God very much wants us to become converted—to be one of His converts. He wants us not only to learn but to practice His way of life—to become sincerely and thoroughly committed to it. He promises us His help if we willingly follow His instructions. Through His Spirit He will empower us to “put on the new man which [is] created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 Ephesians 4:24And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout). His purpose is to change us, to convert us from the inside, from the heart. When one addressed Jesus Christ as “Good Teacher,” He responded: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:16-17 Matthew 19:16-17 16 And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
American King James Version×). His point was that God is the only source of righteous character, not that something was wrong with Jesus’ own character. If we are not naturally good, then how do we become righteous in the eyes of God? Jesus supplies the answer: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17 Mark 2:17When Jesus heard it, he said to them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
American King James Version×).
The Bible explains why mankind so desperately needs spiritual healing. It also explains how that healing can come about. It reveals God’s efforts to heal the character defects we generally label as human nature. It begins by showing how humanity became spiritually ill. It ends with spiritually healed human beings inheriting eternal life as the children of God. In the Bible we find details of God’s resolve to save us from the spiritual malaise that has plagued us throughout history. It explains the source of our behavioral and spiritual problems. It contrasts God’s divine nature with our human nature and describes His plan to change some of our most basic attitudes and responses to life’s everyday situations. It reveals God’s commitment—expressed in His “exceedingly great and precious promises”—to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×).
Two major factors shape all that is wrong with human nature.
First is the fundamental weakness inherent in our fleshly body and mind. Our thoughts and emotions are directly linked to our fleshly impulses and desires. We are born with them. But we are born with neither the knowledge nor the power to properly manage them.
Second, our natural impulses and desires are often affected and even manipulated by external pressures. Adverse influences arise from many sources—familial, educational, recreational, cultural and spiritual, to name a few. But they have one thing in common: They tempt our basic instincts and desires.
Our parents can teach us valuable spiritual knowledge, especially if their understanding is based on the standards and values of God. But only our Creator can give us the power to rightly manage our thoughts and attitudes and resist the temptations that bombard us.
Therefore the process of becoming righteous is a miraculous process that requires the direct and active intervention of God. First He calls us by opening our minds to understand the Scriptures. Then He begins turning our lives around—if we willingly respond to His calling and cooperate with Him.