You Can Change 8: Change is God’s Work

These are my notes and some reflections on Tim Chester’s book: You Can Change

Change is God’s Work:

That only Jesus could affect true change – to cleanse and purify the heart – is surely what John the Baptist had in mind when he spoke of the One who would baptise not with water but with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Ezekiel 36:25-27).

I love the trinitarian nature of change that Tim outlines next (PS one of Tim’s lesser known book is in fact an exploration of the trinity – and is some of the best stuff I have read on the trinity). “The combined forces of the trinity are at work in our lives to set us free and make us holy.” p60

1. The liberating work of the Father:

The Father is intimately involved in our lives so that our circumstances train us for godliness.

God always and only disciplines us to strengthen our relationship with him.  It is a sign that we are his children.  His discipline is perfect, always for our good and “will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12: 11)

“God uses hardship to weaken our alliegence  to this world and set our hope on the world to come; to weaken our dependence on worldly things and strengthen our faith in him.” (p53)

2. The liberating work of the Son:

A death and resurrection has taken place in us.  We have been set free from the power of sin and we are now free to live for God.  Telling a slave to be free is insulting but “telling a liberated slave to be free is an invitation to enjoy their new freedom and privileges.” (p55)

We continue to struggle with sin:

  • like a freed slave who still jumps at the sound of his masters voice
  • like a man with a healed leg who still limps out of habit
  • like a former prisoner who stills wakes at prison hours

But something decisive has happened – our failure to overcome sin is no longer inevitable.

We are changed when we look at Jesus, delight in  Jesus and commune with Jesus.  But no one still under the weight of sin guilt is able to embrace Jesus.  So change begins only when we come under grace with its promise of forgiveness and welcome.  Only then may we approach the throne of grace with confidence and there receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

3. The liberating work of the Spirit:

The Spirit gives us a new attitude to sin and a new power to change.  The Spirit gives us the desire to do what is right and opposes our old sinful desires to do what is wrong.  Our call is to follow the Spirit

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17

John Berridge captures it well:

“Run, John and work, the law commands,

Yet finds me neither feet nor hands,

But sweeter news the gospel brings,

It bids me fly and lends me wings.”

The law was to be on people’s hearts (Deut 6:6), instead it is sin that is engraven there (Jeremiah 17:1).  So God promised to write his law on people’s hearts through his Spirit.  It is the Spirit who gives us this new desire for Christ (Jer 31:31-34; Romans 7:6) and guides us to this end through his Word.

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~ by John on January 1, 2011.

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