When I accepted Jesus at 17 years old, I thought that was the end of what I needed to do. Of course, I was in jail when it happened, but the location or situation we are in has no bearing on what should come next. Verbally accepting Christ as Savior is only the beginning of a process; a process that takes a lifetime to complete. I had to learn the hard way that changes needed to be made in order for this process to work.
So many times, we look for the “fast food” version of Jesus. We want all the perks but don’t want to make the investment. Example is: we “accept” Jesus because we don’t want to spend eternity in hell, separated from God, but we don’t want to make the necessary lifestyle changes. We hold on to the same people, places and things from before we became a Christ follower.
There must be a change in our life; there must be a change in our lifestyle. There must be a heart change. With the heart change comes a change in the things that we enjoy and the things that make us happy. Without the heart change we are no different than we were before we made the choice.
Quite often when I have this conversation with someone the response is “I don’t want to change who I am” or “I thought God accepts us where we are and who we are”. And with that lies the problem. I learned that it doesn’t matter who or what I wanted to be. What mattered, and still does, is who and what God has called me to be. Yes, God accepts us where we are in life. Regardless where that may be, but He doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants and expects us to grow; not grow in ourselves but grow in Him.
I have said this before, but it is worth repeating: We must make some major changes in our life if we plan on impacting this world for God’s Kingdom, for Jesus. We must because it is not about us, it’s about God. We can’t fulfill the Great Commission while trapped in our old life.
There are times when I miss the old ways I used to have. Even if it’s only for a moment. Sometimes I get off from a long and hot day at work and a few cold ones sound really good. Sometimes someone aggravates me in traffic or in the store and I have thoughts about letting the old me rise up just for a moment. Just to show them I’m not a pushover and put them in their place. Sometimes I miss the old friends, the parties and the long nights of being wild. I must remind myself that that is no longer who I am. That is no longer the life that I live.
You see there was a change that took place. A change that rearranged the way I view things. It changed everything from the way I handle rude people to how I spend my time. It changed the way I view women and the way I view myself. It changed because it is the only way that it will work. If there isn’t any change then it’s just all a show.
II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
That scripture explains that to be in Christ we must become new. We must put off the old self and put on the new in Christ. We must change but we must be willing to. We must be willing to put the old self to death. This is something that we must do ourselves and we do this by changing things up. We change the people, places and things in our lives. And we do this, so we can grow in Christ. The people we hang around influence us. The places we go influence us. And lastly the things in our life influence us.
Trust me when I say that this isn’t an easy thing to do either, at least for me it wasn’t. I was 38 years old when I chose to stop playing games with God. That’s 38 years being the old me, 38 years of habits and addictions. That was 38 years of growing into the man I had become. I didn’t wake up one day as I am today, I grew into it. Life made me that way. From the choices I made and the consequences from those choices made me that way. It took an act of God to see I needed to change things. It took Jesus coming into my heart and the Holy Spirit’s conviction on me to see I needed to change.
You may be reading this thinking that it doesn’t apply to you. That it doesn’t apply because you’re not a bad person, that you’re not like I was. There aren’t any drugs involved in your life, you didn’t go to prison and you’re not sexually promiscuous. I am here to tell you that that is false. While there are some that are “worse” than I was and some that aren’t, we all need Jesus and we all need to make the changes in our lives. Sure, some may not need to be as extreme as the ones for me, but changes must be made to truly follow Christ.
Romans 3:23-26 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
We are all sinners in need of a Savior. That Savior is the one and only Jesus. Adam failed and condemned us all to sin and hell through his sin. One man’s sin changed the course of life. Jesus came that we may be in right standing with God, freeing us from that sin through His perfect life and perfect sacrifice.
Romans 5:12-21 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.