Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “Christian Devotions & Quick Studies” along with 33 other articles and is available for purchase in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
As a management and technology consultant for much of my working career I have often referred to myself as a “change agent”. My job has been to survey and study current business processes and the underlying technology, offer advice on how to streamline those processes and improve the technology, outline the strategy for making the process and technology changes a reality, and then manage the projects that will make the change happen. I must admit that this has not always been a comfortable process. I have often met major resistance. By nature it is difficult for corporations, both large and small to make changes. Processes and traditions become ingrained. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is often the default fall-back position, whether it applies or not. Some never see the need for change. Others might recognize the need for change but are unwilling to embrace it.
Regardless of whether we want to embrace it or not, some change is inevitable. Who would want to live without the marvelous modern-day inventions we take for granted such as running water, electricity, computers, the internet, automobiles, airplanes, and on and on. On the other hand, some things never change and shouldn’t. Almighty God never changes. He is constant. His word, the Bible, is constant. The advice provided in the Bible is timeless and without error. It works. It does not change.
When one becomes a Christian, things change. We need to get on board with God. The salvation experience demands change … permanent change. Our will must give way to God’s will. With God’s help, we are required to adopt the kind of change that affects our lifestyle and attitude. Our behavior must be different and aligned with God’s direction for our lives.
The Bible gives advice in Romans 6:12-23 on the kind of change that is expected as a result of our salvation experience. Here’s the scripture passage under consideration.
A Change in Behavior – Romans 6:12-14 (NIV)
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
These verses contrast the “before” and “after” conditions expected by God for the Christian. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He comes into our heart and rules over our lives. We are no longer ruled by our sin nature. Our evil desires are replaced with His desires. Sin no longer rules over us. This is the kind of positive change that God expects and supports.
A Change in Allegiance – Romans 6:15-18 (NIV)
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
How silly it is that some believe that since they are saved by grace, that they can continue to sin without consequence since Jesus paid the price for their sins. The salvation experience requires a new allegiance, a change of heart. We are no longer “slaves” to sin. God is now our “master” and we must obey Him. We have been set free from the stronghold of sin. Old ways of behavior give way to new behaviors. We will want to do what is right. This is the kind of change that affects the whole person, both outward and inward. The change is obvious. Others see it. God honors it.
A Change in Direction – Romans 6:19-23 (NIV)
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These verses teach us that the Christian is no longer a slave to sin but rather a slave to righteousness. Obedience to sin is replaced by obedience to righteousness. Sin was once the master, but now God is the Master. Wickedness gives way to righteousness. Death (the wages of sin) is replaced by eternal life. These are dramatic changes in direction.
There are really only two ways to live in this world – in sin or in righteousness. Sin damages relationships, brings about shame, affects self-worth, impacts integrity, and ultimately leads to eternal death. Righteousness brings about joy, satisfaction, effective relationships, happiness and positive growth into what God wants us to be. Salvation brings about positive change for the Christian. What is your attitude toward sin? Christians do not want to sin! Christians want to be all God intends them to be!
Consider these truths derived from this discussion:
- Christians serve God best by realizing that they are not under law but under grace.
- Being under grace does not mean that Christians need not worry about sin.
- Christians should live as slaves to righteousness and God, not as slaves to sin and self.
- Sin has consequences – deeds that bring shame and eventually eternal death.
- We cannot earn eternal life – it is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Perhaps you have read this far and realize that you are not a Christian. If that is the case, then please refer to the section below on how to become a Christian.
How to Become a Christian:
Here are the steps that you need to follow to become a Christian:
- Realize that you are “lost” – totally estranged from God and separated from God by a sinful nature. (Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.)
- Acknowledge that sin deserves punishment. (Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
- Acknowledge that Jesus took the punishment for your sins by dying on the cross. (Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.)
- Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. (Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.)
The way we communicate with God is through prayer. You can use the following prayer as your own or pray one that contains these elements:
“Dear God, I admit that I am a sinner. I recognize that I deserve punishment. I also know that you died for my sins and that you were raised from the dead. I turn from self and sin and trust You to be my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life and help me to be the person that you want me to be. Save me now and save me forever. Thank You, Lord, for hearing my prayer and saving my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
God promises in the Bible that anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.) If you prayed the above suggested prayer and meant it, you can be assured that God has saved you. The Bible offers many other words of assurance about your salvation. One of the clearest descriptions of that assurance can be found in 1 John 5:11-13 – And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Jim, Thank you for presenting the message of faith in the only TRUE God. Your writings are thoughtful and informative. What the world needs now is the simple TRUTH with depth and meaning which you so capably provide.