Recently I ran into a woman I had not seen for several weeks. I hardly recognized her. Her hair, normally blonde, had turned completely white. The transformation was dramatic. All it took was forty minutes and some bleach.
If only spiritual transformation were that easy. Just read a book, see a counselor, attend a conference, make a fresh commitment, shed a few tears at an altar, memorize a few verses . . . and, presto, out comes a mature, godly Christian.
To the contrary, the experience of many believers looks like this:
Commit. Fail. Confess.
Re-commit. Fail again. Confess again.
Re-re-commit. Fail again. Give up.
After all the struggle and effort, we tend to want a “quick fix”—a once-for-all victory—so we won’t have to keep wrestling with the same old issues.
In my own walk with God, I have discovered some helpful principles about how spiritual change takes place.
1. Deep, lasting spiritual change rarely happens overnight. It is a process that involves training, testing, and time. There are no shortcuts.
We hear of people being dramatically delivered from drug or alcohol addiction, and we may wonder, “Why doesn’t God do that for me? Why do I have to struggle with this food addiction, with lust, worry, and anger?”
Before the children of Israel could possess the Promised Land, they had to drive out the pagan nations that occupied Canaan. Ultimate victory was assured if they would “trust and obey,” but it would take time. “I will not drive them out in a single year,” God said. “Little by little, I will drive them out before you” (Ex. 23:29–30).
God is committed to winning the hearts and developing the character of His people. That requires a process.
2. Spiritual change requires desire. We must ask ourselves: Do I really want to change, or am I content to remain as I am? How important is it to me to be like Jesus? What price am I willing to pay to be godly?
Godly desires are nurtured by prayer and by meditation on Christ, who is the object of our desire. As I read the Scripture and gaze on the Lord Jesus, I find my heart longing to be like Him—humble, holy, compassionate, surrendered to the will of God, and sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit.
When our desire to be holy is greater than our willingness to stay where we are, we have taken a big step toward spiritual transformation.
Where does this post find you today? How great is your desire to be transformed to look more like Jesus? Will you tell Him about it right now? Then check back here tomorrow for part two of three.
Adapted from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ article in the May 2001 issue of Decision Magazine.