Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

God's Power Changes People

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

The list of sins accompanies many of those in the last days. Paul, no doubt, believes that these days have already come. He is completely right that they have come but these “last days” were not to be counted as we would count days. They would mark an era that continues until Jesus returns. Paul probably thought these days would end during his own lifetime. This wasn’t to be the case but they certainly continued. He may not have realized how right his words would become.

People claiming faith in Jesus would commit all of the above sins. They would become exactly what Paul said they would. They would claim godliness but would not have any of the power which comes with this faith. They would be like the facades of buildings used in movies. They look as if they are genuine if there is no careful inspection but have no substance within themselves.

Many of who call themselves ministers of the Gospel fall into this category. They give compassionate calls to forget godliness. They deny that God can change people from what they are to what God intends them to be. They leave these people with all their sins. Their evils are denied as sins but are called illnesses or sometimes absolved by saying they are inflicted upon them by a preborn disposition. They cannot imagine that God can change people who come to Him.

Paul had urged Timothy to continue to preach a life-changing gospel. It overcomes addictions and strengthens believers to be changed by the Spirit. It is the most powerful force that has ever changed people.

I have talked with people who by the power of the Spirit have quit their addictions “cold turkey” simply at the command of their Lord. I have seen men characterized by lies become honest, thieves become trustworthy, the greedy become generous, the arrogant become humble and those who had no self-control to be disciplined.

I believe in being compassionate toward people. I don’t want to be one of the heartless people who abuse those who are caught in sin. I can’t see how that does me or them any good. However, I want to continue telling people that Jesus changes lives. They don’t have to live with their oppressive behaviors. They can overcome all that has kept them from living victorious lives.

Now, here is the catch. Instead of denying the power of the Spirit, I must say that victory over sin is impossible without the power of the Spirit. He, the Spirit, is available and willing to change lives from ungodliness to godly.

I know because the power of the Spirit continues to change me. I am not perfect but I am very different from what I used to be. I am being changed and everyone who truly turns their lives over to Jesus will be changed too.

Stop denying the power. Be changed.

2 comments: said...

People come in all sort of sizes and manner! Some people, they do NOT believe in God; or for that matter, some do NOT even believe in the spirits (demons, angels, deities, or gods). Some people believe in the spirit world’s existence; but many of them do NOT believe the Christian Godhead is the most powerful or is THE God. Some believe in God, not just any god or deity or spirit, but they picture God is like themselves or at best, like a good man!

For the last category, somehow, this does NOT stick - We are created in the image of God, and we have fallen. In the first place, it is we are created in the image of God; in other words, we were created to take after God; NOT the other way round - God in our image; no, it is we (are created), in the image of God. Then, Man had fallen, in the Garden of Eden. Falsehood and carnality entered Man then; Man was no longer the same as before, before The Fall. Craftiness, cunningness and deceitfulness entered Man, pride entered Man; a host of other bad attributes entered Man, as The Serpent replicated Iniquity into Man.

The Fall made us counted with Satan (The Serpent). Scripture recorded for us that where Satan is headed, unregenerate men are headed the same place and fate – be thrown into the lake of fire of Hell. One of the reasons unregenerate men are being counted with Satan is that falsehood has entered men. This key attribute, a bad attribute, is one of the chief attributes of Satan. Men, all unregenerate men have become like Satan in this – be engaging in falsehood with the belief that there is always still time. Pretence is falsehood. People continue to pretend, thinking that there is still time that they can get away with.

Cont... said...

Cont. from above

Time and eternity knowing and understanding, in Man was warped in the Fall, just as it was warped in Satan’s own fall (Eze 28). Pretence, falsehood and evil, they share the common false belief that there is still time to get away with. Satan no longer has the intended eternity he was meant to have; Satan no longer would return to live in Heaven with God; he would be banished into Hell fire; yet he would continue on with his pretence, falsehood and evil. Unregenerate men are moving along the same line or path. I use the phrase, “unregenerate men”, what about believers; are there believers like that, engaging in pretence and falsehood? We are all growing, for we are to grow in Christ-likeness, but watch it; God cannot be deceived. That He does NOT do anything yet, does NOT mean He will NOT judge or that He would NOT let one reap what he sows, or that He cannot lift off, His hands of protection and provision, which are extended to one, by grace. Having the appearance or just form of godliness, but NOT truly embracing the substance of the Faith or godliness, is denying the power of the faith or godliness or God. The Apostle Paul said, “Avoid such people”.

What does Paul mean by that? Lest they corrupt you, likewise. Paul is NOT saying you should NOT go near such people like they are leprous! It is like you are in the world, but you are NOT of the world; meaning you got to know it, that the meditations or inclinations of their hearts, and therefore, their speeches and actions are skewed towards pretence, falsehood, and evil; and you are NOT to “buddy-buddy” with them. You got to be changed yourself, and be grounded, well, in the Word, before you reach out to these. The picture of “tug-of-war” that we face inside of us and in the world, with the ways of the Spirit on one side, and the same, of the world, on the other, is real. When you go to a battle, be equipped before you join the fray. Be wise.

The Gospel is the power of change. The fallen men need to be changed. And precisely because the Gospel is the power of change, Paul’s call is NOT that all of us avoid such people (unregenerate and believers) with a 10ft pole. In order for them to be changed, the Gospel and Gospel living must impact them. If no one goes near, how can the Gospel and Gospel living, impact them? But again, be wise. Be a hero when the Spirit of God wants you to be a hero, and don’t be one, when you are NOT to be one. Be full of the Spirit, and NOT full of yourself.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions