How Has Christ Changed You?
By Nathele Graham
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24. David loved God. He was known as a man after God’s own heart, not because he was perfect but because his desire was to please God. When David sinned he didn’t make excuses but he repented and asked God to forgive him. Two lessons that every Christian can learn from David are repentance and the desire for God to show us where we need to change our thoughts and attitudes. David didn’t wait until he saw a problem in his own ways, but he asked God to search him and lead him away from sin. Our desire to please God should be stronger than our desire to please the world. Jesus will help us all change and become more like Him. He met many people when He walked among men and He changed many lives Today, He still changes lives.
Peter and Andrew were the first ones called to follow Jesus. These men made their living as fishermen and probably weren’t very refined. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18-19. They left their nets and followed Jesus and Jesus would drastically change their lives. As they walked they came to a boat with two more brothers who were fishermen and their father. James and John didn’t hesitate to follow Jesus when He called to them. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were young men who had a lot to learn about following Jesus, but our Lord would help them to grow strong in faith. We might think that the disciples were unique men who were gentle and sat quietly at Jesus’ feet in order to learn all they could. This image is shattered when we learn the nickname that Jesus gave to James and John. “And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder” Mark 3:17. They earned this nickname. It was James and John who asked if Jesus wanted them to get revenge on the Samaritans who would not receive Him. “…Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” Luke 9:54b. Jesus rebuked them for this, but it’s a little amusing that they were arrogant and presumptuous enough to think they could call down fire from heaven on behalf of Jesus. When we first come to Jesus we’re all a little rough around the edges. If we love Him and desire to please Him we will allow Him to search our hearts and help us to change into the Christian He wants us to be.
A person may take part in sin for many years. That sin may bring in much wealth, but the price of sin is steep. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul.” Matthew 16:26. When Jesus walked among men, tax collectors weren’t known for their honesty. They had lots of money but were outcasts among the Jewish people because they worked for Rome. They also were known to collect money over and above the tax and that money went into their own pockets. Matthew was a tax collector. Was he tired of the way his life was going and the burden of sin it created? Jesus saw Matthew and called him to leave his worldly way of life. Matthew didn’t hesitate. “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.” Matthew 9:9. Just like that his life was changed. Matthew was a faithful follower of Jesus and because he wrote the Gospel of Matthew, generations of Christians have been blessed. Another tax collector who had his life changed was Zacchaeus. “And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.” Luke 19:2. Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was going to pass by so he climbed a tree in order to see Him. Was Zacchaeus just gawking at the celebrity who was passing, or was he hoping that Jesus would change him? Jesus called him down from the tree and said He would visit him at his house. This meeting with Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life. His sin was made clear to him and he knew what he had to do. “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation I restore him fourfold.” Luke 19:8. Being in the presence of Jesus turned Zacchaeus around. Instead of greed he felt the need to restore all he had stolen. Jesus didn’t point a finger and condemn him, but His very presence brought conviction to Zacchaeus and he found salvation. “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:9-10. Jesus still wants to change sinful people. If you’re burdened by a heavy load of sin, turn to Jesus. Turn your life over to Him and He will change you.
Sometimes Jesus went out of His way to bring someone out of their sin. One example took place by a well in Samaria. Jesus needed to travel from Jerusalem to Galilee and decided to travel through Samaria. This was the shorter route but not the preferred one. The Jewish people and the Samaritans avoided contact with each other as much as possible. They came to a well where Jesus rested but He sent His disciples into the town. It was there He met a woman who was living a very sinful life. After some small talk, Jesus led the conversation to the sin in her life. He told her to go call her husband. “The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” John 4:17-18. If you think that God isn’t aware of the sin in your life or that your sinful lifestyle doesn’t matter, think again. Further conversation revealed that this woman knew that the Messiah would come and reveal all things. It was then that Jesus told her who He was. The woman couldn’t control her joy and had to tell others. Right away she left her water pot and went into the town and told others that she had met the Messiah. How many people have you shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with? Jesus didn’t condemn this woman, but made her aware of her sin. Another time a woman was caught in the act of adultery and the Scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus for Him to condemn her. These men knew the Law inside and out and they wanted Jesus to stone her as required by Law. Never mind that the Law also required the man who had been with her should have also been stoned. Jesus didn’t condemn her, but made those religious leaders aware of their own sin and they left. Jesus didn’t condemn this woman, but neither did He accept her sin and leave her in it. After her accusers left He asked if any man had condemned her. “She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:11. Most of us like the part where Jesus doesn’t condemn us for our sin, but we don’t like the part about turning away from that sin. Jesus’ love will change us if we allow it. Many people go to religious leaders to seek forgiveness for sin. Only Jesus can forgive sin and change lives. A priest is just a human and has no authority over sin. Go to Jesus and let Him change you then “…go, and sin no more.”
The hardest of hearts belonged to the religious leaders. They had head knowledge that the Messiah was prophesied to come, but they refused to let go of their religion and accept Him. A Pharisee named Nicodemus was an exception. Curiosity caused him to visit Jesus and ask questions. Jesus told him that he needed to be born of the spirit and not only of the flesh. This was something Nicodemus should have known from his study of Scripture and he was willing to find the truth. This conversation lead to one of the most beloved Scripture. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. God’s love is perfect. We know that Nicodemus was a changed man because he went with Joseph of Arimathaea (another Pharisee) to care for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.
While we live on this side of Heaven we will never fully understand God’s love. First we need to understand just how ugly sin is and that it separates us from God. We all sin and that sin condemns us to an eternity of separation from God. Only belief in Jesus Christ will allow you to spend eternity with God. Accept Him through faith, then allow Him to change you. The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Most of the Pharisees had head knowledge of the coming Messiah, but Nicodemus allowed Him into his heart. The Samaritan woman also had head knowledge of the coming Messiah, but when she met Him at the well she was changed. The prostitute found forgiveness and mercy from Jesus. Many other people had demons cast out and others were healed of afflictions; their lives were changed forever. God’s love is pure and perfect. He doesn’t want to condemn you, but to bring you to salvation and work change in you. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18. We condemn ourselves.
How has Christ changed you? If you claim to be a Christian but your life hasn’t changed since you met Him, maybe you haven’t really met Him. Be like King David and ask Him to search your heart for wickedness. He will lead you “…in the way everlasting.”
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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