Change: From Which direction?
Message No. 0683 | Twitter @GodandUs | www.wisdom-speaks.ca
The Bible describes very well the group of religious leaders called the Pharisees. From the outside, they look pure, observing all aspects of the Torah. They walk in majesty and appear in flowing gowns with appropriate hats to command the respect of everyone around. They could do no wrong as far as the law is concerned. Look at how Paul, who was a Pharisee before his conversion, described himself in Philippians 3:5-6:
circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless
The Pharisee Paul looked good on the outside and had many accolades to show off his outward credentials, but he was a wicked man in the eyes of the living God, persecuting and killing believers until he was rescued from his inner demons and his life surrendered to the only Person who could change him from the inside.
When the Bible says be ye holy for I the Lord your God I am holy, it does not mean holiness shown by outward appearance; this could be part of it, but this is not the driving force. It is not by walking gently and looking very humble so people think you cannot hurt a fly, when in actual fact, the inward man is cruel and dirty and dangerous and evil. Of course, we might be able to deceive a few people around us, but God cannot be deceived.
Sometimes when an organization is looking for change, they bring in people from the outside. The thinking is that people coming from outside have not been exposed to the culture of the organization and might be able to bring new ideas that would, with the backing of the board of directors, force a change. However, changing an organization is not the same as changing an individual. An individual must first change from the inside before we can see a reflection of the change on the outside.
Often when young people are at the age of marriage, they are looking for the outward parts: the lady must be beautiful, well dressed so I am proud to show her to my friends, and the guy must be handsome, tall and have good money so he can take care of my needs, and so on. While these things are good, people sometimes overlook the inside. I am sometimes surprised when, at the period of dating, a guy is already showing signs of aggression and abusive behavior, but the lady stays with him and defends him before her inquisitive but loving friends: “oh, it was a mistake; the guy says he will not do it again and I believe him.”
An adage says it’s not everything that shines that is gold. If a guy is already showing abusive signs while dating and the lady is blinded by other outward things and refuses to advise herself, there’s only one conclusion: the lady is signing up for hell on earth or the marriage might not last beyond months. Even then, in the US alone, several people are killed on monthly basis by their ex-lovers. If you’re looking for your own spouse, you need to pray fervently and open your inner eyes and remember that the Bible says you should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).
There’s a reason why John the Baptist called the Pharisees who came to his crusade “brood of vipers;” he knew them well and knew they were not ready to change, so he challenged them to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance,” in other words, let’s see if you have really changed from the inside and do not come to bamboozle us with those outward appearances. In one of His encounters with the Pharisees in Matthew 12:33-35, Jesus summarized his message to them as follows:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
A meaningful change must come from the inside. This is the reason why repentance comes from the heart: if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Don’t just believe what you hear from the outside or the performance you see, until you can feel a change from the inside. An American president once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” On our own parts, we need to examine ourselves by asking: have we really changed and can the people around us feel it?
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PLEASE ACT NOW: If you are yet to give your life to Christ, you do not have a covenant with God and His promises do not apply to you. To come under these promises, please surrender your life to Christ today, by praying this prayer: Lord I know that I am a sinner and I am unable to save myself. I am sorry for my sins and I pray that you please forgive me. I am aware that Your Son Jesus died for my sins and I accept Him as my Lord and savior. I surrender my life unto you from this moment. Please take control of my entire being and help me to be obedient to your Word, going forward. Thank you, Lord, for hearing me. I have prayed in Jesus’ name. Amen. If you prayed the foregoing prayer, you have just been born again. Please find a Bible believing church in your area and ask to see the pastor. Let him or her know that you have just given your life to Christ and s/he will guide you on next steps in your journey as a child of God. The Lord bless you!