Let’s discuss foundations of the faith for believers, particularly change and transformation. If you are serious about serving Christ and living for Him, you will experience much change on your Christian journey. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Often, we want people and events to change around us, but from my experience, I’ve learned that God normally changes me before anything around me changes. Although I bristle at times, His ways and thoughts are higher than mine (Is. 55:9). Therefore, I yield.
The Condition of the Heart
We will discuss change as it relates to the condition of the heart. In our nation, people are being drawn away, enticed by their own lusts (James 1:14). Deception, greed, and lawlessness fill our land. Instead of being distracted by the darkness of the world, God’s people are called to keep their focus on Christ and working out their own salvation (Phil. 2:12). I’m reading a book by John and Paula Sandford entitled The Transformation of the Inner Man. In this book, the authors are specific about working out salvation through transformation and cleansing of the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” You might ask, “Iris, why are you talking about the heart and how wicked it can be? I’m saved.”
Although we are saved, our hearts have developed ways of self-protection. These self-protective structures may have served us in our natural lives, but don’t work for us along a spiritual path. For example, one of my heart’s self-protective measures is to draw away from others when rejected or hurt. I am an introvert, so withdrawal from people comes easily. Well, that method (or way of operating) doesn’t serve me well as a Christian because God often wants me to extend myself to others – even those who have not treated me well. I’ve had to die to this way of operating because it is counterproductive to ministry and my life in Christ. Here’s another example – I’ve often heard people say, “I’ll never trust anyone again.” I don’t have to tell you that this self-protective measure comes from a broken heart and distances people from the body of Christ and Jesus Christ Himself. Consider asking yourself this: In what ways does my heart prevent me from thriving in the Kingdom of God? Is my heart anxious? Easily angered? Drawn to jealousy? Easily offended? What structures in my heart are just … wicked?
Help from the Holy Spirit
Now let’s discuss what to do. When we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we receive a comforter, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16). The Holy Spirit helps us work out our salvation, primarily by drawing our attention to our heart condition. When we ask Him for help, He leads us in how to die to, or turn away from, old ways that keep us from experiencing the Kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).
I counseled a young lady once who said to me, “I don’t want to change.” Although she received Jesus as Savior in her spirit, her heart wanted to do things its own way. Jesus says to us, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Yes, if we are truly Christ’s, we change, and that change occurs as we die continually to our old ways and take up the cross (our assigned life in Christ) and follow Him. The natural ways you have learned in life will not work on the spiritual path God has designed for you. You and I must die to our will and ways.
In case you were wondering, by the time the counseling session concluded, the young lady prayed and opened her heart to change because she was tired of anxiety, which was how she dealt with life in the natural. We talked about how dying to self can be an uncomfortable process, but the Holy Spirit leads us to a higher, more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31). Oh, the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! You can trust Him.
Conversation with God
Consider having this conversation with God when the Holy Spirit reveals self-protective structures in your heart that are at odds with your Christian walk. Working out your salvation means that you heed the Spirit’s prompting. Spend time with God:
- Acknowledge that your heart is not at peace and that you are operating from an old pattern or way. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
- Forgive those who cause or prompt negative emotions and reactions. Forgiving others and self (Matt. 18: 21-35) are necessary steps to working out salvation.
- After you’ve forgiven, ask Jesus – who is living water – to flow like a river within you and wash, cleanse, and heal your heart. “Jesus, I receive your peace as it flows like a river within me. Show me a more excellent way to live and be.”
Jesus Christ will heal that area of your heart because you’ve turned to Him instead of your old ways. As you spend this time with God, you’ll walk more closely in fellowship and communion with Him. You’ll experience change as you’re also being conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Think about this: Jesus is the perfect example for us. On the cross, He forgave those who wronged Him and denied Himself completely – even unto death – for our salvation.
Friends, my heart’s desire and prayer is to have a clean heart. As I turn from old emotions, reactions, and ways, God heals my heart and strengthens me. It is a process. I pray this writing helps you walk in newness of life in Christ: Old things are passing away, and all things are becoming new (2 Cor. 5:17). Think on these things, and steward your heart well.
Reach Out. If you struggle or need wisdom from God’s Word applied to your life, reach out now! Use the contact form on this page. Friend, you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free!