© 2021 Fall Series
You Can Change!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor Tuesday, 7 December 2021
Lesson 9, Part 1
Devotional Time: “Change” Chapter 7 (pp. 167-175)
Sustaining Change – Change is always possible when we seek God’s help. The issue is not whether change can occur, but how will we sustain the new opportunities God gives us. People often have come into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ with great enthusiasm and promise, of a more wholesome life. Th euphoria and joy of this change soon wanes. It’s possible and easy for a “changed” person to regress, and reach back to what they perceive as the advantages of the former life. This is not new. An instance is found when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Slightly over a year after they had left Pharaoh’s Egypt, many of the Israelites and their sympathizers complained about their food. They naïvely vocalized a desire to return to Egypt (cf. Numbers 11:4-6, NLT). Change often requires, that adjustments must be made. Constant memory and longing for past comforts can’t sustain meaningful change. Pastor and author Chip Ingram offers this comment on losing one’s grip on change: “We all have deeply embedded patterns in our thinking, attitudes, and behaviors that have been formed over many years. These patterns are highly resistant to change, and even when change begins to occur, we seem to default back into them under pressure.” The Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth, that in such times of temptation when signs of regression would lead them to sin, God would provide them with a way out (cf. I Corinthians 10:12, NLT). The inference in this passage is, provided the person is faithful to God. In his First Epistle, the Apostle John taught the ethical basis for affirming change in our lives is how we treat each other. Evidence that we “know the way to go” is when we live in the light of God’s love (cf. I John 2:10-11, NLT). Change alone is not enough. We must work to sustain radical and meaningful change in our lives. We accomplish this by engaging in spiritual disciplines that will mature our faith, attitude and behavior. While the “new birth” is the result of salvation, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ, we are ever growing and must sustain growth and change. The Apostle Peter told the early Christians, that sustaining their spiritual change and maturity depended on their efforts (cf. I Peter 1:14b, NLT). Coming into the knowledge of the truth brings about change and maturity!
Spiritual Practice – As Christians, we learn in the scriptures that sustaining change involves effort over time, and equipping ourselves spiritually. Pastor Chip Ingram says, “Some require a process that involves both time and intentional practice called “spiritual training.” The Apostle Paul describes our efforts toward becoming more spiritual (godliness) as a process (cf. I Timothy 4:8-9, NLT). Paul says the development of spiritual character and maturity requires persistent effort. Some Christians revert back to immature behavior, out of fear of responsibility or reprisal. Peter assured Christians that whatever threats or suffering they would incur; the experience would strengthen, rather than weaken their hope (cf. I Peter 3:14-16a, NLT). Rather than concede to the immaturity of others, Christians are called to respond to others in a mature, gentle, and peaceful manner (cf. Colossians 4:5, NLT). Chip Ingram reminds us that change is not automatic. He says, “…Life is full of challenges that no one can overcome by self-effort alone. But we can master [challenges] by going into training to appropriate the grace God has already given us.” Ingram observes that the neglected aspect of the church is the absence of persistent attention (spiritual training) given to develop the abilities God has given us. Paul told Timothy that physical training has value for human development, but spiritual training has a greater value. Paul said the previous rigorous training and preparation he had, meant everything to him. However, when he came to faith in Jesus Christ, Paul discovered that the change meant discarding his old life. The new life gave Paul a right and changed relationship with God (cf. Philippians 3:7-9, NLT). Pastor Ingram comments: “We have everything we need to live a Christ-like life…But we must go into intentional spiritual training to grow our spiritual muscles so our beliefs and behavior continually align more as we grow to maturity.” A sign of maturity is when we’re able to avoid being influenced by immature persons. Paul quoted the ancient Greek poet who said, “Bad company corrupts good character.” This is good advice! It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to think and act with godliness and maturity. Peter admonished Christians to always “think clearly and exercise self-control” (cf. I Peter 1:13a, NLT). This and much more takes spiritual effort and exercise.
What We Believe!
Change can be sustained through maturity and alertness.
1. Change can become ineffective, if we regress in behavior.
2. Sustaining change requires spiritual practice.
Numbers 11:4-6, NLT
“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with theIsraelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons,leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we see is this manna!”
I Corinthians 10:12, NLT
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
I John 2:10-11, NLT
“Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But any-one who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.”
I Peter 1:14b, NLT
“Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.”
I Timothy 4:8-9, NLT
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.”
I Peter 3:14-16a, NLT
“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way…”
Colossians 4:5, NLT
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
Philippians 3:7-9, NLT
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Him-self depends on faith.”
I Peter 1:13a, NLT
“So think clearly and exercise self-control…”