Here in America the presidential nomination process is in full swing as voters choose which candidates will lead their parties in the November elections.
As with most political campaigns, a common refrain is “It’s time for a change!” And it certainly is. Clearly many citizens are fed up and want and demand change.
We couldn’t agree more. Yet the change people need most is one that few really contemplate—and that’s the need to change themselves as God desires.
Most people don’t really think a lot about God. And those who do generally think they’re okay in His eyes. But is that really the case?
When Jesus of Nazareth began His ministry, He came to a people who believed in God and generally thought they lived in a way pleasing to Him. But it clearly wasn’t enough. What did He tell them? Notice in Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (emphasis added throughout).
Likewise, on the day of Pentecost when the Church was miraculously founded, notice what Peter told the assembled crowd: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×). The account continues, “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation’” (Acts 2:40 Acts 2:40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
American King James Version×).
The messages of Jesus Christ and Peter echo God’s urging through the prophet Isaiah seven centuries earlier: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 Isaiah 55:6-7 6 Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
American King James Version×).
Notice the many commands in these few verses: Repent—believe in the gospel—be baptized—be saved from this perverse generation—seek the Lord — call upon Him—let the wicked forsake his way—return to the Lord.
Do you get the picture? In all three of these passages the listeners thought they were okay in God’s sight. But they clearly weren’t. God told them they had to do something. And that something was change.
Change is a major theme of the Bible. It’s at the heart of the meaning of the words “repent” and “repentance,” mentioned more than 60 times in the Bible. These words mean to change direction, to turn, to stop going in one direction and go in another, to change our thinking, to change our actions—in short, to change our lives. This is what it means to forsake our own way and seek God.
The apostle Paul described this change in Colossians 3:9-10 Colossians 3:9-10 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
American King James Version×as nothing more than a total makeover of our lives: “You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
He echoes those thoughts in Ephesians 4:22-24 Ephesians 4:22-24 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×: “Put off … the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and … put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
How about you? Are you telling yourself that everything is okay in your relationship with God and that you’re all He expects you to be? Or maybe you need to realize, as explained in this issue, it’s time for a change!