By Steven Clark Goad
“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).
His name was Robert. He was successful in the business world, had a wife and two sons, lived in a middle-income home, and seemed like the typical image of a successful American male. But something most friends, neighbors, and associates didn’t know was that Bob was a fall-down drunk on the weekends. He had risen to a level of incompetence within his profession and realized he could not climb the ladder any higher. So he consoled himself inside a bottle for two days each week.
Something happened to Bob after one of his sons came home from a Bible camp. His son brought Jesus home to the family. Bob’s wife was the first to respond to the good news that had previously escaped their notice. Bob’s other son soon accepted Christ as well. Seeing the change in his own family, Bob took notice and accepted a Bible study book from the preacher of the congregation his family had joined.
How marvelous is the transforming power of the gospel. It can turn an alcoholic into a father. A prostitute into a devoted wife. A drug addict into a contributing citizen of society. An embezzler into a trusted employee. The good news of a risen Savior caused Bob to give up his love of the bottle and devote his life to the Lord. He died while on a mission trip.
Most Christians know the biblical definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It takes some of us a bit of struggling to really grasp what that means, but when we do, we understand that faith has substance—yet it is not always as visible as we would like. It isn’t often as graphic as with Bob’s conversion.
Merely having a definition of faith doesn’t convert us or alter our behavior in any appreciable way. To understand that faith is the trust and reliance we should have in God and his Word is not enough to make a difference. Faith is based on a message—the message of the cross. And that message must be received and acted upon for it to do any renovation or alteration of one’s life.
Ultimately the source of our faith and all other perfect gifts is God. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). Without us hearing and understanding the gospel, there can be no faith at all. And to have that faith alter our lives requires much more than merely believing that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. James tells us the demons believe in God as well.
To have our lives transformed requires effort. Jesus offered the work that saves us in his sacrifice at Calvary. But we have to be willing to be changed into the image of Christ.
Capturing Our Thoughts
Actually all of us are engaged in a battle within our minds. Satan is eager to invade our thought processes and goad us into thinking about unworthy matters. He is the great distracter. Instead of focusing on sharing our gifts, Satan would have us abuse them. Rather than developing benevolent hearts, the devil would have us grow greedier by the hour.
Defeating the evil one in our minds is how the battle is won and the faith transformation is made. “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV). Do we even grasp what this means? As we physically are what we eat, so spiritually we are what we think. Of course the struggle we put forth to live transformed lives doesn’t save us, but it does enable us to be used of God more perfectly for his glory. Jesus saves. We grow. And that growth is transformation—a revolution in how we conduct our daily activities.
Paul reminds us in Romans 3:22 that our righteousness comes by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Not only does our trusting faith allow the blood of Christ to free us from the bondage of sin, but the ongoing faith that transforms us creates in us altered states of being. We are no longer self-centered but Jesus-centered. It is only then that we can live the victorious lives we were created to enjoy.
When the Spirit of Christ indwells us, we have the capacity to live as Jesus lived, to submit as Jesus did, and to rejoice as Jesus rejoiced. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
We live by faith. We trust the Lord to be a God of his Word. That trust empowers and transforms us. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Never, Never, Never Give Up
Disciples of Jesus should be the most contented souls on the planet. The joy and peace we hold in our hearts should be seen in our lives. Too many of us live in not-so-quiet desperation, as if there is no hope. This flies in the face of Jesus’ promise to give us life more abundantly.
We are a discontented lot at times, and this betrays our lack of transforming faith. How can a child of the King live like a pauper? How is it possible for those of us who are just a single heartbeat away from stepping into a room full of angels continue to live one day at a time in fear and extreme anxiety? Yes, we will have trying times come our way, but we can have faith in God’s promise of an eternal hope.
To help us live transformed lives altered into the image of Jesus, we need to capture every thought and submit it to God’s Spirit, strive to do good deeds, and study God’s living and active Word.
This is a race we are in. And it isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. The beloved apostle wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Live each day with the knowledge that the indwelling Spirit will never forsake us. We cannot afford to forsake the Lord. So we keep pressing onward, always engaging our minds in eternal spiritual thinking.
The noted theologian Karl Barth was asked what great lesson he could share from the wealth of his life of study and knowledge. His reply: “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”
Our God is good and deserves our faith. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son . . .”
(John 3:16). May we relish daily his awesome gift as we take pleasure in having our lives transformed in Christ.
Steven Clark Goad is a minister and freelance writer in Blythe, California.
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