Have you ever known someone who has turned a complete 180 degrees in his or her life? Maybe you're one of those people. I am. As my friends and I were talking about how we've all changed, one friend admitted that he would never have believed that the guy I was two years ago would be who I am now. In another conversation, another friend has also said the same thing. It's true; I'm completely different than I was two years ago. As I look back on how I've changed throughout time, I have to smile as I can now see God's guidance, His timing, and His wisdom. And looking at who I am now, I'm humbled to see how different I am from the spoiled, angry, selfish, foolish fourteen year old that I used to be.
In Ephesians 4:17-24, Paul writes about why it's important to change from a sinner to a child of God. He writes, "17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed... 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
If that doesn't make much sense, I've broken it down:
v.17 - Our thinking must no longer be futile
v.18 - The ignorance of the Gentiles (the Godless) made them calloused, blind, and separated from God
v.19 - They (the Gentiles) gave themselves over to impurity and lust
v.22 - Put off the old self, which is corrupted
v.23 - Let your minds be made new
v.24 - Put on the new self, which is created to be like God
Can you see what Paul is saying? He begins his message by telling us to stop wasting our minds and to put them to good use, that use being to use our minds for God. Then, he gives us an example to not follow. He's saying, "You don't want to be like these guys, do you? Their hearts are hardened, they cannot see the Truth, and they are inflamed with a continual lust, a desire that will never be satisfied! What kind of life is that?"
Then he warns us to shed our old self, because that self is corrupted. It's like when your computer gets a nasty virus and you have to buy a new computer. Just as you won't keep using the corrupted computer because it won't work anywhere near as well as a new one would, you won't keep living as your old self, your sinful self, your corrupted self, when you're living for God. Allow yourself to be changed, to be renewed, to be made like Him.
I posted two weeks ago about finding God's will (What Is And Isn't God's Will?), and one of the Scriptures I shared was Romans 12:2, which says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." If you're trying to figure out where God wants you to go to college, or if you want to know if the man you love is the one God has picked out for you, or if you want to know how to be a good, Godly father of your newborn, or if you're trying to start a God-movement at your school, you won't be successful unless you've been changed. One of the biggest reasons why it's important for us to be renewed is because we can't serve Him as our old selves. We won't be efficient workers, effective world-changers, or emit-ers of God's light.
As I recently shared in my post Time Wasted In Sin, I shared that I was tired of sinning because when I sin, I felt less able to help others. When I have to spend time repenting and feeling guilty, I lose time that I should've spent reading my Bible, blogging, praying for others, or preparing sermons. I'm just tired of sinning because sin sucks away my time and my mind, and I can't afford to lose either of those things. And what's cool about change is that it's an on-going process. We'll never reach perfection on earth, but as long as we live in the new self, He will always be guiding us, teaching us, changing us. When we're letting God change us and renew us, He is using His hands to mold and shape us into His design, a design personally made for each and every one of us. I don't know about you, but I'd rather live life in the Father's arms than in the dark tentacles of sin.
Follow Paul's call the change. Allow your mind to be renewed. Don't waste any more life as a dead man. Let Christ give you life.