Not Will Power but Spirit Power

Romans 7:18 “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

There’s no such thing as self-help in God’s kingdom. If self-help was as effective as its promoted to be, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus Christ to die in our place and rise again conquering sin, Satan and death. We all can identify things in our minds, hearts and lives that we’d like to change. Many of us search for answers in the strategies of human reason than the power of the Holy Spirit. The reality is our will is limited in its ability to bring sustainable and permanent change to our hearts. Stop trying to change yourself by your own will and just start following Jesus. When you surrender to Jesus as your Lord, and you start to follow him out of relationship, transformation is a natural byproduct of the work of the Spirit’s power in your life. Paul said to the Romans, “If you live according to the flesh you will die but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God.” Selah!

Extreme Makeover!

We are a culture enamored with changing the external, thinking if we change our jobs, image and relationships that our lives will be happier. We have TV shows that promote this ideology and the web is saturated with images and stories of people who proclaim to be happier because they lost weight, made a million dollars or bought their dream car. Whilst being healthy, prospering and achieving life goals are admirable and meaningful pursuits by themselves, they might only make you 10% happier at best. Real change happens from the inside out. Romans 12:2 exhorts us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we meditate upon those things that are godly, excellent and life giving, our minds are renewed to think like our creator and our spirits come into alignment with Gods perspective on our lives. If you desire an extreme makeover in 2016, begin with renewing your mind with the truth of Gods Word and you will discover you’ll be happier far beyond anything this world can offer you. 

The Devil is a Liar!

From Genesis 3, back at the beginning of creation, the devil has been lying and casting doubt on the truth of God’s Word in our lives. His strategy hasn’t changed and he’s still undermining people’s faith with his constant condemnation, negativity and hopelessness.

Satan’s whole agenda is to steal, kill and destroy anything that resembles the life of God’s Spirit in you and at work in our world. Never has there been a more important era of human history than now to know, think and speak God’s truth about ourselves. We are bombarded daily with hundreds of mixed messages. Deciphering God’s truth can be a challenge without being intentional.

Satan is an anchor that is always pulling you back down from heading out into the adventure that God invites all of us onto. If you entertain the negative thoughts, words and opinions that weigh you down too long, it will become your new norm and limit your capacity to believe for God’s impossible to work in your world.

The challenge is if we haven’t undergone a renewed mindset then we don’t so easily distinguish between the lies of the enemy and our own thoughts. The truth of God’s Word really does set us free and we need to immerse ourselves in a daily diet of God’s truth so that we will not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Pay attention to the messages you entertain in your brain and heart on a daily basis. As you think, so you are. What negative self-limiting ideas have you allowed to preoccupy your thinking? It’s time to uproot and replace with God’s truth!

The Oracle!

Transformation as Conflict!

Have you ever thought of personal transformation as engaging in conflict?

Often we think of change as being only a positive process but in fact to enter the transformation spiral is to prepare yourself for a bloody battle with your sinful nature. Preaching is spiritual warfare, not just with cosmic powers but with our flesh. The flesh will oppose anything of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God stands in direct opposition to your flesh. This conflict is not dualistic, meaning between equal adversaries. God is supreme over every cosmic power and our flesh but nevertheless, there will be blood on the floor of your heart, one way or the other. By God’s grace and your faith, it will be your flesh and the enemy, needing trauma treatment, not your spirit and God’s purpose for you.

Personal Transformation

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18

How does transformation actually occur? Many of us long for it but do we actually know how it happens. After years of discipling and counselling people through the process of transformation, I believe it happens best in 3 spheres.

Call to Personal Obedience – Often we are quick to try and resolve external circumstances rather than dealing with root causes. This is merely a band-aid attempt to deal with symptoms rather than the underlying issue in our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Guard your heart, for out of it flow the springs of life.’ Change is more than a white-knuckled attempt to take responsibility for external circumstances. A complete change of heart is required. One of the first steps to a change of heart is answering the call to obey the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our personal relationship with God.

Call to living in a community of grace and truth – This is where the church comes in. A healthy church isn’t just marked by acceptance and affirmation but accountability. Jesus came not just in grace but in truth (Jn 1:14). Grace only isn’t complete without truth. We must speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). It’s only when we confront the truth about ourselves in a grace filled environment that change is made possible.

Call to a lifestyle of reflection – This third sphere is characterised by daily spiritual disciplines. These include prayer, fasting, solitude, worship, bible study, reading, silence and journalling. Guard against compartmentalising your spiritual life from the rest of your life. A Grecian mechanistic worldview isolates reflection to a ‘quiet time’ but God is central to everything in life, not peripheral to the busyness of our lives. Do you have a prayer time or a life of prayer? There’s a big difference.

All 3 of these transformation spheres need to be held in tension with each other for deep personal change to occur. To the degree we are personally transformed will be the degree to which those we serve are transformed.

Grace!

Transformation is a Journey, not a Destination!

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (of Christ) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

We have become very good at approaching life in linear form and with fixed points in mind but God has designed life as a journey, not a destination. From God’s perspective, the quickest way forward from where we are now, to where he wants us to be isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes it’s full of twists and turns.

Never more is this true than in spiritual transformation. The journey of our transformation can be rough. We are challenged, lovingly confronted, tested, exhorted, encouraged, edified and comforted. Everything is about movement and momentum. Before we can become constantly victorious, we have to become the biggest loser. We have to learn to lay aside weight and encumbrance. We must say ‘no’ to what would entangle us and learn to run with endurance the race that has been chosen for us (Hebrews 12:1).

In all of His dealings with us, the Holy Spirit has to overcome the flesh and establish Christ. We are babies, children and rebellious teenagers before we become fully mature in Christ. There are many memories, hurts, wounds and betrayals that require new health and wholeness. There are sin habits, personality problems, fears, doubts and unbelief to overcome. A spiritual mindset that is not rooted in logic, rationale or reason must be established. The supernatural over the natural lifestyle must be developed or high levels of trust, faith and power are simply not possible.

So here’s a couple of questions to consider today: What part of your life is under conviction from the Holy Spirit at this time? And what Scriptures is He using to support the change He wishes to introduce? If you don’t have any, search the Scriptures and ask God to reveal to you some personal promises and prophecies that will be released to you to help you embrace change joyfully.

Insight!