”LORD, CHANGE ME”

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  II Corinthians 3:18

                “If only I could change”; “If only I could resist that temptation;” “If only I could have more patience,” etc. Statements like these are common expressions frequently uttered by Bible-believing Christians. These declarations are public admissions that all genuine saints need changes and improvements in their character and conduct. As believers, we all need changes because of express weaknesses—Rom. 7:18, for effective witness—Rom. 14:7, and for essential worship—John 4:24.

Biblical expressions of this word

                The words used in the N. T. for change describe the beneficial effects of such modifications:

                (a) The word “translate” in Col. 1:12 is one such word: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This word refers to a “change by removing” and was used regarding Enoch’s translation—removal—into heaven in Hebrews 11:5. Beneficial changes involve the removal of negative traits in our lives.

                (b) “Transform” and “transfigure” come from a Greek word that refers to a “drastic change,” such as the change from an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. While this drastic change will ultimately occur in our bodies at the Rapture, it also has reference to an internal change within our minds: “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God—Rom. 12:2.”  Drastic changes in our inner minds will sometimes result in drastic changes in our outer manner of conduct!

                (c) “Change” in I Cor. 15:51-52 refers to make something other than what it presently is—another reference to our bodies when the Rapture occurs: “Behold, I shew you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…”

These changes equal the process of Sanctification”

                All genuine changes begin with God’s initial work of conversion in our inner spirits—Matt. 18:2, II Cor. 5:17, Col. 1:17. These beneficial changes are really God’s work of sanctification in our lives, which continue until our heavenly homegoing or the Rapture in the air—Eph. 2:10, Phil. 3:20-21. These changes are God’s means of conforming us to the image of His Son, of molding and shaping us into His likeness—Rom. 8:29.  There are three chief means that God uses to accomplish such changes

(I)

CHASTENING

                Chastening is probably “what we need the most, but desire the least” as believers! Chastening is a form of spiritual discipline which takes the carnal dross out of our lives and replaces it with silver—Prov. 25:4. Chas. Matthews in his booklet The Christian Family stated that chastening is “God’s correction designed to bring about obedience and respect for [divine] authority.” 

                Within a Christian family, chastening is the “nuture and admonition”—Eph. 6:4—the spiritual training, the education or instruction that parents give to their children via admonishment, correction, and reproof. Using this human family figure, the writer of Hebrews portrays God as our Heavenly Father who exercises similar spiritual chastisement to His children in Heb. 12:5-11.

                A. This Chastening is to be expected as saints—Heb. 12:5-6: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto as unto children, my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint not when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

                Dr. Wm. Culbertson, a former MBI president stated in his book God’s Provision for Holy Living that “chastisement is a sign of our legitimacy as children.”  An unknown poet put it like this when he wrote: “Aliens may escape the rod, nursed in earthly vain delights; But a true born child of God, must not, would not if he might.”  Chastening is a vital part of the believer’s Christian experience that cannot be avoided!

                B. This Chastening is to be endured as sons—Heb. 12:7-8: “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.”

                While chastening may not be a delightful experience, it is part of that necessary “affliction” which in light of our eternal glory is fleeting and transient: “For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory  II Cor. 4:17.” 

                This chastening comes in numerous forms such as delays in receiving desired temporal goods, denials in prayer  requests, disappointments, financial reverses, sickness, suffering, sorrow, etc., but they can all be beneficial if we view them from the proper perspective. While such chastening experiences may not be pleasant experiences, they can be powerful entreaties, stimulating beneficial changes in our lives.

                C. This chastening be experienced for Sanctification—Heb. 12:9-11: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much more be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Now no chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

                The above text makes it abundantly clear that spiritual chastening produces both “reverence” and righteousness, “holiness” in our lives. This chastening produces humility—II Chron. 7:14, holiness—Heb. 12:11, and happiness—Job 5:17: “Behold happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the almighty:”

(II)

CRUCIFYING

                 In Gal. 2:20, the Apostle Paul stated: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Based on this statement, an evangelist once declared that “God never gives a man a resurrected ministry without a crucified life.”

                We live in a self-centered age where the “do as you please” philosophy dominates societal actions, where spiritual crucifixion is not an easy task, but it is a necessary requisite for sanctification and spiritual maturation.

                A. Crucifying involves a denial of self—Mark 8:34: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

                Denial of self does not mean the annihilation of the distinct personalities that God has uniquely given to each believer. It is a mortification—a putting to death of the carnal deeds of our sinful natures within our physical bodies. Rom. 8:13, Col. 3:5.

                Martin Luther was once quoted as saying: “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals, for I have within me the great pope-self.” Jim Elliot, one of the five martyred South American missionaries aptly expressed it when he said: “He's no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

                B. Crucifying involves a death to sin—Rom. 8:1-2, 11: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

                Christ plainly declared in John 12:24: “Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  While there are four kinds of death expressed in Scripture: spiritual death, physical death, temporal death and eternal death, the word death always means separation. A noted poet expressed this truth when he wrote: “Oh, that a man may die in me, that the man I am may cease to be.”

                C. Crucifying involves a dedication to the Saviour—Rom. 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not confirmed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

                This crucifying involved a consecration of our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. One preacher straightly hit the target when he said that “consecration is the transferring of the rights of ownership exclusively from self to God, without any strings attached.”  When Wm. Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army was asked by the American evangelist-pastor, J. Wilbur Chapman, as to what was the secret of his spiritual success, Booth forthrightly replied: “God owned every inch of me.”

(III)

CONFORMING

                In Rom. 8:29, Paul the Apostle penned the following words about God’s divine purpose for believers: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son…” The word conform means “to render like,” “to make alike,” and “to make like another.” God’s actual goal and desire is to conform us/transform us to the spiritual likeness of his own beloved Son!

                A. This conforming comes through honesty with Scripture—James 1:23-25: “If any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he is. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

                God’s Word is described above as the “perfect law of liberty.” When we honestly look into the lens of God’s perfect Word. as believers, we see both our sinful selves and our sinless Saviour. We then decide to truly live by precepts of Scripture and we discover a spiritual freedom never before experienced.

                Dr. A. T. Pierson rightly stated: “Our knowledge of Christ is dependant upon our acquaintance with Scripture, which are reflections of His character and glory.” He also declared: “He who would keep up intimate converse with the Lord, must find in the Scriptures the highway of such companionship.”

                B. This conforming comes through humility of self—Phil. 2:8: ‘And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Christ is the  supreme example of humility. Although He was the creator of everything that was good and the Lord of the universe, he was born outside the lowest dwelling on earth, and placed in an animal’s feeding trough at his human birth.

                Humility has been aptly termed as “The Queen of all Christian graces.” One preacher straight-forwardly said that “Humility is an adjustment regarding myself.” This writer will never forget a memorable sermon he heard several years ago by Ralph Horne, who was then the music director at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Greenville, SC .That sermon was entitled “God’s Nobodies.” Bro. Horne traced through the Scripture some characters who are not named, but whom God greatly used.   The statement “Too few of us are big enough to become too little to be used of God” surely applies to this point.

                C. This conforming comes through harmony with the Spirit—Eph. 3:20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly above all that that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” The text for this editorial says in II Cor. 3:18, that spiritual change “into the same image” [the spiritual image of Christ] occurs by “the Spirit of the Lord.” There must be a complete yielding to God’s Spirit, a harmony and unity with  the blessed 3rd person of the divine Godhead  for these changes to occur.

                This:(l) honesty with self is exhibited by candor—Prov. 28:13, the (2) humility of self is expressed by contrition—Is. 57:25, and the (3) harmony with the Spirit is effected by confession—I John 1:9.

 

CONCLUSION

                A. As we seeks these positive changes, God gives us his promises: Ps. 32:8—“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye,” and James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

                B. The longer we live and the longer we wait to seek those changes, the more difficult those changes will become. Set patterns can soon become embedded habits with fixed actions and automatic carnally wrong responses.

                C. Total perfect changes are never completed on this earth. They await the Second Coming of Christ—I John 3:2: “Beloved, now are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

                Dear friend, let everyone who reads this column, including its author, begin to pursue those beneficial changes now so that we can more effectively reflect the Saviour’s image & be more useful in our Master’s service.  I John 3:3 “And every man that this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”   DJ

A biographical profile of Dr. Jasmin

Also in this issue:

CEDARVILLE UNIVERSITY

PROPHETIC_FORESHADOWS

DIETRICH_BONHOEFFER

 Editorial – OCTOBER-NOVEMBER  2011   The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.
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