Borrowed Truths

Have You Changed Much

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Borrowed Truths

Have You Changed Much

There is a man that I have known for many years who enjoys going fishing, actually I would have to say that he is addicted to fishing. I have known him since grade school, and though I would not consider him a close friend, he is an acquaintance that can generally be counted on, for the most part, when something comes up that I need assistance with, unless of course he’s out fishing, or getting ready to go fishing, or thinking about going fishing. Several years ago this man started to attend one of the local churches and over time made a profession of Christ, but his continued attendance is rather hit-or-miss because of, you guessed it, his fishing. I asked him one time if he took his Bible along with him on one of the many fishing tournaments that he enters. “No, there’s really no time for that, I’m up early to get on the water, get back late, and then there’s the meals after and of course a lot of time telling the fish stories, besides” he replied, “I’m just as close to God out on the water as I am in Church.” Has he changed much, is he becoming a “fisher of men?”  (Matt. 4:19)

There is a younger couple in church on a fairly regular basis, he has been employed at a local manufacturing plant since leaving high school early, she works as a maid at one of the motels out on the highway and their three small children attend one of the local schools. They both hold positions of accountability within the church, he on two of the committees, even reading the Sunday morning bulletin occasionally, while she assists with the pre-school children before the service begins. Many Sundays the downturned faces of their children and their almost whipped demeaners are noticed by some, but never questioned or brought up. Although the man shows a jovial side to those around him, there is an underlying tone about him, almost menacing, and his name appears in the newspaper frequently for aggressive behavior. It is difficult to miss the looks and glances that the woman shares with another man in the morning service, a man who is also married, and who’s vehicle can be spotted at the motel she is employed at while she is working. Have they changed much? Is he loving his wife as commanded, (Eph. 5:25) does she remind you of the woman in Proverbs, Chapter 5.

There is a small business in town that employs four or five people, depending on the season. The man that owns this particular business purchased it from the previous owner almost thirty-five years ago. He has attended the same church for nearly the same amount of time, beginning his regular attendance just a few months after the purchase of the business. Very rarely does he miss a Sunday morning, and even regularly attends the Thursday evening men’s Bible study. He is a well respected member of the community, has been on the city council for the last five years, and attends nearly all of the functions at the local country club, and most generally he can still drive himself home afterwards, but not always. This man does not believe it is right to mix business with “religious” conversation while at work, yet he seems to have no problem whatsoever bringing up business talk at church with whomever will listen. Last year he ‘let go’ of one of his employees, a young high school girl who had been employed there over part of the summer, for he felt that she was spending too much time talking with people who entered his business about Jesus. His response was, “this is a business, not a church.” “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed…” (Luke 12:2) How has he changed?

There is not enough paper and ink on this planet to recount all of these types of incidents, and I am sure that you can recall just as many as I can, but there is one thing I can assure you of my friends, God is keeping an account. Read Romans 12:2 and think to yourself, just what exactly does this verse mean. In the simplest terminology, to conform means ‘ to be like,’ to fit into the worlds thinking, it’s ideology of what is acceptable within the constructs of the thoughts and actions that are morally acceptable within the particular geographical area of this planet that you live in. When you give any real thought to it, it is an impossible task, for even though what will put in jail in one area, and leave you a free man in another, you will never be able to conform to what everyone around you thinks you should be, and if you continue to try, you will continue to fall deeper into the trap that Satan has set for thousands of years, an evil, enticing deceit that has tricked hundreds of millions since the beginning of time.

If you conform to the world, people will like you, you will be accepted by them for you are just like them, you pose no real threat to their idea of morality, you accept them as they are with no desire to change them or interfere with the current path they have chosen for their life, and after all, it’s their life and you have no right to say whether it is right or wrong, as long as it does not interfere with your life. “Be like us, or you won’t fit in.” Those that are willingly conforming to this world are spiritually dead, (2nd Thess. 1:9) and although the “invisible things of God are clearly seen,” (Rom. 1:20) Satan has blinded their minds. (2nd Cor. 4:4)

For those who are truly saved by Grace through faith though, (Eph. 2:8) our minds are being transformed. To be transformed means to be changed into something different, something that is not recognizable as  what we once were, and this takes time, for we are a stubborn people. This does not mean that we do not desire to have our Lord change us into the image of His Son, for we want little else but this, but change, being transformed, does not only mean leaving behind the past before Christ, but forgetting what we once were, (Phil. 3:13) even despising the memory of it. Christians, with the prodding of the Holy Spirit, become very good at ‘burning their bridges’ of their past before Christ but never forgetting the Grace which they have been eternally blessed with. God does not leave a void in us, as it were, for he assists us in ‘throwing out the trash’ of our lives before Him and filling us with the knowledge of Himself in its place.

To renew our mind does not suggest that we shuffle who we used to be before He called and sanctified us off to the side to be pulled back into our lives when we desire. This “old man,” (Col. 3:9) this part of our self must die, be buried and never recollected as to who we are in Christ ever again. I do not know if you have ever experienced the stench of a dead, rotting corpse before, but let me assure you, this is who our Lord wants us to see who we used to be before Him, and the sin that enveloped us. In His great mercy he is renewing our minds to be conformed into the image of His Son, (Rom. 8:29) and in His love for us he has blessed us with an indispensable gift in this area, patience.

We want to hold on at times to that old man we used to be, for we want to be liked, we want to fit in with those we once spent much time with, but those we have left behind to follow our Lord will never see us as the same person they once knew, if we are obedient to His will. Change can be a frightening thing, but His love upholds us. Trust in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, for His promises are true, and He is faithful that has promised.

There is much unrighteousness and sin in this world, but the longer you are saved, the more your desire to submit to the leading of the Lord will increase, and the more in turn will He sanctify you from this world into His. The desire to “press toward the mark” will grow in you day by day by His wonderful provisions, and when you see the face of our Lord and Savior, our wonderful redeemer Jesus Christ for the first time, you will know that everything He asked of you was well worth the price you paid for remaining faithful, and that counting all before Him as loss was actually a joy.

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