Life Change is a Work of God's Grace
I recently read an insightful interview featuring Paul Tripp. His thoughts have greatly influenced mine here. Much of it is his, some I've reworded what he said, and other parts are my own insights. I'm indebted to his gospel-saturated mindset.
The very bright and powerful hope of the gospel is that lasting life change is really possible. The finished work of Christ at the Cross means that restarts can and actually do happen by the miraculous working of God. All lasting heart change evident in a person’s attitudes and actions is because of God's grace. What does the process of true change by God's transforming grace in Christ look like?
1. Conviction/realization/you come to your senses - you are aware you have offended God and others. You look into the revealing mirror of the Word of God and are convinced. You submit to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and take responsibility for your attitudes and actions.
2. Contrition/sorrow/you are sorry for your sin - you are broken over it. Many people don't realize their sin or experience brokeness. Unbroken people remain hardhearted, like a child caught mistreating another child who is told "say you're sorry" and the child defiantly says "sorry" with a snarl.
3. Confession/admission/you agree with God about your sin - you freely confess your guilt and shame and receive the free forgiveness that Jesus offers. You won’t confess what you aren't broken over. Confess your sins to God. You are accountable to God. Like when David sinned with Bathsheba. In Ps. 51 he said 'against You and You only I have sinned '. God forgives. 1 John 1:9. We are also to confess our sins to people. James 5:16.
4. Changed direction/repentance/you turn from your sin - you stop committing that sin, and you resolve to change. You can’t repent of sin you haven’t confessed. Repentance is often evidenced by a desire to make things right with those you've wronged. Make amends. Make a list of anyone you have sinned against or wronged in any way. Go and make it right. Seek forgiveness. Set things straight. Hopefully you don't have a long list because you've been doing this on an ongoing basis.
5. Changed life/transformation/you live differently - you experience true and lasting life change. You won't see change unless you've turned from your sin. You need to look to Jesus for direction in living. How does God want you to walk in newness of life? What new habits and ways of engaging does Jesus want you to adopt? Going forward, start a new habit: Self-examination.
God's process of true change is neither easy nor painless. It was costly, bought at the price of His Son's shed blood. Christ's work of transforming grace in our hearts leads to true change.