The proof of Christianity lies in its power. Only the power of Christ can take men and women, lost to shame, and make them sons and daughters of God. There is no depth of guilt to which someone can plummet or degree of humiliation someone can feel that puts them beyond God’s forgiving grace.
As he concludes a long, ugly list, Paul states, “Such were some of you.” This statement is a shout of triumph, not of remorse. It is past tense, not present. Why? Because of Jesus’ transforming power. No man can change himself; no woman can change herself—but Jesus can change them!
Do we actually believe a total personal transformation can happen? We are tempted to offer people cosmetic fixes but tell them they must now limp through the rest of their lives as a result of former sins, or to assure them that they are saved by grace but must now work hard to change themselves. Where did we get these messages? Did Jesus tell people, I’ll touch your life and change you, but I want you to know that you’ll only be changed a wee bit—now it’s up to you? No! He said, I’ll make you brand-new from the inside out. I’ll transform you, liberate you, change you. That’s Jesus’ message. And that was the testimony of these Corinthian Christians. They were one kind of person—sinful, facing judgment. But then they were transformed. Now they were different. So how does this transformation begin? With a clear view of our own sin. If I don’t know myself to be sinful, how could I ever know myself to be saved? We must each face the depths of our own depravity so that when God’s word tells us that Jesus came to rescue people from every trial and entanglement of life and give them His Spirit to change them from inside out, we will reach out for Him with both hands. That’s salvation! That’s transformation!
Every Christian is living evidence of the fact that God changes lives. There are men and women everywhere who are living proofs of Christ’s re-creating, life-transforming power. Are we prepared, then, to have a church full of people who were once sexually immoral, adulterers, drunks, and swindlers? And are we prepared to acknowledge that this is what we ourselves were but no longer are, and all by grace? Or do we just want churches of people properly put together—fairly acceptable individuals who really believe they have no need of Jesus?
Jesus saves, and Jesus transforms. By faith, you are not what you were, and you will be able to say that again next month and next year. Who seems to you to be too steeped in sin ever to come to Christ? Pray for divine transformation. What part of your own life feels too resistant to change ever to please Christ? Pray for divine transformation. You cannot change anyone, including yourself. But Christ is powerful to do what you cannot.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
2 Corinthians 3:17–18
17Now the Lord4 is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,5 are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4:1–6
The Light of the Gospel
1Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,1 we do not lose heart. 2But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice2 cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants3 for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
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