|“C-H-A-N-G-E” IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD!
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not
be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you
may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Years ago I preached a sermon entitled “Change Is Not A Four-Letter Word.” A woman approached me after the Sunday
morning worship service in the foyer of our church with the question: “Pastor, why in the world are you always pushing me to
change? I am tired of being called upon to make changes in my life. Changing is just too hard.” I smiled and took her in my
arms to reassure her of my love and of God’s love and acceptance of her, and gently reinforced the truth that change is what
our life in Christ is all about.
OUR NATURE IS TO RESIST CHANGE. I understand the concern of the dear lady who met me in the foyer that day. Each of us
has an underlying problem to making the changes God requires of us, and that is we must overcome our natural tendency to
resist change. Human beings have an innate resistance to change. We want things like they have been because changing is
harder to do than maintaining. As a pastor I have witnessed very serious conditions in people that one might think anyone in
their right mind would want to see changed; however, the person had become accustomed to their horrible situation. For
example: “Molly” lived in a very abusive marriage, one that even threatened her life. She resisted changing her situation
even though it was a dreadful existence because she said it would be too hard to change into a new life scenario. The very
thing she needed – change – is what she resisted. Overcome the natural resistance in you to change.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE. There is always a real need when God calls for us to change. The sinner drastically needs to be
changed into a child of God. The fearful person needs to be changed into a strong, confident person. The sick man needs to
be a well man; the addicted person needs to become a whole person; the shallow, self-centered person needs spiritual depth
and maturity; the woman given to sensuality has real need to be changed. God knows you and me from the inside out. He
knows what we need. But inevitably that need requires a change to be made. The first step in receiving the promises of God
is to accept the need for change. Failure to accept the need for change makes it impossible for the perfect will of God to
happen. At that point all spiritual progress halts and a downward slide begins. Can you see how important it is to accept the
need for change?
A PROCESS OF CHANGE. Think about it. The moment a person hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time, the
preacher is asking him to make a change, isn’t he? For the Christian, changing does not stop at the point of the new birth.
Indeed not! In that instant you sign on for a life of change. If you look back on your own spiritual life you will see that it has
been a continual process of change. The goal God has for your life is for you to become conformed to the image of Jesus His
Son. (Romans 8:29) Here is how it works: the Spirit of God reveals to you an area that needs to be changed, something that is
not acceptable to your heavenly Father. You are always acceptable to Him but things in your life may not be. It may be
something that is big, like a spirit of greed or lust or fear, or it may simply be a personality trait that impairs His ability to
produce His favor in your life. In any case, once you are shown the problem, He expects you to change.
YOU HAVE A HELPER. God is good. You’re not on your own to try to figure out how to make the changes, as He is telling you
to change He is giving you everything you need to make that change. You have His Word which guides you. You have His
power which enables you. You have His Spirit who is your Helper. Everything is in place for you to make the change He
desires to see in your life. The rest is up to you. You must accept the need for the change and you must be willing to make
the change. If these things are in place, the change can happen and you are far better off than before. Some changes may be
hard for you to do and they may require some real effort, but ultimately it is always worth it all.
ONE STEP AT A TIME. We Christians must understand that the changes each of us needs to make to get us to the point of
being conformed to the image of Jesus takes time and is made one step at a time. Our perfecting is much like it was for the
children of Israel who had taken Canaan and had set about the task of occupying it. God instructed them to only be
concerned with one city or region at a time, that it would be a conquest one step at a time. So it is with us. There are many
things in each of us that must be changed, but we are not capable of handling them all at one time. We would be
overwhelmed and soon discouraged and defeated if we were to attempt to battle them all simultaneously. So God focuses our
attention on one need at a time. That is where we remain until we have victory in that area of our life. Then, He moves us on
to the next thing in us that needs to be changed. This process continues throughout our lives or as long as there are things
in us that do not align with the Word of God.
If we understand this simple truth, we will not judge ourselves or one another. We will recognize that we and our brother or
sister in Christ that is not acting like Christ at a particular moment still has some changing to do. We will exercise patience
towards ourselves and towards them knowing that God is not finished with any of us yet. Each of us is still under construction!
EVERYONE HAS TO CHANGE. A study of the Bible shows you that every great man or woman went through this process of
change. For example: Peter needed to be changed from a fisherman who was rough and impetuous and strong-willed into an
apostle of the Lord Jesus filled with His love and called to be a pillar of the Church. The three and half years Peter walked
with Jesus was a process of change for him. It was not easy. But it was well worth the effort and sacrifice. So it is with you.
God has wonderful plans for your life but in order for Him to fulfill those plans some changes must take place in you. I exhort
you to always be willing to change when God says, “Change!” I promise you that as you are obedient you will experience the
benefits that are promised to the children of God. (Psalm 103)
HOW GOD SPEAKS TO YOU. Do not be surprised how God reveals to you the need for change. 1) It may be as you are
studying the Bible and a verse seems to jump off the page at you. In an instant you see you in that verse and suddenly realize
that God is personally speaking to you right then. He is not condemning you for falling short of His perfect will, He is
encouraging you to enhance your life by moving up to a higher plane of spiritual existence with Him and in Him as you obey
His leading. 2) You may hear from God through your pastor or another preacher. God uses His chosen servants to lead His
people into truth. Your pastor is not picking on you nor is he judging you when he exhorts you to change. God is moving him
to move you higher. 3) You may even hear the voice of God through nature or family or circumstances. He is using things or
people to reveal His will to you so you see the need for a change. Or, 4) You may have that inner knowing by the Holy Spirit
that something in you must change. No matter how the Lord speaks to you, listen to Him. Do not resist His call for change. You
may not fully understand how to make the change God wants you to make, but you soon will. He will direct you by His Spirit
and by His Word and you will be led into truth.
HINDRANCES TO MAKING CHANGES. Let’s look at an example: Let’s say you have a temper problem that surfaces from time to
time; God shows you that it must go. You soon realize that it is not easy to overcome the temptation to act angrily. Consider
1) Making changes stretches you. Each instance stretches you to be what you have not been, which is a temperate man. Of
course the good news is that you have a Helper – the Holy Spirit – right there with you and in you assisting you in your
2) Discouragement can arise if you are like most of us, because you will probably see some failures before absolute victory
comes in the area of your temper. This is a work of the evil one against you. Do not allow discouragement. Take authority over
it in the powerful name of Jesus and drive it out!
3) Natural strength is insufficient against your problem. You may see and even accept the need to change with regards to
your temper, but you can’t seem to overcome it when it surfaces. Just understand that this is a spiritual problem that requires
a spiritual remedy. Your will-power is a natural force that can only partially counter the problem and even then only for a short
period of time. It takes God at work to do what you need to have done.
4) Changing requires you to move out from your comfort zone. That place, which is familiar to you, be it good or bad, seems to
be the preferable place to be. This is so because you more or less know what to expect. It requires faith to make changes;
faith in God and faith in His word. Remember: Changes do not happen within your comfort zone, they happen out there in the
realm of faith.
CHANGES BENEFIT YOU. You have a heavenly Daddy that loves you very much and He desires only good things for you. So, if
He asks you to make changes you can know beyond any doubt that the results will benefit you. You are always better off
because of the changes God asks of you. Learn to look past the apparent difficulty in making the changes or what sacrifices
you must go through to make them, and see how wonderful victory will be. One step at time – one change at a time – you are
growing and maturing in Christ Jesus, becoming conformed to the image of Jesus! Amen.