"I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again."
- Philippians 1:6 NLT
I know what it's like to want to change so badly that it hurts. Many times I have prayed through bitter tears, "Lord, please change me. I don't want to be like this." That's why, when people write me and ask my advice about how they can change and become all that God created them to be, I can relate to their struggles, and I share with them some things that have helped me in this area.
First of all, we not only have to WANT to change, but we have to believe that we actually CAN change, with God's help. This is how we begin the process of cooperating with the Lord for our transformation. Secondly, confession and repentance can lead to change. The apostle John wrote, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NKJV) As we agree with God that what we did was wrong, and as we humbly seek His forgiveness, He begins the process of cleansing us and giving us a fresh beginning. Sometimes, the Lord will lead us to share our struggles with a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ, and to ask them to intercede for us. As the Scripture says: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16 NLT) This can be an effective way to bring certain sins out of the darkness, which is the devil's domain, and into the light, where Jesus and His healing can be found.
Heartfelt, persistent prayer can change us, too. And I have discovered that some of the most powerful prayers are those found in the Scriptures. David prayed: "Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You." (Psalm 51:10,12 TLB) Holy-Spirit-inspired petitions like these, when prayed in faith and sincerity, are destined to be answered. We have God's assurance of this in 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV), which says--"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him." I find it very helpful to make Scripture-based declarations of faith regularly. Whenever I begin to feel guilty or condemned, even after I've confessed and repented for my sins, I like to say, "Thank you, Lord, that You've begun a good work in me, and You'll continue it until the day of Jesus Christ!" (Philippians 1:6 NLT) This reminds me that God will never give up on me, and He will never stop molding me into the image of His Son. Another faith-building declaration that I make daily is, "God is working in me both to WILL and to DO His good pleasure!" (Philippians 2:13 NKJV) The Lord is not only committed to helping me obey Him, but He is continually giving me the desire to do what pleases Him most. That's why the longer we walk with God, and the more we invest in our relationship with Him, the more sin loses its appeal.
Another important key to cooperating with God for our transformation is devoting ourselves to the Word of God. Psalm 119:11 (AMP) says, "Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You." We "lay up" God's Word in our hearts when we listen intently to good preaching and teaching, and when we read, study, and meditate on the Scriptures. The apostle Paul said that the Word of God sanctifies and cleanses us. (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV) Clearly, "God's Word is an indispensable weapon" against the forces of darkness, and all that would keep us from becoming more like Christ. (Ephesians 6:17 MSG) You and I CAN change, and the Lord is more than willing and able to help us, if we'll just do our part.
Prayer: Lord, today I surrender myself anew to Your plans and purposes for my life. I know that it's Your desire for me to be like Jesus, and it's the desire of my heart, too. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit. And help me to do whatever it is I need to do to be all that You want me to be, to do all that You want me to do, and to have all that You want me to have--in this life, and in the next!
- J. M. Farro