Have you ever felt ill-equipped and helpless during a difficult situation. If you are like me, this is exactly how you feel at the beginning of June 2020. There has been SO much happening in our world during the past three months, and I am frankly experiencing the overwhelming reality that there is no easy or fast solution to any of the problems! We are currently a nation in need of healing, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sickness in the form of disease and deep seated attitudes has stolen our peace and we are a nation desperate for a cure! But, as always, the answer to the problems is not found in this world because the problem is spiritual at its core.
This is not the first time and certainly will not be the last time that the fallenness of mankind has been so blatantly obvious. Over and over again through the centuries we can read of the evil acts and pure sinfulness of man moving in the world so, sadly, we should not be surprised when we see these things come to the surface. Many people look to the world’s institutions to find answers, but the truth is, no government, no scientist, no historian, no civic leader will fix what ails us. Only the Spirit of the living God can change the hearts of men, and this is the only way the world can truly be healed.
The Spirit of God is the way of transformation, without Him, all change is based on human effort which is only temporary, or superficial at best. Deep seated issues that are found in the hearts of men can only be rooted out by a supernatural work of God. Perhaps this is why we struggle to see change? Maybe it is because we continue to try in our own efforts and at the end of the day, this is simply not enough. We need the power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men to make real change,
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were constantly finding themselves in one crisis after another, and all because of their refusal to follow God’s commands. They finally ended up in captivity which was the ultimate consequence. They desperately needed to change their ways. The prophet Ezekiel is sent to tell them about what God was going to do in the future. He prophesies about transformation that is to come with the coming of Jesus Christ. Speaking the words of God, he says, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
This prophecy explains the new covenant that will come with the arrival of Jesus and the supernatural work that God will do in man as a result of faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. The “blood of Jesus” will wash away all of the“filth”(sin), then God will place a new heart in the one who trusts in Him. The old inflexible, uncaring, hard heart is replaced with a heart that is truly different, a heart of flesh. One that can feel; one that can love God and men. This mystery of the Holy Spirit taking residence in man is something that is so counter to all other religions. The idea that change happens from within rather than being something we do in our own efforts is not the way of other faiths. Instead, in every other religion in the world, obedience is required for acceptance. In Christianity, obedience is the result of “acceptance”. In other words, as we put our faith in Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross for our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit (a new heart) which is now in step with God’s statutes, so obedience is a natural outgrowth of our heart of flesh which is empowered by the Spirit of God!
Jesus explains this amazing truth to the disciples right before His ascension:
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)
The incredible truth of the Holy Spirit is that because of His presence in the believer’s life, “should” becomes “shall”, “can” becomes “will”. The transformation that happens at the moment the Holy Spirit comes into a life is immediate and permanent. The cowardly disciples will now be bold witnesses of the resurrection, preaching without fear of arrest, persecution or even death. These selfish men will become more concerned about the needs of others than their own. The change that happened in the disciples is nothing short of miraculous but is also such an encouragement for us. This life-changing power is in all of us who call ourselves believers. We have a new heart that is tender and responsive to God and others and is no longer bent on our own self-centered agenda!
So, isn’t this exactly what the world needs right now more than ever? People who are empowered by the Spirit of God to love. While it is great to talk about people changing their attitudes, actions and mindsets because of a new awareness of issues in the world, real transformation is ONLY possible with the Holy Spirit’s presence! What this means for all of us who are Christ followers is one thing. We MUST be witnesses wherever we are. We must not give up or give into discouragement because the message of the gospel is the only one that will change the world!
YES! This world can be different, but not through changing culture but through changing the hearts of men! Oh Lord, may your message of transformation be the loudest voice that we hear!
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