Imagine that you’re wearing a set of very dirty, old, nasty clothes. You haven’t been able to take them off for weeks and they’ve become gross, smelly, covered with food stains and full of holes. Then, to your great delight, a benefactor appears and hands you a nice set of new, fresh and good-looking clothes. What a joy- what a relief!
Would you, or anyone else in their right mind, put these fresh clothes on without first taking the old ones off? Of course, not. It would ruin them both. It would be a real waste of perfectly good clothes. You’d find a place where you could undress, hopefully have a good scrub, and then enjoy the wonderful gift of nice, fresh clothes.
Many times, in the Bible, and in the New Testament in particular, we find that Good offers us an exchange. We must let go of something bad in order to receive something good. We can’t have both at the same time. Turn from evil and do good! (1 Peter 3:11).
The Good News isn’t a self-help course. Never does God tell us to fix, improve or help ourselves. Only He is sufficient for our salvation, our sanctification, our transformation. We can only be truly changed, healed and transformed through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Any real and lasting improvement and change in our lives comes as a gift from God.
Yet at the same time, we should never be passive in the process. Throughout the whole New Testament, God appeals to us to let go of sin, to do away with bad behaviour and to surrender our own ways. He’s looking for an exchange. He wants to give us His blessings, but we must do our part. We must be both pro-active and willing to let go off those things which represent our old, nasty clothes.
Do you want to receive more of God’s peace? You might need to ‘cast your anxieties on Him’ (1 Peter 5:7). Do you want more of God’s wisdom? Then you might need to let go of your own (James 3:13-18). Do you want to walk more fully in God’s grace? You might need to let go of your judgement of others (Ephesians 4:31-32). The list goes on, and on, and on.
Don’t try to change yourself. It will never work. Only God can change you, through the power of the Holy Spirit. But we need to have willing hearts to surrender to Him and let go, with radical determination, of everything that stands in the way.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I thank You for Jesus and I thank You for the Holy Spirit. I invite You to change me more and more, and I ask You to show me the part that I need to play in Your exchange. Help me to hate evil, to reject sin, and love and embrace that which is good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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