Colossians 3: 9

Do not lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices.

This third chapter of Colossians is Paul’s instruction regarding how one’s life changes after accepting Christ. The context is dying to the old self and putting on the new self which is in the image of Jesus. Within that context Paul wrote identifying those things which are part of the old life, the dead life, if you will. He also contrasts those dead things with the characteristics which accrue to the new life in Christ. We have been stripped of that old person with its dead, corrupt ways and lying is one of the traits which must be buried.

It is not a surprise that lying is one of the old dead habits of an unregenerate soul. If asked, most people, even non-believers would identify lying as an undesirable trait. However, if you listen to unguarded talk and watch the actual behaviors of people, you will very likely conclude that lying is not as abhorrent in actual practice as it is philosophically. In fact, I believe you will discover that lying is actually acceptable in many circles, especially in certain circumstances.

My purpose in writing about this today is to suggest that there is no such thing as an innocent lie. Clearly Paul’s teaching leads to this conclusion. Additionally, Jesus’ teachings are definitive in this regard. There is no such thing as a white lie. They are all black, ugly, and destructive. It is not acceptable to lie and then say, “Oh, I was just kidding.” Truth is a value, and a necessary Christian value.

Having written all this, I readily admit that I am preaching to the choir. You are the people who already know this and who model Jesus’ truths. However, we need to extend our reach. We need to encourage one another. Telling the truth isn’t always convenient and sometimes there are consequences we wish not to face. None the less, God always knows when we lie and lying in His face is an even greater consequence. So you might be the person who needs to help someone else tell the truth when it is uncomfortable to do so. You are also teachers and leaders and so you have a voice which influences others. As we influence others, we all need to encourage, and teach people to speak truths. Teach, train and expect others to value truth too.

Do not lie to one another because that is part of the old self which is supposed to have died and been buried. We have been raised up with Christ and are putting on the new self, which is redeemed in his blood and reflected as an image of his character. Strength, truth and grace to you today!

Help! I’m Dying

Romans 12: 2

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

What is a Christian? At one level it is a very easy question to answer. At another level, we believe there is more to being a Christian than merely our beliefs and our confession. I have heard more than one person say of another Christian, “He/she isn’t much of a Christian.” I think what people mean by this is that there are behavioral aspects that we expect of Christians and, unfortunately, sometimes we don’t measure up. Face it, we don’t even measure up to our own expectations. Changing our behaviors is difficult, but I have good news today. We have failed in changing ourselves because we have gone about it the wrong way, but we can alter our course and our method today.

Most of us first attempt to change through the force of our will. Willpower, though, can only get us so far. No, the way to go isn’t actually through changing our habits and behaviors at all. The successful path is through Romans 12: 2. It is not a matter of will but of transformation. It turns out that what makes a Christian is the surrender to transformation. It is humility. As we humble ourselves to the Lord Jesus, he is able to cause the caterpillar we are to transform into the butterfly we were created to be.

This level of humility, however, is not for cowards. It turns out that submitting our will to Jesus is one of the hardest things we will ever do. We don’t want to die to self. Our natural inclination is to elevate and promote self. When people talk of dying to self, if they have gone through the process themselves, they know that the word “die” is appropriate. It is a death and therefore not easy. This level of humility is not easy either. However, this is what it means to be a Christian. This is the crux of the Christian walk. It is when we set aside what we want for ourselves and our lives in favor of what Jesus commands.

How willing are you to be commanded by anyone? How easy, or difficult, is it for you to take orders or even direction? If we truly believe Jesus is Lord, then we are to obey him. That can be a tough pill to swallow. This is true Christianity. It is the death of me as an individual even as, in Jesus, I am resurrected in grace.

Humility is not a popular concept these days.  Nonetheless, let this be a call to radical humility in Christ Jesus who is Lord. Assist us Lord as we cry, “Help me Lord, I’m dying.” Show us your power in grace and mercy as we humble ourselves to your transformative process in our souls. Lead us in your way and show us your glory as we humbly submit to your divine makeover. Let your blanket of calming anointing settle on us as you bless us with your presence. Amen.

Divine Design

Romans 12: 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We looked quite a bit last week at what God has to say about acceptance and in a nutshell it is that you are accepted in His sight. He said, Himself, that He has not rejected you. That is such an important truth for us to receive. Truly, we cannot give away what we have yet to receive. So, if you see a person who is critical and judgmental it may just be that they have yet to receive the acceptance and love of God for themselves.

There is a commercial running on television right now from Time-Warner cable where a motivational speaker challenges people about change. He tells them that they can change and asks if they want to, to which everyone resoundingly replies, “Yes!” Well, as I listened to the commercial I heard another message come right up out of my spirit. What I heard is that God has not called us to change. First of all, He loves you without you changing. Second, what He has given us is transformation. 

Transformation is not something we do; it is something we allow God to do within us by cooperating with His Spirit. We are transformed by God and the Holy Spirit through the renewal of our minds. We are not asked to change from who we are to someone else. No, we are only being transformed into the fullness of who we are in Christ. This transformation is more akin to the metamorphoses of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The essence of the butterfly was always in the caterpillar. He doesn’t have try not to be himself. He just grows up into the fullness of who he was always destined to be. 

Like the caterpillar, in every one of us is a butterfly. We have only to enter our chrysalis and allow the butterfly to emerge. This is the transformational process which our beloved Father has given us. We are not the authors of change, we are not transformational engineers. God has already put butterfly DNA in the caterpillar. He has created and put in the caterpillar the process for fulfilling its destiny. Truly, we are more important to Him that a butterfly. He wouldn’t abandon us and task us with the responsibility of change when He has so carefully designed the butterfly and it’s growth phases.

God has given us a chrysalis into which we can cocoon ourselves too. He has prepared a process by which He brings us into the fullness of our Divine Design. Through the renewal of our minds, we are transformed into the very likeness of Jesus. You will be the version of you which is so apparently a sibling to Jesus himself. I like to call this fulfilled you the Jesus you. So you may be Jesus Scott or Jesus Mary. You are of the same DNA as Jesus. When you took on the New Birth which is wrought in his blood and his glory, you became genetically tied to Jesus. There is a glorified you. This is who God sees every time He looks at you. Now, in order for you to live the fulfillment of who you are in Christ you must renew your mind to the Word of God. When you do, you will find that you think like God. You will begin to feel the things God feels and you will even react to events the way God does. The renewal of your mind washes out the worldly way of thinking that we were all indoctrinated in and replaces it with God thoughts and yes, you really can think the way God thinks. It is amazing and glorious and you were meant to live this way – to live an anointed life.

So, here is your part. Renew your mind by reading God’s Word. It really is that easy. Meditate on what you read. Let it seep into your own thoughts and consciousness. Allow God’s Word and God’s thoughts to become integrated with your own. You will find that as you do this you will begin to develop wings. You will emerge from your own chrysalis a glorified, emancipated child of the Most High with wings as eagles. Go soak in the glory of God’s Word, let Him pour his DNA into every cell of your being and then spread your wings and soar. You are His beautiful child, created in His image. Don’t try to change just be transformed, by the renewing of your mind.

The Power to Change

Romans 12: 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I was driving today when this verse popped in my mind. The thought that came with it was that we are not to transform ourselves but rather to allow ourselves to be transformed. Look at this verse from the Good News Bible: “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” You see, we are not in charge of changing ourselves. We can’t. We haven’t the power to change but God can transform us into the beautiful image of us that He sees when He looks at us. 

Did you know that when God looks at you He sees the butterfly rather than the caterpillar? He sees you beautiful, glorious and when we spend time with Him His perception of us begins to rub off on us. Jesus is truth and God, our Father, has sent truth into the world to free us from every bondage, even the one of having to change ourselves into something worthy of love or of acceptance. You are already perfect. Jesus made you so. Okay, so sometimes the old man inhibits the full expression of that perfect creation within us but that outward expression does not change truth.

I tried for years and years to change myself and I was never successful but then the hand of Jesus touched me and through his love and acceptance I began to manifest the new person that he created within me. Okay, sure, I am far from the perfect expression of his love inside of me but if you knew the old me you would see the miracle of his grace at work. 

We can have the very best intentions and us the force of our will but the truth is that we just do not have the power to change ourselves. Without Jesus I can do no thing but with him all things are possible. That is why this verse does not tell us to transform ourselves or to change but rather to “be transformed.” This is the state of being rather than doing. In other words, allow yourself to be changed which is done through the renewing of your mind. Renew your mind with God’s thoughts, with His wisdom and that will transform you. Allow Him to shine the light of His love on you and you will change. God’s love, His truth are the forces which created the earth and everything in it. So, when we allow that love and the truth to touch our hearts and minds we, then, are just naturally and comfortably transformed into the lovely person we were created to be. It is a matter of allowing Him to be God, allowing Him to minister His love and acceptance to you.

The hard part of this is that you have to open your heart and allow God in. You also have to give your mind the food of renewal. What is that? It is the Word of God. The Word has transformative power in it because it is truth. The easy part is that God does all of the transformative work and it is painless because His transformation tool is love. When you really discover that you are not damaged goods, then you will no longer fear God seeing the real you. You won’t feel the need to hide anymore. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you. He even knows the person inside of you that you have not allowed to manifest yet. 

Won’t you let Jesus touch your heart and allow God to minister His great love to you? If you will open your heart and mind you will find that you never again need worry about changing. His touch will bring out the beautiful you that everyone else knows is in there. Allow yourself to “be” transformed. Renew your mind and allow love to have its perfect work.