walk in the word
Have you ever seen those crazy TV stunt shows where people jump off buildings, swallow fire, wrestle wild animals, and so on? Inevitably, you will hear a disclaimer something like this: “Now kids, these stunt men and women are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home!” I always laugh when I hear that, wondering to myself, “What kind of maniac would ever try to copy a stunt like one of those?”
I was thinking about this not too long ago as I was reading 1 Thessalonians 5. There, right in the middle of the chapter, is a pretty exhaustive list of dos and don’ts for Christians: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks . . . do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophecies . . . examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (verses 16-22). You see a catalog list like that and you start to tell yourself, “There is no way I can get all of this stuff done!”
But the apostle Paul doesn’t end there. He concludes the list with a sort of “now kids, don’t try this at home” caution. In the next two verses he writes, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you . . . Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” In other words, God doesn’t call you to do it on your own; rather, He will do it if you will just move out of the way.
Just as a person cannot come to Christ until he comes to the end of himself, so you cannot experience the power necessary to change until you are done with your own efforts. Christ has made no provision for you—on your own—to live the Christian life. Sure, we can get knowledge and understanding, and of course we can serve and worship and walk with Him. But we have no power, no personal strength to resource that kind of obedience. Zero! Nothing!
Until we recognize and embrace this truth, we will inevitably fail in the process of change. The only true resource—the only power for lasting transformation—is Christ in me. Galatians 2:20 is a classic New Testament passage on this truth: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” There’s the power for change in a nutshell.
As you study the New Testament with this truth in mind, it will amaze you how many descriptions of what Christians are supposed to be doing are followed or preceded by that warning—in essence, “now kids, don’t try this at home.” That’s the exchanged life, where we allow Christ to live His life through us. Do it today, and watch Him make you into the man or woman that He would have you to be.
If you would like to do some further study on the exchanged life, take a look at John 15:1-5; Romans 5:10; 6:5; 8:10; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 4:10; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27; 2:6; 3:3.
brought to you by change partners