When I studied the Bible to become a Christian, I was pretty skeptical about God—I wasn’t sure if I actually believed that he existed and that he had enough power and patience to help me. It didn’t matter how many research-based books I read about why God is real, or how many times people tried to argue with me about the facts, I remained stubborn in my unbelief.
The only thing that changed my mind was when I saw change in other people (and later, in myself) that I knew was impossible for them on their own. I realized that change could only have come from God. Change is the evidence of faith. When a church fails to produce change, the church fails.
Repentance is Change!
20 You know I preached to you and did not hold back anything that would help you. You know that I taught you in public and in your homes. 21 I warned both Jews and Greeks to change their lives and turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.
Acts 20:20-21 (NCV)
While “repentance” can be seen as a religious word, all it really means is to change our hearts and lives, to turn from our sin and to God. There is never a moment in our lives when we stop needing to change. In this Scripture, because Paul changed, his heart condition and faith transferred to others. If we’re not changing, we prevent people from having faith in God (1 Corinthians 15:34).
Repentance is Inspired Action!
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.
Acts 26:19-20 (NIV)
The best thing about being a Christian is the fact that we can always change. If we’re not changing, what’s inspiring us and others to be Christians? Only when we love something more than our sin are we able to actually make that change. Willpower is not able to accomplish everything—God has to be in the picture.
The Evidence of Change
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.
Acts 4:13-16 (NIV)
The Pharisees in this Scripture could deny facts and arguments, but they couldn’t argue with a changed life. People could tell that Peter and John were different from most people, not because they were something special, but because God had transformed their lives. The minute change stops happening is the minute faith stops building, and we stop believing that others can change as well.
Faith vs. Unbelief
Faith Changes, Unbelief Hurts – 2 Corinthians 7:8-9
- Because the people in this Scripture had faith, they were inspired to change. If they had been unbelieving, they would have gotten hurt by what Paul was telling them. Instead, they were determined to be different.
Faith Inspires, Unbelief Despairs – 2 Corinthians 7:10
- To despair is to lose all hope. If there is no faith or trust in God, there is no hope.
How Can I Change?
1) Security – Fearless Focus on What God Thinks
- We will never change if we are not confident that God will stick with us no matter what.
- We aren’t afraid of people or consequence, when we have security in God.
2) Transparency – Spiritual and Emotional Freedom
- When we are completely honest, we are able to experience being freed up and known.
3) Spiritual Bankruptcy – Begin at the Beginning
- When we know that our lives have hit rock bottom and don’t hide it, we are able to be humble and start all over again
What do you need to change?
Are you hurt with unbelief or inspired with faith?
Which of these three categories do you need to help you change? (security, transparency, spiritual bankruptcy)