’s Power to Change Your Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
We have just released a new Bible study on based on Rick Warren’s book God’s Power to Change Your Life.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #1
The Power to Change Your Life
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #2
God’s Part and My Part in Changing Me
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #3
God’s Power to Make You More Loving
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #4
God’s Power to Make You More Joyful
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #5
God’s Power to Give You Peace
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #6
God’s Power to Develop Your Patience
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #7
God’s Power to Develop Your Kindness
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #8
God’s Power to Develop Your Goodness
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #9
God’s Power to Develop Your Faithfulness
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #10
God’s Power to Develop Your Gentleness
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #11
God’s Power to Develop Your Self-control
God’s Power to Change Your Life, Lesson #12
A Productive Life