Now at the flipping of the calendar to a New Year, all around us the marketing has begun to sell us a new diet plan, a book on how to be a better you, a program to get you out of debt, or a plan to get you a house on a cul-de-sac (country boys call it a dead-end). Some of that you may need but…
It seems that many Christian ministers and authors are buying into the “better you” approach. Yes, Jesus will change our lives for the better, but do we need a better you or a new you? I’m not trying to be critical, but I want you to look a little deeper.
Jesus didn’t die on a cross so I could be a better me. I needed a spiritual overhaul. In earlier times, we used the term as Jesus used with Nicodemus, the term, “born again”. In full context Jesus told him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NKJV).
In our present age, we are all about inviting Jesus into our heart, like He is an add-on to what’s already there. Yes, He does come in and He is not intimidated by the worst of sinners. When He comes in, He doesn’t come to bless your mess but to change the mess.
When it comes to ministry, I understand we like to put our best foot forward and appeal to people, but we are not selling a product or a program. Life in Jesus is not a product or a system to be marketed. The biblical Christian message is quite harsh to carnal ears. I think too often we have tried to make it a ‘Dale Carnegie’ book on “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The Christian message is one of dying to self and living in the Spirit to God.
The Apostle Paul said it like this in Galatians 2:20 (NKJV), “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
The old man is crucified, and a new man is resurrected. It takes more than signing a card and a head nod. There must be a spiritual heart-quake where man become acutely aware of his sinfulness and the remedy for his sin is only the crucified and resurrected Christ.
We do not have to pay penance or shed a set number of tears to be born again but there must be an inner spiritual renewal that is only accomplished by God on behalf of a repentant, truly believing, and surrendered person.
Have we traded the spiritual rebirth for a ‘sinner-makeover’? Or traded a total renovation for a fresh coat of paint on rotten wood? Perhaps, that may be why some churches are impotent and some church members are just as worldly as their unchurched neighbors down the road.
Listen to the words of Jesus, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me./ For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV).
Just as a fad diet will not keep the pounds off like a lifestyle change, neither will a mental agreement to the claims of Christ make you into a new person. You must be changed from the inside out by the Spirit of God that results in a Christ-likeness life.
God’s desire is not an improved you, His will is a new you. That new you is only accomplished by a spiritual renewal that comes about by a spiritual crucifixion of the old man and a spiritual resurrection of the new man.
An improved you or a new you? By reading this, you may be off-put or even defiant to my claims. It is my responsibility to tell you. It is not in my power to convince you. Then I pray for your heart to be open and Christ to be revealed to you. Maybe another day…
An improved you or a new you? By reading this, you may be cut to the heart and feel the weight of your sin and the pull of God on your heart. Today is your day! Pour your soul out to God, believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, repent of your sins, accept Jesus into your life, and ask Him to change you from the inside out. Thank Him for saving you from sin, Hell, and yourself.
Welcome to the Family of God and the sure Hope of Heaven.
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt