A Biblical Foundation for Change
- Thursday, March 16, 2006
Marital problems; depression; anxiety; fractured relationships with teenagers; a lifestyle of drunkenness; etc. are serious issues, even in the church today. When persons find themselves in similar circumstances, they need help. They need the power of Christ. They need to change. They need joy in Him.
People come to counseling because they have a problem and are in need of change. Sometimes they feel that others are the ones who need to change, but, it is they themselves who need to change. The goal of all counseling is change whether that counseling is psychological or biblical. The good news is that for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, real change can occur and joy can be had in Him. The question is: how can Christians change so that they might find the joy they desperately need in Christ? Before they can change, they need a foundation for change. To that dynamic we turn.
First, the Christian has a foundation for change if he understands that change comes by grace from God. We do not have the power or the desire to change apart from the grace of God working in our hearts. Paul wrote, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor. 15:10)." Here Paul says that God's grace made him what he was. Because he had been granted grace, he labored abundantly. He constantly labored for the Lord and changed day by day as a result of the Spirit's sanctifying work. He labored, yet, it wasn't him but the grace of God in him. Let the one who wants to change look to Christ and His powerful grace.
Second, the Christian has a foundation for change if she appropriates the abundant resources that God has given her. Those resources include, among other things, the word of God, the Holy Spirit, and prayer. The word of God is given to us for instruction and hope (Rom. 15:4). The Holy Spirit is given that we might have spiritual power from His application of the word to our hearts (1 Thes. 2:13). Prayer is given to us that we might approach the throne of grace boldly for help in time of need (Heb. 4:16) and obtain wisdom to apply the word to our hearts in the right way (Jas. 1:5). Paul affirmed that God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Let us meditate upon the word and pray for the Spirit to work in our lives. As we have been given every blessing from the Spirit, He will no doubt work in our hearts for change. Let us look to Christ and His abundant provision.
Third, the Christian has a foundation for change if he embraces the sufficiency of Scripture for change. That dynamic implies that Christ is sufficient for change. He is all and everything and what we need. Peter said that "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him." In other words, through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness by virtue of His divine power. When the counselee has a problem that is not physiological (sleep deprivation, hormonal imbalance, etc.), his problem is spiritual. The bible calls depression, anxiety, anger, lust, fear, worry, etc. sin. But, the good news is that Christ came to save sinners from their sin. He has given His Spirit that we might deal with sin every day of our lives. We have everything we need for life and for godliness. Christ is sufficient. Let us look to Christ and His perfect sufficiency.
Fourth, the Christian has a foundation for change if she acknowledges her complete dependence upon Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5)." Here the Lord exhorts us to abide in Him. That is, we are to remain in Him, look to Him for our salvation and sanctification, call upon Him in the hour of trouble, keep close to Him for instruction and guidance and rescue among other things. He says that we are to abide in Him because apart from Him we can do nothing. Let us not seek to change apart from His life-giving power. Let us not seek man-made methods and solutions to problems that relate to our created souls. Who better to fix the problem with that which He created than God Himself? Let us live in such a way that we truly are dependent upon Christ so that when change occurs, He is the One who gets the glory. And, that is as it should be. Let us look to Christ and His effectual work.
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