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Jul 12 2011

Choosing to Change

Look at Romans 6:10, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all. But the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Some Bible teachers argue that change is all about God and not about us at all. All we really need to do in order to experience the transforming power of the Gospel, they say, is lean back in our recliners, put our feet up, and let God do it all. Now hear this: That is not what the Bible teaches! Of course we need God’s help, but we cannot be changed without making the choice to change ourselves. Notice Paul’s command in Romans 6:12: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” What’s that if it’s not a choice?! Do not let sin reign in you! Make a choice.

“Well, sin has been ruling my life,” you say. Listen; it doesn’t have to. Don’t let it; make a choice. The power of sin is unplugged—don’t plug it in. Don’t let it rule you.

The next time temptation steps up to you and says, “Do it! Go ahead, do it! Go ahead,” just answer: “Get off me! You are not in charge! Shut up! Stop bossing me around. Don’t tell me what to do! I’m not that person anymore! I’m a new creation in Christ!” That’s what Paul meant when he said, “Don’t let sin reign.”

Get involved! Choose to change! With your commitment and God’s help, you can.

Maybe you’re saying “Well, how do I choose? Teach me how to choose. I want to choose.” Here’s a neat little story my mom gave to me, called “Choosing to Change in Five Days.” I don’t know the source, but it’s helped me out of a few “holes” in my life.

Day 1: I went for a walk down a street. I fell into a hole. I didn’t see it. It took me a long time to get out. It’s not my fault.
Day 2: I went for a walk down the same street. I fell in the same hole. It took me a long time to get out. Why did I do that?
Day 3: I went for a walk down the same street. I fell in the same hole. I got out quickly. It is my fault.
Day 4: I went for a walk down the same street. I saw the hole. I walked around it.
Day 5: I went for a walk down a different street. I can’t handle it when I go down that street. Every time I go down that street, I feel something sucking me down that hole! I’m not going down that street anymore! I don’t like what happens on that street. And when I get there, I can’t handle it. I don’t want sin to reign in my body so I’m not going down that street anymore.

Living for God is day by day. Choose it.

Read comments:

  • Ellen BellJul.12.2011

    Thanks, James–an important focus when there are so many who are embracing some ungodly modes of behavior for fear of being accused of being “legalistic”. What is very troubling to me today is seeing and hearing “legalism” being thrown at those who are zealous to obey God. I have heard it from a number of young (and many who are old enough to know better) Christians. They often seem to feel that they have been quite damaged by the “legalism” of those in the church who are senior to them.

  • WilliamJul.12.2011

    I like to put it this way, “We have to be willing participants in our sanctification.” God works in us. If we fight Him, we lose out.

  • Glenn B. SmithJul.12.2011

    God hates sin as evidenced in His punishment for it both past and future (Genesis 3:15-18, Genesis 6 & 9, 2 Peter 2:4-9). As disciples of Jesus Christ we ought to hate our personal sin in the same manner. I think your ‘story’ illustrates the manifestation of such a righteous hatred, the choice to change that you refer to, which begins with a hatred of temptation (recognizing the street needs to be avoided). In your example the hole is the sin… the street is the temptation. Rather than speaking about choosing not to sin (not to fall in the hole) we ought to focus our diligence (single mindedness) in recognizing / hating (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) temptation and before our brethren, the church, be honest about the ‘streets’ we need to hate / choose to avoid. Christ in me will be seen and glorified by my diligence in those choices, rather than elevating the end (avoiding sin) over the means (hating temptation).

  • WesleyJul.12.2011

    James –
    this is just money bro – thanks for posting. In my own struggles against the life lived according to the flesh, i found Prov. 1:15-16 particularly convicting as well: “my son, do not walk in the way with them;
    hold back your foot from their paths,
    16 for their feet run to evil,
    and they make haste to shed blood.” How often have i not only fallen into that hole but RUN full speed into it. I feel Paul so much in Rom. 7 “wretched man that i am, who will save me from this body of death?” The Answer: thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!
    This “hole” story is really helpful. May we all begin with actually hating the hole – b/c i think some of us need to even start there – and love Christ more than our flesh. Amen.

    Estela Reply:

    I agree, the hole story is very helpful. I need 2 avoid the street all together…thank U for posting this story the image of the hole as sin and the street as the temptaion itself helps me 2 understand even better. Blessed 2 be able 2 benefit from your ministry Pastor James, God’s blessings 2 you and your fam.

  • RobinJul.14.2011

    Just wanted to say what a blessing it is to watch your sermons online. Thank you!

  • Choosing to Change – Vertical Church | Ministry Resources for … « Feeds « Church LeadershipJul.14.2011

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  • AndyJul.15.2011

    Good teaching Pastor James. I’ve found it beneficial not only for temptations but also in my dealings with a few situations lately. Those holes we can fall in can also be the way we approach things or issues in our lives. Your series on choices really brings this home.

  • SusanJul.17.2011

    Phil. 2:13 “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

    The “choice” is to surrender and accept Christ. We of ourselves cannot simply choose to be sinless. That said, we do have many choices on a daily basis that must be made from a biblical perspective so we must be studying daily and constantly in prayer and surrendered to Christ.

  • Andrew StroudJul.20.2011

    Pastor James,

    I am a 19 year old Bible college student training for pastoral ministry. Your teaching has been incredibly impacting in my life and has drawn me closer to the God of the Word through your faithful preaching of the Word of God.

    I seem to get stuck on “Day 3″ quite often. Whether it is sins of my mind or mouth, I struggle to get past the “quick sins” of daily life. It’s hard. But I hope that, by God’s grace, I am committed to obeying Him through the freedom I have in Christ.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts here–God has spoken encouragement and conviction to me through your words here! May God richly bless you, Pastor, and your ministry!

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